While many newspaper printers have only recently started to take advantage of the benefits of thermal CTP technology, St. Galler Tagblatt AG, a company that forms part of the Swiss media group NZZ, can look back on more than ten successful years of working with Kodak’s thermal CTP and plate technologies. At the print centre in St. Gallen’s Winkeln district, the company uses two KODAK GENERATION NEWS Platesetters to image the approximately 320,000 print plates that are used every year for print operations on a six-tower WIFAG press equipped with two folding units. Since March 2012, the company has been using only the new KODAK THERMALNEWS PT Plate.
The perfect solution for the St. Galler Tagblatt
The THERMALNEWS PT plate allows newspaper printernewspaper printers to achieve runs of up to 200,000 impressions without the need for any preheating or prewash stages. This enables users to make substantial reductions in their energy and water consumption during print form production. If preheated in the conventional way, the negative-working plate can even achieve runs of up to 350,000 impressions. With this performance profile, Kodak’s new, high-resolution newspaper plate was exactly what the newspaper printer needed to cope with its specific production schedule. A crucial part of this schedule takes the form of the St. Galler Tagblatt, a newspaper with a daily circulation of 120,000 copies subdivided into a number of regional editions. In addition to this, the company also prints weekly, fortnightly or monthly newspapers and magazines on behalf of its customers. These include a number of high-volume publications, such as the touring magazine by the Swiss Touring Club (approximately 700,000 copies) or a share in the weekly print run for Coop Zeitung (350,000 copies).
“We are continuing to work with preheating and can therefore print even our largest runs using a single set of THERMALNEWS PT Plates. This is a very important plus for us, because it means that we do not need to produce any duplicate plates and there are no plate changes - an operation that we still perform manually,” explains Hansjürg Stihl, head of newspaper printing with responsibility for presses, logistics, print form production and certain purchasing areas. “Our largest job, the Coop Zeitung, is printed as a collect run. When we remove the plates from the machine after 350,000 impressions, they are still good enough to carry on printing.”
Rapid print form production, reliable printing operations
Andreas Schneller, who heads the print centre’s plate production activities, confirms the very high imaging speed of the KODAK THERMALNEWS PT Plate – a consequence of its low energy requirement of just 70 mJ/cm2. The plates are imaged using AM screening with a screen frequency of 130 lpi. Since the THERMALNEWS PT Plate is able to transfer a screen value range of 1 to 98% even using the finer 150 lpi screen, the company is optimally placed to print extremely varied and detailed images with a full range of tonal values. When asked about another advantage of the new printing plate during processing, Andreas Schneller replies, “We are in the habit of changing the chemicals every two weeks, even though they would last quite a lot longer. We have kept the same frequency for the THERMALNEWS PT Plate, but we have noticed that the processing equipment is now easier to clean.”
In the newspaper printer, the changeover from the KODAK THERMALNEWS GOLD Plate to the THERMALNEWS PT Plate was equally smooth. “This spring, we used the two types of plate in parallel for a month on separate CTP lines. For the printers, this did not result in any different handling requirements or print parameter settings,” recalls Hansjürg Stihl. “From our point of view, the lower scratch sensitivity of the THERMALNEWS PT Plate is another advantage. The fact that we mount the print plates on the cylinder by hand and have to perform a lot of plate changes means that we need scratch-resistant plates.”
Approximately 200,000 KODAK THERMALNEWS PT Plates, including 18,000 panorama plates and the rest in broadsheet format, have been used in less than eight months by St. Galler Tagblatt. That is a sufficiently long period to give Hansjürg Stihl’s concluding assessment quite a bit of weight: “From the beginning, the great strength of Kodak’s thermal CTP technology has been the fact that we end up with stable, reproducible dots on the plate. With the THERMALNEWS PT Plate, Kodak has once again come up with an outstanding solution that meets our requirements in terms of quality and print productivity.”