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Re: Plate making

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  • 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 1 of 8 , Jan 6, 2002
      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 2 of 8 , Jan 6, 2002
        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 3 of 8 , Jan 7, 2002
          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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