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Shedding A ‘Negative’ Attitude

Colorado’s Division of Central Services knew it needed to eliminate chemicals and film, and switch to a CTP workflow. Here’s how the in-plant went about it.

March 2011 By Erik Cagle
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The definition of bittersweet, from a printer's perspective, is saying goodbye to a timeless but antiquated craft in favor of a more automated, and precise, process driven by computer software. But letting go of a manual process honed through years of experience, is more than offset by the gains offered in the new technology.

Take the State of Colorado's Division of Central Services, Integrated Document Solutions (IDS) in-plant. For years, the Denver-based shop had relied on a traditional prepress plate-making system—masking the plates and using a burner. But the times, they were a-changing. Colorado, like the rest of the country, was pushing for greener, environmentally friendly sensibilities in its manufacturing activities. The shop needed to go green and eliminate prepress and postpress chemicals, and with the pending acquisition of a two-color press, IDS was at a crossroads.

The 22-employee IDS team had relied on a Xanté platemaker, which for years had suited its needs. Longer runs, however, required the ordering of negatives through an outside vendor, and film—not inexpensive and getting harder to find—made for an inefficient process. IDS had actually used a computer-to-plate (CTP) system 15 years earlier, but it had become antiquated and unable to handle software upgrades, so it gave way to the Xanté platemaker. Now it was time for a return to CTP.

"We felt like we needed a lot more ability to make our plates here; we wanted bring that ability in-house," notes Mike St. Peter, IDS production manager. "It was getting really expensive, and film—the old negative process—was going by the wayside. We wanted to get away from all of that. We were working with the Xanté polyester plates for quite a while; it served purposes for small runs. But when it comes to using a two-color press, we were going to require a lot more quality and precision. So we'd need a good plate system."

That's when Mike Lincoln, northern regional manager for the Department of Personnel and Administration (the Division of Central Services IDS regional office) went into research mode along with his key personnel. They visited shops comparable to IDS in size and scope, listened to recommendations and learned the pros and cons associated with their respective CTP systems.

Impressed with Presstek

In 2009, Lincoln found a shop that was looking to sell its two-color press, which included a Presstek Vector CTP system. He was duly impressed. The parties were unable to come to terms, though, so IDS sent out an information for bid (IFB) solicitation. Among the proposals: A two-color Presstek/ABDick 9995 with the chemistry-free Presstek Vector. The shop, which was already sold on the Vector solution, sent its stamp of approval for the Presstek bid to its purchasing department. The press package was formally approved by IDS' parent.


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