It Takes a Fleet
The print world has been moving to direct-to-plate for several years now and Fleet Graphics has been taking notice. The Dayton, OH-based prepress printing shop recently invested in a thermal CTP device for its prepress department—and for good reason.
"We have made a commitment to stay on the cutting edge of digital prepress technology and will continue in that effort," says Scott Waggoner, president of Fleet. "We already have a digital infrastructure in place." But the company has since combined its new CTP platesetter, a Screen PlateRite 8000, with RAID servers, 100 base-T and gigabit ethernet networks, DVD and DAT digital back-ups, DSL data line with an FTP site and an ICC-profiled digital proofing solution. Waggoner says the printing company has reaped the full advantage of a CTP workflow.
According to Waggoner, digitizing has eliminated the film stage of conventional plate processing, thus reducing the number of plate remakes due to dust, dirt and hot spots. All of the non-bake thermal plates at the company are imaged with first generation dots which are sharper and reduce dot gain to improve print quality. Waggoner and his staff estimated that more accurate registration on press would reduce makeready time and waste, allowing for quicker turnaround on shorter-run color work. They were right. Since adding the thermal CTP device to the workflow, Fleet has improved job processing overall—especially for color jobs.
"The TrueFlow system is not just a RIP that drives our direct-to-plate output," says Waggoner. "It's a powerful and intelligent RIP solution that gives us versatility to handle many different formats for input, output and file integrity for accurate proofing. It gives us automated job processing with customized job tickets. Imposition is critical and Trueflow gives us the option to add or replace data for any individual page within an imposition layout. We make changes and corrections to individual pages without having to re-RIP the entire imposition."
The company employs nine people at it's plant, he adds. They work a five-day week and usually pull 12-hour shifts to get the work done. But since converting to digital printing workflow, the 45-year-old company is actually doing more business today in the four-plus color market than ever before. He reports that sales reached $800,000 last year, but Waggoner has his attention set on an increase of 25 to 30 percent this year. He attributes the profit increase to adding the platesetter, digital workflow conversion and acquisition of a color separation company.
"Our acquisition of Quickscan Color Separations allows us to complement our existing prepress services with support for all aspects of direct-to-plate workflow," explains Waggoner. "We also began using Screen's new screening technology called SPEKTA. It delivers outstanding print quality and detail comparable to 300-line high-frequency screening. When you see the difference in quality it provides on the printed sheet, it makes a big difference on our bottom line."
Fleet Graphics' work is used throughout the Dayton area, including local advertising agencies, graphic designers and magazine publishers. The company recently completed a four-color, 60-page annual report for Chaminade-Julienne Catholic High School. And for an international safari club, Fleet printed a 600-page hardbound cover book and a 160-page four-color magazine—something that film workflow never allowed. Additionally, Waggoner says that a local manufacturer uses Fleet to feed its two 40-inch presses, which allowed that company to save costs by eliminating it's entire prep department.
If you ask Waggoner, it's enough proof for him.