boxcar base vs mounted engravings

Made I ask this question. A boxcar base is high in price and make solid.

Why would a letterpress person need this base for short press runs of under 10,000 copies?

It looks to me a person could have one of the many engraving companies for printer make a mounted engraving at 1/3 the price.

To be it looks like the boxcar base is designed for letterpress people doing embossing, this type of letterpress you do need a solid metal base to be the impress you want.

Log in to reply   5 replies so far

First thing, I don’t use Boxcar plates or base, so I am not shilling for them; when I use photopolymer, it is steel-backed, mounted on PatMag, Elrod high-base, or blank Linotype slug. But I do understand that using the plates and base sold by Boxcar (and their competitors) is cost-effective when time is considered. Many Boxcarites are doing short-run social work in multiple colors. From a single lockup they can position successive forms, where mounted plates would take much more time to get position. And no wooden mounts, which are far less accurate.
Photopolymer plates actually require greater accuracy in surface height and roller setting than do metal forms. It has nothing to do with embossing.

Aaron David

Actually, Boxcar, or Eluminum, or Patmag bases are economical alternatives and are dirt cheap compared to what the commercial letterpress/flexographic printing industry itself uses.

Thus they are perfect for folks looking for the least expensive way.


I have seen all kinds of stuff used as base for placing zincos ,stereos from honeycombe base through cornerstone to bits of resalite tipped on its side , if the truth were known there is no right or wrong for mounting dies .
Rule one, it must have a consistent surface height .
two, it must be within .918 once the die is mounted.
three, it must be able to take the tonnage applied to it without collapsing.
Four it must be cost effective .
I could go outside now and put my hands on cornerstone furhiture designed to take stereos or zincos it was available in at least two heights and i see it around the industry used as furniture.
There were oblong aluminium mounting blocks that were in cast aluminiumin at least two different heights that i can go touch now ,and there were the good old nasty beast called dowel mount this was a base of either aluminium or some magnesium alloy it came in quads or the double length of that shape and had squares engraved all over it and had holes drilled through face to back in which were inserted bits of hard wood dowel these so that you could nail the dies down to the surface! I hope to learn how to show you all pics of this sort of stuff as it all made jobs less troublesome than a lot out there seem to be experiencing , it seems unfair that the inexperienced of the folks out there are led down the base in one lump route as the pin and guide damage they all appear to experience really is un necessary using the old stuff in pieces allows you to mix type and dies etc muck like the wood mounted stuff does but without the grief of levelling wood dies up.
dear old P Imp has it about right use your brain think about it and have a go if you dont have stomach to try yourself put the question upon here there are many people who have done stuff you wont learn in any school that often prove better than the real thing as the ads tell you !
I only ever use a die mounted on wood when banging the base onto the flat of the stone wont raise the tacksenough to dis mount them without damage.

People use it because they’re too lazy to buy 1” aluminum, have it blanchard ground down to the correct height to work with .040” or . 064” thick plates, screenprint a grid onto it, and anodize it, and you would be hard pressed to assemble all the equipment to have that done or find the services available at the price the bases are sold.
You have to consider that this is a retail product and it plays to that game; furthermore, photopolymer is less expensive than metal engravings and people need an accessible method of utilizing it- thus this base enters play and stays.

I’m guessing that most people choose it because it looks/is easy.

you can mount photopolymer on any of the above mentioned , we did it in the early mid 80s with no problems and in fact it was easier to remove the dies after with little risk of bending the ali backed ones. The steels went on platens with dirty great magnet bases , they were fine till some numb skull would lay one face down on the stone !