Re-using and ‘jigsawing’ photopolymer plates

Does anyone have any tips for how you would go about this scenario?

If you had a range of ‘template’ invitation designs (i.e. clients customise the text part of the invitation but the artwork/illustration portion remains the same from job to job), would you need to get a whole new plate made each time for each individual client with their specific text details?

Or could you get a photopolymer made with the standard ‘template’ artwork that won’t change from job to job (i.e. the illustration portion), cut it up and piece those parts together with a new plate that has the client’s particular text details for that job?

I guess what I’m trying to ask is if I can get more than one use out of a plate when reprints will be the same ‘design’, just different text areas.

Does that even make sense?! Hope so and apologies if not!

Thanks in advance.

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yes, you can reuse your plates. i’ve had some adhesive problems with some of mine after repeated use though, which really destroys them (am i alone in this? i might be)… regardless, i ‘cut and paste’ a lot even if just for a fun project. it can work.

i’d definitely like to hear input from others on this, along with good ways to preserve the plates.

Boxcar sells adhesive to reback you plates. Usually I have one plate that is the art sno one that is the text. You just get a new text plate and your good. The plate containing the design elements can be reused.

I have used the same art on multiple jobs before I need to have a plate remade.


Thanks so much cody and littlemisspress - very helpful!

Would definitely work out a lot cheaper if I could re-use the design part of the plate and just do new plates for the text areas.

Thanks again.

I just reused a polymer plate and put new boxcar adhesive on it but it didn’t want to lie flat. I redid the adhesive making sure the surfaces were clean and degreased but still had the problem. I looked at the boxcar website for help and saw that the plates should be stored at a constant humidity. Probably temperature should be stable as well. Well, that ship sailed long ago. I’m wondering if there’s a way to restore the plate once it’s curled.

You need to be careful when cleaning plates as well, as many solvents will lessen the adhesion of the adhesive. Don’t “drown” the plate when you clean it and it should be fine.

If your plate begins to curl (this happens more with large solids than line art) you can flatten it down by placing a moist paper towel on top of the photopolymer and then leaving it in a Ziploc bag. If you still have trouble getting it to lay flat, you can tape the edges down to your base for some measure of support.

You can stretch plates a bit, but eventually they will have to be replaced. Metal cuts are a good solution for longer longevity.

James Beard
Vrooooom Press

Personally, in the case of this scenario, I think that the best thing to do would be to have a plate made that was your “X” information, or your basic repeated stuff (borders etc), but was “Blank”, and included crop marks.
You could re-use this over and over and over.
I second vrooooom’s suggestion about metal plates- it’d probably be best to have the “X” plate made of metal and treat it really well, and have “Y” plates made out of photopolymer.

Second step would be to add a second plate, also with crop marks (so you can line them both up on the base), and print them in separate runs.

It’s twice the printing work, but you’re sure not to have a plate which deforms or loses it’s shape.

Of course, the most efficient way to do it would be to pick a set ink color/paper, run a bunch of it with “X” information/design, stock it into boxes on the shelf, and then make plates for the “client” information/text and pull from your stock as neccesary.
But if you’re doing semi-custom stuff, the client may not (and probably wont) bend to that.