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Toray to Establish Waterless Computer-to-Plate Production Line

Press release from the issuing company

March 4, 2002 - Toray Industries has announced that it will invest some 2 billion yen to establish a waterless computer-to-plate (CTP) production line at the company's Okazaki plant in Aichi Prefecture. Full-scale production is planned to begin in the summer of 2003, to meet the printing industry's growing demand for waterless CTPs. As a result of the introduction of this new production line, the Okazaki plant will be the first large-scale facility to manufacture waterless CTPs. The plant's total waterless-plate production capacity is expected to more than double, and Toray anticipates total annual sales of CTPs to increase from 4 billion yen to 7 billion yen by 2004. At present, the market for off-set plates totals approximately 300 billion yen on an annual-production basis. Toray mainly targets the commercial printing industry in Japan, Europe, and the United States, with annual production amounting to approximately 100 billion yen. The waterless method not only reduces costs by improving printing quality but also is environmentally friendly. The method requires neither damping water, which contains isopropyl alcohol, which is subject to environmental regulations, nor the strong alkali solution normally needed in PS-plate (wet off-set plate) development processes. Worldwide use of CTPs has greatly increased since 1995, especially in Europe and the United States, because no film process is involved in the direct printing of images onto plates. In Japan, the demand for CTPs has also expanded rapidly, and the trend is likely to continue. Because CTPs have the potential to reduce printing costs and lead time, it is expected that by 2007 they will account for a 30% share of the entire off-set plate market. Toray launched its printing-plate business in 1974, making full use of such core technologies as high-polymer chemistry and optical science. Since introducing waterless plates to Europe and the United States, Toray has been leading the market both as a pioneer and sole supplier. Toray intends to increase its exports of waterless CTPs to Europe and the United States, as well as to further boost demand in the domestic Japanese market. The company also plans to aggressively promote new CTP applications that will extend to packaging and newspaper printing.