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A lot comes down to the printer's preference and there is great work being produced with both polymer and metal. It is probably less expensive to set up for making polymer in house but we have a system that makes it more affordable for us to use metal plates on our jobs. We think metal gives a slightly sharper image but that is probably just our old eyes and stubborn ways! On larger quantities we feel metal is a better way to go.

Polymer plates tend to fatten type and give less bruise because you can't hit as hard. Metal plates give a little finer image as long as the type isn't too thin to start with. Metal plats also allow for a harder hit, thus a deeper bruise. This can give the finished piece more of a tactile quality.

It depends on what type of press you are using which works better. I've found on platen presses like the Heidelberg Windmill polymer work really well. On cylinder presses I've found polymer to not work as well as metal. Metal plates carry ink better, and are a little more forgiving with over inking where polymer tend to be a little fussy when it comes to ink coverage. Roller heights play a big part in this as well for either type of plate. As far as the bite in the paper, I feel you can get a good impression with either metal or polymer. If you set the rollers and do a good make ready either plate should give you a deep impression in the paper. Amazingly polymer are stronger. I put a gripper right in the middle of an image with a polymer plate once and it didn't even damage it. if it were metal I'd have been ordering a new one.


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Armin Vit

Editor of FPO and co-founder of UnderConsideration LLC.

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March 13, 2012


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UnderConsideration is a graphic design firm generating its own projects, initiatives, and content while taking on limited client work. Run by Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit in Bloomington, IN. More…

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