how to print without gauge pins? // photopolymer plates

Hi all!
I’m calling on all you veteran photopolymer plate printers; I’m working on a job using all photopolymer plates. The problem I’m having is that my paper is sticking to the plate after the impression. I’ve tried: adjusting roller height, more ink, less ink, more packing, less packing… every option I could think of, and the paper still sticks to the plate because I don’t have my trusty gauge pins to hold the paper (since they’ll be smashed by my boxcar base). I’ve been using looped pieces of tape as my makeshift gauge pins but it’s pretty time consuming and I would rather find a permanent fix. HELP!

Log in to reply   8 replies so far

I get this problem all the time. The best solution (in my experience) is to stretch a rubber band between your grippers that would pry the printed piece from the form.
Getting it a little askew (if there’s room for it) works even better.

How about making a proper frisket, using your grippers?

I’ve had some polymer plates that were sticky. I think that comes from improper processing or using the wrong material for the application. Does the surface of the plate feel sticky to the touch? If so you might want to go over this issue with your plate maker.
When I need to place a register pin where the rail might crush the pin I remove the copper strip from the gauge pin and just tape the copper to the tympan with just enough strip sticking up to hold the paper in register.
If it’s just an issue with the paper sticking to the ink then I agree with Thomas about using a frisket.

If you absolutely have NO vertical or horizontal low lines in your image to utilize Rubber Bands as *pull offs* as above!!
Perhaps try the following:- . . With Synthetic Mono-filament = minimal breaking strain fishing line, 4 lengths with loops on each end, (achieved by just a minute melt at each end to form the loops as with fishing to secure the tackle)
Assuming that there is 2 Frisket fingers available, 2 horizontal loops tensioned and strung between the fingers but able to catch the (sticky) stock by a Pica/12 point at the bleed edge,s and 2 vertical loops strung on & between the horizontal loops!!
In effect 4 cross hairs acting as extractors, there must surely be 12 Pt./Pica excess stock beyond the image.
Even possibly making D.I.Y. Gage Pins/Pads, i.e. craft shop 3/4” x 1/2” double sided adhesive 3/32” foam pads (as in compressible Gage pins) with Acrylic Tounges atop with the minimal protrusion to catch the stock, with more than usual number in use.
Acrylic sheet has virtually no *memory* therefore if you go the D.I.Y. route, with a little experimenting (and we have) it is quite possible/practical to make the working part of the tounge, as little as 12 Pt. *arrow head* or as big as a finger nail size, crescent moon, to accept heavy stock, stick the Pads/Gage,s down for register and just crank them up (acrylic) to accept the stock in use.


Wow! This is awesome. Thank you all for your responses.

Oprion and Thomas Gravemaker: I’m on a C&P 10x15 and unfortunately don’t have grippers. I looked your suggestion up on ye olde Google and that looks like it would work well! I’m going to try to maybe figure something out with rubber bands on my machine, something I never thought of. So, THANK YOU!

BruceCPD; the surface of my plates aren’t sticky by themselves, only when there’s ink on them luckily. HOWEVER, your suggestion of removing the copper pins from the gauge pins and taping them to the tympan seems like the best idea! I’m going to try it.

Mick On Monotype; Sounds like you’ve had this problem before!! I appreciate all your suggestions; I’m excited to have multiple options of how to fix this problem. The DIY Gage pins seem like the best bet.

HavenPress; Intriguing response, as always.

Letterpress ink is very tacky and if you over ink or are using a light stock your job will stick to the plate like glue.

As suggested you can strech an elastic band between the grippers provided you tape it to the grippers to stop it moving and ending up across your plate.

Alternatively you can make a mask of stiff card, cut out your print area and glue the mask to one or both of you grippers.

To stop your pin hitting your base you insert the lay either side of the base, oversize your stock and guillotine the excess off or do the same at the bottom move your base up the chase and guillotine the excess off the job at the bottom.

E.T.F. Yes, we have had, since many moons ago the problems as You observe (thank You) but not so much Problems more *Beat the System* and thumb the proverbial nose at the Rip of Merchants.
One perfect actual example from a little while ago, U.K. origin, a pack of ten compressible gage pins, constructed (in essence) exactly as my 12 Pt *Arrow Head* as above, from our opportunist suppliers, knocked a hole in upwards of £15 Sterling, equates to roughly $23 U.S. Dollars.! Per Ten,??
A visit to my local Art shop/Artist Supplies and I can purchase a sheet of double sided adhesive contact pads 20 off, and just one sheet of acrylic and make 20 Gage Pins for approximately $0.5 (5 Cents) per Pin.!! with the added advantage of altering the overall configuration to suit the stock requirements, as opposed to *one size fits all*

One more little Gimmick from a long time ago, which seems to have been forgotten,?? on most everything from Tiny Table top presses up to the Bigger Hand fed Treadle Platens Gage Pins were made in several different ways, (of course) usually positioned and stuck to the Tympan beyond the reach of the image area, just, for example Monotype spaces 36 Pt. thicks or similar, stuck and positioned as Gage pins, 2 at the Head (lay) one as Side (lay) beautiful square abutments for (almost) throwing heavy stock in to register, hand feeding at some speed.

Not too good with flimsy stock, hence we reverted to using 4-6 em lengths of Monotype Or Elrod strip material, but only the type that is side face in production, i.e. 2 Pt. side face on 6 Pt. body, it appears with a perfect built in undercut to accept thin stock. + the D.S.A. (double sided adhesive) for sticking the Plates down with, was available by the yard, Nowadays, Upholsterer,s/Flooring specialist,s Double sided adhesive tape @ around .002” .003” still works perfectly.!

As Gage Pin mount,s or equally well for mounting your Plates Cuts Blocks etc to your base material.