Converted AB Dick Platemaker

Silly me thought that an offset platemaker would fit the bill to expose photopolymer plates… After a three day google binge, I picked up an AB Dick III platemaker on eBay for a song… The unit has a vacuum top, a timer and with that any luxury one could ask for in this kind of device.

I kind of expected an offset platemaker having a UV light source of some sorts, but upon inspecting everything, it turned out it was using tungsten light bulbs, which emit basically zero UV light… ack.

During my research I came across Intaglio and solar plate printers using makeshift fluorescent light sources and I also found a few UV exposure units on fleabay, which are rather expensive, given the (lack of) features and size. Every unit seems to have a clamp down kind of lock.

When I worked in a print shop in the 80ies, the offset plate maker the guys used had a sturdy frame, a vacuum table and a powerful UV light with a kokomo filter.

The AB Dick has a vacuum top, which seems to be a big plus…

Looking back and forth, I put on the google armchair engineering hat to figure something out that may work for my needs. and started gutting the AB Dick Platemaker… I took out the tungsten light board and the developing unit on the left side of the machine (which reminds me a lot of the Agfa developing unit I used back in the day). Now I have a sturdy box with a vacuum table…

long story short… I was able to retrofit 18” fluorescents to the original lamp bed with some hacksaw engineering.

Initial exposure tests didn’t seem to cut it and I was almost ready to axe the whole thing, until I figured out a way to raise the light bed up another 2” (film canisters did the trick).

Exposure time right now is around 3 minutes with a laser printer negative. I’d say the results are pretty good, all things considered.

The timer on this platemaker runs up to 10 seconds and I plan to replace the potentiometer x10 on the dial to accommodate photopolymer exposure times.

image: 2015-02-27-16.28.44.jpg


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