Plate Making at Print Applications Laboratory

I was going through some of my old notes from a class and found this on platemaking. feeling a bit nostalgic since this platemaker isn’t there anymore or anything else from PAL 😦



Within the Print Applications Laboratory, located within Bay 3 is the plate making facilities for the entire lab. We had a chance to view the processes of plate making first hand and watch the creation of a lithography plate.



The plate making process is broken up into seven linear steps; prepress of content, imaging of the plate, pre-baking, development of image and non image areas, cleaning of residual cleaner, checking for quality and finally sending the plate to press.

The other serves as a multipurpose device to allow for web integration and storage For the prepress part of the workflow, once the file is received it is processed using the software Workshop, which is part of the Prinergy workflow. The pages of the files are refined, converted, trapping is set in place and optimized. After the Workshop software, the file is sent to Preps, which again will refine the PDF to the specifications of the output – the plate. Preps allows you to define your media size and imposition on the plate. Each imposed signature is sent as individual separations (CMYK).

Next, the each of the separations is sent to be imaged on a plate it is referred to as plate setting. The process of exposure is the thermal method using an infrared laser. The laser will write the halftones and dots that will make up the image. The plate is imaged on a steal drum using two lasers, the first is to actually image the plate while the second checks the drum for the height of plate to ensure that the plate is in correct alignment with the other plates so that on press all the image areas will be aligned. The plate maker is capable of a resolution of 2400 x 2400 dpi at 250 rotations per minute.

After the plate has been imaged it enters the plate oven. The oven initiates the hardening of the imaging area. The plate oven runs at about three feet per minute and the temperature should be around 248 degrees. If the plate oven is over or under temperature, it could cause problems with the hardening of the image areas. Baking also helps the plate to be more resistant to cleaning solvents.

Directly from the oven, plate goes into a development tank. It is there that the plate is developed in Kodak MX1919 Regenrator Solution and then is washed out in a water bath. A velvet roller will agitate the chemistry and with the water to insure that, no residual chemical is left on the plate. Once the plate is washed, Gum Arabic or plate finisher is then applied as a coating to protect the plate against oxidation, fingerprints and general use on press. Any dark green areas are the image areas and the silver colored areas represent non-image areas.

Finally, the plate is inspected for quality. Using the IC Plate2 by X-rite, you can measure the dot of the plate. This device is self-calibrating and helps to determine whether dots are in the correct range of +/- 2 % of tolerance. If they are not this may mean the plate has been over or under exposed. After evaluating the measure of the dot, a densitometer is also used. The densitometer is not as accurate as the IC Plate2 because it takes into account the measures for light reflectance of the metallic plate. However, a densitometer is very consistent in its measurements and allows the operator another way to track exposure.


Materials Used:

Software: Creo Prinergy PDF Workflow – including Workshop

Plate maker: Creo 5080 Trendsetter VLF Quantum with 40 watt V-speed Laser

Plate: KPG Gold Thermal plate, Electrochemically grained and anodized aluminum substrate

Oven: Kodak Polychrome Graphics

Processor: Kodak CTP 850 Quartz Plate Processor

Chemicals Used: Kodak MX1919 Plate Regenerator, Kodak MX1591 Prebake Solution, Kodak 8505 Plate Finisher



Negative or Positive Plate?

The plate that we created for this lab is a planographic, negative working plate. The plate is negative working because within the specification sheet of the plate, Kodak labels it as such. However, if that sheet were not available, you would know by the process used to image what type it is. In this method of exposure, the image areas are exposed to light and non-image areas are left unexposed, much like producing a photographic print with a negative in the darkroom. With the use of film for exposure decreasing, the plate we worked with in lab was exposed using an infrared laser. The caveat when dealing with negative working plates is that because we must use an infrared laser to harden the photopolymer, exposure is everything and the smallest error could render the plate useless.


Graphic Design Work

I have been doing a lot of graphic design work lately and I thought I would share them with you!

