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Oct 1, 2000 12:00 AM

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CreoScitex (Vancouver, Canada) demonstrated its SP plateless digital printing technology at Graph Expo 2000 in Chicago. The SP process utilizes fluid lithographic materials that are applied to a press as thin coatings. After application, a thermal laser imaging system switches the lithographic properties of the coatings to create an image. Creo Products Inc. holds fundamental patents on this technology and the laser imaging device. The company is working with press manufacturers and media providers to commercialize the technology.

The SP process involves spraying the lithographic material in a thin coating onto a reusable substrate that is mounted on the plate cylinder of the press. CreoScitex's SQUAREspot thermal imaging technology then images the media, switching the lithographic properties. At the end of the print run, the substrate is cleaned and ready for the next print job. This is all done on press, without the use of conventional printing plates.

"Our goal was to demonstrate the feasibility of the SP process by imaging and printing one-color jobs live on press," explained Brad Palmer, director of short-run printing. "We are now working with several leading press manufacturers to bring this technology to commercial reality in about two years."

"During Graph Expo we expect to finish one job and start printing the next in less than 10 minutes - an outstanding speed for a four-page press still at the technology demonstration stage, where we are performing all operations sequentially. In a commercial product they would be done in parallel," commented Dan Gelbert, president and CTO of Creo Products Inc., before the show.

LiteSpeed media, supplied by Agfa-Gevaert N.V. (Mortsel, Belgium), was used for the Graph Expo demonstration. This media's formulation and printing properties are very similar to the Thermolite processless plate recently introduced from Agfa for commercial use.