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Re: [BKARTS] photopolymer plates

        Perhaps the last set of clarifications didn't provide quite
enough clarity [grin]. Try this:

        When it comes to the different sorts of processes available for
transferring an image, there are, by definition, three possible ways for
the image area to be differentiated from the non-image area. Note that
here we are talking about those areas ON THE PLATE OR OTHER SURFACE
*FROM WHICH* the image will be printed. If the image portion is raised
ABOVE the non-image portion, the process is called "relief" printing,
and letterpress falls into this category. If the image portion is
depressed BELOW the non-image portion, the process is called "intaglio"
printing, and engraving falls into this category. If the image portion
is on the SAME PLANE as the non-image portion (but somehow separated
from it), the process is called "planographic" printing, and offset
lithography (as well as a bunch of other technologies, such as digital
printing, etc.) fall into this category.

        Note that none of these, by themselves, have any necessary
correlation with the apparent effect on the PRINTED surface (which is
where I think you're getting confused). All three types of processes can
produce an absolutely flat finished piece (think about it: a dollar bill
is engraved, a modern magazine is offset, and millions of newspapers
have been produced by letterpress). However, either by designer's
choice, or by way of bad printing technique, some people have come to
associate the output of the different processes with different physical
outcomes on the finished piece. These would, therefore, be the inverse
of the printing technology used: relief printing (letterpress) can
result in an "embossed" (or sunken) image on the finished piece;
intaglio (engraving) can result in a "debossed" (or raised) image in the
finished piece; and a lithographic, screen or digital process will
always result in a flat image.

        The printing from photopolymer plates that we've been discussing
here for the most part is still very much a RELIEF process. Therefore it
would result in the same effect (deliberately or otherwise) as would
printing from other relief surfaces such as hand-set metal or wood type,
etc. This can, indeed, give you the "indented" appearance I think you're
seeking. Note, however, that this indentation is a relatively recent
"feature", since for the first 500 years of letterpress printing the
goal was to achieve a "kiss" impression with no indentation at all...any
indentation was historically the hallmark of a poor printer! Today,
however, as letterpress has been relegated primarily to things like
custom wedding invitations, clients often ask for the physicality of a
deep impression, and that is much better done using disposable
photopolymer plates rather than expensive metal type (since the "crush"
impression is very hard on the printing surface.)

        So, the very short answer to your original question is: "yes,
photopolymer plates printed letterpress CAN (but NEED NOT) result in an
indented area on the finished piece".  (Keep in mind that you can also
raise or lower the finished surface independently, by "blind embossing"
or "blind debossing" using specially made dies, and this can be done on
top of any type of printing (such as those paperback book covers,
printed offset, where the title and/or author's name seems to jump out
at you...)

        If this still isn't clear, ask again and we'll try again!


David S. Rose
Five Roses Press
New York, NY

-----Original Message-----
From: Ann Grasso
Sent: Sunday, June 22, 2003 12:44 PM
To: BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: photopolymer plates

I am appreciative of the clarifications and distinctions made concerning
different printing processes.

Might someone clarify whether photopolymer plates create any indent or
raised area when printing letters? I believe that when letters are set
individually with wood or lead, they are impressed down, into the paper.
When offset, the letters raise up from the paper. But when using a
photopolymer plate is there a way for the letters to be either indented
the paper or raised from the paper plane? My one and only toe into this
field provided an outcome where the plate size was indented, but the
work, both image and letters, were all on one plane.

Thanks for your help, A.

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