The Print Wire
Other news from the industry
Dec 11, 2013
Verdigris Blog: Stepping Up to the Plate
medium_laurel3.jpg The weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

Agfa has introduced a new chemistry-free plate, the Azura TU with a tonal range of 1-99% supporting linescreens of up to 240lpi, holding a 20 micron spot and run lengths of up to 150,000. This is quite a leap up in durability so this plate will be attractive to volume offset printers, not least because it will last on press.

Processless and chemistry-free plates are often cited as examples of progress in print towards an improved environmental impact. And with good reason. Doing away with film and imaging straight to plate has had a profound impact on the economics of print over the last couple of decades, and getting rid of a whole processing stage in prepress has also reduced carbon footprints for print media.

Doing away with plate processing chemistry removes another source of pollutants and reduces plate processing emissions. However processless plate technology has largely been used for relatively short run work, say 50,000 to 60,0000 although plates are available for runs of up to 200,000 at a price.

Azura TU is daylight stable and positioned for commercial sheetfed applications which account for about half of all commercial and packaging print. In this sector plates have to be quick to process, stable, robust, easy to use and deliver high image quality. They should also be more sustainable than the previous generation technology and able to work on harsher substrates. Part of the sustainability message is speed of imaging: more speed means less energy. Azura TU meets all of these requirements, and images at the rated speed of most thermal platesetters. The plate requires no chemical process to fuse the image and is compatible with and accredited for most digital 830 nm platesetters on the market.

Processless and chemistry-free plates are good news for print. Reducing the amount of hazardous waste in the print media production process has to be good news, as has the reduced disposal costs. Waste is reduced because of the elimination of processing variables which are hard to control. The Azura CX cleanout unit is good for 7000 m2 of plates and can be washed out with water, using 95% less water than is required for conventional thermal plate processing.

The Azura TU is third generation plate that meets the needs of most commercial printers around the world. It is an excellent answer for offset printers asked about the sustainability of print.

– Laurel Brunner

Verdigris supporters who make the blog possible: Agfa Graphics (, Digital Dots (, drupa (, EFI (, EcoPrint (, Fespa (, Heidelberg (, HP (, Kodak (, Pragati Offset (, Ricoh (, Unity Publishing ( and Xeikon (
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