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Re: Processing plates by hand

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  • Gerald Lange
    ... Hello I can t answer the last part of this as I ve never made a plate by hand. I have placed whatever alt processing info I have been able to find at
    Message 1 of 12 , Dec 4, 2002
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      --- In PPLetterpress@y..., "riverrider2" <riverrider2@y...> wrote:
      > Although I have yet to attempt printing with polymer plates, I'm on
      > the verge of buying a base and giving it a go. I've looked into a
      > local plate processor and I think that the charge they quoted me for
      > processing a plate is too much for what I'd do with it. I think that
      > doing on my own would make this a feasible option for me, but I'm not
      > sure how "touchy" these plates are to make.
      >
      > Can any of you veteran PP printers give me an idea as to how
      > difficult it is to expose and process a plate by hand? I know the
      > basics of the process, but have never actually done it. Thanks

      Hello

      I can't answer the last part of this as I've never made a plate by
      hand. I have placed whatever alt processing info I have been able to
      find at various places on site. Katie's info here is probably as
      detailed as you are going to get. But alt processing is very subjective.

      I can deal somewhat with your concerns about plate processing charges.
      I won't involve you with the cost of the machine, water, electrical,
      labor, etc that the processors will throw up their arms about, just
      the cost of plates. Though those other factors are certainly a
      consideration in the standardization of pricing, such as it is.

      Processors will buy raw plates in bulk so they get better discounts.
      They have to. They have to maintain inventory. The occasional plate
      purchaser pays more at the retail end since you are not buying in
      quantity. That aside, you are paying approximately two and a half to
      three times the cost of the plate to the processor depending upon
      their pricing. That's at the price they pay at discount, not the price
      you would have to pay to buy raw plates in small quantities. In both
      cases, there is also waste dependent upon cutting.

      I'd suspect that if you blow one plate out of two (maybe two and a
      half, maybe three) you are costing yourself more money than if you'd
      gone with the processor. But even the plates that you do not blow will
      not be at the level of quality that a processor can provide. Note:
      processors blow plate as well, you just won't hear about it.

      In terms of picking a processor, go with pricing or reputation and
      reliability, whatever suits you. Beyond that, if someone puts in their
      promotional literature that they make the "best" plates (and there are
      a few of them out there), that's BS. Some may be more concerned than
      others but it's all just a matter of pushing buttons and timing.

      Gerald
    • Tim Honnor
      Hullo from Scotland. We tried and tried to make plates by hand - but only with some success. The wash-out is really problematical and we could never hold fine
      Message 2 of 12 , Dec 4, 2002
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        Hullo from Scotland.
        We tried and tried to make plates by hand - but only with some success.
        The wash-out is really problematical and we could never hold fine lines
        and it was all a bit hit and miss. Since getting an auto wash-up unit we
        have made beautiful plates and are able to hold VERY fine detail.
        Tim Honnor of Piccolo Press - Nairn - Scotland

        In message <askhhk+eth8@...>, Gerald Lange
        <bieler@...> writes
        >--- In PPLetterpress@y..., "riverrider2" <riverrider2@y...> wrote:
        >> Although I have yet to attempt printing with polymer plates, I'm on
        >> the verge of buying a base and giving it a go. I've looked into a
        >> local plate processor and I think that the charge they quoted me for
        >> processing a plate is too much for what I'd do with it. I think that
        >> doing on my own would make this a feasible option for me, but I'm not
        >> sure how "touchy" these plates are to make.
        >>
        >> Can any of you veteran PP printers give me an idea as to how
        >> difficult it is to expose and process a plate by hand? I know the
        >> basics of the process, but have never actually done it. Thanks
        >
        >Hello
        >
        >I can't answer the last part of this as I've never made a plate by
        >hand. I have placed whatever alt processing info I have been able to
        >find at various places on site. Katie's info here is probably as
        >detailed as you are going to get. But alt processing is very subjective.
        >
        >I can deal somewhat with your concerns about plate processing charges.
        >I won't involve you with the cost of the machine, water, electrical,
        >labor, etc that the processors will throw up their arms about, just
        >the cost of plates. Though those other factors are certainly a
        >consideration in the standardization of pricing, such as it is.
        >
        >Processors will buy raw plates in bulk so they get better discounts.
        >They have to. They have to maintain inventory. The occasional plate
        >purchaser pays more at the retail end since you are not buying in
        >quantity. That aside, you are paying approximately two and a half to
        >three times the cost of the plate to the processor depending upon
        >their pricing. That's at the price they pay at discount, not the price
        >you would have to pay to buy raw plates in small quantities. In both
        >cases, there is also waste dependent upon cutting.
        >
        >I'd suspect that if you blow one plate out of two (maybe two and a
        >half, maybe three) you are costing yourself more money than if you'd
        >gone with the processor. But even the plates that you do not blow will
        >not be at the level of quality that a processor can provide. Note:
        >processors blow plate as well, you just won't hear about it.
        >
        >In terms of picking a processor, go with pricing or reputation and
        >reliability, whatever suits you. Beyond that, if someone puts in their
        >promotional literature that they make the "best" plates (and there are
        >a few of them out there), that's BS. Some may be more concerned than
        >others but it's all just a matter of pushing buttons and timing.
        >
        >Gerald
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
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        >

