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Offset Printing∣ What is Computer-to-plate (CTP)?


Computer-to-plate, affectionately known as CTP has digitalized the plate-making processes with modern imaging technology. It uses laser beams to image directly onto printing plate rather than expose a film then transfer to the plate which called computer-to-film (CTF), similar to darkroom photography.
This improvement in technology (CTP) eliminates complicated film processes and increases productivity in printing industry.

CTP benefits (compared with CTF)

CTP has multiple advantages compared to other conventional printing processes.
  • Remove the film generation and chemical usage layer to save material costs.
  • Accelerate the processing time rather than using conventional plate-making which require film workflow to save more time.
  • Easier, safer, efficient way of storing digital images.
  • Print quality improves, the potential dot gain reduction allows denser inks to be used in the press which also owns better color saturation.
  • Copy change is easier with CTP as the change based on digital file which imaging onto a plate rather than reproduce new films. 

Different types of plates in CTP system

There are several printing plates used in CTP systems:
  • Aluminum-based printing plate
  • Thermal-sensitive aluminum plate
  • Photopolymer plate (Flexo plate)Silver halide plate

Common plate in CTP system

In offset printing field, we might hear prepress requires printing plates for processing. In the CTP market, violet and thermal are currently the major ones. You can easily find these CTP plates in Kodak, Agfa, Fujifilm, Basysprint and Maxma. Most of the plates are compatible with reputable platesetters from Heidelberg,Screen,Agfa, Kodak, Amsky, CRON and so on.