In the history of technological development, it is usually the case that the technology is available before mankind understands the full potential of its use. Thus it should come as no surprise that CTP (Computer-to Plate) technology is currently waiting for its advantages to be exploited by the graphic arts' market. This was evidenced by the heavy saturation of platesetters presented at DRUPA 1995 (the largest printing trade show in the world), which demonstrated that CTP is no longer a research and development experiment but a marketplace reality and the topic of considerable discussion. Surprisingly, the response of the printing industry to this new age of digital prepress which CTP systems were designed to facilitate has been rather restrained. Although most printers agree that digital formatting and output are the way of the future; printers are still uneasy at the prospect of investing in CTP systems. This reluctance is certainly understandable, since anyone considering buying a platesetter (computer-to-plate system) will potentially have to reorganize and update their front end computer system and its accompanying workflow. To compound the issue, buyers need a pay back period three years or less to recoup their investment, due to the accelerated rate of computer obsolescence. And, as if this isn't enough to think about, probably the biggest deterrent is coming from the manufacturers themselves. As platesetters begin to carve out market share from conventional imagesetter territory, the manufacturers have now modified the existing technology to work with thermal plates while increasing their efforts to produce Direct-to Press technology. In such a climate of change, most printers would prefer to invest in a system that can prove its profitability along with its potential to upgrade rather than a system destined to be marked as a piece of transitional technology. In an effort to understand and evaluate the aforementioned problems CTP systems are creating in the marketplace, this paper has analyzed a platesetter being used in pro duction to determine the viability of cost justification proposals developed by the CTP manufacturers in order to maximize profits. Several printing companies, who specialize in different market segments, have been interviewed in the data collection process. A comparison of these organizations has demonstrated under which circumstances the investment in a CTP system is justified and which environmental factors have to be considered for an ROI calculation. Among the local participants is the Webster Division of Thomson Professional Publishing a parent company to five different publishing branches that specialize in legal publishing and book production. The Webster location has just recently installed its second CTP system. The other cooperating company is Canfield and Tack, of Rochester, New York a high quality commercial printing company that recently signed a letter of intent to purchase a CTP system. Additional interview sources will be industry consultants, printers, manufacturers and suppliers. By doing a comparison of the considerations upon which each system was evaluated by the different firms, conclusions may be drawn as to the future of CTP in the marketplace, and more significantly, where cost justification fits into this picture of fast moving technology. This thesis strives to secure the answers to three key issues: 1 ) Can cost justification, using the manufacturer's suggested model, provide potential buyers with enough infor mation to prove that CTP systems are a good capital investment; 2) Are the cost benefits achievable with a CTP system enough to warrant such a radical restructuring of work flow; and 3) Does the issue of equipment obsolescence and its economic impact have a determining factor in the decision to install such a system.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Printing--Data processing--Cost effectiveness; Printing plates--Data processing--Cost effectiveness

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Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in December 2013. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: Z249.3 .M87 1996


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