Italian Heritage Club of America - Utica, NY
Tutor Training Program at Rochester Institute of Technology
Business Card for Laura Morris

Some Images of Unlikely Printed Materials

Returning home for break and thought I would share some of my favorite images from unlikely printed materials:

Many textiles such as this one are printed by gravure or flexo
This is most likely a flexo process

From the rings around the edges my guess this keyboard was printed flexo
This statue is actually digitally printed by a process in which the "ink head" layers a powder material
This is also another bunch of 3D printed material

Isaiah Thomas Award in Publishing

A group of seven Rochester Institute of Technology alumni who have won a combined 11 Pulitzer Prizes are this year’s recipients of the RIT Isaiah Thomas Award in Publishing.

The Isaiah Thomas Award in Publishing, named for one of America’s great patriot printers, recognizes outstanding contributions made to the publishing industry. The honor is presented annually by RIT’s School of Print Media. This year’s recipients are all graduates from RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.- Kelly Downs, RIT News

Two weeks ago the School of Print Media students had an opportunity to go to Washington, DC to see this award ceremony take place and meet the 7 Pulitzer Prize winning photographers. It was amazing! Each student was given a table with a photographer to sit with. I had the chance, along with my roommate Alex, to sit with Stan Grossfeld who won ” two Pulitzer Prizes in 1984 and 1985 while working for The Boston Globe. Grossfeld won in 1984 in the Spot News category for his series of photographs revealing the effects of war on the people of Lebanon. In 1985, he earned a Pulitzer in the Feature Photography category for a portfolio of images of the famine in Ethiopia and of illegal aliens on the Mexican border. Grossfeld was also among the finalists for Pulitzers in 1984, 1994 and 1996″ (Downs, par 3). It was really neat to hear his stories about what he witnessed in lifetime and meet his family. His daughter by far was our entertainment for the day! She was so sweet and is adopted from China, she serenaded us all over lunch and Alex even got to color with her!

It is always amazing to see people from RIT who really have made an impression with their work and have created something that will last within time.

Nothing is better than Gutenberg!




It wouldn't be a trip DC with out a DC cupcake! This has nothing to do with printing but tastes amazing!



Why freebies are a good thing.

Everyone loves free stuff. Some though have more of an enthusiasm for it than others, take for example my friend Laura. Laura is a printer’s dream. She not only loves the medium but also appreciates a good freebie. Recently, I had a chance to travel with her to Ithaca, NY and got to see this tiny obsession for myself. When we went to lunch, she immediately pointed out the stickers at the cash register and when the cashier said they were free, well I think I have never seen anyone so happy to get a sticker. As we made our crawl through the famous Ithaca Commons I noticed as she grabbed postcards, stickers and business cards. Anything free and printed was her gain. Laura – the printing industry would like to thank you for increasing the amount of printed material in the world.


This small act of collecting printed material may be an underestimated art form for printers everywhere. There is a constant pressure for printers, especially the small shops where it is a necessity, for you to have the ability to push the email or app to the client. However, the digital trend setters in a way are under estimating the power of print. The USA Government of Labor even predicts that the need for the short run printing will cause a large opening within the printing job market, as those who retire step down to allow the young blood in. Or take for example, a recent exhibit by the School of Print Media at RIT for their Innovation Festival which turned out to be voted a top exhibit in which people could come see all different objects around them that were printed.  Even though those of us in the industry speak darkly of the decline within our field we have to remember the passion the public has for print. Many offices that go digital or companies that move to online billing actually report more printed material since people feel some comfort in print, in its permanence (Chianello pg. 16). It may be changing, yes we use inkjet now not litho but we are still printing out material for the public aren’t we?


When we become melancholy about our industry we should remember those like Laura who still pick up the print. Free or not someone printed that material, made some sort of a profit and continued a tradition of making something of permanence in our industry. As I go off for vacation this week, I think I am going to pull a Laura and start picking up some free print. What could be better? Print and free!