Apex Announces New Automated CtP Solutions

In Pre-Press on January 23, 2015 at 9:07 am


Apex Digital Graphics, Hemel Hempstead, the official Ryobi Mitsubishi representative for presses up to SRA1 format, has signed an exclusive CtP and plate distribution deal with Chinese pre-press manufacturer Cron covering UK and Ireland.

Apex is to sell and service Cron’s thermal and UV platesetters, which are available in 26-inch, 36-inch, 46-inch, and 72-inch formats. The company will sell Cron’s Blackwood UV plates, but will continue to market thermal plates from Fujifilm for the time being.

“As pre-press followers with be well aware, Cron has had previous attempts to break into the European market, but without gaining real traction,” said Bob Usher, Managing Director of Apex Digital Graphics. “Three years ago they came to market with a product that didn’t have much in the way of automation – it simply didn’t take off. This latest suite of product has everything you could ask for, plus a bit more!”

Apex’s expertise in CtP stretches back some 20-plus years when the company was at the forefront of direct-to-plate imaging, and was eventually responsible for the installation of over 500 DPX System CtP units in the UK. More recently the company has been working with Screen with regard to metal-based plate CtP.

Cron currently provides models from B3 through to VLF (very large format). All machines are available with up to three plate cassettes, or one high-capacity supply cassette, plus an auto-feeder. The UV CtP can work in daylight removing the need for a specialised production room. At the core of the Cron units is a precision-manufactured suction drum complete with punching unit.

Plates are output onto a conveyor that will take them direct to a stacker for “processless” plates, or to a Glunz & Jensen processor, incorporating a Cron automated replenishing system that monitors the pH and conductivity, adding fresh developer as required. All of Cron’s CtP devices will connect to any workflow or RIP that can output a TIFF file.

Plenty of Plates

Output speeds vary depending on the number of laser diodes configured in the particular unit. “The number of lasers can vary from 16 to 96. In B2 size plate terms, a 16 laser machine will image 14 plates per hour, whereas a 96 laser machine will image 56 plates per hour,” said Bob Usher.

Usher believes that this latest range of equipment, used in conjunction with the excellent and consistent plates being produced by Cron, could offer a 30% saving over what he describes as the “big three” producers. Cron itself is in the process of launching a “major assault” on Europe and North America in a bid to break the oligopoly of Agfa, Fujifilm and Kodak.

Apex, as might be expected, has run a number of test installations of Cron equipment in the run up to this announcement. “Our first install has been running for over three months on the same chemistry,” claimed Bob Usher, commenting on the installation at a commercial printer running circa 20,000-square-meters of plates per year.

“We’ve got the plates running successfully in live installs, with no batch-to-batch issues, and we’re talking about plates that could offer a saving of £1.50 to £2.00 per square metre over the gang of three.”

Cron makes a Blue plate for standard inks and a Red plate for UV inks. Tests at Apex indicate that the Blue plate can print in excess of 30,000 impressions with UV ink. “We printed a test run of 34,000 on the Blue plate with UV inks before we saw the 50% dot go below 40%,” said Bob Usher. “The Red plate will go on and on – certainly it would be capable of handling a run of 250,000 to 300,000 on a UV press.”

See Cron in Hemel Hempstead

Apex has already taken orders for five Cron platesetters and installed three. The company is also expected to feature one machine at its March open house event, taking place at its Hemel Hempstead showroom. Currently this is expected to be a 36in Cron UVP-3632GX, which will be demonstrated at the “Real Print and Finish” open house running from March 10th to 12th, where the company will team up with finishing specialist IFS.

Apex is already signed up to sell FFEI’s RealPro workflow, which it will demonstrate with the Cron UVP-3632GX platesetter at the “Real Print and Finish” event, with the plates then being run live on a five-colour Ryobi 755G B2 LED-UV press.

“We’re very confident in the plates,” said Usher. “If people want to come and print a job of 200,000 – as long as they supply the files and the paper – we’re happy to do that to demonstrate the durability of the plate.”

The list price for the 36in platesetter plus processor, which will take three plate sizes – 510 x 400mm, 745 x 605mm and 920 x 640mm – is around £68,000.

About Apex Digital Graphics

Apex Digital Graphics Limited is a specialist in the supply and service of pre-press and press equipment. Apex is the official UK distributor for the Ryobi Mitsubishi range of printing presses through to SRA1 format and Cron metal-based platesetters. Apex also distributes the Konica Minolta range of digital printing equipment. The company offers national service coverage, and a one-stop shop for print consumables featuring next day delivery. Apex Digital Graphics can be contacted on 01442 235 236 or via the web site.



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