Agfa’s New Plates, Software, CTP Sales at Nexpo

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By: Jim Rosenberg

Agfa’s N92-V and N92-VCF chemistry-free digital plates made their North America debut last week at Nexpo, in Washington, D.C. The company, based in Mortsel, Belgium, and, Ridgefield Park, N.J., also announced enhancements and additions to its Arkitex workflow and two CTP systems sales.

In the works for at least two years and based on its N91v, the N92-V and VCF violet-sensitive plates feature improved, 200,000- and 350,000-impression run lengths, respectively, without baking (more with baking if rewashed and finished with a suitable baking gum) and eliminates all processing variables, according to Agfa. Resolution also is improved, according to representatives at Nexpo, who explained that the gumming serves as developer for the VCF. The gum is removed along with the soft, unpolymerized non-image area.

To be available with a new clean-out unit or with an adapter kit for use with a conventional processor, the N92-VCF is expected to see controlled sales commence at the end of this year. After months of site testing in Europe, the plate is about to go into its first beta site in the U.S., where, among other things, fountain solutions differ from those used in Europe (where site testing has been under way for months), according to Sheila Nysko, Agfa’s North American business development director for newspaper systems.

Nysko explained that upgrades to Agfa’s Branchburg, N.J., plant now enable it to produce new graining and other benefits. But before production of the new plates begins, Agfa wants to assure that the plant continues to manufacture its other products as well as before. As a result, she said, the first regular sales of the plates may be in Europe.

Arkitex 6.0 workflow has been enhanced for integration with PDF preflighting systems an improved user interface, with notes, and publication planning for imposition and multiple editions.

As much an IT tool as a production tool, according to Agfa Graphics Digital Solutions Sales Manager Glenn Gross, the new Arkitex Vantage module offers a single view of one or more or Arkitex workflow systems and their components, facilitating monitoring and support of prepress production lines, and with immediate feedback on system health. Agents residing on various prepress devices feed Analyst the information, providing a dashboard interface with an overview of activity of all system assets, said Gross.

An extension of reporting tools, the second new module, Arkitex Analyst, includes tracking and report server for real-time subsystem tracking information and post-production reports of an entire newspaper production cycle. For now, Analyst pulls information only from Agfa systems, but, says Nysko, may serve as the beginning of a possible enterprisewide system.

Another module, Arkitex OptiInk, can cut ink costs by as much as 30%, according to Agfa, while maintaining color quality and improving performance, with less set-off and show-through. The ink optimization software (see E&P, March 2007) introduced at the 2006 Ifra Expo is now in use at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Baltimore Sun, Allentown, Pa., Morning Call, Chicago Tribune, The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C., The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, The Day, New London, Conn.

Another OptiInk user, Expedi Printing, Brooklyn, N.Y., signed for an Agfa CTP solution at Nexpo. It was Agfa’s second sale announcement. When the show opened, the Minneapolis StarTribune had bought three Advantage violet platesetters and a full Arkitex workflow system, with Director (system and process management) and Affirma (platesetter-status monitoring/alerting/reporting) modules.

Agfa had one more thing to show visitors, Not yet a product, what Gross described as a “Web-based collaboration tool around the editorial process” was shown as a technical demonstration. The efforts integrates Adobe inDesign, hs built-in preflighting and offers optional color management.

“As we add functionality, who knows?” said Gross, when speculating about the technology’s cross-media potential. What it does now is output certified PDFs for print. Still in the early development stages, it is aimed at the small to midsize parts of the market, for example, weeklies, shoppers and some magazines, according to Agfa.

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