Flexo CTP Ready; U.K. Plate, Print Plants Coming

By: E&P Staff

After several years of research and development at its San Marcos, Calif., facility and more than a year of beta testing at a New England production site, MacDermid Printing Solutions announced it is now selling computer-to-plate technology for flexo newspapers.

In April 2004, MacDermid installed a PerkinElmer Optoelectronics laser platesetter at the Union Leader, Manchester, N.H. Though able to image quality plates, the device’s original 8-watt prototype UV laser from Coherent had operating shortcomings. In October, however, Coherent installed the commercial model, which MacDermid said “has performed exceptionally well.”

Since buying in December the rights to PerkinElmer’s design, along with its existing machine inventory, parts, and the beta unit in Manchester, MacDermid moved into a new San Marcos facility where it manufactures semi-automatic CTP units. The company said it will offer semi-automatic and automatic units by next spring.

The semi-automatic unit images up to 80 plates per hour and requires an operator to feed plates. The automatic unit images 120 plates per hour. A conveyor transports plates into existing NAPPflex processors.

“We currently use the unit for seven weeklies and two monthlies. Eliminating the exposure unit and film has made for better detail concerning the final product,” Union Leader Production Manager Lemont Haas said in a statement, adding that the paper anticipates converting entirely to digital platesetting “by next year.”

In a related announcement, MacDermid said construction of its NAPP flexo printing plate plant in Wigan, England, is on schedule. The plant is expected to supply not only the largest newspaper flexo site, Associated Newspapers Ltd.’s Harmsworth Quays Printing, in London’s Docklands, but also the same publisher’s new production plant, to be built in Didcot, Oxfordshire.

Announced last month, the ?80 million ($145 million) brownfield plant and ?16 million ($29 million) worth of added capacity to the KBA presses at Harmsworth Quays will allow ANL to print all (up to 128) pages of the Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday (up to 160 pages) in color. Current capacity can put four-color on only half that number of pages.

To be in operation by 2008, the 12-acre Didcot plant will run flexo presses from Italy’s Giovanni Cerutti Spa, consisting of 128 printing couples, 15 reelstands, and four folders.

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