IFRA (Hall 2A, Stand 305), Leipzig, Germany – 14 October 2003 – Today Agfa launched :Afirma, a new closed-loop computer-to-plate (CtP) system. Using CCD cameras, a special analogue imaging wedge and quality-control software, :Afirma monitors all system variables and sets into motion a system of checks and balances to ensure that every imaged plate is press ready before it is delivered to the pressroom. The :Afirma solution includes support and consulting services to provide total quality control.
:Afirma monitors all variables affecting the quality of plate imaging such as plate exposure energy. The CCD camera captures 13 reference points on the plate for examination. :Afirma also monitors all processing variables including processing speeds, brush roller speeds, chemistry levels, replenishment, conductivity, and many more system variables. It then compares each variable with stored quality-standard values. As soon as the information is analysed, :Afirma provides automatic feedback and creates a data log. The operator knows immediately that the plate is being imaged and processed according to the highest quality standards. If a variable drifts beyond the acceptable tolerance, the user is notified immediately and directed to the problem source.
“All CtP systems – regardless of the imaging technology or the quality of the equipment – have variables which when not controlled and monitored affect plate performance on press,” said Mark Bussard, senior marketing manager for newspaper CtP, worldwide. “:Afirma ensures there will be no deviations from the quality standard. It is an enabler of true computer integrated manufacturing.”
Variables affecting plate performance include chemical bath temperatures, pre-heating, ambient conditions, and plate sensitivity shifts due to storage and transport-handling conditions.
Because :Afirma automatically and continuously monitors plate production quality, it saves time and reduces consumable waste. The total cost of the :Afirma system can be less than the cost of having one faulty plate reach the press room. :Afirma also lets users respond readily to management or customer complaints with a detailed quality verification report.
The system was designed for ease of use. An intuitive user interface offers various views – from a simple overview to expanded views of all processes. Alerts and warnings are delivered automatically.
To ensure that :Afirma meets the requirements of different printing sites Agfa will provide on-site consulting before a system is installed. Once it is set up, the company will also provide support services including remote diagnostics and service. Remote service will allow Agfa to assist on-site technicians to resolve problems immediately or install upgrades without waiting for an Agfa technician to arrive on site.
The first release of :Afirma, which is scheduled for January 2004, will support the :Polaris X series of CtP systems including the the Nela VCP2002 punch and bend system. A second release scheduled for April 2004 will support additional Agfa CtP system configurations.
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