PlateMaker 4 full review

You might think of mono lasers as old-hat; technology from the last century. This Xanté PlateMaker 4 is no ordinary mono laser - it's as high-tech as they get. This printer is so highly tuned that you can make plates for printing on it. In fact, that is just what is designed to do. Aimed at the smaller print-shop, the PlateMaker 4 makes plate-making for short runs a quick and clean process. Users will typically be making paper or polyester plates. This is an inexpensive way to make inroads into the Computer to Plate (CTP) technology that is becoming increasingly common. While CTP usually refers to metal plates, the concept originated with paper plates on printers like such as PlateMaker. This is the fourth incarnation of the PlateMaker and the most sophisticated yet. PlateMakers have always had great control over the output, letting the user add or subtract from the laser charge, which gives controls that can compensate for dot gain. Dot gain is the fattening effect of ink when it hits the paper. To allow for that, less toner is laid down and so the fattening spread of ink comes out as originally intended. A new feature is the Clean Plate technology which means that once a plate is printed, there is no cleaning or special etch required before it's put on the press. As this printer is designed for making plates, it goes without saying that it can handle big paper. Sizes up to 340-x-635mm (Myriad 2 plates) are supported. Equally important is PostScript level 3 support. The PlateMaker 4 also has support for densitometers - so if you have one, you can use it to calibrate the printer. Usefully, you can also calibrate the halftones. Some of the PlateMaker 4's features, such as gripper offset, are useful for printers. This lets the user make space on the page for grippers on the press. There are also mirror and negative settings that let users flip or reverse the image, allowing for emulsion- side-down output. The feature-set of this printer is endless, and it's aimed at a very particular market. So it would be unfair to suggest that the ease of use is a little beyond the average mono printer user. It's complex - but printing for presses is a complex process. If you aren't familiar with this kind of straight-to-plate technology, it's worth contacting the distributor to arrange some training on the finer points.
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