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Plate making

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  • tim_honnor
    Hullo folks - I am a new member from Scotland where I have a letterpress and engraving buiness and for 20 years have been using cold type (that I still use) I
    Message 1 of 8 , Jan 6, 2002
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      Hullo folks - I am a new member from Scotland where I have a
      letterpress and engraving buiness and for 20 years have been
      using cold type (that I still use)
      I now want information on using Polymer and have a UV A3 unit
      but am having trouble with the wash-out and getting a clear
      image of the type left on the plate.
      I am currently using a soft nylon brush and do the plates by
      hand.
      I am told that there is no need for a 'commercial' wash-up and
      dry unit but as I am hoping to make plates every day would this
      be a sensible investment, if so what model (A4 size) and is
      there a second hand source.
      Many thanks and best wishes from Scotland
      Tim Honnor
      (www.piccolopress.co.uk)
    • Katie Harper
      Dear Tim, You ll probably get a lot of replies to your query, to the effect that photopolymer is not a very forgiving medium, and that yes, it does matter if
      Message 2 of 8 , Jan 6, 2002
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        Dear Tim,

        You'll probably get a lot of replies to your query, to the effect that
        photopolymer is not a very forgiving medium, and that yes, it does matter if
        you have an auto exposure and washout unit. I know there are those who use
        the hand method successfully, but in my experience it won't work well if you
        are doing things like detailed type (smaller than 24 pt.). Also, there are a
        lot of variables in hand washing, such as water temp., type of stroke you
        are using, the way you hold the plate as you wash, type of brush, etc.
        Also, your negative is critical. It must have a very opaque black, the
        emulsion must face the plate, and the vacuum must be very tight. Polymer is
        great when it works, but it's VERY fussy and the devil is in the details.

        There are other discussions about all these variables which you can find in
        the archives at the web site:


        http://groups.yahoogroups.com/group/PPLetterpress

        Katie Harper
        Ars Brevis Press
        Cincinnati, OH
        513-233-9588

        Remember: Book arts will save the world!



        > From: "tim_honnor" <print@...>
        > Reply-To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
        > Date: Sun, 06 Jan 2002 12:09:14 -0000
        > To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: [PPLetterpress] Plate making
        >
        > Hullo folks - I am a new member from Scotland where I have a
        > letterpress and engraving buiness and for 20 years have been
        > using cold type (that I still use)
        > I now want information on using Polymer and have a UV A3 unit
        > but am having trouble with the wash-out and getting a clear
        > image of the type left on the plate.
        > I am currently using a soft nylon brush and do the plates by
        > hand.
        > I am told that there is no need for a 'commercial' wash-up and
        > dry unit but as I am hoping to make plates every day would this
        > be a sensible investment, if so what model (A4 size) and is
        > there a second hand source.
        > Many thanks and best wishes from Scotland
        > Tim Honnor
        > (www.piccolopress.co.uk)
        >
        >
        >
        > To post a message to the membership, send an email to
        > PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
        >
        > To log on to the groupsite (confirmed Yahoo ID required), go to
        > http://groups.yahoogroups.com/group/PPLetterpress
        > [copious reference sources can be found onsite in Bookmarks (URLs),
        > Database (tables), Files (documents), and Messages (archives)]
        >
        > Encountering problems? send an email to
        > PPLetterpress-owner@yahoogroups.com
        >
        > To unsubscribe, send an email to
        > PPLetterpress-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
        >
        >
        >
        > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
        >
        >
      • typetom@aol.com
        I beg to differ somewhat with Katie s response -- of course! Hand-washers unite! (or shake hands! or shake a fist!) Small type and fine details are entirely
        Message 3 of 8 , Jan 6, 2002
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          I beg to differ somewhat with Katie's response -- of course!
          Hand-washers unite!
          (or shake hands! or shake a fist!)
          Small type and fine details are entirely possible with hand-washout.
          Occasionally I have made even 6 point and very fine-lined scripts. (I have
          seen a beautiful trial of 4 point type done by machine-made polymers, printed
          by the late Jim Trissel some years ago).

