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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.)
References in periodicals archive ?
Protected from high heat and humidity, DryView is designed to last as long as conventional imagesetter film.
A newspaper shopping for a new imagesetter, however, would be a different story.
And he adds that Asia, Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and South America -- places that do not currently have much of an investment in conventional imagesetters -- will represent a boom market for chemical-free imagesetters.
Although they are hitting the market at about the same time as chemical-free imagesetters, film-free imagesetters are an even more radical departure from conventional print prepress methods.
These imagesetters bypass film altogether, further reducing environmental side effects such as film disposal.
Kruskopf also cautions that the plates created from Purup imagesetters are good only for short press runs, no more than 15,000 or 20,000 impressions.
At the high-end and middle markets for imagesetters, Monotype and Prepress Solutions have made punch registration available.
He said he hopes to arrange for the product's incorporation or distribution with Ultre* imagesetters by the manufacturer through its OEM partners.
Asked if built-in register punching is now a marketing must for imagesetters, Ultre* sales director Jim Martin said the added capability does fit Ultre's objective -- offering all features and functions found on high-end machines at about half the price.
Furthermore, the firm maintains that an Ultre* that incorporates automatic punch registration can deliver plate-ready output sooner than working with films from faster imagesetters without a similar capability.
The shop should also use a densitometer to compare the imagesetter output against expected values.
Complete with an in-house Linotronic 300 imagesetter, The Gap, Inc.