Last week I posted about the process that goes behind letterpress printing using old fashioned lead type. More recently however, technology has allowed or printing with photopolymers, or photosensitive pieces of plastic. There’s a nice blog post that goes into depth about making polymers for printing here.
The biggest challenge of polymer printing is making sure everything is ‘Type-height’. Everything should be the same height as the lead type I printed with earlier. Luckily, Boxcar Press makes a base, which guarantees that the polymer will always be type height.
This also makes setting everything up in the chase really simple. The base takes up most of the chase, so all that’s required is putting in some quoins to ensure it doesn’t move.
The polymers themselves are adhesive on the back, so it’s just a matter of sticking it somewhere on the base. One really nice feature of the base is the grid, so for times when multiple colours need to be printed, registration is made much easier.
But the best part of this method is that it all started on the computer. Letterpress printing is no longer limited to which typefaces you own and which metal cuts you have. All that’s needed is a black and white PDF.
So if you ever get a chance to try out letterpress printing, I strongly recommend it. It’s exciting, a lot of fun, and very rewarding.