          I agree there are a myriad of quirky factors involved, and extreme difficulty
          in diagnosing exactly what is causing a poor result. Almost everyone seems to
          have a different solution and procedure -- I even contradict myself trying to
          figure out some problems. The perfect answer (my absolutely correct, personal
          quirky process), which has taken several years of making less-than-perfect
          plates, of course will change the next time I have difficulty.

          Any rate, it may help, Tim, for you to describe more precisely what you mean
          by trouble "getting a clear image on the plate." Could well be it's not a
          washout problem but an exposure problem. There are multiple variables.
          Katie's list is a good start. I would stress good contact between negative
          and plate, and add that exposure time greatly accents or solves or aggravates
          various situations, and that the length of time in washing also can cause or
          solve some difficulties. Getting a machine to do the washout may solve the
          problem, but I'm not convinced it will help you understand it! But as Goudy
          pointed out, machines are tools; the challenge is to use them as we use our
          hands: if they make for good results, more power!

          Best wishes, Tom

          Tom Parson
          Now It's Up To You Publications
          157 S. Logan, Denver CO 80209
          (303) 777-8951
          http://members.aol.com/typetom
        • Katie Harper
          Go hand washers! I didn t mean to imply that machine is the only way to go, and I m so glad that my response has brought some of the hand washers out of the
          Message 4 of 8 , Jan 6, 2002
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            Go hand washers!

            I didn't mean to imply that machine is the only way to go, and I'm so glad
            that my response has brought some of the hand washers out of the woodwork!
            Frankly, since I don't have a machine, I'd love to get the hand methods to
            work so I could use them more frequently. I really followed with avid
            interest the recent thread about professional imagesetter film vs. laser
            output. As I said in earlier response to Tim, my preference for
            machine-based methods is based on MY experience. After trying many different
            methods and tests for exposure and washout, and despite having some very
            nice exposing vacuum tables at my disposal, I finally (and very reluctantly)
            gave up on fine detail, as I was spoiling too many plates trying to do it
            myself. As a teacher, I have researched many teaching methods for exposure
            and washout, even those as crude as putting a handmade negative (or positive
            for intaglio) over a plate under glass under the sun. But when I query
            professional letterpress printers who do fine press work, almost all have
            told me that machine exposure/washout is the only way to go. This may be
            because they need consistent, reliable results and it's cheaper and easier
            in the long run to order plates rather that go through the trial and error
            experimentation required to get good results themselves.

            I would love to be converted to the hand washing side. The only
            documentation about hand methods I have found usually consists of handouts
            given out by printmaking professors who admit that results are
            "unpredictable" and are mostly for intaglio and not letterpress. Is there a
            better source of information on the hand methods???


            Katie Harper
            Ars Brevis Press
            Cincinnati, OH
            513-233-9588

            Remember: Book arts will save the world!



