How imagesetters work, principle of operation of these printing machines

how imagesetters workImage-setter is an essential part of any publishing business because it converts digital text into the form that can be used on a printing press. Basically, it is a self-contained machine. The only work which needs to be done by labor force is to feed the Image-setter with film cassette (the similar one as is used in any camera, just a little bit bigger) and some chemicals. Imagesetter output range is wide, between 12 and 44 inches. The resolution of an imagesetter is usually between 1200 and 4800 dpi.

 The history of imagesetters

In the days before image-setters, typesetters assembled long lines of metal type on paper, the type was inked and the image was photographed on a large camera. The metal type process was replaced by computer printers that printed out the material in the desired font.

The individual articles or stories were then “pasted up” onto a large sheet of paper the same size as the page and photographed on the large camera. The trouble with these processes is that every time a copy is made, the successive product is of lower quality. The image-setter solves this problem by putting the text directly on the film.

The offset industry has CTP and the screen print industry has CTS which is still expensive and in its infancy so we need to look for an imagesetter than can meet our film size and accuracy needs while we wait for CTS technology to catch up.

modern imagessetters

Recommendations for buying a used image-setter

On www.exapro.com you can find a wide offer of used imagesetters, computers to plate and digital machines.

Below I am mentioning few recommendations which you may take into account while deciding about a purchase of your new imagesetter.

It all depends on what film size suits better your production requirements. If more than three quarters of your production volume consists of small job and manually stripping 18 inch wide films is not a concern in terms of labor and time spent it’s safer to upgrade your actual machine.

If you will print larger size jobs and can’t afford losing time with stripping, a larger imagesetter is a better option, like a Used DuPont DuPont Cyrel FAST 1000 TD.

Professionals suggest choosing a one meter wide imagesetter based not on price but on quality of service and support in your area considering most models are infinitely more complicated and normally require a lot of maintenance especially if previously owned.

Fuji Luxel T-9300 (not Celix) machines would be the first option here, very good quality but over engineered in my opinion, if you have a competent Fuji field engineer in your area then it’s ok.

Heidelberg large format imagesetters (like Used Heidelberg Suprasetter 105E Imagesetter) would be a good choice as well.

All large size imagesetters can accommodate smaller rolls into their input cassette; best thing is to have two cassettes at least to avoid replacing the roll inside all the time.

As time goes by, especially with the spreading digitalization, the new approaches have been invented. But image-setters are still the most preferable machines and as regards to the price and quality ratio.

Article by Veronika V.

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