Cleaning Halftone photo plates

Hi all,

Last night I printed a selection of halftone photo plates, I bought from eBay. Although the results were good, I quickly realised that my normal method of cleaning-up (a wipe with white spirit and rags) may not be the best way to ensure the fine detail of the plates will not gradually clog-up after a number of uses.

Can anyone advise on the best way to clean-up halftone photo plates to maximise their useful working life ?

All advice gratefully received.


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A plate brush, one with brass bristles on the interior, works best on plates. If there is old dried ink paint stripper may help.
The screen of the halftone and the surface of the paper are related factors. Coated stock will take any screen ruling up to the finest, but coarse-fibered papers want coarse screens. And there is makeready (overlays) to do, so the shadow tones get more impression and highlights get less. In the days of commercial letterpress there was also halftone ink, which was looser than book or job ink (if the ink is too tacky it will pull fibers and plug the plate), but it also assumed smooth paper and kiss impression. So try to print a halftone on a loose-fibered sheet like Lettra and you’ll need to smooth it out first with a tint block, maybe even a tint behind it to seal the sheet.

Hi Parallel_imp !

Thanks for the advice. I’ve given and old (but stiff) toothbrush a go with lots of white spirit, and that seems to have done the trick…

I’m printing my halftone plates onto smooth 240gsm card using a small Stephenson Blake proofing press, and have got some surprisingly good results without having to use any makeready.