Deep impression with metal type?


The person that is teaching me letterpress is pretty old school and has never heard of / used photopolymer plates. He’s open to me trying to get a deep impression - he’s not THAT old school.

I’m just wondering if anyone has had success using metal type for deep impression. I’d like to try it out with metal type before spending 300 + for a boxcar base and plates.

Thanks in advance.

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Buying new or used metal type to replace the type that gets ruined from using too much impression too often will eventually cost you a lot more than buying a boxcar base.

Maybe split the difference and get a magnesium cut made.

Magnesium plates? Do they need to be used with a base? Or can they be used like metal type in a chase?

I use 1/4” mag dies, i mount them on my furniture, buying them unmounted saves a little on shipping, i like the thicker 1/4” dies cause i never have trouble with the background printing. Dick G.

Hello jacindalarson,

You can purchase magnesium plates mounted type-high on wood, which you can lock up in a chase. The problem is that you need to make a separate plate or plates for each job, as you would with a photopolymer plate. The advantage is that you have available to you any typeface and size you can acquire digitally.

Widmark is right about type wear with heavy impression. You certainly would not want to use old foundry type for deep-impression work, since it cannot be replaced. And If you purchase new monotype, even with a kiss impression it will probably not be usable beyond three jobs (depending of course on how many impressions you make). Perhaps you should visit the websites of monotype casters such as Skyline Type Foundry or M&H Type and see what it would cost you to buy type and replace it periodically. The Dale Guild Type Foundry casts harder type that will last longer, but their inventory is limited and you might not be able to replace a particular face in the future without commissioning a casting run, which would be quite costly.


Here is a good place to get MAGNESIUM PLATES

His email is:

[email protected]

You could purchase a Ludlow and have all the metal (lead) type at your fingertips.

Thanks for all the suggestions - I’m assuming that the mag plates would be the most cost efficient option.

I guess I don’t really understand why the mag plates can be used for deep impression but the metal types can’t? Can anyone explain?

Deep impression will ruin your type rather quickly, if you ruin a mag plate so what just get another, some of this type once its worn out cannot be replaced. If you have a ludlow and cast your own type it doesn’t matter because you just cast more. Dick G.

Oh that makes sense.

In terms of the mag plates, is their usage about the same as metal type?

I’m looking to get mag plates made for wedding stuff I’ll be pressing.

Also - can mag plates be made of text? Or just graphics?

Mag plates can be made for each or both together, you can press them but most of us print with them. The best place i found to get mag dies is Owosso Graphics, their contact info is in the yellow pages on this site. Dick G.

I have never had my own Mag plates made but I do use polymer plates and have a Box Car Base. I understand not wanting to spend the money for one job on polymer plates and a box car base, but if you are going to be doing many jobs with deep impressions it may be something to consider… But I just looked up pricing for the mag plates because I was a little curious myself and in the long run I feel the polymer plates would save money.

The Mag plate is 50.85 for 30sq inches at 1/4” and 129.35 if you want that mounted to type high. 30sp inches is only a 10”x3” area. I know a 10”x10” (100sqinches) area is about 70 dollar or so with the polymer plates from boxcarpress. I don’t know if the quality of the print is any different but it seams to work nice for me! The Base may be 285 for a 9”x12” (or 175 for a 6”x9”) but after a few jobs you would save that in comparison to purchasing mag plates every time (even unmounted) but by far both are cheaper than replacing a bunch of type!!

Hope that helps