boxcar KF152 polymer alternatives in Europe

I have dr base from box car for my adana 8x5 and I have been using the 94 plates which I ordered from the UK. I now wish to use the recommended KF152 plates but cant be ordering my plates form the USA what with the wait and cost of customs etc. Does anyone know an alternative to this plate and what it is called and from which manufacturer so i can try and track it down.

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They are still called KF152, but the company seems to have a thing against supplying to small time processors. Even in America, I have trouble sourcing the unexposed plates direct from the supplier.

Really, just about any plate you can get will work, but you may have to shim your base to bring it up to the correct height. I even saw some excellent printing on burlap today that used masking strips.

Thanks for your reply. I cant find a supplier anywhere in Germany for the KF152 polymer plates. I would need them done for me so I wouldn’t have the problem with the direct unexposed plates supplier. What exactly is shimming, i always thought that meant taking a bit off?

It’s probably the exposure part that will hold you back. Perhaps another printer may be able to help, even a flexographic one?

I’d probably just recommend ordering magnesium cuts if possible, but try giving some companies a call? Here’s some interesting links:

Oh, and shimming in this context means adding packing under a printing block or base in order to bring it up to type height.

James Beard
Vrooooom Press

I evaluated some of the Toray stuff and found it to be very good.

It was definitely a workable alternative to Printight.

I know this is a bit after the post but we launched the full package about two months ago.

We have a base system of our own called the ‘Chase Base’ and we have the KF152 polymer plates.

image: BasePlate_1.jpg


The Excelsior Press already manufactures a ‘Chase Base’ as you can see on their website at

Theirs is actually a chase base, as in it’s a base as well as a chase, while yours is just a base, so on top of confusing the small pool of letterpress consumers between the two, the name is a bit confusing in itself.

There is another company offering a The Chase Base in the UK. Are these the same?

What’s going on?

Just have to make a slight notation here. Checked out the site on your photopolymer offerings. If you can see the “white halo” around your imaging, you are actually too far in your impression. It is not the goal. That is the paper distorting. Just out of curiosity, why would you show such little respect for paper, without regard? Paper is part of the equation, is it not?


No - the chase base is a different product and price and I don’t think they offer the polymer plates but best wishes to them for the future - the UK’s been waiting too long for this to worry about having too many…

The idea behind Lyme bay Press is to provide a service to the letterpress community and all the services are kept at a very low price. Profit isn’t the factor here. Oh yes and Elum also do a base as well as the good guys at Boxcar.

Gerald re halo - yes you’re absolutely correct but actually it goes further than that, any trained letterpress printer will tell you anything more than a kiss impression would class your work as scrap in the trade during the real working age of these presses - you’d have to reprint your work!

Kiss print should be what you’re aiming at and no deeper. We have to take this in the context it’s stated, which is the modern trade requirement of deep letterpress for objects like wedding stationery. If you look around the web most are offering this and the white halo is often seen on these products, some talk about it on their blogs and class their products as ‘high quality’ and I don’t think it makes them wrong.

It’s horses for courses and in fact it IS what people want and why so many have been asking for the KF152 polymer plate in the UK - it is a deep relief plate.

For those purists among us - kiss print is ‘proper letterpress’ for those commercially oriented I think we have to accept it’s a different world today and deep impression is vogue. The key is good make ready so you don’t distort the paper out the back of the card and really produce poor products and we’ll be helping with that. Keep the quality. This style of printing isn’t wrong it’s just different. Art is art - beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I’m just glad it’s still alive…

Let’s keep the letterpress revival growing, it’s too lovely to slip away.

Best regards,



I love this stuff. It’s not a matter of kiss (whatever that is) or deep relief (whatever that is). In examining the technical specifications of plate, once one goes beyond the relative reverse relief depth of the plate, which is somewhat the same with both the 95 and the 152 plates, one has entered the realm of I was sold a bag of goods because I am a moron (but the seller seemed so nice) and completely oblivious to anything about letterpress outside of my small world, but pleased anyway because everyone else is.


Just a further note. Art is not a common denominator. Let’s please not confuse art with the crass commercialism of giving the public what it wants.

Letterpress will stay alive not because of current popular usage, but because of those die-hards who care about it and understand what it is; its history and practice.

Letterpress survived the general across the board industrial demise because there were folks willing to set metal type and print on antiquated machinery “without commercial intent.” We owe them. Similarly minded folks will ensure that it will continue to survive no matter what the evolving technology dictates.


Hi Gerald
Some interesting comments which I must say surprise me.

I cannot agree as you suggest there’s little difference between a .95 plate and a 1.52 because that simply isn’t factual and the results are VERY different. That’s quite clear to anyone who’s used these plates. The good guys at Boxcar Press (who sell loads of these plates) have excellent material about working with them, perusing this may be helpful.

