proof press rubber experiment

Hi folks,
Is there anybody out there who have tried cutting plates out of rubber? I’m testing it now, running them in my proof press. I use 1 mm rubber mounted on mdf-board. A problem is that the plate gets very sticky when inked. I use Van son rubber base inks and had to add a lot of smooth-lith. The rubber is still sticky, but at least the sheets doesn’t get stuck. Next issue is that the prints gets a lot of small white spots. Where do they come from? I have no clue!

If you have any experiences of this method, please let me know (I cant be the first who have tried this idea!) Need some good advice!


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Hi John,

I haven’t used rubber but found this video from F2 Design ( he uses gasket material to print his posters on a similar press. he talked about the material at 6:25 in the video but the whole video is worth a look.

I’ve seen people use pieces of rubberized sheet magnet on magnetic plate bases for the same result.

I’ve used 1/16” EVA foam and gasket material both but not rubber, mounted to 3/4” MDF with plastic-backed carpet tape (your rubber doesn’t seem to be attached to the MDF in the photo) and shimmed up to type-high with chipboard, Both work well, but neither produces a solid image. The EVA has small pores that do not fill in. Most gasket material has a pattern to it. I especially like the mixed cork and rubber ones. Rather than fight the nature of the beast, I’ve decided to accept the resulting textures and work with them.

Many moons ago (and still) here U.K. we have used traditional Lino (Linoleum) Floor covering, for making Printing plates.

The surface normally hard plastic bordering on rubber, with very strong cord/web base, usually cut with an *Exacto* knife or similar - straight lines against a steel straight edge etc., curves freehand as above ! Because the compound is upwards of .060” thick it (the compound) lends itself to being engraved with conventional hand *gravers* with just a little practice and experiment passable reproductions can be achieved, as in squares, boxes, curves, silhouettes, figures, etc.

+ We have die-cut *Blobs* as big as 6 line (72 Pt.) from lino material, even 3 off, overprinted and off set in 3 colours. - On an Adana H.S.3 which is 8 & 1/2” x 5 & 1/2” with just enough impression strength to die-cut a 72 pt. *blob* in Lino

The Adana T.P. 48 (not owned at the time) would have/will probably Die-cut In Lino, as big a solid as 50/60% of the total form area.

The surface (lino) gives very good reproduction, normally stuck down with D.S.A. on a plastic/perspex/paxolin sub base and mounted to type high.

Early 50,s Grandmas Kitchen floor (Linoleum of course) would have given testament to the durability and acceptance of most things paint related etc., firstly Triumph Thunderbird cellulose paint, and later Letterpress printing Ink, and de-contaminates, white spirit, etc.

Author, still posses the original Thunderbird symbol, cut from Linoleum, 12” long that was intended to print on the back of the obligatory Motor cycle jacket , which FAILED because the Ink did not like the jacket material, sadly.!

Stet. !

I worked for a company that made rubber plates used to print on corrugated boxes. They had a rubber that they would hand engrave to make smaller rush plates. We would use vandercook presses to proof the dies. You are not the first to use rubber to print from.

Shower pan liner from a big box hardware store works well for this.

Try a fresh piece of rubber with some oil based ink.

I wonder if the rubber ink is reacting with the rubber you chose?

Thanks a lot for all good advice. I think I will try both shower pan liner and gasket material for this.

Arie Koelewyn: Yes, I’ve had some trouble with attaching the rubber to the mdf, so carpet-tape might be a good idea!

And rmiller021: I do suspect that the rubberbase ink reacts badly. Unfortunately thats the only ink I’ve got in my studio.

I’ve used red rubber on different jobs I’ve done, mainly larger poster type jobs. The larger the area the better the rubber will stick. The finer lines, or points can have issues with staying stuck to the board/plate. I’ve found partial board (sawdust glued and pressed together to make wood) doesn’t work well to keep the rubber glued down as well as rough plywood. Something with the glue in the partial board and the glue I use with the red rubber don’t work well together. You want a glue that holds…..but you want something you can cut away the rubber once on the board and peel away what you don’t want to print with ease. I’ve also tried the film adhesive used to hold polymer plates to boxcar bases….it didn’t hold well to the wood. I need to try and finish the wood off with a nice hard clear coat and think the film adhesive will stick better. My process it’s error proof yet, but keep working on it each time I use it.

I’ve got 100% of this idea from Dirk Fowler and that video posted above from his F2 Desgin Studio years back. I met Dirk a couple years back at Hamilton and we talked about rubber for printing. He sometimes has the same issues, stuff not sticking all the time. Red rubber seems to transfer the ink well from the roller, to red rubber to the paper. It doesn’t last forever, maybe a couple years if lucky. It’s a great process to have in your tool box of tricks if you need a back ground or solid color area. Here’s a link to something I posted about 4 years ago.

Steve Alt
Liberty Press

Here’s a red rubber project I did a few months ago.

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red rubber pineapple3.jpg

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red rubber pineapple2.jpg

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red rubber pineapple1.jpg

in flexo the rubber and new modern soft polymer plates always get sticky. after cleaning spray with this. Detac

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