Making Photopolymer Plates - Wash out time


I have just started making photopolymer plates and I been reading up on how to make them

I currently just have a UV Exposure Unit and I am doing the wash out by hand
I would expose my plates for 5 min in the UV unit and then take the plate out and place it into tap water and I use a soft brush that I purchased from Boxcar.

I just wanted know is there anyway to speed up the wash out time as it can take me up to 1 hr to wash out a plate .. and I have been researching that it should only take a max 15 min to wash out a plate and if it is longer then it can destroy the plates.

Is there something I am doing wrong?

Thank You in advance


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I’m no expert on washing out plates by hand but I do know that you can decrease your washout times by raising the temperature of the water. A bit of white vinegar in the wash will help as well.

Different makes of plate may have slightly different times and temperatures for every step of the process; look for the specifications to your particular brand and type of plate. The Miraclon and Rigilon plates I use take from 5-10 minures washout by hand in water that is 95 dergrees F. It will go faster if you increase the brush area; early on I shifted from applying a brush to the plate to moving the plate against a large stationary brush area (Gene Becker sells 4x6 brushes for hand washout).
Times longer than say, 15 minutes in the water can degrade the plate: lines expanding into ripples, broken surfaces and delamination are to be expected.

You may back off on the exposure time to see if you might be getting some exposure through the dense areas of the negative. You need a quite dense negative to avoid background exposure.

You experiences with washout are indeed VERY long in comparison to mine.

i think the problem could be my negative .. i am currently making the negative myself and placing it through laser enhancer..

Also could it be the UV Exposure Unit ? because i find that if i place the plate directly under the light bulb then it washes out easier

Thank you all for your help and i will try it out this weekend


er just noticed your post as I was looking at your ad…

I use laser black and currently handwash plates as well. The laser black process is not any different from the more expensive options such as the Xante filmmaker. Depending on the laser printer you are using you will have better results or worse. The laser printer needs to be able to do 600 x 600 dpi as a minimum (1200 dpi is better) and the laser printer needs to be an older model as the xante filmstar solution and the laserblack work better on older models (I’m told that the ink has been plasticised in newer models which interfares with the solution).

The next thing to look at is the exposure unit. Does it have a vacumn pump, are the bulbs all active or old and needing replacement? The easiest way to test exposure times is with a Stouffer gauge.

As a rule of thumb my unit exposes a plate in around 3 minutes and depending on plate size and how energetic I am I get a decent result up to A4 in around 5-10 minutes. Washing out by hand is a pain tho.

For film transparency I use a box of 3m laser transparency which I picked up from the supply room at a Tafe I taught at. Not sure why I ended up with it but it works perfectly once it has run through the laser black. There is also a supplier of tone enhancer spray down in Melbourne. Alas at $40+ a can they do not have a sample they supply only examples (which look good). I could dig out their details if you would like to know more (it bypasses the need for using the laser black system).

Hope that this is of help and not come too late…


PS shameless self promo here so please ignore if it offends but I do run workshops stepping people through the whole process.

As an aside and I am sure that the brushes sold by boxcar are absolutely stunning but I’ve found that the cheap nylon nail brushes sold at the 2$ store in packs of three are fantastic washout brushes. A lot cheaper, not as classy (and possibly not as longliving)…

Chrissy, I make my own plates on a homemade exposure unit using my own negatives I create with an inkjet printer and the longest washout time I have ever had was about 10 minutes and that was an 11” x 17” plate that I created. The more typical size plates usually take between 4 and 5 minutes. I use only the Boxcar Press brush and sometimes a small paintbrush to get into very small areas.

The Dog House Workshop

How do you set up the inkjet printer to get a dense negative?



I use Adobe Illustrator and an Epson Inkjet 1100 Workforce printer. I also print on a film intended for screenprinting called Royal Windsor Inkjet Film. I would imagine many of my settings are specific to my hardware but if you are interested in more specifics just let me know. You can go to my website and look at the printing page and you can see some of the items I have printed. All of the items shown were printed on a C&P Craftsman 14 x 22 or a C&P Old Style Pilot from photopolymer plates I made here at home.


Would someone be so kind as to link to step-by-step instructions on setting up a system to make polymer plates and how it is done? Anything readily available? Thanks - Neil