            > From: typetom@...
            > Reply-To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
            > Date: Sun, 6 Jan 2002 14:04:41 EST
            > To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
            > Subject: Re: [PPLetterpress] Plate making
            >
            > I beg to differ somewhat with Katie's response -- of course!
            > Hand-washers unite!
            > (or shake hands! or shake a fist!)
            > Small type and fine details are entirely possible with hand-washout.
            > Occasionally I have made even 6 point and very fine-lined scripts. (I have
            > seen a beautiful trial of 4 point type done by machine-made polymers, printed
            > by the late Jim Trissel some years ago).
            >
            > I agree there are a myriad of quirky factors involved, and extreme difficulty
            > in diagnosing exactly what is causing a poor result. Almost everyone seems to
            > have a different solution and procedure -- I even contradict myself trying to
            > figure out some problems. The perfect answer (my absolutely correct, personal
            > quirky process), which has taken several years of making less-than-perfect
            > plates, of course will change the next time I have difficulty.
            >
            > Any rate, it may help, Tim, for you to describe more precisely what you mean
            > by trouble "getting a clear image on the plate." Could well be it's not a
            > washout problem but an exposure problem. There are multiple variables.
            > Katie's list is a good start. I would stress good contact between negative
            > and plate, and add that exposure time greatly accents or solves or aggravates
            > various situations, and that the length of time in washing also can cause or
            > solve some difficulties. Getting a machine to do the washout may solve the
            > problem, but I'm not convinced it will help you understand it! But as Goudy
            > pointed out, machines are tools; the challenge is to use them as we use our
            > hands: if they make for good results, more power!
            >
            > Best wishes, Tom
            >
            > Tom Parson
            > Now It's Up To You Publications
            > 157 S. Logan, Denver CO 80209
            > (303) 777-8951
            > http://members.aol.com/typetom
            >
            >
            > To post a message to the membership, send an email to
            > PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
            >
            > To log on to the groupsite (confirmed Yahoo ID required), go to
            > http://groups.yahoogroups.com/group/PPLetterpress
            > [copious reference sources can be found onsite in Bookmarks (URLs),
            > Database (tables), Files (documents), and Messages (archives)]
            >
            > Encountering problems? send an email to
            > PPLetterpress-owner@yahoogroups.com
            >
            > To unsubscribe, send an email to
            > PPLetterpress-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
            >
            >
            >
            > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
            >
            >
          • bielerpr
            Dear Katie ... This is the most current I ve been able to find. Very elementary, but has photos. There is also a URL to this in Bookmarks under Tech Info.
            Message 5 of 8 , Jan 6, 2002
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              Dear Katie

              Katie Harper <knharper@f...> wrote:
              > Go hand washers!

              > I would love to be converted to the hand washing side. The only
              > documentation about hand methods I have found usually consists of
              > handouts given out by printmaking professors who admit that results
              > are "unpredictable" and are mostly for intaglio and not letterpress.
              > Is there a better source of information on the hand methods???

              This is the most current I've been able to find. Very elementary, but
              has photos. There is also a URL to this in Bookmarks under Tech Info.

              http://www.printstudio.com.au/Poly3.htm

              There is also a book called _Printmaking with Photopolmyer Plates_
              by Dianne Longley, the owner of the above webside. I have this listed
              here in a Database table called References. I've never seen it so I don't
              know into what detail it goes.

              Gene Becker also has a one-page sales sheet on hand methods at his
              website.

              www.photopolymerplates.com

              All best

              Gerald
            • edinman
              I do the hand washout thing with very good results--it took a little practice but it s really not hard. I think the main thing besides adequate exposure under
              Message 6 of 8 , Jan 6, 2002
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                I do the hand washout thing with very good results--it took a little
                practice but it's really not hard. I think the main thing besides adequate
                exposure under a tight negative is to be patient and gentle.

                The unexposed polymer will almost just wash itself off the plate under warm
                water--just don't get impatient and try to brush too hard--that is when fine
                detail will start to break up.

                I can't really say that I typically use such plate for 6 pt. type,
                though--mostly just line artwork. I usually set or cast all type in
                metal--much cheaper that way (at least in terms of material cost).

                Just my .02,
                Ed
              • typetom@aol.com
                edinman@earthlink.net writes:
                Message 7 of 8 , Jan 6, 2002
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                  edinman@... writes:
                  <<I think the main thing besides adequate exposure under a tight negative is
                  to be patient and gentle.... just don't get impatient and try to brush too
                  hard--that is when fine detail will start to break up. >>

