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Printing Plates


Printing Plates

Printing & Finishing Terms | Alpha Index to Full Dictionary:

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Printing processes such as offset lithography use printing plates to transfer an image to paper or other substrates. The plates may be made of metal, plastic, rubber, paper, and other materials. The image is put on the printing plates using photomechanical, photochemical, or laser engraving processes. The image may be positive or negative.

In general, metal plates are more expensive but last longer and have greater accuracy. Paper plates are usually more suitable for shorter runs without close or touching colors that require trapping. Plan your design so that paper plates can be used effectively if you want to save money.

Typically, printing plates are attached to the plate cylinder in the press. Ink is applied to the plate's image area and transferred directly to the paper or to an intermediary cylinder (blanket) and then to the paper. In screen printing, the screen is the equivalent of the printing plate. It can be created manually or photochemically and is usually a porous fabric or stainless steel mesh stretched over a frame.

The number of printing plates needed for a job where printing is done on both sides of the sheet of paper is determined not only by the number of colors of ink but also by how the sheets are imposed and fed into the printing press. Sheetwise printing typically requires more plates than work-and-turn or work-and-tumble.

Also Known As: image plate | plate

Examples: The printing plates used depends on the type of press, the printing method, and quantity of the print run. A plate is prepared for each color used, or four plates in the case of 4-color (CMYK) process printing.

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