can you change a plate?

As a designer I was wondering if you could change a plate once it was burned. For example when i design for screen printing I can have my design printed…then have a part of it “taped off” and then have it printed again so I can get a set of 2.

Can you do that in any way with letterpress?

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you can cut out part of the image on a plastic backed plate.

Thanks jimi!

Depends on the plate and what sort of changes. Design changes on a metal die (mag or copper) is nigh impossible, polymer may tolerate taking a blade to it. Many folks will cut out parts of polymer plates, run one colour, re-insert cut-outs and peel off the surround and print a second colour which may be equivalent to a type of masquing technique. Sometimes design changes can be affected in this manner. Of course, anything handset such as type can be edited. I use a combination Adobe designed cuts from Owosso, and handset type and borders. Fortunately I’ve not had to change the digital designs, but text changes are common, and I try to use handset whenever I can.

This affects pricing, btw. I use only Metal plates. My plate charges are set so the a client can have a last minute emergency change without my having to charge an extra fee. So I work an extra plate in there from the get go. Last minute changes are usually upsetting for the Bride, let’s say, and why penalise her for something she usually couldn’t help - like when fizzled out and last minute text changes had to be executed.

Recap: can you change a plate? Metal: no. Polymer: maybe, Typeset forme: certainly.

Hope this helps.


G. Johanson, Printer
Deltona, Florida

You can also attempt to do the same masking trick, with a frisket. It’ll need to be really thin…and You’ll probably require some makeready underneath the exposed areas to counter the mask.

In my shop, we change plates all the time in PP, metal or wood. It’s rather easy if you have the right tools.

For PP plates, a knife or X-acto works well. For metal, a small dremel tool in a skilled hand can work wonders. For wood, a set of wood-cutting chisels are used.

In all cases though, all you can do is remove image. Adding lines back is a bit more difficult.

One technique that we use a lot is called “reduction” where portions are cut away with each successive color to achieve a multi-color effect with a single original block.