Delaware Print­ing Com­pany tries Agfa’s N95-VCF

Newspapers & Technology Magazine - - News - ▶ by Sarah Zook Man­ag­ing Edi­tor

in 2007 agfa graph­ics launched its first chem­istry-free plates for the news­pa­per in­dus­try. Fast for­ward to 2011 and the com­pany in­tro­duced the N94-VCF chem-free vi­o­let off­set plate, which gen­er­ated a great deal of ex­cite­ment. Be­tween 2011 and 2015, more than 70 per­cent of Agfa Graph­ics news­pa­per cus­tomers made the switch to the chem-free tech­nol­ogy.

Two years ago at the World Pub­lish­ing Expo in Ham­burg, Ger­many, Agfa went a step far­ther and re­leased the univer­sal N95-VCF plate.

The newer tech­nol­ogy sup­ported much higher run lengths (up to 300,000 sheets, depend­ing on press con­di­tions), sup­port for UV ink print­ing, high im­age con­trast, plate in­spec­tion and op­ti­cal recog­ni­tion by punch and bend­ing equip­ment, along with full day­light re­sis­tance and high scratch re­sis­tance.

Re­cently, Delaware Print­ing Com­pany be­came the first U.S. cus­tomer to pur­chase and in­stall the N95-VCF plate.

A di­vi­sion of In­de­pen­dent News Me­dia Inc., the pub­lish­ing plant in Dover ser­vices cus­tomers through­out the mid-At­lantic and North­east re­gions.

Busi­ness in­crease

In 2005–2006, the com­pany in­stalled a KBA Colora print­ing press tower. In 2013, Delaware Print­ing Com­pany switched from us­ing Ko­dak ther­mal CTP equip­ment and print­ing plates to the Agfa Ad­van­tage N-DL vi­o­let CTP equip­ment and N-type plates to in­crease plate through­put, ac­cord­ing to Tom Bug­bee, gen­eral man­ager of Delaware Print­ing Com­pany. The print­ing plates at Delaware Print­ing are fifty inches long and re­quired a very large for­mat ma­chine from Ko­dak to im­age the plates, Bug­bee said.

“This ma­chine, while good, was slow and only al­lowed us a twenty plate-per-hour through­put,” Bug­bee said. “But with the in­crease in busi­ness we ex­pe­ri­enced with the KBA press, we even­tu­ally needed faster and more au­to­mated CTP equip­ment to keep up with the de­mand for plates from our press de­part­ment.”

Agfa equip­ment ad­dresses this de­mand with 75 plate-per-hour through­put. With the two machines at Delaware Print­ing com­pany, that’s 150 plate-per-hour through­put. So in 2013, Delaware Print­ing went with the N94-VCF.

At the time, the com­pany had al­ready switched to the Ko­dak no-process plate and elim­i­nated chem­i­cal pro­cess­ing. The ben­e­fits, how­ever, that the Agfa Ad­van­tage N-DL vi­o­let plate en­gine brought to pro­duc­tion and work-flow out­weighed one neg­a­tive as­pect of the chem-free plate. The com­pany also re­quired the plate be able to hold a thirty-six mi­cron dot as it uses sto­chas­tic screen­ing for its print process. The N94-VCF plate is not guar­an­teed for sto­chas­tic print­ing, but in a print test, Bug­bee found the laser and plate to be more than ca­pa­ble.

Now, Agfa has in­tro­duced the N95-VCF, which Delaware Print­ing Com­pany put into use in the be­gin­ning of March.

“We are pleased with the over­all per­for­mance of the equip­ment and the through­put we ex­pected is real,” Bug­bee said. “Our press re­quires six­teen or twenty plates, depend­ing on page counts, for ev­ery job we print. Hav­ing the abil­ity to im­age a set of plates in fif­teen to twenty min­utes per set keeps us far ahead of the press on busy days.”

Bug­bee said they are also pleased with the re­li­a­bil­ity of the equip­ment. “We are mov­ing closer to becoming a near fully au­to­mated CTP op­er­a­tion,” said Bug­bee. “It would not be a good thing to have to worry about equip­ment mal­func­tion or plate jams oc­cur­ring when there is no one in the CTP room to watch over the equip­ment.”

Sharper im­age

Delaware Print­ing Com­pany also takes ad­van­tage of the plate stor­age can­is­ter that feeds the en­gine and has a one-thou­sand plate ca­pac­ity, giv­ing the com­pany,

with two lines in op­er­a­tion, the abil­ity to load up two thou­sand plates at a time. “We have to give high praise to the Agfa R&D folks,” Bug­bee said. While the N95-VCF was touted to have a sharper im­age, faster clean-up on press, longer run life and longer shelf life, Bug­bee said he isn’t as in­ter­ested in the longer run life or shelf life.

“It is both the sharper im­age and clean-up-on-press abil­ity of this new plate that re­ally has us wowed,” Bug­bee said. “We are not eas­ily im­pressed, but in this case the im­prove­ment in our print qual­ity and the quick­ness of the plate clean-up is very real.”

Now all Delaware Print­ing Com­pany wants is a no-process plate, Bug­bee said.

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