Polymer Printing Plates

Hot Foil Polymer Plate Making

UV Exposure units for making hot foil polymer plates

Using our cost-effective uv exposure units, you can produce hot foil polymer plates in-house quickly and efficiently, a real bonus for time-sensitive jobs. Hot foil printing machines require a combination of heat, pressure and dwell time in order to transfer a design from a traditionally metal printing plate onto the finished product.

Most companies that have a need for hot foil printing plates will generally outsource the task of making the plate to an engraving company. Not only does this take time, but there is also a cost to produce the plate. When time is serious constraint, perhaps more so than the cost for the plate, many organisations now look to make polymer printing plates in-house.

In order to make the hot foil plate, a number of items are needed, the most expensive of which will be a good UV exposure unit such as the Black Box pressure pad system or the Xeros vacuum bed range.

Which system should I choose?

The choice of UV exposure unit depends on two factors. Firstly the type of artwork that has to be produced and secondly, the funds available to purchase the exposure unit.

If the artwork is relatively simple, and does not have text that is smaller than 12 point size and has no fine line detail, then the Black Box pressure pad exposure unit will suffice. When artwork is complex, has small text and elements of fine line detail, then the Xeros vacuum bed range will be preferable.

How do I make the plate?

This begins with the production of a negative which is needed to expose the polymer printing plate material. All hot foil plates are made from a negative image hence the reason why you cannot read a finished plate correctly without the use of a mirror! If you make a hot foil printing plate and you can read it when you look at it, something has gone wrong!

The negative can be made in a number of ways which we discuss in detail when you purchase a system. Once you have a negative, the printing plate is placed inside the UV exposure unit along with the negative. Light from the UV unit is passed through the negative hence only part of the printing plate is exposed to light – some areas of the plate material are protected from the light by the black areas of the negative film. Once the exposure has been completed, the plate is removed from the UV unit and developed in warm water. The process of developing removes the unexposed areas of the polymer from the metal backed plate leaving only the printing areas visible. The plate is then dried to remove any moisture and is finally ready to be used. The whole process including drying should take no longer than 40 minutes.

The steps required to make the plate are as follows:

  • Complete the design for the plate or open the file provided by your client
  • Produce a negative (can be printed by inkjet, image setter or made by exposing film using your UV unit)
  • Place the film and polymer printing plate inside the UV exposure unit and expose
  • Remove film and plate and develop the exposed plate
  • Dry the plate carefully
  • Mount the plate to the foiling machine and print the job

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