Chicago, Ill (Print '05 – Booth #7900) – September 9, 2005 – Agfa announced today that its :Azura chemistry-free plate system is now in operation in more than 300 printing and prepress sites around the world. Less than one year after it became commercially available in November 2004, printers from all over the globe who want to reduce processing steps, improve workflow efficiencies, and eliminate chemistries from the work environment have switched to :Azura. Originally launched as an Agfa-only solution for Agfa thermal CtP systems, the industry's acceptance of :Azura marks the most successful chemistry-free plate introduction ever.
:Azura is now in use on a variety of platesetters from other vendors – in on-line and off-line configurations – including Screen's PlateRites, Creo's Trendsetters and Lotems, Luscher's Expose and Heidleberg's Topsetter and Suprasetter.
:Azura is a grained and anodized aluminum thermal plate that uses patented ThermoFuse technology to physically bond images to the plate without any chemical processing. A clean-out step follows the non-ablative imaging process to enhance contrast. The result is highly stable and predictable thermal imaging, without any compromises on press. :Azura plates offer high quality (2-98% dots on plate) imaging for printers using 2-, 4- and 8-up formats.
H&S Graphics of Lodi, NJ (USA) replaced its first chemistry-free system with Agfa's :Acento running :Azura plates. The third-generation mid-size commercial printer likes :Azura's quality, environmental benefits and its overall performance on press.
"While our original system failed to meet the standards for chemistry-free CtP that we set for ourselves, :Azura lived up to every claim Agfa made, and more," said H&S Graphics' John Santangelo, executive vice president of sales and marketing. "Before we got :Azura, when we still were using film, we frequently had leftover chemistry. We were obligated to replenish that chemistry otherwise it would go bad. With :Azura, we don't worry about that anymore," Santangelo added.
Golden Circle Graphics, based in Jackson, TN (USA) switched earlier this year to :Azura to save in chemistry costs, save time and maintain high quality on its Creo Trendsetter.
"Our costs for chemistry were through the roof. With :Azura, there is no pre- or post-bake, so we save time and the electricity used for baking. It takes us about six minutes per plate from the start of the process to get to press. With our old plate it took up to an hour," said Joel Maners, managing director / partner, Golden Circle Graphics. "Our old system also needed to be monitored constantly to make sure we were getting a good dot on the plate. The :Azura plate gives me a rock solid result every time without the constant monitoring."
Since :Azura does not use chemicals for processing, it is safer, simpler and more consistent to use. :Azura provides the convenience of daylight handling, to fit in to any prepress environment.
Prepress manager Thomas Hangartner of Brändle Druck in Switzerland is pleased that with :Azura, he no longer has to monitor the processor's chemistry conditions. "Since the change-over to :Azura our plate production has been going without problems," Hangartner said. "Since the chemistry variables don't exist any more, we are experiencing unheard-of stability and reproducibility."
"The :Azura plate has made our operation more environmentally-friendly, saving thousands of liters of water each week and there is no harsh chemical waste to get rid of," said Steve Bujeia, general manager of Lionheart Offset in Sydney, Australia.
With conventional thermal plates, a latent image is formed during plate imaging, which then needs to be processed chemically to produce a lithographic image. Thanks to Agfa's ThermoFuse technology, :Azura plates require only a clean-out step of non-image areas, contributing to a more efficient workflow overall.
"Printers decide every day that there are better alternatives to traditional chemistry-based CtP systems and are turning to Agfa's economical and high-quality :Azura chemistry-free plate," said David Furman, Agfa's senior marketing manager, CtP Systems, North America. "With :Azura's ThermoFuse technology, Agfa has found a productive and cost-effective chemistry-free thermal plate system that offers consistency and the elimination of process variables."
Readers (in North America only) who are interested in learning more can contact Agfa by phone at 1-800-540-2432 x4848 or by email at [email protected]