Making type with photopolymer plates

I’m really new to letterpress and from Argentina.
I’ve searched a lot about types and photopolymer plates and they are very expensive for my current budget.

So my question is, if I have a photopolymer plate with a full typeface, can I cut each type and mount it on a wood base? The reason I will be doing this is to use it like metal type.

Thanks a lot and sorry if this is a sumb question


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Sure, it can be done. Can’t quite imagine doing it myself. Getting it to line up correctly would be difficult, particularly with smaller point sizes. Seems to me getting copper engravings would be much more durable. But I doubt I’d try this for anything smaller than 60 point.

I have one font of Gravure (I think) like this made of copper. Sure glad it was someone else who put it together.

Hi Bellota,

I’m a newbie also and with limited budget too :) If I understand what you are asking, you want to create a photopolymer plate full of alphabets. And then you plan to cut each letter and mount it on wood. Then you plan to type-set using these letters. Is this correct?

I think this is a lot of work. Secondly, I think it will produce very poor/bad accuracy when you try to line-up the letters. And finally, I think this may cost a lot of money (cutting each letter and mounting on wood).

I think you would be better off looking for used metal type in Argentina. I don’t know anything about printing history in Argentina, but I should think there are still some old printing shops with used types. Perhaps you could place an advertisement in your local newspaper asking for old/used metal type.

The reason no to do this is that photopolymer does not age very well, whether raw or processed. The material degrades, and for best results should be stored away from light and damp. But even that is no guarantee for long-term storage. (That’s why you should always save your negatives so you can remake a plate.)
Copper or zinc photoengravings would indefinitley, magnesium would last relative to humidity (due to corrosion).

Thanks a lot!

There are some used type but I think they are in a bad condition and I haven’t found any furniture at all.

I think I’ll go with photopolymer then :)


You have been given some good advice. I’d also suggest copper but on mag base rather than wood. Or wood if you’d rather but have the supplier mount it. They are usually on the mark. Have the supplier make the individual cuts for you rather than you cutting and mounting from an entire font. A tad more expense but a far more reasonable expectation of success.

As suggested, photopolymer will not last very long, not at all actually. And just a note here, neither will film anymore (recently required chemical changes have drastically reduced longevity). The mantra now is save your files and make sure to translate them to new formats as required as digital technology marches onward.


Thanks Gerald.

I’m going to investigate if there are any copper photoengravings suppliers here.


Gerald, what has changed in graphic arts film to reduce longevity? Is it just imageset film and RA processing that is affected? I had the idea some contact films had come to use dyes rather than silver, but with silver film won’t fix and rinse be adequate? I am wondering if I should re-fix and re-rinse film from the service bureau.


Don’t know. Film from ten years ago is still good, film from six months ago has gone bad. Asked my main supplier. Explanation was changes in chemistry. Ink suppliers, solvent suppliers, all the same complaint. Sort of all going to hell.