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Anyone still use film?

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  • Anyone still use film?

    Had a discussion today with someone about film use in this computer-to-plate age. Are there still offset printers (or other printing process) using films to burn plates? Are there still applications or printing process requiring film use?
    Better train people and risk they leave - than do nothing and risk they stay.

  • #2
    Yep! We still use film. When the plate setters first came out, I didn't think the quality was as good. We will probably get a plate setter at some point, but the equipment we have is dirt cheap now, and it lasts, and lasts. We have a couple L-330 Linotronics, one was originally and L-300 that we bought in '89. The only thing that has gone wrong with them is new laser every 10 years or so. The chemistry and processing is the most expensive part.

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    • #3
      The Kodak Flexcel NX flexo plate system uses a high resolution “digital film” TIL – Thermal Imaging Layer (thermal ablative, no processing) which is laminated to the NX plate before UV exposure, which is a simple but effective and cost effective way to increase dot quality (elimination of oxygen inhibition and rounded dots, resulting in flat top dots) when compared to directly exposing a traditional LAMs flexo plate.

      Kodak also offer a general use high resolution ablative digital film or DITR.


      (Disclaimer, I work for a Master Distributor for these Kodak products)


      Stephen Marsh
      Comments are personal and my views may not be shared by my employer or partners.

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      • #4
        The folks at metal magic foil and embossing dies still use film in there acid etching systems. every die they ever made has a number on it. they can pull the original film and remake an exact die from the first day they were open.

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        • #5
          We still use film for the industrial graphics silk screen process. We haven't found any method that has the quality, resolution and repeatability of good old film. Our Barco megasetter is getting long in the tooth though, and with Esko ending their support for that unit as of 1/1/17 we have been forced to explore other options. Switching to direct to screen would be a monumental undertaking, forcing us to reinvent our whole shop. Inkjet technology has left us underwhelmed. The Laser Ablative Dry Film process that Stephen mentioned shows promise. As I understand it, a direct to plate unit is loaded with Kodak DITR or similar product and there is no processing involved. The major drawback with this method is that the unit has to be manned, incurring additional labor costs. Is anyone aware of an autoloader or cassette type system for these units? What are others in the high end screening industry migrating to?

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          • #6
            YES, we still produce films, sometimes as much as a roll a day.
            We are a small Service Bureau producing films for various industries: silkscreen printing, PCB production, metal-etching, offset printing (small format) and some others.
            Not many film image-setters are still around, but some industries still depend on films.
            Endangered species perhaps, but for many uses - photographic films are still the best option.
            BTW, the Kodak "Digital film" mentioned has one serious drawback, it is easily scratched.
            Last edited by Repro_Pro; 01-12-2017, 08:51 AM. Reason: Typo.

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            • #7
              Hello,

              Still use film every day. The image setter has gone. We use an Epson ink jet now. Twelve inks installed but we only use black. Sad really.

              Very narrow web fed flexo print.

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              • #8
                Yes, I believe there are some who still uses films. I heard directors likes shooting a movie with a film stock.

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                • #9
                  Here in Pakistan, film is still used in many printing companies and there are a lot of image setters still in production but now people are gradually moving towards CTP and CTCP.
                  Asif Qazi
                  www.facebook.com/printindustry

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                  • #10
                    For standard commercial print I can't imagine going back to film. I started in the industry when we were making film. All that fun managing the chemicals for processing the film. The great times stripping and burning plates late into the evening are now gone thanks to direct to processless plates. Do I miss it? Not even a little bit. I can't imagine trying to make film, strip, burn and process plates while doing everything else I do now. Not enough hours in the day. I don't know of any print shops in my area that use film still. It can be pretty cheap to get into now if you buy used and the time saves will be worth it in no time.

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                    • #11
                      We understand that some printers are still using the old film imagesetters. But for anyone contemplating a move to CTP - check out this flyer on the advantages of switching over--- ctf to ctp flyer 9-16.pdf . Contact us for more information.

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                      • #12
                        We use Agfa Avantra 44 imagesetters to produce high resolution films for high-end High-Resolution UV Screen Printing, and security UV screen printing on paper/paperboard for packaging, commercial, security, trading-cards, and display markets. We are a trade-only finishing operation that serves printing and display companies in the southeast: Virginia to Florida plus Tennessee.

                        We would like to move away from chemical-based film production.

                        We have seen that there is not a product on the market that will meet both/either our resolution needs AND/or our Size-Accuracy needs, to make film by means of inkjet. Nor does direct to screen make the resolution and smoothness we require. So, to my knowledge, that leaves only film produced by either film-imagesetters or CTP-generated-digital-film.

                        If there is any other high resolution (2400dpi/ppi+) solution out there, I would love to learn more.

                        Additional notes about inkjet:
                        1) we have seen MANY "2400" resolution outputs of inkjet onto film, but it is just not even close to the smoothness of 2400ppi film-imagesetter output. Our application is often fine-line reproduction, analogous to printing the grooves on a record album.
                        2) The "fit"/"registration"/"repeat-ability" of inkjet machines is just not even close to the .002" (two-thousandths of an inch) that we need. We need to output films that are the correct, true, and same size every time. The very design, engineering, and function of most inkjets is inherently prone to inability to image extremely accurately and repeatably. I mean, they are like the old capstan imagesetters that just roll the film past the laser: the rollers slip and squeeze, and the image inherently varies in size along the direction of travel: by the time you get to a 29" or 40" length, the error is far outside our +-.002" tolerance.
                        3) Is there Perhaps some flat-bed inkjet machine that makes very accurate and true-size images? If we could find such a beast, perhaps we could figure a way to live with the lower-resolution and roughness of inkjet.
                        4) Lastly, Media/Substrate. All imagesetter-film-substrate that I am aware of is made from premium mylar/polyester, since it has the lowest coefficient of expansion due to changes in humidity and temperature. What's more, we pay extra for .007" (seven thousandths) thick film, which is even more stable and durable. Is anyone aware of inkjet substrate that is .007" thick mylar-polyester?
                        Last edited by DuaneBryant; 01-13-2017, 02:58 PM.

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                        • #13
                          DuaneBryant-Judging from the responses we are a rare breed indeed. Your observations are spot on regarding inkjet.

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                          • #14
                            Absolutely not me! I do not miss the film days. CTP is so much easier and more reliable!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by shorty83 View Post
                              Absolutely not me! I do not miss the film days. CTP is so much easier and more reliable!
                              Yeah .. . but being able to hide in the darkroom and double burn film sometimes has its upside . . . . I just love the smell of developer in the morning.

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