Negatives for platemaking

At UAFS, we’re budgeting to include a platemaker in the next couple of years. However, we’re a bit stymied by the obstacle of obtaining good, opaque negatives to make plates. We have had mixed results with inkjet and laser generated negatives and would prefer something a bit more reliable. We’d prefer to make them onsite rather than send off. I would be interested in others’ experiences with various methods, such as laser or inkjet; things may have improved since we experimented with those.

We are also considering a laser cutter to make plates directly. I have read a bit about that on this list, but nothing recent.

Any advice appreciated.

Katie Harper
UA Fort Smith

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see various previous posts, eg dry film negatives with inkjet, discussions with Bieler Press etc etc

My mentor has had some success with Pictorico film (an inkjet fil). In the past I’ve used laser printed Xante negatives and then darkened them in a filmstar unit.

I’m curious about this too since I’d like to make my negatives in house because of how few places around here can print negatives black enough.

Have you looked into this stuff?

I’m about to get some and give it a try for fun, I’ll let you guys know how it goes. I normally have plates processed by an imagesetter company local to me, but I’m always looking to screw around and experiment.

try digital transfer film for inkjet printers as a cut above normal “dry film”, I’ve not yet got round to testing it yet,very fine grain to it to adsorb ink, in Indesign /Illustrator etc adjust colour settings etc to max the black to create opacity. Pomeroy Pressroom products for example sell adjusted inkjet printers to max the black, also Screen Colour Systems

I have used epson printers to produce film with good success.
You do need to work with stouffer gauges to monitor density. Just don’t take a stab at it, work out correct output density. I work with a 4800 epson (matt black tanks), but I do turn off colour management so that the printer delivers density instead. I have a studio vacuum frame I work with after that - my only big problem is that the printed film gets too hot and it can stick to the glass of the contact frame.

This is a system that was recently discuss. They do sell both the ink and the film though the ink is meant to be used in the modified inkjet head supplied with their version of the Epson printer.

@HavenPress. I’ve used the JMP negative materials for several years. Quiet simple, and I believe you’ll be surprised at the quality. Just be sure to go by directions. I use these when I need a quick negative. Naturally not the quality of imagesetters or dark room, but will work. Have a opaque pen ready for light pin-holes.
Winfred Reed
Black Diamond Press (KY)
I’m having computer trouble. Have to go to my sis’s house for the time being. But will check mails often as possible.

Hello Katie: The downside of negative films is now you have to get a process camera, then a film developing unit (which maybe you will consider rapid access instead of regular lith) and then the thought of having to maintain the processor, etc. which does not warrant if your need is intermittent or occasional.
My advice (if you would allow me) would be to explore the Kimoto filmaking process which is used by silk creen printers to produce films. Silkscreen printers use postives instead of negatives, whichever way you choose they can be imaged with a Kimoto printer that produces the negatives or positives you want at almost film like resolution on their Kimoto special film, Your image is now “printed” into the film and you can use it anytime. Preparing a processor for making films expecially if it had not been used for a while is something of a headache, because now you have to “wake up” the developer, not much the fixer. Thanks and good luck.

Hello again, If you do not want to consider the Kimoto film printer, maybe you have an existing Epson or HP you can try imaging using the film used by Silk Screen printers THE “Silkjet UCS” in 8.5x11 or 11x17 inches.
Remember that it has 2 sides: the imaging side is where you make your image and remember to set your printer into “mirror printing” so you got yourself a wrong-reading image on your film.
That was when you “burn” your image to your polymer plate or etch it in metal, you got image to contact your plate: in the emulsion to emulsion manner. You avoid “halation” or the enlarging of your lines or image during the burning process.
Good luck and check online for the Silkjet UCS film especially from Silk Screen suppliers. This is the film we are using. Good luck.

i have been making negs on my laser jet hp 1200 for years I use kimoto kimodesk double matte film paper I do a invert mirror setting on my printer after it prints I use a toner aide spray and it darkens it to a nice dense black suitable for stripping and burning metal plates to run on my ab dick 360 I have had excellent results

With the amount of used vertical cameras on the market with everyone deciding to go digital; why wouldn’t you just grab a used camera, expose rapid access sheet film and tray develop?? That’s what we do and it couldn’t be simpler. You would just need the camera as it sounds like you have the platemaker. Here’s a place to pick one up for $1,200 but I’m sure you must have some local…there always are if you look.

And as far as on-line sources for rapid access film, developer, stop bath and fixer…they’re all over the place. You don’t need a processor as someone mentioned; you just tray develop the negs the way printers have done for decades.

If you look around you can buy a vertical camera for a couple hundred dollars or less. I got a Nu Arc vertical without bells and whistles for free. If you are considering the purchase of a camera, find one that has just a basic timer and no built in exposure computer, there are not parts or services for automated cameras.

I am setting up a darkroom in my house loft. I even found a used revolving darkroom door. I have an AGFA Repromaster MK3 camera I have to hoist up there somehow. I am planning on tray developing film.

With the diminished volume of orders since Covid-19 hit us, I think my biggest expense will come from discarding the expired and unused chemicals.

As far as I understand there are different groups of films using different groups of chemicals.

- I think I should used powder chemicals. They keep longer and are cheaper to ship here to the Great White North. Perhaps I could save half the pouch for next month.

- AB chemicals look like the cheaper ones, but I don’t see them recommended for line film. What else is there? ACD

What it boils down is: I am looking for the least expensive/most suitable film/chemistry combination for INFREQUENT use.

I don’t have any experience with making film. I got the camera a long time ago but in Toronto the Film Bureau was just around the corner. I took my dogs for a walk to pickup the film output.
Over here, the shipping ( and handling !!! ) to the Island costs more than the film output itself.

I make Film on an Image setter,

incidentally , here is a complete system for less than what it takes to set up a complete Darkroom. (I ran one ).

I guess I’m one of the few folks out there who still uses photographic film.

My set up is not eleborate or costly at all…. consisting of an 8x10 camera, and a rudimentry darkroom. Ortho flim is easily available, as are the chemicals, trays darkrooms and so forth. No processor is required, or any other expensive equipment.

I did a cost analysis several years ago, and found it to cost about 2/3rds of what it does to send the copy out to have negatives made. Checking the prices on e-Bay for the camera, one could easily set up an equivalent system for less than $500….. and if you put some effort in into looking for a used camera, you could get it down even more.

Contrary to what some folks will tell you, the process is rather straight forward…. and not very complicated. My guess is that folks who think it is have never bothered to try it…. and are merely repeating what others have told them. It’s all part of the “you can’t do that” negativity that is all too common nowadays.

(you can also make PP plates in your own shop, with just a few small pieces of equipment that are easly shop-made)

None of this is Rocket Surgery.

Oh yeah…. I use powdered chemicals. Unmixed they last forever. BUT if only liquid chemicals are available, they work fine too! It’s good to see you are looking at a traditional darkroom. Once you get it going, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.