Chinese Exposure Units?

Does anyone have any experience with these exposure units so ubiquitous on ebay? I’ve been considering one as an alternative to make smaller plates on my own.

I have a good deal of experience making photopolymer plates using a real plate maker, a screen printing vacuum unit (which was awful, because it was a point light source) and a homemade unit my mentor made with a bank of lights and old vacuum table refit with kreen.

What do the experts think? These are said to be specifically for exposing the steel backed photopolymer plates that are being used with Chinese hot foil stampers (which I’m also considering). Anything seem amiss?

They run about $130 (a4 size) to $400 (11x17” size), and although they don’t have a vacuum, they have a pad at the top and locking clips to make good contact between the glass and negative. I figure if I put some kreen in between they’ll be ok. Here is a listing:

The only thing I don’t like is having to put the plate face side down, I prefer to do it the other way because you’ll see if anything slips before closing the unit.

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Hi there, I know a fair bit about this company they are about 1.5 hours from me. I know another printer that purchased a corner rounder from them, works fine.

I purchased ( second hand ) one of their paper cutters ( manual 17 inch ). Piece of junk, I took it in for them to look at it, even though I did not buy it from them they were quick to go over it, gave me a replacement blade at cost and warned me that it was not ideal for cotton paper.

I too have been setting up a plate making system. I have a vacuum bed just need this part. I showed it to my plate supplier and he said, ya go for it, should work fine - exposure times might be a little longer.

So, not the best quality but should do what they claim.. if you wait a week I will be able to give you first hand experience. Going there next week to pick one up.


I would appreciate anyone who has, or gets one to report the results back to Briar Press. There may be others of us interested also. I have seen these for sometime on e-bay. I have wondered about them though.

Winfred Reed
Black Diamond Press (KY)

A bit off topic…..but I bought one of these units here in Australia to expose screens for screen-printing.
I’ve used it constantly for two years and it works great. It has an electronic timer that swithches off the unit automatically when the correct time is reached and it also makes a warning sound to notify you when times up.
I sandwich the colour seperation and screen to the glass with a giant/heavy Andy Warhol book !


I agree on the piece of junk paper cutter! I ordered one too, horrible. It NEVER cuts straight and the line up bar toggles so you can never get it square. I hate it, but I simply could not find a 2nd hand cast iron one locally and the industrial modern ones are in the thousands. I ruined a job on it and had to re-print…. never again.

If I’m cutting scraps or something that will later be cut down professionally I use it. DO NOT BUY THIS ITEM PICTURED OR ANY VERSION OF IT if you value your accuracy.

I figure the exposure unit is different, because the bank of lights is the correct distance and it looks properly spaced to do the job. I could build a unit like my mentor, but it would cost me about $100 to do anyway so I figure this would be faster, easier, and just a little bit better.

… Sorry photo didn’t load, NEVER AGAIN. Both of these were garbage, luckily I didn’t invest much. If they were accurate they cut ok, but you cannot get them square with that stupid arm and I think the grid is off….

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Also. When you conduct your test will you share what negative you used?

My mentor uses pictureka film - says it’s been working well.

I’m keen to try it. I have an inkjet printer

have posted before and elsewheres I use Grafolac dry film with a Canon Iprograf large format printer with a RIP which seems to be ok for most average situations, but photo technician has said try Digital Transfer Film, as having a much higher resolution, as well as being made for negatives and positives(particularly silkscreen it says), it is ideal(apparently) for ‘image creation/transfer by contact method onto traditional chemical darkroom photosensitive materials”-so make a positive on your printer then contact to make a negative in wet film….Gerald you might be interested.

I will certainly post all the information I can. I am going to use a negative that was included with a plate I received from a supplier I no longer use. I have a few sources for film output providing all goes well. At that point I will know what film is being used etc.

I also wanted to explore the inkjet negative. I know that some large format ( Epson 9900 etc) can print at a very high resolution and you can with adjusted curves create enough density. Honestly for me driving the 15 mins to pick up the film is easier and still relatively cost effective.

Making my own plates this route is about 25% the cost of having them made elsewhere and shipped here. I am spending a couple hundred a week on plates so that adds up pretty quick.

Another reason I plan on sticking with negs for now is that there are new and exciting things on the horizon ( as per my plate supplier Anderson and Vreeland ).

A dedicated inkjet negative printer - around $14,000

A printer that prints the negative directly on to the photopolymer plate - $60,000 ish ( no need for a vacuum bed )

Both of these are tremendously out of my budget as they are new technology.. I doubt it wont be more than a few years when they are more sensibly priced though.

So for now taking 75% off of my cost is good enough for me - providing the exposure unit does not blow up and kill me.

by the way .. I have a great deal on a paper cutter …

Haha, thanks for the info. I haven’t been able to find anyone locally that does linotronic output or prints negatives, I’ll snoop around - that’s what I used to do but since I’ve moved from Minneapolis the letterpress community here is next to nil - with the only printers being hidden in garages and never venturing into the virtual world for me to find them.

“… printers being hidden in garages and never venturing into the virtual world”.

Best idea I have heard in years.


Any news Paul?

Gerald, I’m sure many printers would be much happier that way, but it doesn’t help that all their rich wisdom is hoarded in secret! I just want some local printing friends Haha!

Hi there, I put this project on hold until the end of the month. I spent the allocated funds on my new proof press. Probably be end of August or so. I was going to buy the small one but figure I may as well get the larger one - if it does work, which it should I would need it anyway. I will definitely keep you posted.

Hi everyone, I decided to go with an all in one unit. Just put a deposit down on a Relief Mate, wont be purchasing one of these.