Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ledbetter Process, Step 2

Making the plates.

We are now using photopolymer to make the plates. It is a light sensitive material that is exposed and processed much the same way as the screens used for silk-screening. One nice bonus is that no chemicals or solvents are used during the wash-out, just plain old tap water, which makes it a little kinder to the environment.

Cutting the photopolymer down to fit the negatives.

Exposing the photopolymer sheets.
Can you see Mr. Bunny in reverse?
Exposed for three minutes.
Another set of plates going in for a suntan.

Wash out. This is the fun part. The parts of the photopolymer material that are exposed to light harden, and the rest of the material stays soft. The soft parts will be washed away by warm water. Washout takes from 2 to 3 minutes at about 95 degrees (the temp was a little high when I snapped the pic). Mr. Bunny can just barely be made out in this one.

Two of the large plates for the print taking a bath.

Next the plates need to be rinsed off and blotted dry, then on to the drying rack. This is the longest part of the process, taking about 15 to 20 minutes. There's Mr. Bunny, this is one of the images for the card.

After the plates dry, they need to come back to room temp, and then they are post-exposed for about 5 minutes. Here is the finished Mr. Bunny plate.

And finally, we decided to throw one of the plates on the press to see how they turned out and to test the gold ink. This part of the card will actually be printed in black.

Next step, the printing!

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