Not About Chemistry
A new chemistry-free plate technology that eliminates the "wash up" stage after imaging will enter the marketplace this summer.
Presstek Inc., Hudson, N.H., began beta testing Applause, a wet offset printing plate that is adaptable to many computer-to-plate printing applications, in early March. The Applause plate was introduced as a "green alternative" to other plates in the marketplace-those that require a chemical processor to rinse, cure and fix the image on a plate, says John O'Rourke, Presstek's director of digital media.
"Presstek has delivered nothing but thermal and chemistry-free plates and nothing other than digital plates," O'Rourke says. "So we've never had an analog plate system that required film and exposure process."
When Presstek introduced other chemistry-free plates in the early '90s and 2000, they required an extra step to remove the residual carbon that builds up during imaging.
"We've been after a product like Applause since we started manufacturing plates," O'Rourke says. "With [our previous plates] you imaged [and] you had another step to complete. The Applause plate pretty much eliminates that step."
In addition to its green component, Applause is cheaper than plates processed with chemistry, which typically run 20% to 30% above the cost of the plate, O'Rourke says.
"Simplifying the process gives [the printer] consistency, saves money and is environmentally sound. Chemistry plates produce a lot of effluent [and] it's either being dumped down the drain, or printers are paying someone to have it carted away and disposed of," O'Rourke says.
"Eliminating all these things means less harsh chemistry going down the drain. That's a real benefit."
Presstek is targeting a late summer commercial release date for the product.