Star product: Screen PlateRite Ultima 16000N

Barney Cox
Monday, September 17, 2018

Latest addition to Screen’s VLF PlateRite range of platesetters.

What does the machine do?

The PlatRite Ultima 16000N is the latest version of the 16-up (1,470x1,180mm) member of Screen’s range of thermal platesetters. It is offered in a range of configurations depending on the user’s plate volume and automation needs ranging from totally manual loading and unloading through to fully automatic plate handling with up to six plate cassettes online.

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?

This latest model was launched last autumn. The 1,470x1,180mm plate size is suitable for any offset press up to that size including commercial sheetfed and web work, book printing and some packaging and point-of-sale. The Ultima branding is used to identify very large format (VLF) machines in the PlateRite range, with the 16000 designating a 16 A4 pages to view format. Other products cover larger formats from the 24 A4 pages to view up to 48 A4 pages to view (with a whopping 2,900x1,350mm plate size) for the biggest 96pp web presses. 

How does it work?

Like all Screen’s PlateRite machines it is an external drum design – that is the plate is wrapped around a spinning drum during exposure. The thermal laser diodes are modulated using what is called a grating light valve (GLV). 

How does it differ from previous products?

“It’s an evolution not a revolution,” says Screen Europe vice-president of sales Bui Burke. “The engineers looked at every aspect of the machine and tweaked it where necessary.”

Big differences are increased throughput – up to 50% higher for the fastest Z version – and reduced energy consumption, with power saving modes to cut consumption when idle to practically nothing and reduce energy use by 55% when exposing a plate. But the incremental improvements are not to be sniffed at as they all help to improve efficiency, productivity, quality and cost-effectiveness. Plate capacity in the autoloaders has increased from 70 to 75 plates per cassette. New higher quality optics enable the machine to expose Screen’s Spekta and Randot 20 screening.

One change is to reduce the gripper margin to just 3mm on the leading edge, which enables web offset customers to take advantage of the mini gap technology on their presses. Another is the introduction of an air knife before the optics, eliminating the chance of a plate being spoilt by a dust spot. The cable connecting the platesetter to its control workstation has been changed from a proprietary format to gigabit Ethernet, which means the machine can be sited anywhere in the factory whereas previously the special cables could only be up to 10m long.

How fast is it?

Three different speeds are available, with throughput of 17, 29 and 42 plates per hour at the maximum format respectively for the E, S and Z models. 

What is the USP?

A testament to the quality of Screen’s platesetters is that as well as selling the machines directly, two of the leading plate firms – Agfa and Fuji – have chosen to sell its hardware, with Agfa badging Screen machines under its Avalon brand while Fuji supplies them under Screen’s own moniker.

How easy is it to use?

Customers can choose whether to use Screen’s Equios workflow or integrate with existing third-party systems. Either way plate output is separated from any file processing when used with a plate runner – a workstation for the plate output queue, enabling press minders to output plates as they need them, including remakes. The level of automation can be specified from fully manual, where the operator loads and unloads the plate, through semi-automatic, where the operator loads the plate but it is transported to the processor or wash unit automatically after exposure, through to a fully automated multi-cassette autoloader with between three to six cassettes. 

What training and support is on offer?

On site training is provided during installation and commissioning, taking a couple of days. Support is via Screen’s network of engineers with six monthly service visits recommended to keep everything tip top.

How much does it cost?

From £145,000 for the manual E model up to circa £300,000 for a fully automated (six cassettes) high speed Z model. 


Max plate size 1,470x1,180mm 

Speed (plates/hour) E: 17; S: 29; Z: 42

Price From £145,000

Contact Screen Europe +31 20 456 7800


gfa Avalon N16

All of Agfa’s VLF thermal platesetters are Screen machines under the paintwork. Buying from Agfa gives access to the firm’s plates and Apogee workflow. 

Max plate size 1,470x1,180mm 

Speed (plates/hour) E: 17; S: 29; XT: 42 

Price From £134,000 (€150,000)

Contact Agfa Graphics 020 8231 4983

Heidelberg Suprasetter 145

Using Heidelberg’s own laser and optics technology, which it claims offers consistent, sharp imaging and is field upgradeable, along with a range of plate handling and automation options.

Max plate size 1,425x1,460mm

Speed (plates/hour) 15, 25 or 35

Price From £187,990

Contact Heidelberg UK 0844 892 2010

Cron TP66

Chinese pre-press firm Cron offers a competitively price thermal machine for firms that don’t need the highest throughput or automation. An optional single cassette autoloader takes up to 100 plates. 

Max plate size 1,670x1,290mm

Speed (plates/hour) 9, 13, 16 or 23

Price From £88,000

Contact Cron Europe +49 211 9843 8953 

Kodak Trendesetter Q1600/Magnus VLF Q2400

Kodak offers two machines to cover the speed and automation encompassed by the 16000N. The Trendsetter Q1600 is a compact and cost-effective option for those that don’t need automation or punching, while the Magnus VLFQ2400 offers automation and faster throughput. 

Max plate size Q1600: 1,650x1,325mm; Q2400: 1,804x1,408mm

Speed (plates/hour) Q1600 F speed: 7; X speed: 14;  Q2400 F: 14; X: 18; Z: 30

Price From £93,750

Contact Kodak 01923 652701


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