Delaware Printing Company tries Agfa’s N95-VCF
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.
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.”
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.