Is there Letterpress polymer plates that can be used with water based ink?

Is there Letterpress polymer plates that can be used with water based ink?
If so, is there a recondition for a plates maker?


Log in to reply   9 replies so far

Polymer plates can be used on letterpress machines, they were mainly used on rotary letterpress machines and are quite usable on Heidleberg cylinders and platens. Wash up with tap water. Do not use oil based inks as the polymer will react and melt.

the question is if you can use water-based inks. That, I don’t know the answer to.

However, you can absolutely use oil-base inks and polymer. I do so exclusively.

The nylon based polymer that used to be manufactured by B.A.S.F. in Germany was definitely Ok with oil based. Still sold? I dont know. But I do know that a number of different polymers were available to blockmakers, metal backed and so forth, and the developer solutions were greatly different. .

Maybe rroddi is thinking of solvent-wash photopolymer material, which would be suitable for use with water base ink. Most of us are using oil-base ink on water-wash photopolymer with no problems. I don’t know any letterpress printer using solvent-wash plates, but there might be platemakers somewhere who could provide them.

Parallel_ impression, you are probably correct about polymer, I have not used it for general jobbing work, only overprinting envelopes and similar cheap commercial work. Any quality work was done with oil based inks and metal plates, lead type and a new type of plastic which was not all that good. 23 years ago I washed up my last ink knives, and said goodbye to dirty fingernails and started collecting my aged pension.


yes water and solvent based

Liquid Photopolymer Products
MacDermid Graphics Solutions’ broad line of liquid photopolymer products offers an unbeatable combination of exceptional value and quality to the flexographic printer. Liquid Platemaking is well suited for the following water-based ink printing applications: corrugated post-print, wide web/thin plate and hand stamp/marking devices. Using liquid platemaking in your operation has a significant number of environmental advantages as well.”

hhmm lots interesting stuff here

Flint do the nyloprint


I forgot about liquid photopolymer (it’s a detergent wash process). At the high end it is used in flexo (Merigraph is one brand), but at the low end it’s sometimes sold through rubber stamp suppliers, and I’ve seen it on eBay too.
My Ludlow photopolymer exposure unit can expose both liquid and sheet material but I’ve never tried the liquid.

To parallel: I have a Ludlow photopolymer unit I’ve used for years to make Liquid Photo Polymer Rubber Stamps. I have two metal backed “hard” polymer plates I would like to make letterpress plates with. Could you give me some sample exposure times on the Ludlow you use? I put together a convection oven to cure the plates before final post exposure in the bottom tray of the Ludlow…

Gil, exposure time will vary with material type (and thickness) and the condition of your UV lights (they weaken over time). The best thing to do is get a platemaker’s 21-step Stouffer’s gray scale, do a test exposure and adjust until you are at manufacturer’s specs (which also vary).
Seat-of-the-pants, try 3 or 3.5 minutes, and adjust.
Maybe a convection oven will work, but a static oven will not. It isn’t just heat, it is heated air carrying away moisture. Leave the door ajar? I settled on using a small fan-heater blowing through a coffee can tube (plates stuck inside on galley magnets) until I got a proper all-in-one unit.