July 6, 2004 -- A new study just released by worldwide GA analysts VSM de-bunks recent claims that future thermal CtP will only be for niche market applications.
In the latest edition of its ‘Direct-to’ Technologies 2004 Report, VSM point out that sales of thermal platesetters soared to 64% of worldwide sales last year, boosting the installed base of thermal machines to 56%. Thermal plates accounted for 68% of CtP plate consumption.
The Report, which looks ahead for the next five years, envisages more visible platesetters being sold to the smaller end of the market on the strength of ‘cost of ownership’ argument, but points out that with the intense plate price competition between thermal plate suppliers now gathering force, the cost of thermal plates is likely to remain below that of visible, even with the entry of KPG into the visible plate supply arena.
This is unlikely to persuade large users of CtP plates to switch to visible, even if the maintenance costs of visible platesetters are higher than those of thermal – which is debatable.
The two technologies are interchangeable as far as the major platesetter suppliers (excepting Creo) are concerned, and will be used strategically as sales tools to expand market share in specific regions. The Report also notes that Creo is unlikely to yield market share without a struggle, while at the same time endeavouring to become a major thermal plate supplier.
The Report concludes that visible CtP platesetters will gain some annual sales market share – rising perhaps from 36% to 40% in ’08, but that the accumulative installed base is still likely to remain biased towards thermal.
VSM is also sceptical about claims that CtcP will become a major plate address technology. While technically sound, the two main protagonists, basysPrint and Esko-Grafics, are relatively small players in the global supply of platesetters. Furthermore, the price of CtP plates is likely to come much closer to that of conventional in future, negating some of the benefits of CtcP. Last, but not least, because CtcP is not in the business interest of the major plate manufacturers who have such a hold over technology adoption, it will remain limited to niche applications.
The inkjet platesetters also heralded as taking over future small user CtP also lack the backing of the major plate manufacturers, but in this case, they may be content to leave this market sector to minor players. The business case for an inexpensive inkjet platesetter which will afford both the manufacturer and the distributor sufficient margin, while at the same time making it affordable to the small printer, still has to be proved.
The quality issue is also a factor which may be superceded by the development of inexpensive inkjet presses – as shown at Drupa’04 - to print ‘acceptable’ colour rather than keep to the CtP/offset route.
Further information about VSM and the new 200+ pp Report can be obtained from their website at www.vsm.uk.com or direct from Barry Happé at [email protected]