        --


        Tim Honnor - Piccolo Press - 90 Harbour Street - Nairn - IV12 4PG
        tel: 01667 454508 fax 01667 454509
        www.piccolopress.co.uk
      • mossgate
        I have only had a few months experience with photopolymer plates but have found the experience fun, simple & successful. I come from the intaglio perspective
        Message 3 of 12 , Dec 4, 2002
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          I have only had a few months experience with photopolymer plates but
          have found the experience fun, simple & successful. I come from the
          intaglio perspective so this might be subject to further comment by
          letterpress folks. I recently purchased a somewhat neglected
          Vandercook SP-15 but haven't yet had the time to get it up and
          running
          to see how my present technique translates to letterpress.

          For one thing, I am using the type of photopolymer plates that are
          exposed to the sun..."sun plates." I was taught to do my exposing on
          sunny days only, which up to this point I have done. Not a practical
          method for commercial purposes.

          I place my photopolymer plate on a piece of masonite that I backed
          with felt. I place the plate emulsion side up onto the felted
          masonite
          and place my transparency emulsion side down onto the emulsion of the
          pp plate. I place a piece of 1/4 inch glass over the transparency
          and
          clamp the whole thing on four sides.

          I throw a towel over the glass and pull it off once I'm outside and
          ready to expose. Use a watch with a second hand or stopwatch.(Make
          sure no lint, hair, or whatever is sitting on the glass....) I
          expose
          for between 1 minute and 20 seconds to 1 and a half seconds.

          I rince the pp plate under the kitchen faucet using cool to luke warm
          water for only one minute gently scrubbing with a soft bristle brush.
          I then blot the plate with newspaper which leaves no lint and removes
          potential watermarks beautifully.

          I then leave my plate in the sun for several hours before letting dry
          inside for another 24 hours.

          I get very fine detail from my photo images.

          I find that making a transparency that has moderately "thin" blacks
          helps keep the pp plate from washing out(etching)too deeply thus
          holding too much ink when one goes to make an intaglio print. Maybe
          this is not a problem with relief printing.

          Best thing to do is print test strips to understand how exposure time
          and the intensity of the transparency's blacks effect plate detail
          and the printing outcome.

          I have been purchasing my steel backed sun plates from Daniel Smith.
          I'd love to find pp plates elsewhere at a competative price.

          Aurora Oberloh
          Phoenix, AZ
        • Gerald Lange
          ... Hmmm, interesting. This is a problem with relief but in a different way. Would a longer exposure in the sun compensate for thin blacks in regard to the
          Message 4 of 12 , Dec 5, 2002
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            >
            > I get very fine detail from my photo images.
            >
            > I find that making a transparency that has moderately "thin" blacks
            > helps keep the pp plate from washing out(etching)too deeply thus
            > holding too much ink when one goes to make an intaglio print. Maybe
            > this is not a problem with relief printing.
            >

            > Aurora Oberloh
            > Phoenix, AZ

            Hmmm, interesting. This is a problem with relief but in a different
            way. Would a longer exposure in the sun compensate for "thin" blacks
            in regard to the deep etch? Normally the longer the initial exposure
            the shallower the relief will become as the structure begins to fill
            in. Are you suggesting less contrast when you say "thin" blacks? Photo
            images tend to be problematic with relief. Difficult to capture the
            detail in the processing since it requires longer exposure while also
            then having to deal with the problem of the shallower underlying
            structure during printing. Would a shorter exposure with less contrast
            in the grays possibly resolve this?

