A Facelift For Brittle Photopolymer Plates

Are your polymer plates starting to curl at the edges?

Like our skin, plates can be affected by the weather and age. When humidity levels are low, the plates can look and feel brittle. And with the passage of time, the thinner polymer on the edges of the plates are pulled towards the denser polymer text and images on the front which causes curling. There is a natural aging of the plates as they do have a limited life expectancy but we can offer a few simple steps that can hydrate and give extra life to your plates.

Printight, maker of Toyobo plates KF95 and KF152, offers these suggestions if you have a platemaking system. Boxcar also gives similar steps for the majority of you who are without such equipment.

1. Place your plate back in the washout system for one minute or immerse in water. We suggest room temperature for a quick dunking, a minute may only be necessary if your plates are severely curled.

2. Sponge off the water and place back in the drying oven of the platemaker for 5-10 minutes. We also suggest, alternatively, a hair dryer to warm the plate and make it more pliable (placing your plate in a box and blowing the hair dryer into the box will keep the warm air more contained).

3. After the plate warms and starts to uncurl, place the plate in its bag and set a heavy object on it to keep the shape.

This should help your plates relax so you can adhere them to your base for additional print runs. Some warnings for you – take care to avoid putting your hair dryer too close to the plates and be patient as warming the plates takes time. And watch that you don’t handle them too roughly after the wash and during drying so your relief images don’t chip.

Store your plates flat. One last tip, you may have to check your adhesive backing to determine if it needs to be re-applied to the back of your plate for a secure hold on your base.

If you have some storage and uncurling tips, tell us about them so we can share. It’s great when we can all learn from each other!

Letterpress printing video: Heidelberg Windmills, drama, invitations, beauty,

Letterpress printing is so darn pretty that we wanted to share it with the world – so Harold spend the afternoon filming our printer Jake interacting with one of our favorite Heidelberg Windmills as he printed some letterpress invitations — then Harold spent days and nights and days and nights editing the footage down into three really tight seat-gripping minutes of total printing beauty. Enjoy (and make sure to turn the volume up loud so you can dance along to the press sounds)!