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ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: CTP transition questions

May 1, 2001 12:00 AM

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Going CTP means coming up against questions. A lot of them. Here, from the recent VUE/POINT conference in Arlington, VA, are a few more to ask yourself:

  • Should you involve your pressroom in the CTP decision and transition?

    Management at Allprint Ainsworth Associates, Inc. (Kitchener, ON), didn’t, "perhaps to not scare our press operators," observes Erwin Driever, prepress manager. "It backfired."

    The midsize commercial sheetfed printer, which began running Barco visible-light platesetters in March of 1997, instead "slid great plates and digital proofs that we knew would work in front of our press operators. Our head press operator pulled a press sheet, went to compare it against the proof and declared he couldn’t match the proof because it had no dots," Driever relates. "It took four weeks to get him to accept it."

    Larry Pattajo, department manager at United Litho, Inc. (Ashburn, VA), urges other printers to listen to their pressroom staff when going CTP. "We were a strong believer in getting the pressroom involved in our CTP decision," he says. "We involved them in the testing. We’ve had our Agfa Galileo for about 14 months, and our press operators now hate analog plates."

  • How much will you save going to CTP?

    CTP benefits may not show up in dollars and cents form, according to the VUE/POINT panelists. Driever says he had to tell Allprint’s salespeople to sell CTP as a benefit instead of as a cost-effective process. "Savings don’t come so much in the form of profitability as it does in the time factor," he expains. "It’s an opportunity to experience efficiencies in your service."

    On the other hand, printers who switched from all-film workflows to all-digital workflows can calculate their savings in terms of the film they no longer use. United Litho switched from an eight-up imagesetter to a platesetter and is currently 92 percent digital. Pattajo estimates the company no longer uses about 80 rolls of film each month. At $400 a roll, he says United Litho is saving $32,000 a month just in film by going CTP.

  • Does your platesetter fit in your building?

    While making sure your CTP unit fits in your facilities may sound like common sense, make sure to not only account for the device’s physical dimensions but also the clearance and space needed for loading and processing your plates. AJ Images (Roselle, NJ) had to reconfigure its building to accommodate its Agfa Galileo, a $10,000 additional cost that the vendor eventually picked up, according to vice president Arnold Greebel. AJ Images raised its eight-foot ceilings to 12 feet, made sure there were three feet of clearance between the facility doors and the platesetter, gave five feet of clearance to load its plates and created another 12 feet of space for its automatic plate handler.

  • What issues will you run into with customers on digital proofs?

    "We thought color proofs and breaks would be better than a blueline, but customers still asked for a blueline," relates Steve Pratt, director of technology at Integrated Book Technology (Troy, NY), a digital book printer that’s at the beginning stages of transitioning to CTP. Integrated Book Technology produces book digitally on a Xerox DocuTech but images plates for the book covers on a Presstek Dimension 400.

    Driever says he and Allprint’s sales staff visited clients when Allprint first switched to CTP and digital proofs. They would put the conventional and digital proofs before their customers and acknowledge that the proofs contained no dots, but would then inquire whether customers were satisfied with the color. If they were, then Driever and the salesperson would then list the other savings of CTP, such as not having to run film and being able to minimize remakes.

    Pattajo, for his part, had United Litho’s sales force distribute both bluelines and digital proofs to customers for two months. "After that, clients didn’t want bluelines," he notes.

No matter how many questions you ask, you may still be in for a few surprises when you transition to CTP. Pratt and Greebel indicate communication may help with the transition: "It’s a company-wide transition, and everybody needs to be on the same page," Pratt notes. Adds Greebel, "Let your clients know what you’re doing. It will make things easier."