Agfa Introduces New Thermal Platesetter, Xcalibur 45 High-Speed, 8-up System
Press release from the issuing company
Patented Innovative Technologies Achieve High-Resolution Imaging And Improved Performance On Press
Ridgefield Park, New Jersey – March 11, 2002 – At IPEX, April 9-17, 2002 in Birmingham, England, U.K., Agfa will introduce the Xcalibur 45, a next-generation, high-speed 8-up thermal platesetter designed for fast throughput, uncompromising image quality and maximum convenience. Agfa’s new 45-inch (1160 mm) platesetting system uses advanced Grating Light Valve (GLV) technology, which was originally designed for use in emerging High-Definition Television (HDTV) devices. With Xcalibur 45, Agfa is the first to bring this technology to the market.
Patented Optical System
Xcalibur 45 features an innovative, patented imaging system that sends laser energy through a Grating Light Valve (GLV), where it is carefully controlled and calibrated. The GLV’s micro-shutters modulate the laser light to produce individually addressable writing beams. This swath of beams ensures an exceptionally fast writing speed at a relatively low (190 rpm) drum rotational speed—simplifying operation and ensuring long-term reliability. The micro-shutters bend to open and shut with extreme precision, delivering a controlled "swath" to the plate surface. This writing swath allows the system to image contiguous, flawless shapes -- a very different approach from other imaging systems that create individual spots. On-board sensors automatically calibrate these beams for optimal, uniform exposure across the swath. Automatic controls accurately focus the imaged spots.
Agfa’s exclusive IntelliSpot technology with its unique spot shape provides a traditional Gaussian-like spot in the fast scan axis and a more sharply defined rectangular (or top-hat shape) spot in the slow scan axis. When combined with Xcalibur 45’s helical imaging pattern, IntelliSpot allows the system to achieve imaging that requires no adjustment to bring imaging areas together.
Speed and Automation
Xcalibur 45 outputs 20 full-format plates an hour at 2400 dpi, in either manual or automatic operation. Xcalibur 45 is available in manual, semi-automatic, and two fully automatic configurations, enabling users to choose the level of automation that matches their throughput requirements.
Xcalibur 45 allows users to pre-stage a second plate in the input tray so that it will be automatically loaded when the first plate is imaged and ejected. Operators do not have to wait for the first plate to exit the drum before loading another plate. This approach reduces the plate-handling overhead and makes the overall system more efficient.
The system automatically adjusts for temperature fluctuations that can affect imaging accuracy. A water-cooling system minimizes thermal variations, ensures image consistency across a wide range of operating conditions and it improves reliability of the thermally sensitive components.
The Xcalibur 45’s small footprint provides easy integration into any printing operation. Easy loading and reliable operation keeps the total cost of ownership low.
Innovative Registration Design
Xcalibur 45 automates the process of ensuring that every plate is accurately positioned for imaging via its innovative, three-point registration design. The system feeds the plate onto the drum until it makes contact with two registration pins that are located along the axis of the drum according to user specifications. These two "hard pins" are typically placed precisely where the plate will be sitting as it is notched— ensuring accuracy between the image and notches. Xcalibur 45 detects the plate via a laser and detector, which serves as a third point for positioning the image on the plate accurately. Mechanical clamps at both the lead and trailing edges hold the plate tightly to the drum, providing the precise plate registration required for accurate imaging.
Agfa’s innovative IntelliTrack linear slide mechanism moves the optical assembly along precision rails, ensuring smooth motion and accurate imaging.
Unique External-Drum Design
Xcalibur 45’s direct-drive external drum enables smooth, accurate motion while a high-resolution encoder ensures fast scan accuracy. This precision drum provides a stable surface for plate mounting, ensuring that the focus, geometry and placement of the image are all optimized for the highest possible image quality. Plates do not need to be internally punched within the system—eliminating another opportunity for mechanical error and helping ensure proper registration.
Safety and Ease of Use
Xcalibur 45’s drum design enables fast loading and unloading from the front or rear of the system. The load/unload height is ergonomically correct, making operation convenient, comfortable and safe. The input transport mechanism includes a patented de-skewing feature that automatically pre-aligns the plate as it feeds into the drum — ensuring accurate loading and registration of every plate. The output area also features an optional exit conveyor that leads directly to an on-line processor. The operator control console provides an intuitive graphic interface with the system, enabling operators of all levels to perform key operations.
The Xcalibur 45 has earned a "Machinery Directive" classification in the US and internationally — passing the most stringent safety evaluations in the world.
Xcalibur 45 can be configured with efficient, high-quality thermal processors - including the Autolith TP85 and TP105. These processors can be configured off-line, or in two different on-line placements —directly in-line or through an L-bridge. This flexibility makes efficient use of existing space, establishing a convenient platesetting operation.
The right plate for the Xcalibur 45 is Thermostar P970— a positive-acting plate based on an innovative thermal technology developed and patented by Agfa. Thermostar P970 is sensitized to 830 nm. It offers fast imaging, convenient handling and excellent press performance. Thermostar is ideal for run lengths of more than one million with post-baking, as well as UV ink applications.
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