Letterpress Printing: Serving up the Plate

Print Techniques

Does the type of Plate matter in letterpress printing?

There are two types of plates used in Letterpress Printing.

First, let us recap.

Letterpress printing was the modus operandi for printing prior to the technology advancement that gave us offset printing.

It is a relief printing technique in which a plate with a raised surface, gets inked and pressed onto paper.

Antique Type Letterpress

Plate Material: Metal and / or Wood

How does it work? Individual letters have to be arranged to form words. The types and cuts are arranged and locked in place in a frame that fits into the press.

Can the type be reused? Yes, if it is well-maintained

Crisp Factor: Medium to Low

Deep Impression Factor: Low

Charm Factor: High. As the font types are old and vintage, some are worn and have their own texture. Hence you might be pleasantly surprised with the effect that is produced on paper.

Go for it IF:

You are going for an antiquated or vintage look and feel

You are a child of the earth and promote reusing instead of creating new plates

Photo Polymer Plate

Plate Material: Photo Polymer

How does it work? Photo Polymer is a photo sensitive material that is exposed to UV lights through a negative film. The clear sections of the film will let light through to harden the polymer. After which the plate is washed out with water. The hardened parts are left to form the relief.

Can the type be reused? Yes, if it is well-maintained

Crisp Factor: High

Deep Impression Factor: High

Charm Factor: High if you are into solid consistency. The artwork will look crisp and consistent across prints if the ink is well maintained.

Go for it IF:

You want a consistent output each time

You are a fan of deep impressions