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Back to Basics

Computer-to-plate

A tried and tested technology that remains a key part of many setups, Rob Fletcher finds out more about the latest developments in the computer-to-plate (CtP) market

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Computer-to-plate is still important for many businesses’ setups

Classic computing

While computer-to-plate (CtP) has been around for some time now, and despite it facing all sorts of competition from new launches and techniques, the technology is still a common feature in plenty of printrooms right across the UK.

Development with CtP is also ongoing, with the manufacturers behind the technology that has played such an important role in the growth and success of many print companies over the past few decades, still working hard to make even more improvements to kit that has proved so reliable.

Here, we look at some of the latest advancements with CtP kit and find out what this might mean for those companies that have stayed true to CtP.

Optimum performance

First up, with more than 6,000 installations around the world, Cron is a producer of CtP equipment, with its kit available in the UK through Service Offset Supplies (SOS). Mike Ryan, CtP sales specialist at SOS, says CtP should be regarded as an essential component for all litho printers and, thanks to ongoing development by the likes of Cron, will remain part of the industry for many years to come.

Mike Ryan, CtP sales specialist at SOS, says CtP is regarded as an essential component for all litho printers


“Unlike many of its rivals, Cron manufactures every component itself – with the exception of the lasers – and extensive investment in R&D [research and development] has led to several innovative features, common to all Cron models,” Ryan comments.

“For example, the laser head transport system employs a friction less magnetic laser carriage for greater accuracy and reliability, requiring no maintenance – a big improvement on the ‘worm screw’ design found on rival machines. Cron has patented automatic laser focusing, patented internal temperature control, and a patented side gauge system – all of which add up to a reliable plate registration accuracy to within 10 microns.

“At SOS, we are confident that Cron offers the optimum performance and value for every market sector.”

The Cron range spans all formats from B3 up to very-large-format, the latter of which is used mainly in specialist packaging applications, though Ryan explains the more popular formats are the 26 (B3) and 36 (SRA1) models.

“Cron equipment is compatible with most major plate types including processless and they will also fit seamlessly into all existing PDF workflows – although SOS will supply its own workflow if required,” Ryan says.

Cron equipment is compatible with most major plate types including processless; and they will also fit seamlessly into all existing PDF workflows


The ‘H’ variant from Cron offers a space-saving three-in-one design, with autoloader, de-interleaving and punching built in. According to Ryan, this means it is around two-thirds the size of equivalent alternatives.

Meanwhile, Ryan says the ‘G+’ variant has greater modularity; it is available with a range of autoloaders with a high-capacity single size tray, or multiple trays depending on work profile. Manual loading is also an option while switching between plate sizes, plate thickness and punch configuration is entirely automatic.

In terms of new developments, Cron recently launched a new CtP system it claims to be the world’s first dual-drum machines, as well as the fastest in the industry. A unique design means the new DD858 and DD870 are able to process two plates simultaneously, making them capable of producing up to 70 plates per hour.