Commentary & Analysis
Chemistry-free CTP: Does It Matter?
By John O'
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: July 10, 2006
By John O'Rourke of Presstek July 10 , 2006 -- Regardless of our political or moral stance on environmental issues, we all make personal choices that have an effect--to SUV or not to SUV, for example--and we have significant opportunities as printing professionals to contribute toward the environmental sustainability of our planet, with each of us, in some small or large way, doing our part. Can you blend moral responsibility with profitability? Can you blend moral responsibility with profitability? At Presstek, a significant part of our mission from the inception of the company has been to deliver environmentally friendly printing solutions to the marketplace. And as we have said many times in this space, it is gratifying to see other manufacturers beginning to bring these types of solutions to the marketplace as well. We believe that with today's technology, it is not only possible, but profitable, to operate a virtually chemistry-free printing business. And we are seeing a number of our customers migrating in that direction. According to Jared Heller of The Stelter Company, "We were initially attracted to chemistry-free plates because we wanted to get away from chemistry in platemaking and other parts of our operation for the benefit of both the environment and our employees. We are benefiting from faster run-ups and less paper wastage in makeready. Having completely eliminated chemical plate processing and all associated materials and steps from my business, I cannot imagine going back to traditional platemaking." While Presstek has had chemistry-free offerings in the marketplace for some time, our recent announcement at IPEX of the next generation of Anthem chemistry-free plates, Anthem Pro, takes us a step further toward the goal of environmental sustainability. In announcing the product, Presstek's President & CEO, Ed Marino, said "Presstek set the standard by delivering the world's first chemistry-free plates, and we are raising the bar again. Anthem Pro was developed based on customer input, and optimizes the advantages and proven capabilities of a grained anodized surface in a truly chemistry-free CTP plate." When analyzing the cost benefits of chemistry-free CTP, you must look at the entire process. While environmentally sustainable solutions for the printing industry have been around for some time, there has always been a performance trade-off or cost increase associated with those benefits. At Presstek, we believe that that is no longer the case. You should be able to run an environmentally clean operation with absolutely no trade-offs. So, when analyzing the cost benefits of chemistry-free CTP, you must look at the entire process. This includes not only the cost of plates, but the elimination of chemistry-related costs including acquisition, storage, disposal, safety and other costs; space and energy consumption; and cycle time and manpower consumption as jobs are processed through the shop. Christopher Edwards from Infinity Press comments, "When I was making the decision to move from film-based platemaking to CTP, the lure of running without chemistry was very compelling to me. I also noticed a drop-off in paper consumption during makeready, and without all of the processors, my shop is a nicer environment for my employees. We are using chemistry-free plates on both our 20" and 40" presses and like the idea that basically the only chemicals we have in the shop anymore are those contained in inkjet ink." To continue to promote the benefits of an environmentally sustainable operation, we at Presstek have contracted with an independent research firm to interview users of chemistry-free platemaking solutions from a variety of manufacturers to get their perspective on the impact of migrating to a chemistry-free process. This research will look at a variety of processes and help readers to quantify the benefits of these various chemistry-free options. We expect the research to be completed by early September, and will be making the report available at no cost. If you are interested in learning more about how you can help mitigate global warming and other environmental issues by operating a more environmentally sustainable production operation, please drop me an email note and I will be happy to make sure you get a copy of the report, as well as answer any questions you may have. "The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings." - Okakura Kakuzo (1863-1913), Japanese teacher & art critic