                  I would add to this perhaps some refinement. Too much patience also can
                  result in loss of serifs and details. How so? As the plate is soaked and
                  washed, the unexposed parts absorb water and dissolve. This can occur under
                  the hardened surface of exposed lines, so that the serif or thin line may
                  lift off and be brushed away. I think it's not so much that the brush is
                  damaging the surface image but that it is separating it from softer material
                  below. So, fine lines benefit from slight over exposure, which allows more of
                  the polymer to harden down the shoulders below the surface of the image. And
                  similarly, fine lines would benefit from somewhat faster washout time, thus
                  not allowing the supporting material to absorb so much water, but leaving the
                  surface image better attached. So the success in preserving a delicate image
                  is not just dependent on delicate brushing -- in fact it may help to brush a
                  bit more aggressively, as odd as that seems. These factors can be felt by
                  considering differences in hand-brushing a small versus a large plate. Using
                  a small brush, it takes longer to work over the whole surface of a larger
                  plate, so the larger plate takes longer to wash out. The result is that,
                  while small plates may easily come out fine, larger plates may develop broken
                  lines. A quicker washout may help. A parallel answer might be to halt the
                  washout a bit earlier, before all the unexposed material has been cleaned
                  away (and then trust the drying and the second exposure to reduce and harden
                  that material).

                  One thing I have found very useful is to keep an eye on the clock. If I have
                  been gentle and patient but the plate isn't clean after about 10 minutes (in
                  my experience, with the small brush and water temp I use) then I know it's
                  probably time to stop anyhow. For me, it has been hard to stop cleaning --
                  just as it is difficult for me to leave an irregular pile of freshly printed
                  sheets as they sit rather than jog them straight. Naturally compulsive about
                  straightening and finishing details, I guess. I've had to discipline my self.
                  Watching the clock has made a difference.

                  It seems there are several complex factors at work, and analysis of these
                  things may produce contradictory conclusions about what's best to do. I am
                  still puzzled how these various decisions can be made in the machine washout
                  process. And it may be that the success of the machine process suggests to me
                  that exposure time and washing time may be more important than the delicate
                  touch. But mostly, I think, no one of my conclusions is the whole answer, and
                  surely a gentle and patient touch must be a goal and a process for us all.

                  Best wishes, Tom

                  Tom Parson
                  Now It's Up To You Publications
                  157 S. Logan, Denver CO 80209
                  (303) 777-8951
                  http://members.aol.com/typetom
                • Harold Kyle
                  ... You are certainly correct that trial and error is expensive. I think that the cost of the plate material should give any novice second thoughts about
                  Message 8 of 8 , Jan 7, 2002
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                    On 1/6/02 5:28 PM, "Katie Harper" <knharper@...> wrote:
                    > This may be
                    > because they need consistent, reliable results and it's cheaper and easier
                    > in the long run to order plates rather that go through the trial and error
                    > experimentation required to get good results themselves.

                    You are certainly correct that trial and error is expensive. I think that
                    the cost of the plate material should give any novice second thoughts about
                    diving into the hand washing of plates.

                    That said, I purchased a machine-washout platemaker after years of "trial
                    and error" and consistent success with hand-washout. The volume of work in
                    my shop convinced me because the commercial units are efficient and save
                    precious time.

                    Although I was pleased with my results while hand-washing (and didn't expect
                    any improvement was possible), the results from the machine washout are
                    superior. This came as quite a surprise. With eighteen 40W bulbs I'm getting
                    much more even exposure than the eight 20W I used to use (now there are no
                    light corners or banding). The evenness of the brush pressure and repeatable
                    functions of the new platemaker mean sharper detail and noticeably crisper
                    appearance.

                    Larger (and, needless to say, more expensive) plates are particularly
                    improved, because I don't need to submerge an 11x17 plate for fifteen
                    minutes of scrubbing with a 4x8 brush. Remember that the adhesive which
                    holds the polymer on the backing eventually dissolves in water--small
                    details are the first to go when washout times increase.

                    Hand-washing often works on medium to small-size plates, but a machine will
                    always do a superior job and can process the biggest plates just as well as
                    the smallest plates.

                    Harold Kyle

                    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
                    Boxcar Press
                    Fine Printing and Binding ~ Digital Letterpress Supplies
                    640 Fellows Avenue ~ Syracuse, NY 13210
                    www.boxcarpress.com
                    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
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