FAQ

What types of plates do you process?

We process the three main types of photopolymer plates; Standard Relief (KF95), Deep Relief (KF152) and Steel-Backed (KM152). The plate type you’ll need depends upon the type of base you’ll be using with your press. For information about plate height and hardness, please refer to the information below:

KF95 (Standard Relief):
Hardness: 67 Shore D
Relief: 0.027″
Thickness: 0.037″

KF152 (Deep-Relief):
Hardness: 65 Shore D
Relief: 0.047″
Thickness: 0.060″

KM152 (Steel):
Hardness: 80 Shore D
Relief: 0.05″
Thickness: 0.060″

How much does it cost to have film or plates made?

Prices for film range from $15-$20 for standard sizes, but can be evaluated on a by-length basis for larger orders. Prices for plates range from $20 to $135 and include film. You can check out our pricing here and read more about each type of plate.

I have a base with a red or black grid on it- which plates do I use?

If you’re using a Boxcar base with a black grid, you will be using KF95 (Standard Relief) plates. Likewise, if you have a red grid, you’ll be using KF152 (Deep Relief) plates.

Can I send you Photoshop files or JPEGs?

Yes, BUT: Please make sure your image is set to at least 900 dpi. This may mean that you need to scan your image at this resolution. For letterpress, please set your image to grayscale (In Photoshop: Image>Mode>Grayscale). If you are comfortable with bitmaps, a 50% threshold works best! If you want a custom halftone screen, give us a call and we can help you with your file for a small file preparation fee.

Are there any file types that will NOT work for plate preparation?

As a general rule, anything beyond the usual suspects (.pdf, .ai, .indd, .psd) are going to present some issues in pre-flight. File types that are particularly problematic are things like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint etc… 

Can you make me a film positive for screen printing or registration?

Yes! If it’s a registration positive you’re after, we also recommend getting some Kimodesk (a transparent vellum sheet) and printing your image to scale using a laser printer. Cheap and easy!

I'm printing at the San Francisco Center for the Book, what plates should I use?

SFCB has bases of all shapes, sizes and plate types, but the majority of bases are for KF95 (standard) or KM152 (steel) plates. We recommend the KF95 plates for beginning printers because they’re easy to cut with scissors and are much easier to move around!

I nicked/smashed/dinged/bruised/let my cat gnaw on part of my plate… what can I do?

So- we heard about this crazy trick and totally didn’t believe it, but then we tried it and it worked! Depending on the severity of the damage, you may be able to wet a cloth with warm water, wring it out and hold it on the damaged area for 1-2 minutes (minimum), during which magic occurs and the damaged part of the plate somehow poofs back up to normal. Don’t ask how… it’s magic. 

Can you add crop marks for me?

Yes, please specify if you need crop marks and set each piece inside of an individual art board the size of the final document. Please also let us know if you need a bleed allowance on any of the pieces and if you need things to share a common cut etc… We default to a 0.25″ gutter and 12pt long, 0.33pt wide crop marks with a 6pt offset. A small file preparation fee may be assessed. 

How do I clean/care for my plate?

Clean your plate with 99% isopropyl alcohol, never with water! You can also clean your plate with other things (vegetable oil, etc…) but isopropyl is the fastest, cleanest and doesn’t leave a residue. Store your plate out of the sunlight- prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause a plate to harden, shrink and crack.

How do I prepare a file for color separations?

Let’s say you have a four-color wedding invitation you want to print. Wow! You’re adventurous! You can build your file in full color and send it to us as a single document rather than pulling out each color and ganging them up on a plate, running the risk of something moving or changing in the process. Simply build your file using Pantone spot colors or C,M,Y & K and we’ll run four sheets of film for you, resulting in one plate for each color. Don’t forget to ask for those crop marks- you’re gonna need ’em!

Why do you need outlined fonts?

We ask you to outline your fonts (or send us the font files) because sometimes there are color issues that need fixing and without the fonts outlined, we can’t open the file to make the changes. Then we have to ask you to resend the file, creating a delay in processing. If outlining your fonts is not your bag, just send the font files or package them with your file in InDesign.