            Gerald

            Gerald
          • mossgate
            ... blacks ... Maybe ... Photo ... also ... contrast ... First, let me make a correction. I said I exposed my plates for one minute and twenty seconds to one
            Message 5 of 12 , Dec 5, 2002
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              --- In PPLetterpress@y..., "Gerald Lange" <bieler@w...> wrote:
              >
              > >
              > > I get very fine detail from my photo images.
              > >
              > > I find that making a transparency that has moderately "thin"
              blacks
              > > helps keep the pp plate from washing out(etching)too deeply thus
              > > holding too much ink when one goes to make an intaglio print.
              Maybe
              > > this is not a problem with relief printing.
              > >
              >
              > > Aurora Oberloh
              > > Phoenix, AZ
              >
              > Hmmm, interesting. This is a problem with relief but in a different
              > way. Would a longer exposure in the sun compensate for "thin" blacks
              > in regard to the deep etch? Normally the longer the initial exposure
              > the shallower the relief will become as the structure begins to fill
              > in. Are you suggesting less contrast when you say "thin" blacks?
              Photo
              > images tend to be problematic with relief. Difficult to capture the
              > detail in the processing since it requires longer exposure while
              also
              > then having to deal with the problem of the shallower underlying
              > structure during printing. Would a shorter exposure with less
              contrast
              > in the grays possibly resolve this?
              >
              > Gerald
              >
              First, let me make a correction. I said I exposed my plates for one
              minute and twenty seconds to one and a half seconds....that should be
              ..."to ONE AND A HALF MINUTES."

              Beat me with a wet noodle if I'm halucinating, but the less time you
              expose the pp plate the shallower the "etch" will be.

              Everything I do with intaglio would have to be reversed for relief.
              Where shallow plates work best(for me)for intaglio, deeper etched
              plates would be better for relief. Where my inked areas print from
              the depressions of the plates, in relief the ink is on the surface of
              the raised areas of the plate. (I'm just figuring this out in my own
              head.) So first I'd have to reverse my black and white areas on my
              transparency.

              Next, with detailed high contrast line art, I still don't know that
              I'd go with totally intense black. I am getting theoretical now,
              which isn't good, because I know there are folks out there who do
              photopolymer plates on letterpresses quite often and know more than I
              do. But what I feel comfortable saying is that in my experience with
              "sun plates," I haven't ever exposed for more than one minute and
              thirty seconds and have received a deep enough etch for relief. It is
              a matter of whether intense black or a black that looks more like
              purple gray on the transparency would better allow for more detail to
              survive.

              I reduce my black intensity in Photoshop using the "levels" filter
              before printing to a transparency.

              I still would not rince for more than a minute....at least with the
              brand of sun plate sold by Daniel Smith. I do not know who
              manufactures those plates.

              Taking into account variability in the kind of artwork and personal
              preference, test strips are the way to go.

              Aurora Oberloh
              Mossgate Private Press
              Phoenix, AZ
            • Gerald Lange
              ... Hi Hmmm. Works the opposite with relief. The underlying structure begins to grow upward (shallower) as the exposure time lengthens. Seems odd but that s
              Message 6 of 12 , Dec 5, 2002
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                >
                > Beat me with a wet noodle if I'm halucinating, but the less time you
                > expose the pp plate the shallower the "etch" will be.
                >

                Hi

                Hmmm. Works the opposite with relief. The underlying structure begins
                to grow upward (shallower) as the exposure time lengthens. Seems odd
                but that's the way it apparently works. The molecular connections
                between the unexposed and exposed areas of the photopolymer begin to
                link. A process called halation. Useful for halftones and other fine
                detail as the supporting structure is better. The halation process is
                halted by post-exposure. In the old days of photopolymer you needed to
                "back-expose" to ensure the bottom of the plate became an
                anti-halation layer. All sheet based photopolymer now comes all ready
                prepared in this manner. At least that's my understanding of it.

                Maybe there is a washout difference here? If you washout a fine detail
                for too long, such as for instance, a separated rule, it will begin to
                erode at the anti-halation layer.

                I know we are discussing processes that are essentially the reverse of
                each other but this does not make sense to me. Unless, of course,
                everything I think I know about this is completely wrong. Its happened
                before!!!

                Gerald
              • riverrider2
                Thanks to all who replied. The response was decidedly mixed regarding the merits of hand processing. Some fully advocating it, while others advising against
                Message 7 of 12 , Dec 6, 2002
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                  Thanks to all who replied. The response was decidedly mixed
                  regarding the merits of hand processing. Some fully advocating it,
                  while others advising against it. Being the dedicated DIYer that I
                  am, I'm going to start by having my plates professionally done, then
                  experiment with easy graphics to see how well I can make them on my
                  own. If it works, I save money and have unlimited tiem flexibility.
                  If not, I trash a few plates. I'll have fun either way.

                  Steve
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