American Printer's mission is to be the most reliable and authoritative source of information on integrating tomorrow's technology with today's management.

Computer-to-plate & one hot metal holdout

Jul 1, 2005 12:00 AM

         Subscribe in NewsGator Online   Subscribe in Bloglines

InRegister™ InPrint

When I joined AMERICAN PRINTER in 1996, CTP was in its infancy. We wrote many articles about concurrent workflows, choosing the best technology and so on. Now, almost a decade later, CTP is commonplace. We recently asked our InRegister readers about their digital evolution.

A long way from that first IIci
Winchester Print & Stationery (Winchester, Ontario) is a 14-employee, family-owned business specializing in short-run (500 to 50,000 copies) ethnic and community newspapers. Its pressroom includes an eight-unit Web Machinery Ventura as well as several small-format sheetfed presses. Having added Agfa’s ApogeeX workflow and an Epson 9600 in 2004, the company recently installed an ECRM platesetter.

According to operations manager B. Kent Raistrick, the company didn’t adopt CTP early because, “The technology wasn’t mature enough or cost effective. We don’t like to take chances on unproven technology unless we’re really comfortable with the manufacturer.”

Winchester got its first Macintosh computer (“An IIci with an incredible 32 MB of RAM”) 20 years ago. About eight years later, it added a new 7300 with a scanner. Networking via 1 baseT, Appletalk soon followed: “It was actually faster to save to multiple floppies and walk the disks across the plant,” recalls Raistrick.

In 2000, the company installed a Scitex Dolev 450 imagesetter driven by a G3. “At Print Ontario last fall, we saw the ECRM News4 and knew that this was the time make the step to CTP,” Raistrick reports. “The price was [competitive and it] would save us more time and increase our quality. We installed the News4 in March and haven’t looked back.”

10 times faster than film
Bill Calvert and the Glasgow brothers, Ed and Dave, are partners in Calvert & Glasgow Printing northeast of Philadelphia. According to Ed Glasgow, none of them miss the old days of producing 19 pieces of film to get four plates.

This past December, the four-employee, 2,400-sq.-ft. printer stepped into the Digital Age with a Heidelberg Prosetter. “We switched to CTP because we were adding a new five-color Speedmaster 52 perfecting press. The system is flawless. Registration and makeready are quick—it’s about 10 times faster than [making film]. CTP was well worth the expense.”

The color-calibrated platesetter, press and an Epson 7500 are part of Calvert & Glasgow’s strategy to go beyond corporate identity work and into more complex applications for larger accounts. Glasgow also reports his company sells imaged plates to a few printers that haven't yet invested in CTP.

Calvert & Glasgow’s Hamada press currently uses negative-to-metal plates as well as Prosetter-produced plates, but not for much longer. “Within a year, we’ll throw away the old negs and remove the platemaker light system,” says Glasgow. “We absolutely refuse to buy the old-style plates for the SM52.”

It’s not CTP, it’s LTP
Tim Trower, owner of White Star Service Co., says his company is committed to remaining Linotype-to-plate (LTP). Trower’s letterpress print shop does trade work for printers in the four-state area around Springfield, MO. “We have two Linotypes and a Ludlow,” he says. “I have not used any other typesetting system in my life.”

Trower credits his father with inspiring his lifelong love of letterpress. “I got started at age 13 as my dad’s printer’s devil—I use the same Ludlow he owned.”

Today, Trower’s 81-year-old father, Guy, often lends a hand in the shop. Although the elder Trower refuses to learn foil stamping or embossing, Tim Trower concedes, “He runs rings around me on the Lino.”

Typical jobs include imprinting, numbering, foil stamping, die cutting, numbering and perfing. Although Trower enjoys keeping up with the hot-metal world, he gives equal attention to current printing trends and equipment.

“I keep up so I can talk intelligently with my customers,” he explains. “One of our largest customers is totally digital with an HP Indigo and [Kodak] Digimaster.”

Wednesday is InRegister™ day
AMERICAN PRINTER’s InRegister™ newsletter is published on alternating Wednesdays. For a free subscription, click here. Want to comment on something in this issue? Drop us a line at We look forward to hearing from you!