Polymer plates in the UK

Hello all,

I am working with an Adana 8x5. I am wondering if anyone is using polymer plates in the uk and knows of a good supplier. I have found one company but they don’t have much relief to their plates, I’m looking to achieve some embossing.

I know Box car offer a deep relief plate, has anyone had some shipped over? it it worth the shipping costs?

Thanks for your help.


Log in to reply   16 replies so far

Hi Lucy, I am researching polymer plates in the UK but no luck! Have you had any luck at all?

This was covered in a previous post a year or so ago, I’ll paste in my comments from then:

“…to be honest I’ve found it very difficult to find people in the UK offering a supplier service for photopolymer plates – I suspect there are a few small-scale letterpress printers out there who use photopolymer water washout plate making units ‘in-house’ for short runs but they don’t seem to be offering a bureau service (which is understandable as for most commercial printers letterpress is dead as a Dodo – a Vanderwhat?…).
I am slightly confused by the UK position – there also seem to be people out there offering ‘flexo’ photopolymer but I believe these are softer plates for printing on to bottles etc.

The three leads I have are:
www.flexoshop.co.uk – sounds promising and they’ve heard of letterpress! – I talked to them recently about the type of plate they use and they seem to have a plate with a decent density for use with the boxcar base for example.

www.rankingraphics.co.uk – they say they can do water wash plates from disc artwork – £48 for an A3 from a high res pdf (i’m on a Mac – PC pdfs should be OK). They weren’t very forthcoming about the actual plates they use so I am non-the-wiser about whether I’ll use them.

www.ppp-digital.co.uk/platemaking.html – sounds too good to be true – computer to plate but I have yet to chase them up…”


“Just to continue the thread on this for all UK boxcar users, i have a boxcar base which I have been using with the BASF WF95 HD plate recommended by boxcar. I have these plates made by www.lazertype.co.uk in Essex – the contact there is Russell Mowle. My last order was for an A4 plate with two colour seperations from a high res pdf – £62 inc vat and delivery.

The plate worked fine – I think they probably added a fine stroke on my artwork to make sure some delicate linework held up in the platemaking process (ie they thickened it up slightly).

The plate doesn’t come with an adhesive backing – the first time I ran one i used double sided tape to fix it to the base (pain in the arse to get off tho’) but since then I have obtained some of boxcar’s adhesive sheet which worked like a dream. If there are any people out there who want to go down this route maybe we could club together and buy a long roll of adhesive – it would work out cheaper in the long term.”

Can’t comment on the deep relief base but
hope this helps.

John Christopher

I have already mentioned a company in London, Alpha Engravers, I had good quality plates made by them.

I’m not sure if you mean blank plates or ready for the press ones so if its blank then try the Polydiam site they sell various thinkness plates, I found the metal backed the best. For ready to run as I live in Suffolk I use a company “Trentgate Anglia Ltd, 35 Eastern Way Trading Estate, Bury St. Edmunds, IP32 7Ab, phone 01284753500. You mentioned a embossed finish, have you considered the “Thermographic” finish.
Regards Norman

We have the KF 152 deep relief polymer plate


we also manufacture The Chase Base for mounting to type height


Hi Lucie

I have ordered plates from Boxcar in the US, and they were great, but unfortunately UK customs charges and more significantly, delays, mean that importing anything from the US is problematic. I’ve heard that there’s a way of prepaying for UK customs charges, but haven’t as yet found a way to do this. The UK has a very low threshold for customs charges, and if your parcel gets picked up, you may wait for 2 weeks before you’re even contacted to pay up.

I have used Lyme Bay Press and their affiliated platemakers too. The system is very convenient - the plates come with adhesive, you just peel off and stick to the base and it will be type high. The need for makeready is still essential though - I find that the time needed to get a good crisp print is about the same as when using metal type.

