Star Product: Cron CTP 46 H+

Simon Eccles
Monday, December 20, 2021

A low-cost platesetter from an established Chinese manufacturer.

What does it do?

The Cron 46H+ is the latest version of the B1-format Chinese-built platesetter family. Cron was established in the 1990s and its first UK sale was in 2011. In 2015 Apex Digital Graphics became the UK distributor. A European office was set up in Düsseldorf, Germany. After Apex closed in 2018 with the retirement of its owners, the distributorship passed to Service Offset Supplies (SOS).

When was it launched and what is the target market?

The H and G series were introduced in 2017, with a range of models from B3 up to VLF formats, which sold well worldwide. The revised and beefed-up H+ and G+ versions were announced in spring 2021, with new manual and autoloading configurations. There is also a fast twin-drum B1 model intended for very high throughputs up to 70 plates per hour, mainly for newspapers and packaging users.

The only B1-format H+ so far is the 46 H+. Its target market is a range of general commercial printers who can configure it for different combinations of speed against high-resolution by specifying the number of laser beams.

G+ series models are more modular, with either manual or automatic setup and a choice of autoloaders including multi-cassette.

How does it work?

The 46 H+ is a B1-format external drum platesetter. It can also accept B2 and B3 format plates. A new, more efficient and compact autoloader is standard, taking up to 200 B1 plates and unattended operation with slip sheet removal. A patented side gauge gives plate-to-plate registration accuracy within 10 microns. There’s a dynamic triple drum balance mechanism and internal temperature control. The maintenance-free laser head carriage incorporates a linear magnetic drive with a claimed positional accuracy of +/-0.01mm and a self-lubricating v-shaped guide rail. 

There’s a choice of 48, 72, 96 or 128 thermal 830nm or UV violet auto-focused laser channels covering any current plate type. These give resolutions between 1,800 and 2,800dpi, suitable for hybrid screening of up to 300lpi and 10-micron FM screening. This is optionally upgradable to range from 4,800 to 10,160dpi. Square dot imaging is optional. The speed range with these beams is from 24 to 48 plates per hour, slightly reduced if you use the internal punches, of which up to five sets can be fitted in your choice of pattern. Cron’s patented vacuum system holds plates to the drum at the highest rotation speeds, up to 1,400rpm.

The front-end is Laboo software running on a PC which is a TIFF catcher from the buyer’s choice of external RIP. “This means customers can retain an existing workflow and we can just simply integrate Cron CTP to this,” says Mike Ryan, CTP specialist at SOS. “We can use Laboo for engine diagnostics and remote access for engineering.”

What’s the difference?

Compared with the previous 46 H, the 46 H+ gains the new, more efficient 200 plate auto loader, optional square dot imaging for greater error reduction, and has new panels for easier access for maintenance and cleaning. 

What’s the USP?

Apart from the lowish price, Cron claims lots of USPs, including mechanical features such as drum balance; patented drum vacuum systems; a special maintenance free damping positioning system for tail clamp and balance movement; choice of lasers; autofocus and internal temperature control.

What support is available?

There’s full on-site training and integration offered by SOS personnel. Service and support are by SOS manufacturer trained technicians. “High mortality” parts are held at SOS’ UK warehouse, backed up by Cron Europe in Dusseldorf that ships within 24 hours.

What does it cost?

The starting price is approximately £65,000, which is about half the price of established competitors apart from the fellow Chinese maker Amsky. There’s the offer of a two-year warranty on the laser or first 200,000 plates warranty while buying plates from SOS. The punch is warrantied for 12 months or 50,000 punched plates. 


Standard configuration Main engine, AL46-H200 loading unit, plate exit conveyor

Max plate size 1,163x940mm

Min plate size 300x300mm

Plate thickness 0.13-0.30mm

Laser type Thermal 830nm or Violet UV

Laser channels 48 (4648 H+), 72 (4672 H+), 96 (4696 H+), 128 (46128 H+)

Resolution 1,800, 2,400, 2,540, 2,800dpi

Plates per hour @ 2,400dpi 24 (48-channels), 32 (72 channels), 40 (96 channels), 48 (128 channels). Plates per hour with punching: 23, 31,37, 44 respectively

Punch Up to five integrated heads

Footprint 2,110x3,080mm

Price From £65,000

Contact SOS 020 8502 4291


Platesetters are slow sellers in the UK, as most companies that need them already have them, and they tend to last, so it’s almost entirely a replacement market. Screen models are rebadged by Agfa and Fujifilm, while Fujifilm also sells the lower-cost Chinese Amsky brand. Heidelberg and Kodak still make their own models, with a Kodak update last year. 

Screen PlateRite HD 8900N-Z/S/E

Screen makes platesetters that it supplies with its own Equios front ends, but also supplies the same engines to Agfa, and Fujifilm, which offer their own front ends, service support and consumables deals. Top models use Screen’s GLV (grating light valve) laser technology for high speed and sharp dots. 

Max plate size 1,165x950mm

Plate thickness 0.15-0.3mm (0.4mm optional)

Laser type Thermal 830nm

Laser channels 512 (PT-R8900N-E and PT-R8900N-Z), 1,024 (PT-R8900N-S)

Resolution 1,200, 2,400, 2540, 4,000, 4,800dpi

Plates per hour 36 (PT-R8900N-E), 48 (PT-R8900N-Z), 70 (PT-R8900N-S)

Punch Up to 12

Software Screen Equios workflow options

Price From £120,000 (S) plus £20,000 for autoloader

Contact Screen Europe +31 20 456 7800

Fujifilm EM Setter

This entry level B1 model is based on the Chinese built Amsky Aurora T256-8/F5. Fujifilm also offers three B1 platesetters made by Screen, calling them Luxel models. 

Max plate size 1,163x940mm

Plate thickness 0.15mm-0.3mm

Laser type Thermal 830nm

Channels 256 

Resolution 1,200 & 2,400dpi or 1,270 & 2,540dpi

Productivity 55 plates per hour

Footprint 1.9x3.3m

Price About £90,000

Contact Fujifilm UK 01234 572000


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