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The Realities of Implementing Computer-to-Screen Imaging

(September 2006) posted on Sun Sep 10, 2006

Coudray reveals his own experiences with a CTS system, and how he restructured his garment-pritning business around the technology.

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By Mark A. Coudray

The second instance was the first occurrence of the impact of digital imaging on our industry. In 1991, I purchased a used Crosfield 646 digital drum scanner for $250,000. My shop was known for being a very good process printer, and I had outsourced all of our seps to a local offset house. When their volume increased, it became apparent our work would have to take back seat to their offset clients. While we could never justify the cost of a drum scanner solely for our own use, I quickly found we could sell almost a million dollars of separations a year to other frustrated screen printers like myself. We paid for the scanner, increased our knowledge and expertise, and added solid profit to the company.

We found ourselves faced with another prepress investment decision less than a year after the Crosfield purchase. All of this separation business burned a ton of money in compositing and assembly to final film. All of our scans were negatives, and we had to composite and convert back to positives. The process was slow and not particularly accurate. On top of this, programs like Adobe Photoshop and Quark XPress, which allowed for desktop publishing of traditionally high-end imaging, were becoming available. We were faced with a new challenge and ultimately made a $125,000 purchase of an Agfa Select Set 5000 drum imagesetter. It allowed us to digitally composite final film instead of using much less accurate manual image-assembly methods. We cut labor costs, shortened lead times, and improved registration film-to-film to ± 0.0002 in.

Once again, these new capabilities differentiated us from competitors and business took a steep positive jump. Even though the investments were huge—even by today's currency value—the size of the investment was declining. The Crosfield was more than $1,000,000 new, and we got a deal at $250,000 for a used one. The Agfa Select Set 5000 new was half the cost of the Crosfield. It gave us incredibly accurate films faster than anything we had ever used. After a relatively short learning curve, both pieces of equipment combined to form the foundation of our business model.

Enter CTS


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