Creo to manufacture thermal plates

The Creo PTP will be available immediately in North America and Europe, receiving its launch at Graph Expo next month, and will be rolled out to the rest of the world, including Australia, most likely during 2004.

Creo has been quietly developing and supplying its own plate emulsion under license to several plate manufacturers for some time, with the manufacturers commercially producing and selling the plates under their own brand names over the last 18 months. Printers in Europe and North America have been using those plates in daily production. Creo will now license its plate technology to those third party manufacturers and others for the Creo branded PTP.

In addition Creo is moving into plate manufacturing itself with the acquisition of South African based First Graphics, which has a plate production plant in Pietermarizburg. Creo is paying US$11.5million (AUD$18million) for First Graphics, which is also the major Creo distributor in South Africa.

Creo has been building up its bundling deals with other vendors plates over the last few years, to the point where now some 20 per cent of its CTP units are sold with bundled plate deals. Having its own plate will clearly enable the company to further increase its bundling packages.

Creo will continue to support qualified plates from other vendors to be used on its range of CTP systems, including KPG with which it has a plate agreement. Creo believes the plate market is currently worth around US$3billion a year, with plates for digital imaging the fastest growing part of that, Creo estimates demand for thermal plates is growing at 17 per cent a year.

Amos Michelson, Creo CEO, says, “The introduction of the Creo plate represents the culmination of a long-term effort to develop our own plate and developer technology as well as characterise imaging behavior and optimise on-press performance of the plate. We now have a comprehensive intellectual property portfolio, underpinning a mature and well-tested product.”

Creo says its new plate offers high resolution, low water consumption and quick rollup, as well as being suitable for long-run lengths without pre- or post-baking, and says it has wide processing latitude.

“The digital plate market is the fastest growing portion of the worldwide market for printing plates. Creo has the largest installed base of any CTP vendor and our customers collectively represent the largest market for digital plates. By selling printing plates as well as equipment, software, services and support, we expect to substantially increase our total addressable market and improve our competitive capability to offer complete end-to-end solutions to our existing and future customers,” says Michelson.

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