CTP or Film printing?
We have been asked a lot by clients on what is the difference between Computer-To-Plate (CTP) or Film printing?
We welcome both media for printing. Their production procedures are exactly the same to us. The decision should be made according to different requirements. Most decision can be made after answering the questions:
- There are a lot of hypes saying that CTP will generate a better print out, is that true? The answer is yes because the dots’ size will not be lost during the process of film-to-plate transfer. Dots lose happens to film especially for small ones. However, the trade-off is flexibility. In case there is a small mistake in one page, we may correct it on film and re-develop the plate immediately. With CTP, we need to go through the whole process of working on the file, blue-print and plate output again.
- When using CTP, there is not much we can do on the color of the print out. If the color is not exact what you like, you will need to output the plates all over again. It involves a lot of time and cost. If we are using film, we can adjust the timing on plate exposure to control the color. We can even optimize a certain part’s color without affecting the rest.
- If there is any mistake caught during the proof process (missing one word or wrong picture), the client has to re-work the page and we need to output blue-print again for the whole signature. Instead of verifying the corrected page, the whole signature has to be re-checked to ensure nothing else is changed. The whole correction process is pretty time consuming. For film, We can make those correction on that particular page without affecting the rest. (Trust me on this, it happens very frequently).
In conclusion, if you have enough experience to ensure you will output perfect file every time, CTP is the way to go. Otherwise, film offers much more flexibility.
- I have the digital color proof on CTP. The print output must be right, right?
Unfortunately, the answer is NO. The font used for digital proof is different from CTP output so that there is still a margin for error. We have seen it happened a number of times before and the client has to output the CTP again. Fixing the CTP is costly and time consuming because the error is usually discovered when the book is almost ready. The color proof/CTP mismatch happens mostly on complicated and/or mixed Chinese and English layouts.
- Is it cheaper to output CTP directly?
The answer is true only for certain case: for one time small book (A5) printing, CTP has a small advantage on cost. Otherwise, film output is still cheaper.
CTP’s previous used plates cannot be used at the re-print. If a book is re-printed, the whole set of CTP plates have to be output again because the CTP plates cannot be re-used after certain days or long run. On the other hand, film can be re-used as many as you want.
- Do you charge extra on making up the plate from film?
No, we offer this service for free. Client usually makes correction on the film after looking at the blue print and that is a free service also.