I’m a little surprised you’d call anyone using these plates a moron, seems a little hard, perhaps I’ve offended you in some way, if I did sir I would sincerely apologise though I can’t think what I might have said. It’s always been my passion for this craft that’s kept me in it, letterpress printers don’t become wealthy in the main.

History wise I can only agree about the great role of printing, it was of course the reformation which drove early printing through Europe and then the wider world as we’ve heard so much of lately in England with the recent celebrations of the King James Bible. I think though without commercial activity printing would not have continued to grow the way it did, equipment has to be bought and developed. Even what we call ‘antique presses’ today were cutting edge technology- we’ve had several Arabs (and loved them all) - Josiah Wade developed these machines but his contribution to printing though commercial in motivation more than altruistic is nevertheless invaluable, read about the ‘self-made man’ here (Gerald I know you know all this I add it for others reading). so I think the term ‘crass commercialism’ is not something that I could agree with.

Indeed over the last ten years due to ‘what the public wants’ letterpress has received a huge amount of interest in the UK and US which has been utterly beneficial, birthed new start up print-shops and thereby new blood in terms of interest.

I understand Gerald you run the PP letterpress group on Yahoo, so I know you’re passionate and perhaps ‘metal type’ is your passion, but folks have created some pretty amazing work using polymer plates which enriches what I still believe is an art-form.

I’m also surprised because here’s a lead paragraph from the Bieler blog on its polymer plate section.

“The Bieler Press has made photopolymer plates for the contemporary studio letterpress community since 1995. Offered are professionally processed premium-grade plates for today’s popular bases (Bunting, Patmag, Boxcar, Eluminum) with rapid turn-around. We provide convenient 24 hour pickup for our clients in Greater Los Angeles.”

I’m struggling then to see why you seem a little negative about another service which a lot of people in England have been asking for. At LBP we work hard to make everything very accessible to the letterpress community (for those that want it) and prices are rock bottom. If we did not make some profit we couldn’t offer or develop future products (same for Wade) but we could make a lot more profit and don’t - we love letterpress too.

Greetings from the UK Gerald.

nickelyacht posted about other european suppliers-I use Pomeroy Press Products, they supply Miraclon and Flint plates, lady at “letterpress in the uk” has links to other suppliers eg Centurion and Polydiam (have own web site)who supply and make plates, Intaglio Printmaker in Uk supply plates eg Toray they are v good, ae BASF in Eu still supplying plates-surely? so………….Caslon supply plates too

Looks to me as though Gerald Lange is one of those people who have turned out amazing work in photopolymer:

In fact, he literally wrote the book on digital letterpress:

I’m not quite sure I understand what Gerald’s technical contention is here. I don’t print with photopolymer yet. I think that he’s suggesting that the particular technical innovation of changing the angle between the plane of the printing surface and the plane of the shoulder of the photopolymer plate does not improve the printing quality (though it may change it).

Whatever Gerald’s claim about this process, he can’t be dismissed as some member of an obstinate old guard who won’t accept photopolymer as a printing surface. Similarly he probably doesn’t need Boxcar’s FAQ to get him up to speed. I think you’d be well advised to figure out what his objection is rather than trying to dismiss him as naive, because he’s definitely not that.

Also, I can understand how someone who has done exacting fine art printing might object to designating the result of every potentially artistic process as Art. But that’s another topic.

Lyme Bay Press- I think Gerald was more calling the methodology out rather than the material or medium at hand.
Also, this is particularly pointed:
“Art is not a common denominator. Let’s please not confuse art with the crass commercialism of giving the public what it wants.”

He seems to be pointing out that a fool with a hammer will usually just bash things, and just because the public enjoys seeing a hammer come down, doesn’t mean that breaking things is the best way to use a hammer. Maybe if they were shown that a hammer can be carefully used to drive nails into pieces of hard-wood, they might enjoy this use more than the smashing of bricks?

Basically, you’re getting into the business of doing just that; giving the uneducated public at large what it wants, whether that’s a quality thing or not.
Quality is a difficult thing to judge, and if you really think about it from an almost philosophical perspective, this is a question of aesthetics as much as it is one from an engineering perspective.

One thing is sure to me: What will and won’t work with letterpress is absolutely not something that is “in the eye of the beholder”. Poor inking and smashed forms are obvious to anyone who has had enough time in front of elegantly printed quality work- but that all only goes as far as the intent of the artisan. A thing of beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but that doesn’t make it good!~

I think experience is the best judge in the long run, anyhow…….

Guys - I couldn’t quibble with any of that and wouldn’t. I certainly wouldn’t dismiss Gerald, I know well his position in this community in the states and certainly respect it. I’d happily come to him for advice if I needed to.

I did state the background info behind my replies was stated not for him - I recognise his knowledge - I stated it for others so they might understand the point.

For my part I only wanted to update this thread and the users original question. It was a brief post.

As for whose driving what, I can only say it’s letterpress shops we supply, I not suggesting this is the new letterpress or anything - we’ve owned plenty of lead & wood type. This is just a service people have asked for in the UK and plenty offer in the States, including Bieler.

