Photo- poly plates vs.mag. wood mounted dies, which is better

I’ve finally got the bugs worked out of the ink rollers and now am deciding on which type of printing plates to use. I’ve been on a few web sites and have tried the mag. wood mounted dies with good results but don’t have the metal base to mount the poly dies. Any opinions on mag.-wood vs. poly plates, and where is the best place to purchase the metal base?

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I print photopolymer primarily, but this is a heavily discussed topic, and the battle lines have already been drawn.

As for bases, I’m very happy with Boxcar’s deep relief base, but others have milled their own aluminum.


I have two sizes of Boxcar deep relief bases and have printed with the photopolymer to good effect. I do find that I’m happier with the level of detail I get in the results from the wood-mounted magnesium plates. Positives about photopolymer include the ability to cut pieces apart with an xacto knife, and therefore get more use out of your plate. For example, a plate that includes a logo at a size that can be used alone elsewhere. Photopolymer is also less expensive, once you have covered the cost of the bases.

One drawback of photopolymer is that the base can pose a problem for gauge pin placement on a design that uses the edges of your available printing area. I’ve had some instances where this was really an issue.

I generally prefer magnesium, but photopolymer certainly has it’s place, especially for specific jobs. And I’m happy to have the option of either.

I buy mag dies, 1/4” thick, have them shipped unmounted (lots cheaper) then i mount them on my furniture with 2 pieces of chipboard under the furniture. Been doing this for 30 years. i’ve even mounted the mag dies and used type with them. With a good printers saw you can cut the mag plates to get more use out of them. Good luck Dick G.


I’m just a newbie so my opinions may not count. Over time I have tried all three of the following (in sequence):

(a) Photopolymer: using the Boxcar base.
(b) Wood-mounted Magnesium plates.
(c) Magnesium plates on honeycomb base.

In terms of just pure quality and accuracy (against the original laser-printed PDF), Mag is much better. In terms of cost of ordering the Mag, I believe Mag is about 20% to 30% more expensive than Photopolymer (from Boxcar Press).

The cost of the Boxcar Base vs the Honeycomb Base is comparable. For example, a 6x9 boxcar base today is $175 from Boxcar Press, while a honeycomb base of 6x10 is today $210 at NA Graphics. Bear in mind that these bases are a one-off cost/investment.

I have found that wood-mounted mag do not last long. The wood becomes warped, and then some corners may get compressed over many prints. This was my motivation for moving to the honeycomb base.

The advantage of Photopolymer is that you can cut/slice your photopolymer plate according to your needs.

Again these are just some of my newbie experiences. Since I have gotten so much great help from the experts here on Briar Press, I always feel I have to contribute back.