- Xanté Corporation has recently sent to me some material on their FilmMaker 4
laser printer and its accompanying FilmStar2 technology. The last time I
looked at this combination I did not feel they were quite there yet. But I
suspect they may now be as close as it is going to get.
The FilmMaker 4 can generate at 2400dpi. Camera ready copy quality is 1200dpi
and the usual minimum for film negatives on imagesetters is 2400dpi. So in
this regard Xanté has gone the full nine yards. I asked a technical support
source there if there was thinking about going above this and he felt they
would not as that is beyond current technical abilities of laser engines and
there is no further call for b/w development compared to color.
But what makes the FilmMaker interesting other than that it is a very high end
laser printer is that it is capable of generating negatives. These negatives
must undergo additional conditioning via the FilmStar2 technology, which is
essentially a short chemical bath. Xanté does insist that only its film
(actually made by Agfa) can be used for this system (also made by Agfa).
The film is a matte with a somewhat cloudy transparency though Xanté has
assumed me this will allow passage of UV in the same way that Kreene will.
Since I have worked with similar negatives I believe this may be quite
accurate. The film negatives they have provided look quite good. They do not
have an emulsion side but that may not necessarily be a detriment as the toner
itself (since the neg is not silver-based) has a certain capture quality. The
normal minimum for opacity required of a silver-based negative is 3.5-4.0. The
Xanté film is rendered at 2.2-3.5. The neg I examined does have an occasional
pin hole but this is not anyway near as bad as some of the cheap silver-based
negs I have worked with. The tech told me that some of their customers were
increasing this density by running the neg through the FilmStar2 setup twice,
boosting the density to 4.0.
Will Xanté go further with this? Probably not. Will they advance their
PlateMaker 3 system to water-washout photopolymer. Doubtful, though one of
their color lasers does have the flat travel that would be required for this.
The fully equipped FilmMaker 4 combo with add-ons costs about twice what you
would pay for any other high end 1200dpi laser printer with add-ons. This is
quite low compared to an imagesetter, but the question remains, as close as
they may be and there is a huge gap between the capabilities of a laser and
an imagesetter are they at a point where this would be of use to letterpress
Will this stuff work for our needs? Im thinking it might in a number of
situations, but I wonder about consistency. I know some folks on this list are
using this combination. Id be interested in knowing how successful it has been.