I have done some of my homework on making my own plates but have come up short in a few areas. Let me give you the run down and if you can fill in some blanks please do!

I am going to start making my own plates. Mostly because I can save about $80 an order doing so. That and a flip top NUARC platemaker fell into my lap for practically free.

It will do about an 11 x 17 max plate size. I have polymer on order and already have my negatives ready to go. Once the polymer is here then the fun begins.

Platemaker - will be getting its glass swapped out for KREEN. The drawback to the platemaker is (1) I will have to wash out the plates by hand and (2) it is only a 115V version instead of a 220V so it will probably take longer for the plate to expose. As you laugh please remember it was nearly free. I this stage of my small empire I am willing to put in the elbow grease to save a buck for a nice platemaker later. Iwill be testing small pieces of plates at varying units of time until I get a hardness that matches purchased plates form Boxcar.

I have supplies coming from Boxcar but they were backordered on the squeegee roller and acrylic with a rubber mount for washout.

So there is my first question. What can I use to take the moisture off of the plate before it dries in the mean time while I am waiting for my foam roller?

Next is if the plate decides to curl up with washout what can I use to keep it flat? I will be using the plastic backed plates that you put adhesive on with the deep relief boxcar base.

Final question is about drying the plate. If I hand wash it out what is the best methods for drying if I do not have a fancified plate maker with a drying tray?

Any help or stories of experience of things to watch out for will be incredibly helpful!!!


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I use a soft foam wall-painting roller to get excess moisture from my plates before drying.

The plates will dry on their own without difficulty. If you need to speed up the process, a fan blowing over the plate will assist. A hair dryer could be used if required. Make certain the plate is quite dry before re-exposing the plate to the UV light source for hardening.

I don’t think you will have issues with curling of the plates, but could be wrong.

You may have difficulty with the platemaker producing plates with very steep shoulders (sides of the image) which could make for unsupported thin lines and dots. Longer exposure will tend to widen these shoulders, and a sheet of matte-finish drafting mylar on top of the Kreen will also assist with diffusing the light source.

Thanks! - good to know.

jhenry - I understand the time involved with the first exposure to the UV but how do you gauge the time with the second hardening?

I generally figure twice (2X) the image exposure for the post exposure. Anyone else wish to comment?


That’s about right.

Not many old timers responding on this list anymore, eh!


UPDATE: Started lastnight to run some small test plates. Abut 2” x 2” in size till I reach my desired hardness.

The kreen went on easily. I created a framework to wrap it around and used the original hardware to affix the screen to the frame of my small Nuarc fliptop platemaker. The vacuum works very well! I thought I might have contact issues but the Kreen is just loose enough to touch the edge of the vacuum frame and forgiveable enough to suction down to a nice tight fit.

I am hand washing out the plates and outside of the time spent with the nylon brush it is not too difficult. About 7 to 10 minutes in cold water is all the 2” x 2” pieces take to get all of the unexposed polymer off. The larger pieces for real job work should not take much longer.

I have had fun exposing small sample pieces and recording the exposure times so I know what to expect from the platemaker. It has an auto adjust for the bulb life which is nice.

The problem is on all of my plates the side walls of the letters are at a 90 degree angle to the letters top surface. The ones I purchase have an angled slope. I guess you could call it the shoulder.

My question is how do I get my plate to taper more? I am using a Jet plate 152 and a boxcar deep relief base on my C&P’s. I would love to get this problem fixed tonight because I have spent a large fortune over the years purchasing finished plates from vendors.

I posted on the PPletterpress site and have had a couple of good responses but this forum also reaches a diverse group of professionals.

I will try the mylar suggestion from above but are there any more options I should look at. Is there a way to diffuse the light from the single bulb in a way to increase the shoulder thickness so it has a taper instead of coming off of the letter form at a right angle. I don’t want to have my “,” or “i’s” drop off my plate mid run.

It’s Fancy Letterpress Studio


Check your Film negative’s contrast, (Black area in Negative), you must check out that you are using readable negative, i.e., all letters should readable in film Emulsion side.
Try this and have a good rigid,angular shoulder.

good luck.


I think you are taken more wash out time can cause curling off
it happens if the plate has more solid area i.e., Solid Tint matter which tends to more time in Washout.

You can solve this cause if you wash the plate 2 or 3 times allowing quick time and hot air dry in between every wash you finish.


Did you ever get this working smoothly? I just got a Nuarc FT26V3UP plateburner and am hoping to do the same thing that it sounds like you are doing. Do you have some words of wisdom for me on the conversion process? Any help would be very appreciated!

Leland Rowey

image: Screen shot 2009-12-07 at 8.41.51 AM.png

Screen shot 2009-12-07 at 8.41.51 AM.png

If you want to convert a flip-top to use it with krene, why bother? The only problem with using a glass-face contact frame is that you can’t push out any air bubbles, as you can with a flexible cover. This can be dealt with in other ways: to prevent air pockets getting trapped, use a matte-emulsion film, or a matte-surface plate (or one can also detack the plate with powder, though this has problems of its own). You also need to trim all four sides of the plate, because the outside of the cut is deformed and a bump of photopolymer is thrown up, making an effective gasket to trap air.

Does the Nuarc FT26 do a good job in the end?
Or was it too much of a head ache?

The proper way to also get rid of air bubbles is to bleed the air down several times befor exposure. There should be an air bleed control. Just turn it to let almost all the air back in and then tighten again. If you do this 2-3 times it should get rid of all trapped air.