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A machine that generates output for the printing process, using either a film-based paper that is photographed or the actual film for making the printing plates. Input to the machine is typically in PDF or PostScript format, and a laser generates the page image directly on the film.

Today, in lieu of sending work to a commercial print house, laser printers are widely used to create finished output. However, the 2,540 dpi resolution of the imagesetter produces very high-quality photographs and halftones. See CTP, PDF and PostScript.

A Brief History of Setting Type
Typesetting dates back to Gutenberg in the 1400s, where lead letters were set by hand and pressed against paper and ink. From the late 1800s into the 1960s, operators of Linotype and other comparable machines keyboarded lines of text that were cast from hot metal into slugs for printing. The metal was reused for the next run. In the 1960s, the "phototypesetter" created film negatives that were used to make offset printing plates. It passed light through a spinning photomask to obtain the font style and then through lenses to create the point size. Subsequently, film was exposed to images on a CRT.

The Chemical-Free Imagesetter
For years, imagesetters have generated output without using the wet chemicals of traditional film. This ColorSpan unit employs a dry process that produces positive or negative film separations. Plates are made directly from the film. (Image courtesy of ColorSpan Corporation.)
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References in periodicals archive ?
The conventional imagesetter displaced typesetting equipment.
"Two, new breakthroughs in laser technology have drastically reduced the price of high-resolution printers and imagesetters capable of printing text in traditional and new typefaces."
The company's venture coincided with the introduction of high-quality Linotronic imagesetters at local printers --resulting in a partnership that has affected "tremendous savings," Price says.
Creo earlier had acquired the Scitex business that developed the imagesetters bought by Dow Jones in 2000 in connection with its plants' color-tower expansions.
The Daily News of Bogalusa, La., will install a Screen PlateRite News 2000 CTP imagesetter at the end of January.
stock that is "so labor-intensive because our imagesetter's not wide enough," requiring four pages with each color for each side, he says.
Step and repeat will be carried out here much like a workflow feeding an imagesetter.
The plateroom at the Hickory Daily Record has an old imagesetter and plate burner sitting in the corner, and production director Jim Lillagore is optimistic that he'll never have to fire them up again.
Specifically designed for flexo, the system includes a software workflow package, laser imagesetter and an in-line system for automatic processing of digital plates.