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Screen: Six-Up Platerite 4300 Platesetter Leads To Gains At Alexander Clark

Press release from the issuing company

ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. — Change doesn't always come quickly at Alexander Clark Printing Inc., but it always comes. In 1972, Robert Alexander launched a one-man print shop in Boise, Ida., with a single press and a tiny location. Company history has it that the press didn't work very well. That same year, Alexander's former business partner, Jim Clark, moved to Boise and became a full partner in the shop. Thirty-two years, several venue changes and numerous press acquisitions later, Alexander Clark boasts 58 employees, a modern production facility and some of the most sophisticated technology on the market. The firm recently took the critical step of adopting computer-to-plate production, installing a PlateRite 4300 thermal platesetter from Screen USA. The transition couldn't have been smoother, according to Mike Ayers, administrative/prepress manager. "The machine was installed and operational in no time at all," Ayers said. "It interfaces easily with our digital workflow. Within a couple of days, we were taking basic files and producing plates with the Screen system. We now output 1,200 to 1,400 plates a month." Alexander Clark looked into buying a thermal platesetter from Screen because of the solid reputation the manufacturer had established within the industry. The printer also was sold on the benefits of the system. "We do a lot of makereadies in a day, so we needed an automated and reliable prepress solution," Ayers said. Size also factored into the choice of platesetter. Specializing in continuous forms printing and full-color catalogs on a wide range of media types and weights, Alexander Clark utilizes a mix of web and sheetfed offset presses. The pressroom houses a Sanden eight-color Quantum UV ink web press, several Didde web presses and three sheetfed presses. In addition, the company operates two Halm envelope presses. "We're very diversified as far as our products and client base," Ayers said. "We produce a range of printed products in runs of a few hundred to several million. The PlateRite 4300 was the most accommodating in terms of different-sized plates. We're able to output nine plate sizes. Up to 95 percent of our plate production is done by the PlateRite. The automated inline plate punch means real savings in makereadies." The PlateRite 4300 is an external-drum platesetter with a 16-channel infrared laser diode imaging head. It supports six-page presses with a maximum plate size of 32.7 x 26 inches. The minimum plate size of 12.8 x 14.5 inches supports some of the smaller two-page presses. The PlateRite 4300 outputs up to 20 plates per hour when working with 28.5 x 24.2-inch plates at 2,400 dpi. "As with any printing-related equipment, productivity is key," Ayers stated. "All of our customers ask for faster turnaround times. The UV web press provides especially quick turnarounds. We wanted to make sure the platesetter we installed could deliver plates as quickly as possible. We've been very happy with the PlateRite." Perhaps as the saying goes, change is the only constant. The biggest change to date at Alexander Clark occurred on March 17, 2004, when it became an employee-owned company. Ayers believes the new ownership structure will enable the firm to be even more accommodating to its customers. "We've had the same owners for 32 years, and they had multiple opportunities to sell the company to outside interests," he remarked. "The owners recognized that a loyal employee base had made the company a success. They chose to give the employees an opportunity to reap the rewards of their work. We expect great things to come as a result. Our employees are really jumping on the bandwagon."