On the down side, I’ve found that photopolymer plates from Lyme Bay affiliates can be flawed from time to time. If you can show that a plate is faulty and not a makeready issue, they will replace it at no further cost, which is fair. But I must confess I am sometimes frustrated at having to do this fairly regularly - which leads to my question:

To anyone in the UK buying Toyobo photopolymer unexposed plates and making their own - is it worth it? By that I mean is it better to rely on professional platemakers rather than add platemaking to your workload? And did it take long to learn the skill of making good plates?



It’s a matter of expense. If you do not use a lot of plates you likely are better off not buying a professional machine. First of all, there is the purchase cost, then the ongoing maintenance costs, and the cost of raw plate material. The cost of Toyobo KF polyester backed plates from the primary distributor in the US, Anderson & Vreeland, is quite high, unless, of course, you can swing a deal by buying by the boxcar.

You mentioned problems with the Lyme Bay material. I note they promote the KF152 as a letterpress plate with a hardness of 67 (a standard hardness for letterpress). Manufacturer’s specifications tell a different story. It has a hardness of 65.2 and is not listed as a letterpress plate by the manufacturer (but it is listed as a moulding plate).

Don’t know how it came to be that this deep impression thing has convinced folks that a KF152 will provide a stronger relief than a KF95. Simply not true. They both have the same relative reverse relief depth (again, based on manufacturer’s specifications).

The KF152 seems to be quite problematic as reported repeatedly on this very discussion list. It’s height, hardness rating, and backing support likely contribute to these problems. I’d trust the technical specifications rather than advertising hype.


That Boxcar (and Elum) adhesive is made in Milano, Italy by Biessse. Product code is Goffrato 10 EP. You can likely get it direct from the source.


Pomeroy Pressroom Products un UK sell Flint Corp plates he red ones , I had a quick go at testing one, it seemed to have good definition and easly wash out to the base and might be a better specification than Tyobo, but students using the latter have been very happy with these, we use a platemaker……..Pomeroy very friendly, give them a call, also stock plate for hot foiling believe which is harder. Try many brands. There are problems I believe with Miraclon supplies at the moment.

People could also buy the magnetic bases for steel backed plates, it might make makeready more easy.

You could also just have zinc/magnesium plates made. I believe Blinford Graphics will supply them already made up to type height, if you don’t have the appropriate mount.

Thank you Gerald, Jonathan and HandEye.

This has given me quite a bit to think about.

I have been considering switching back to mag plates (I do have a base) as quality was pretty consistent when I used only mag plates and metal type! I switched to photopolymer because f the cheaper costs, but also for the free recycling of plates. I still order mag plates for certain jobs.

Gerald, it’s very interesting that you have mentioned differences in shore hardness, I will enquire about this. The thing is that the plates I’ve had via LBP vary so much - at times the quality is great, as good as a mag plate, and at other times there is a distinct woolliness, or at other times certain elements of the design aren’t quite type height or some areas of the negative space haven’t been fully bitten away. I’m ignorant of the platemaking process, so don’t know if these different issues are caused by different factors or by one factor - the material itself.

Problem plates are always replaced where there has clearly been an error in producing it, as I said before.

Thanks again,

Lyme Bay Press to echo what others have said - very friendly, fast and good quality.


It could be the one factor, the material. My clients are primarily commercial and do expect the consistency you mention. I don’t offer plate material that has had reported processing problems. I don’t need the aggravation.

There will always be occasional problems here and there, no matter photopolymer or photomechanical plates, but they should not be to the extent you are describing.


or you could buy the proper mount from me in the UK for 8g and 16g

Elrodfk - I realise we’re a couple of years down the line from your last post but could you give me further info (if you still do them) on the mounts you offer for 8g and 16g?

since my earlier reply, Pomeroys changed their trading/restructured to litho only, plus took £260 quid from my university for polymer stuff payed in advance but never supplied the goods………..take this from you wish, unfortunately I have no redress, they knew what was happening but didn’t want to tell me. Not recommended, and I hope they read this and feel ashamed.