Lining up multiple colors on C&P (deep relief plates)

Hello all,

It’s been a while since I asked any questions and I’ve got a few for you know. I’ve been busy teaching but I picked up a three color wedding job and I want some advice about line up if you don’t mind. Here are the specs:

Invite 4x6”, 300gsm, Crane Paper (175)
RSVP 3x5”, ’ ’ (175)
Program, 5x7” ’ ’ (200)
Reception Card 3x5” ’ ’ (175)

All are three colors (the same three), and none of them have any hair line line up - none of the colors are touching. I gave myself a month to do it.

The problem I have is getting a really good line up when I move to the second color. Normally for the first color, I tape the plate to the paper and deposit it on the base. Once I get to the next color I’m lost. Now that I’m using deep relief plates they are too thick to line up this way - the shoulder is so broad that when I look through the plate I can’t actually tell where the face is.

What I’ve tried to do is tape a piece of acetate over my typman, take a print and then lift the acetate and try and position the gauge pins to it, but I still find I lack accuracy and end up spending 45 minutes scooting the pins around in all the wrong directions until I’m sweating with frustration. I dont’ like wasting tympan so typically I just tape the pins down really tight or use compressible adhesive pins made from heavy, thick card stock, photopolymer adhesive, and a copper tongue.

I’m concerned part of the problem is getting the packing super tight on the platen. I tape the edges of the top sheet and pull super tight when I pull down the bales - the texture of the tape keeps the bales ultra tight, but the tympan still isn’t as flat and drum tight as I want. Is it even achievable? There is nothing I can do about the grain of the tympan paper because I only have precut sheets but they seem nice and flat and I always pre-score.

I’m also concerned that part of it is my pin placement relative to the sheet and that when I feed the paper shifts. I’ve tried putting a rubber band across the gripper bars, but was afraid that the rubber band might actually be shifting the paper when it struck.

I’ve taped down a piece of paper to the platen and taken 30 impressions one on top of the over before to ensure thee press wasn’t wobbling - perfect each time - so I know nothing is wrong there. Still if I try to print now using pins (without taping down the sheet) and let it double impress (to get a heavier lay of ink) things always seem to shift a bit meaning I can’t take a double impression when I have large areas of color which makes it very difficult to get a really nice even field.

How do you line up? When I see experts printing they never seem to have to move the gauge pins for the second run. What can do I do to save myself hours of trying to ge those tiny edges to line up! Also I always make sure to apply trapping to my designs when there is a need for hairline register, how much trapping do you apply?

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I should mention, when I’m lining up it always seems like the misalignment is based on rotation not a simple vertical or horizontal shift… that’s what makes line up so difficult, because I’m usually trying to move just one pin to angle the paper to line up with the not square plate… This becomes a nightmare because the pins have a 1/2” surface of where they meet the paper, meaning those two surfaces must be aligned so moving one just means the paper won’t lay against the two bottom pins the same way each time, but will instead be sliding around like it’s on a fulcrum depending on which surface it contacts first…. UGH! I’m dying over here. Any expert want to come to Virginia and give me a proper C&P lesson? Haha.

I just bought a boxcar base (gave in, even though my lucite bases were printing fine…) with the hope that I could use the grid to ensure my plates were actually at the proper angle..

Where in VA are you. I am in the richmond area and would be glad to help.


Check out this post. Ignore all the BS that follows the original post and pix. If you’d like to speak about it call me at 917-509-4844.

Hey Panthera,

I have a suggestion- try coloring the top of your register marks or whatever elements you’re using to line up with a Sharpee marker. You can rub it off with some rubbing aclohol and a cotton ball after placement.

This’ll let you see exactly the position of the important area.

However, I wonder- since you’re using deep impression, are you not able to get the crop marks to keyhole each time?

My normal procedure is to print one element, then save a sheet that is registered perfectly from that run. Then I feed my entire run, remove the chase (It’s important not to remove the chase if you’re using a C&P because not all of them fit tightly in place and sometimes they shift a bit.), wash up, and then replace the chase. If you place your new plate utilizing the old color as a ‘guide’, remove chase, wash up, AND THEN replace chase, it may be off for reasons mentioned above.

(and also I generally print with crop marks in the corners, same position on all plates, all plates full size; may be a bit more expensive if you use a by-the-sq-inch platemaking service, but I find it’s worth it to nail the register, and I make my own plates :-) it’s especially helpful if you can print with some registration targets or some locating marks, though- try a few different ones out and see what works for you after you read this whole procedure)

I use 3 pieces of doublestick tape and place them in ‘dead’ areas of the polymer plate; basically, spots that have no image element. little pieces work best.
I also touch a little black ink with my finger and gently apply it to my crop marks to ‘ink them up’ a little so I can see a the mark.
I then very carefully find the indentation from previous print run at one corner; insert crop marks which should line up at that corner; and then find the opposing corner’s indentation and use those to fit the plate into place. This is carefully done with the adhesive backing removed.

Then I place the sheet with plate attached into the guides/gauge pins, and cycle the press slowly by hand, taking care that there are no rubber bands or other items stretched across the paper.

If you do it right, you’ll see that the crops line up (especially since that black ink is on there from your fingers).
You can then feed another sheet to be sure it was a correct plate placement, and then also be careful when you remove the doublestick tape that you don’t remove/shift the plate.

I hope at least some of this helps/isn’t new info, and good luck.

Thanks for the answers so far! All good stuff.

I don’t usually use crop marks because my mentors never did - though I suspect I may need to at least try them out to see how I feel using them.

Normally I don’t go for a very deep impression. If someone asks for it then fine, but I prefer something just a little past a kiss impression, and I always try and start with a kiss and then add a makeready to deepen the impression.

If anyone is still around and doesn’t mind a tangent can anyone tell me what’s happening with my plates here?

Things I’ve checked:

- the trucks, I taped them a bit and they are at the same circumference of the rollers if a teeny bit under
- the rollers aren’t slurring, I made a mark on the trucks and watched them rotate all the way down
- the platen isn’t wobbling or shifting
- I made my packing as tight as humanly possible (for me anyway, I tape it down on all sides and the bales are super tight)
- I’ve taped the rails
- I’ve used more ink and less ink - either way these little ‘edge punches’ continue to appear - sometimes I use so little ink I have to let the plate ink 4-6 times just to get coverage
- Even with just a small amount of impression I’m having this problem

Is it the hard paper stock? (it happens a lot on different stocks)
Is the impression just too deep?
Is it that the rollers are still too low?
I tried raising them up but they wouldn’t ink the plate properly unless I added more ink which led to over inking.
I tried adding ink, and it made it worse.

image: errors.jpg


Here is a different time I tried printing this card… I failed both times to get a super high quality run, but I’m learning! Plates are from boxcar.

image: toomuchimpression.jpg


Also I printed the pink text, and the pink field separately to avoid over inking