Agfa has introduced a new process-free litho plate using a different technology to its successful Azura range.
The Eclipse is more robust than the Azura TE, offers a stronger image contrast than any other process-free plate and has an image latency in excess of 24 hours under office lighting, says Agfa. The non imaged coating on press is removed and carried away on the first makeready sheets rather finding its way onto rollers or into the fount solution. And unlike Azura, there is no need to gum the plate after imaging to protect its surface.
This is one of a number of aspects that Agfa has patented to protect the technology used says Guy Desmet. The strong image contrast, while not as strong as on a standard thermal plate, is also ring fenced by IP, he says.
The plate is aimed at commercial printers with a life of 200,000 impressions with conventional inks and 50,000 when printing with UV inks. This is a key opportunity, says Desmet. “The Eclipse is definitely more robust for those printers with H-UV or LED UV presses who have found that the inks are being reformulated as a result of photo initiator issues. The Azura is not ideal under these conditions,” he says.
These printers were among the trial sites across North and South America, as well as Europe, he explains. The scope covered all manner of applications and press conditions as fount chemistry in North America is radically different to that in Europe. It has been successful in these conditions. Agfa offers its own matched chemistry as part of the Eco3 approach to economy, ecology and convenience.
Exposure is through a standard thermal platesetter with no impact on throughput. The plate is then loaded on press, after bending if necessary. The surface offers improved scratch resistance. “We develop the plate on press,” says Desmet, “which means that the non image area that is removed is carried away with the first few sheets rather than becoming part of the inking system.”
This reduces the need for blanket and cylinder cleaning to remove the build up of plate debris. “There are no special requirements on fount or ink, nor on press set up,” says Desmet.
“We expect that over time this will replace the Azura TE, but there is no intention of withdrawing this plate. There are Azura users who are very happy with the plate and we will not force them to change. There is no one size fits all when it comes to printing plates. Our portfolio consists of conventional, low chem, chem-free and process-free plates. We will always discuss the ideal solution with printing companies based on their needs and preferences.
“There are always companies that are not willing to use the press, their most expensive piece of equipment, as a plate processor.”
The negative working plate will hold a 240lpi Sublima image with a 1-99% dot of 25 micron FM spot.
The Eclipse will go up against Kodak's Sonora plate range and Fujifilm’s recently launched Superia ZE process free plate.
By Gareth Ward
Agfa has introduced Eclipse, a proces- free plate that will take on Kodak's Sonora and Fujifilm's recently introduced Superia ZE. It is a drop in plate with better latent image, better press performance and stronger contrast than its rivals says Agfa.