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  • Solid workflow solution needed.

    Without sounding like a rant, I would like to first explain why our current workflow is reminiscent of a cracked drain pipe. I've spent many years in film and have experienced the ups and downs within that environment for the past 20 years. ECRM, Hyphen, Crossfield, Scitex, Fuji, Agfa.. and a few others share my grade scale between disaster and triumph. Moving to CTP though brings a whole new meaning to hard decisions: Continue using a Presstek platesetter or ...chewing razor blades. Tough decision I know. Currently the CTP machine is unplugged and our facility is outsourcing for plates. A quick trouble list: The platesetter would fold plates, jam, leave streaks, refuse to load, refuse to load, refuse to load, load... spit out, load crooked, and kick up error number (insert arbitrary code here) every chance it had. When it worked... it would bang, clack, grunt, and a plate would come out with very small spots - small enough to tick-off clients who reaffirmed their dislike for "recycled stock." If you think you could get 25K out of each plate, say "Hi" to Elvis for me while you're there. 5K yield at the most, then the emulsion would disintegrate on the press - requiring 6 plates to finish a letterhead job (explain that to the quoting CSR). When you look at a fresh unpunched plate adorned with the proprietary coating savvy with the Presstek setup, you will see blatant banding & ribbing variations in the emulsion. One might think the emulsion was put on with a paint brush (the cheap kind... and used... for digging or something).

    We are at a crossroads and would like some perspective from our fellow printing brothers. To my own regret, the plant I work for is a recent relationship, and the "workflow" was there when I got there. I'm going to help them out as best I know how. Problem is, the warranty for this expensive "solution" ran out a week before I walked in the door. The options to us at this point are unclear. Closing our eyes, we could say "Give us the model up - that has to be better, right?" Or we could say with a nervous giggle "remove all this and replace it with a new one." If I had my druthers, I would set up a lawn chair out front and watch the garbage men try and load the system into the truck Thursday morning. But the investment to the company was substantial. So like an old Ferrari (without the good looks, awesome sound, admiration, nice tires...) this system is a hangar queen. The Tech who comes to service us knows everyone in the building now, and is at the point where buying a house next door might actually (on paper) provide us with slightly better support.

    If you were in my position, what might you do? And don't start off by asking "How did you get in this condition in the first place?" because LPs are very old now, especially the broken ones.

    Thanx guys.

  • #2
    Re: Solid workflow solution needed.

    I've been in a similar situation as you, but with a different manufacture. It's hard when you already have so much invested in a solution to just walk away, and for many shops, they just can't afford to do it.

    Has the sales rep been brought in to discuss what issues there are? Could he have some leverage in either getting your current machine fixed or a significant trade-in value for a replacement unit? Don't forget they want to keep your plate business, use that to your advantage if you can.

    Sometimes the sales guys can put pressure on the service end to get things taken care of. Can't hurt to try.

    Good Luck!


    • #3
      Re: Solid workflow solution needed.

      Commercial offset CTP has come a long way in the past few years. Most systems by the majors produce clean, reliable, long lasting plates. Often your investment can be softened by purchasing though a manufacturer who can bundle a plate deal with the CTP.

      Regardless of the CTP that you go with a "workflow" , the digital setup and processing of your files to output ( be that proofer, film, or plate ), can vary. Most digital workflows can send files ( TIFF ) to any CTP, and most CTP devices can accept those same files. This means you can shop around for your digital frontend and your CTP hardware separately and marry a system that really works for you. Accuracy, speed, and easy of use are just as important in workflow as it is in CTP hardware, and often where additional savings in production can come in. If your digital frontend can not keep up to feed your CTP and presses, if it can not offer automation, speed, and ease of use, that's your production and economic bottleneck. Good luck with your project.

      Peter David Lewis
      Technical Consultant - Canada
      "you never know how the past is going to turn out"


      • #4
        Re: Solid workflow solution needed.

        The funny thing is, the plates are nothing to admire. Heck, if the platesetter worked 90% of the time and the plates were Fuji/Agfa ... I would be laughing! The front end is fine. The Epson proofing and rip are easy and reliable. What happens after that point is another story.

        Is there a point where sink or swim requires showing Prestek the door and calling another vendor? It may be a hard pill to swallow, but if this sort of action is needed, we need to know soon. It's costing us twice as much as it should. Our work is backed up, our clients are not happy, and everyone is in a bad mood. Then there is the dinosaur cloud over the companies head. We're at that unusual size - where most shops are either Goliath or a notch above a copy shop. There isn't too many in between anymore. Swim or sink.


        • #5
          Re: Solid workflow solution needed.

          Unfortunately to "pull the plug" and start anew often means a reduction in overhead somewhere to pay for it. Be careful what you wish for, because if your value can be replaced by an automated step in the new improved manufacturing process, your lawn chair might be the end result.

          Without pointing at specific vendors, you need to white-board your entire company and see where you want to be in 5 years and it sounds like 5 years is an impossible eternity at the course you find yourself now. Make yourself valuable in making suggestions and bringing leadership to a new direction and you may weather the storm. If you sit back and wait for the owners to make the necessary changes, and you go along with it without any input, chances are the higher prepress manual labor costs are the first ones to come down.

          Truly, I wish you all the best in these rough waters and keep your eye om the horizon.

          “If you are in a hole, stop digging.” – Warren Buffet.

          Allan Larson


          • #6
            Re: Solid workflow solution needed.

