We use a kodak CTP for several years and have no problems with it. our last ctp was a screen which has many more problems. A company near us has a heidelberg CTP and experienced more problems. Also the heidelberg support is getting worse the last years.
We burn roughly 150 - 200 plates a day on it.. aside from a laser diode replacement about a year ago, never really had any major issues with it.
stay away from dotmate 7500. we've got a dpx4 eco now and it's running great. just hate dealing with mitsubishi. they've got some terrible scheduling.
It all begins with the quantity of plate you want to burn. If You want to burn more than 15.000 - 20.000 sqm per year, the best choice is a ctcp machine, with its more less price (2 - 3 EUR lower price per sqm than thermal or violet). On a 5 year term, your higher investment will turn back to profit, but don't believe to chinese ctcp, only if you are a complete tech man with service skills.
kodak and heidelberg suprasetter are good but the laser is too expansive when must replaced
screen with can bus laser or fiber laser are good and replacing laser are cheap and some generic laser manufacter sold laser at half price
glv model are expansive too
violet from fuji or ffei is good but the plate price an manucture number is limited
violet more simple and easy to repair compared to thermal
for standard use violet and thermal give the same result (screen frequency lower then 220lpi) this limitation due the polymer
for hight screen frequency thermal machine is better
I would stick to a Kodak (or a used Creo Trendsetter) or Heidelberg,
along with Prinnect or Prinergy workflow...
I would also stay with Heidelberg.
In our company we work with Basys Print UV-setter. The machine is old and I could say slow but the maintenance is cheap and the conventional plates as well. The quality is high enough to satisfy every of my customers.
I used Agfa, Screen and Heidelberg. The brand that caused me less trouble was Screen.
Do not think only in CtP, but also in software. Heidelberg's software are very easy to use.
The CTPS Heidelberg, Screen and Agfa are very good.
Thermal Screen for 12 years without problems
Go with Creo/Kodak Trendsetter, I worked several years at CTP manufactures and its very robust, easy maintenance and reliable. Prinergy Workflow is a good choice too.
Topsetters and Platerite. Easy to use. Easy to maintain. Lots of spares.