I thought I would strive to give you a picture of how we produce the newspaper.
I'll start by describing Prepress
One of the tasks that a Production Department has, is to produce a printing plate for the Pressroom. This is called Prepress. The objective of the Prepress is to produce a image onto a printing plate. There are now several ways to do that. Primarily media that has been around a long time is film. The methods used to produce a image on film has changed in the past 11 years.
At any rate, we have to have an image to be able to get an image on plate. We used to this by using a big Horizontal Camera, we would 'shoot' our positive (which all it is printed paper) and process the exposed film. Once the film is processed, then it is used to get the image onto a plate. This was the way it was for years in any printing plant. To work with film, one has to expose the film then process the film by passing the film in a developer and fixer bath. We had a film processor that does that for us.
Just having an exposed film is not enough, we would need to have the image in a specific placement on the plate. We had an registration film punch and we had registration marks on the image (page). Then on the punch, we had a light table that had registration marks taped on it. We then align the marks and then punch it on the head and tail of negative. Then we hang it up using clothes pin.
The next step is we have to have a matching pair to produce a plate, this is called imposition. For example, the front and back page would go together. When ready to get the image onto a plate, we then take the pair of negative and place it on a plate inside a device called 'Plate Burner'. A plate burner, has an 7,000 watt bulb. Then when 'burning', that bulb would exposed the coating of the plate. That 'burned' imaged plate would have gone thru another equipment called the 'plate processor'. All it does is take off whats not bonded (Burned) onto the base of the plate. Whats left is the image or whats bonded to the base of the plate.
Up to about 8 years ago, we used to shoot paper pasteup of our Newspaper, but since then, we started what we call '100% Pagination'. That means, we do not use the Big Horizontal Camera but use our 'imagesetter'. What the imagesetter does, is much like a printer. It 'prints' using a laser and prints to film media. Then of course, we have to process the film.
In the previous years, prepress was a 6 step process. With our new CTP system, (Computer To Plate) it got cut down to 2 steps. No longer do we deal with film, that means no film processing, no film punching, and no plate burning.
Now, we were able to go live on our CTP system on November 3, 2011, our CTP device is a ECRM Newsmatic. This device is very similar to a imagesetter, which it also has a laser but instead of film media, it 'prints' to our plates. There are two different types of CTP technology. One is thermal and the other is Violet. Thermal uses heat to expose or produce an image on the plate. Violet, which we use, uses Violet light, to produce/expose image onto a plate.
So basically, the digital file gets sent to the CTP device then the plate has to be processed. First stage of processing plate, it goes thru a heater which heats the coating then it goes thru a water bath, then it gets soaked into Developer then water bath again, then it comes out thru a dryer.
It takes about 3 minute to produce a plate from the start to the finish. If you were processing many plates we will be loading a plate once a minute. So its capable of producing one plate a minute. . Whereas it did take around 4 or 5 times longer or so to do it with film.
Many benefits of going to CTP
▪ tighter registration
▪ holds dots better
▪ uses less water and ink on printing plates
▪ less human error
In the long run, it will be cheaper to produce plates. We are still learning and tweaking the settings of CTP but its been a blessing for us. The 4-clr are brighter and the pictures are sharper.
There was a big process in getting ready for our new CTP system.
Well in order to get new equipment, we had to make room for it. We already had moved prepress around twice in the past two years so it was a challenge. Plans made on how to accomplish this was made. We were also given a checklist of what is needed to be done.
Pictures of how it was before new equipment
Next blog, I will try to entail the new CTP Pictures and a Video!