Photo-polymer Plate Washout brush

Hello folks,
I was going to buy an exposure unit for my polymer plates with a built in washout unit. After reading a few of your comments about how effective and little hassle hand washout can be, I changed my mind. I didn’t need much persuading to be honest, the unit I was looking at, although cheap at 1900€ (well so i am told it is cheap) was still too expensive. So to cut to the chase… what is a good brush to use to use for polymer plate washout… boxcar press have a brush the size of a shoebox for 30$ which to be honest is a bit expensive for an oversized nailbrush. It does look like a good job but I have a rather small sink in my studio so I don’t reckon I would have much space to move that beast about in there. I seen a lady doing polymer plates online ages ago and she was using a rotary brush used for cleaning tiles… would this work with delicate plates or does anyone have any other suggestions.It would be easiest for me to order brushes from Europe so if you have any tips I would appreciate that a lot.

Log in to reply   12 replies so far

The boxcar brush is really not that big, I find it necessary to washout 12 x 15cm plates. You want the brushes to be working into the entirety of the plate as your move it around, so processing large plates with a smaller brush would be almost impossible. The brush needs very soft bristles, but they need to be resilient and there needs to be lots of them. I bet you would need to do some trial and error with many $5 brushes before you found a substitute that could work, it will be worth your while to just go for the boxcar brush right away.


I did a lot of trial and error with $5 brushes, thinking the Boxcar brush was too much money. It wasn’t. I bought one, and it works spectacularly. I wasn’t able to find anything else like it at retail stores.

It is the same style brush that’s used in my photopolymer washout unit. I actually keep it next to the machine for a quick touch-up if the washout cycle hasn’t done the trick.

Thanks guys, I will have to get that one then. I will be doing plates around A5 and max A4 so I felt it is too big for these plates but you guys know the score.

Be very careful washing out by hand, A4 can get hard with a brush that size, not nearly too big. If I understand things correctly, on an automated washout unit, the brush is the size of the plate in its entirety.

The larger the plate, the harder it is to wash by hand. And if the brush is smaller than the plate, plate flaws around the edges increase: broken serifs, lost punctuation. Line art has far more latitude than type does. Remaking plates costs more than the brushes in the long run.
With larger plates I’ve had better results moving the plate against the brush than by moving the brush against the plate. Eventually I filled a 9x12 photo tray with 4x6 plate brushes from Gene Becker and made a magnetic holder with handles to mimic the action of a processor. Small plates can be held by a galley magnet.

thats sounds brilliant, I will see how I get along with my plates with the big brush (as soon as I hear back from boxcarpress about my order form that is, they’re in no hurry)

I should mention I’ve always hand washed out my plates, and have washed out plates as large as 12x16 with a single brush (fine detail and large blacks). There is nothing to match those Boxcar brushes unfortunately, but large plates can be washed out by hand if you are patient and have the right technique - nice even figure eights with no weight bearing down on the brush and warm water (a bit higher than body temp, I’ve gone up to ‘hot’ water before). I gently flow the water over the plate or change the water in the tray often.

I never had the luxury of a proper photopolymer plate maker (though I’ve used one once), and find that washing for 4 minutes, then drying to check for ‘sludge’ and then washing again (only if needed) seems to work fine. If you leave the plate wet for more than 7 minutes it starts to come off the backing, but if you fully dry it (back and front) with a hairdryer half way through it seems to wash out even better plus you get a better idea of any missed areas before post exposing.

I know I’m late on this thread, but hey, if it helps.

who commercially sells brushes for an AV A2 unit. I doubt that AV makes the brushes…..

No, they don’t make them; you should contact Boxcar actually. they have a better source (or maybe it’s the same one? But the brush I got from them fit better/worked better than the one I got from Anderson and Vreeland!)


Bit confused. A&V doesn’t “make them” but the one you “got” from them…?

A&V gets the brushes for its machines from Tanis. A&V doesn’t manufacture brushes.

The brushes I get from them are horsehair. They work quite well and last for a very, very long time.

I did not know nor can I find that A&V supplies brushes other than for their machines.

Not sure what you are saying.



I apologize if you musinderstood me, especially if I wrote confusingly, but I was saying no, A&V doesn’t make their brushes. Neither does boxcar! Right, Tannis does as you said… Or I have to assume as much. Anyway. Both these companies sell the brushes, but I would like to point out I got some better customer service from Boxcar. Maybe this is just my experience, but….

Simply put, recently I purchased a brush from A&V; when one provides the information required including precise measurements for one’s machine (Serial number, precise dimensions of the frame the brush should fit into, type of brush desired), one would think the company could then satisfy their demands and do so in a reasonable amount of time.

I did all this; I spoke at length with A&V on the phone, explaining that I needed a new brush for letterpress; that it should fit X * Y dimensions; and then gave the serial number and date of manufacture from the plaque on my machine, which is also registered with them because I recieved a service call a long while ago FROM them. Requested a brush for letterpress.

They sent me a FLEXO brush. Not the same, as you probably know. Couldn’t figure out wtf was wrong until I realized the brush was too stiff/abrasive.

Then they sent me a LETTERPRESS brush (softer bristles, black) after I called and issued a complaint (I asked specifically for letterpress grade/bristle softness the first time, I assure you), but when the right type of brush bristle eventually arrived in the mail… it did not fit the machine’s frame. And there’s not really an easy way to trim it, but that wasn’t really the problem- it was simply too small to fit the frame. No way to mount it.


I called Boxcar, explained my dilemma, and presto-chango they sent me a new brush after a short waiting period. After taking down my careful measurements and listening to my problem, they then had a brush made to size or found the right brush to fit. IT WAS CHEAPER/LESS EXPENSIVE TOO. I now wish I had called boxcar the FIRST time!!

Not to worry, the other brush still sees use washing out K.M. intaglio style plates for photo-polymer printmaking editions here at Haven Press, and so it wasn’t a waste of money; I converted my “misfortune” to usable material. But I SURE wish I would have received the new brush correctly the first time, especially since… Well….. I was purchasing it from the company that should be the supplier for my machine (the machine they made).

Does that make sense, Gerald?


Sure does. Didn’t know one had to specify the brush was for letterpress. I’ve always just indicated the part number, along with, as you mentioned, machine serial number, model, and size.

Sorry you had to go through all that.