I did feel some of the criticism was unfair but I’m happy to have a friendly discussion and have a broad chin (metaphorically speaking).

I wouldn’t want noobs being left with the impression something is wrong though, either with polymer or another style of printing. Lots of people admire this kind of work as a good number of modern presses demonstrate.

Best wishes all, keep pulling impressions!


Sorry, I’ve been busy and unable to check in here.

First of all, we are on the same side. I’m the type that occasionally likes to get folks to stand up from their chairs. Never hurts to churn the pot a bit.

Secondly, I apologize to morons for calling them morons, that is not politically correct.

Thirdly, I did indicate the difference between the 95 and the 152. They both have the a similar relative reverse relief depth. It’s a technical term. It means that the counter depth, etc., is similar. So they are near the same. One is significantly thicker than the other, does that give it more relief? No.

Boxcar sells these as what they are, for job presses and the like where roller height issues may be of concern. I actually suggested Harold offer a thicker plate for this market many, many years ago. There is no other magic to the thicker plate. Push these plates beyond the relative reverse relief depth and you’re work looks like it was produced by an amateur who has no knowledge of letterforms or typography, or, as mentioned previously, no respect for paper. That “deep relief” turned into this kind of amateur aesthetic is sort of a very low point for letterpress. What else does it reveal about the wonders of letterpress other than that it is simply used to smash imaging into paper? and that anyone can do it? That’s all. Deep impression, which I do like, in context, has its limits, and when these are observed, all is fine.

A bit about your website. It does really irritate me when folks offer something for sale and then talk down to their audience, like they were children. Offer something for sale, explain what it can do, etc., but the snake oil nonsense, let’s get this out of letterpress, please.

Other than that, best of luck. About time the UK got supplied.



Just an additional note here.

I do supply processing of 152s in steel-backed form but I do not advertise them as “deep relief.” They were used as standard issue on the Patmag Base which preceded the Boxcar Base as an economic alternative base by over a decade. I still have several clients from that era, and for folks using C&Ps, jobbing presses, hobby platens, etc., I still recommend the 152 (because of roller height issues).

I don’t offer the 152 in polyester-backed simply because there have been far too many reported problems with them—especially on this forum. They don’t quite meet letterpress hardness specs, dots and fine lines don’t hold, there are processing problems, etc. And, I will have to say this, I honestly don’t want to have to deal with the folks who use them for printing.

But seriously, to get to the bottom of just about any thickness a sheet, a 95 will get you there, if that is what you want.


Snowed under here so not been able to follow this up.

Gerald I couldn’t disagree more - the Kf152 is sold by the manufacturer as a letterpress plate. It is in high demand here because it is being widely used in the States for letterpress.

I’ve never heard of problems letterpressing with these plates in nearly ten years - if the press is set up properly I can’t imagine what problems there might be. If these plates are exposed and dried correctly they’re excellent and way better than the 95.

Regarding depth, we print with both the 95 and the 152 - there’s a lot of difference in the finished product visually. I’ll upload a photo when I get a minute (I think I’ve got one scheduled for 2050…).

I don’t really understand where you’re coming from on this. Any way, interesting discussion.


We here in the colonies and you blokes are similar people separated by a common language. I do admit that we speak American rather than English.
In your last post, you used a verb that is not common here on this side. You said “letterpressing”. We say printing and do it on a press. I press my trousers.
I have enjoyed your discussion.
Get some ink on your shirt.


Well, when you get a moment between now and 2050, you should check the archives here for the problems associated with this plate. It’s one of the reasons Boxcar had to resort to back exposure, as Harold Kyle himself has written. Back exposure is not a normal procedure with sheet photopolymer.

You could also check the manufacturer’s specifications regarding the purpose of the plate.

I get the feeling you don’t want to know “where I am coming from on this.”

Good luck.



Letterpressing, letterpresser, letterpressed, letterpress as noun to describe a printing press, etc., have become popular currency during the last decade and will likely make their way into the dictionary over time.

I value the terms because they give me a very good clue as to who I am dealing with, or, better explained, who I would rather not deal with.


Catching up on unread posts I’m surprised and disappointed to read the slightly hostile welcome to a new supplier of bases and plates here in Europe. For beginners like myself setting up a new printing studio in Europe the arrival of a new supplier is very welcome.

As to the question of what is and isn’t the ‘right’ way to print, I imagine that is being and will be defined by contemporary practitioners adopting Letterpress printing and taking it forward over the coming years. Very few commercial or artistic medium stand still and those that do, tend to die. I certainly plan to experiment widely with the medium in order to maximise my creative output.


I commend you and encourage you to keep on going. Its fabulous that there is one more supplier (you) of bases and PP plates. Buying locally from the UK will save lots of dollars/pounds for European printers.

I like your website, and I like that you are using the same notation/convention as Boxcar (i.e. KF95 and KF152). Saves newbies like me from confusion.