Friday, September 05, 2008

photopolymer plates can be recycled!

Photopolymer plates are awesome! I love these crazy yellow sheets of plastic that you process in a plate maker machine with your negatives. For letterpress printers it means we can digitally design projects and then make plates or have plates made for us to print from. I have kept every single polymer plate I have ever made because I did not know what to do with them after I was through. Incidentally you can keep your plates a pretty long time and print a good number of prints with one plate.

Most of the ones I no longer need are ones that (a) I messed up (which means I messed up the film and previously the digital files which does happen when I try to do things at 2am and (b) the plates can get dry and cracky. Plates should stay nice and flexible and even though I have stored my plates in complete darkness they have dried out enough that I can not print from them any longer and I can even snap them into pieces which is very very bad. The other thing about polymer is after I've processed my plates I cut a lot of waste away that in the past I did not know what to do with.

So where I am going with this tangent? Boxcar Press will recycle letterpress photopolymer plates, either exposed or unexposed! So I can send my hard cruchy plates and my polymer waste pieces to Boxcar for recycling—I feel better now. Well I am a little upset about my dry crunchy plates. So why did some of my plates get dried out? I think my apartment is not humid enough for them. I solved this by moving all my new plates that I made this year into my bathroom—seriously! Goodbye xtra hair products and hello plates! So far that really seems to have solved my dry plate problem. Funny but true. I've read basements work really well too. The keys to preserving those plates is dark plus some humidity. Of course all this being said everyone's places are different so experiment for yourself where to best keep your photopolymer. If you are just starting out with photopolymer keep a close eye on it to see how it is holding up. Here's the link to the recycling program at Boxcar!

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