            Ok let us look at this problem in a simple way. You bought a highly proprietary machine knowing up front they make the lasers and plates for this machine. They are the only source for supplies and plates and service correct? That machine was sold with certain specs and performance guarantees. If you as the customer supply the correct operating environment and the front end needs and all the proper press settings to prevent them from saying you have not done your part to make our equipment work than I would have pulled the plug on the Razor and Blades boys 6 months ago. Ptek is using their leverage to move people into DI printing and I doubt CTP is their main interest.
            The P stands for proprietary. Better CTP makers will allow you to use plates and chemistry from different vendors and not make excuses for poor performance.
            Did your service tech get laid off recently? The P boys just laid off a load more people including service reps. Good read at
            There is no reason to suffer just either get it fixed or throw it out. There are many CTP vendors out there that will make sure you happy and satisfied as a customer.
            OG Focus on the Donut and not the hole


            • #7
              Re: Solid workflow solution needed.

              Unfortunately, Offset Guy brings up a good point. We have our Heidelberg Saphira branded plates for both our Violet Prosetter CtP and our thermal Suprasetter CtP. If you use our system, have a problem and you do not know if it is on your Speedmaster press, plates, workflow or CtP, you make one phone call to us to resolve, we have specialist in all categories with some overlapping from one to another.

              If you do prefer another plate, we have certified almost every plate commercially availalbe on both CtP technologies. We also have a plate testing and certification department that are testing new or improved plate technologies from many plate manufactures. In one case, a thermal plate was so ablative it would require constantly cleaning the CtP and optics even though we have a debris removal system. We did not certify it but other than that, most plates are certified.


              Mark Tonkovich
              Heidelberg USA
              Product Manager, CtP & Proofing
              Mark Tonkovich
              Heidelberg USA


              • #8
                Re: Solid workflow solution needed.

                This shop had a presstek CTP and workflow less than a year ago.

                They switched to Prinergy and Lotem. The Presstek is up for sale and no takers yet. Hah! What a surprise.

                May I suggest two options:
                1) Switch to Kodak CTP and possibly endure layoffs as your productivity zooms.
                2) Continue with the living hell that you are now enduring.

                If you choose option # 2, could you be so kind as to provide the location/home city/address of your shop? That way my employer could consider opening up a branch location near you so we could grab your customers.

                You know, I'm just joking about the last point.

                But other people watching this thread? Maybe not.


                • #9
                  Re: Solid workflow solution needed.

                  Has Kodak, Afga (God, please forgive me for putting that down in writing)
                  ever offered you to buy plates on a 3 year contract and get the platesetter
                  for a substantial discount?


                  • #10
                    Re: Solid workflow solution needed.

                    You should add a few more companies to that, like Screen. I heard of a case where someone got TrueFlow for free alongside a VLF and consumable contract.

                    In this case, it wasn't quite what the customer was wanting (TrueFlow), but since they then had a single point of contact for all (support) issues and the price from the original quote didn't increase, they couldn't ignore it. They wanted to use our FirstPROOF product, but could no longer (in an easy integrated way like it works with the Harlequin RIP).

                    It seems like we're heading back to the days of such business and locked in proprietary systems - that's what most of the supposedly called "open" workflows are these days. Although they claim to be "open", what they really mean is that you can take in PostScript or PDF and output TIFF files. But try anything else anywhere in the middle and you'll find it hard to.



                    Andy Cave,
                    Chief Executive Officer,
                    Hamillroad Software Limited.


                    • #11
                      Re: Solid workflow solution needed.

                      Unfortunately, my arrival to the facility was far after the purchase decision was made. I wish things were the same as in the old days of film. I remember being offered an Accuset 1000 for free so long as we kept the film rolling (and boy did it ever). What options are available these days is unclear. More assessment of the situation has been left to marinate over the holidays.


                      • #12
                        Re: Solid workflow solution needed.

                        Wow. We've used a Creo Trendsetter News imagesetter (drum) for the past 2+years, and have had none of the problems you listed above. Plates are Southern Lithoplate (Viper)--great quality so far.

                        The imagesetter before that, though (flat)...whole different story--we had pretty much all the problems you listed--can't remember the brand or plates but both stunk. We're a newspaper here so outsourcing for plates was not an option and thank goodness my super (whatever his faults) had the sense to see ahead and buy the Trendsetter; at the same time we switched from Dynastrip to Prinergy Evo and Preps.

                        I'm a platemaker with only a few years on digital equipment, so I don't know the proprietary end. If Trendsetter works w/your system and you can talk your bosses into it, I think you'd find yourself very happy, and in the end your company would have to save money--right?? Sending out is never a good sign; it makes customers nervous (and trust me, they KNOW something's wrong).

                        I've seen a used Trendsetter online for about 60 idea how much for new.

                        Good luck whatever your decision.


                        • #13
                          Re: Solid workflow solution needed.

                          At the company I used to work for, we trialed Fugi products for about 6 months, when they couldn't get their plates to the press clean we told 'em to take out the trash and went back to Kodak. Since then I've heard a lot of good about Fugi, I think it was the saleman's fault for telling us that the plates would run without postbaking, then insisting that they would even when it was obviously not the case... but my point is that we did a trial and kicked 'em out when it didn't work. You can't lose if you do that.

                          it's not so easy with a workflow, because you invest so much time learning to use it and making it right for your equipment, not to mention setting up jobs for it, but equipment should be easier to trial, especially if you try for a bundle deal for plates, chemistry, processor

                          Both Kodak and Fugi let us use the processor and oven for free as long as we bought the consumables and service contracts.


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