I've never used Boxcar plates, but know people who do and they are
However, the idea that Boxcar has a unique "System" or that it is
the only source for plastic-backed plates is mistaken. Clearly, they
have done a lot of research and experimentation, and assembled in one
place a product line that is immediately useful to a rank novice, and
still as useable if they graduate to a Heidelberg SBBG. And Boxcar has
done outreach to beginners in a way that few suppliers would, and
given an unusually high level of service and guidance; I expect they
will have a growing base of satisfied customers for as long as they
like, especially considering how poorly small customers are treated by
But plastic-backed plates are available from any photopolymer plate
manufacturer and many suppliers: geez, Gene Becker's business card IS
a plastic plate. Adhesive mounting and gridded bases have been in use
for a long time. Steel-backed plates can also be cut apart on
irregular paths, but it takes the right tools (things like curved
snips, nibblers, coping saws) that may remove remove a strip of metal
as they cut, losing that butt-fit somr of you use for registration.
Steel plates are not limited to magnetic mounting bases; anything from
lead high-base to plexiglas to wood can be used with sticky-back tape
as long as plate, adhesive and base add up to .918", and this allows
combination of plates with forms of metal type.
Having said that, Boxcar's product does seem the easiest way in for
the least cost, and few tools needed. Personally, I like using tools
and steel-backed Rigilon, Pat-Mag and high-base work fine for me.
Speaking of tools, if you're getting cuts when handling metal
plates, try smoothing off the burrs with a file.
Eric Holub, SF