Creating Printing Plates with Laser Toner – Part 1

hi I'm bill Ritchie and the friend of mine gave me the idea of taking an image from from the web and processing the picture in Photoshop and then printing it out on a laser laser print on silicon backed label stock this is a shipping label paper and I printed these two pictures out of my friend actually and I thought I would transfer that to copper and then etch it and print it for this little videotape but before I transfer it I thought I'd do a little marking up on the on the laser print in the black areas with oh I've got a exacto knife here and I can scratch off the toner like that so it's not just a straight photograph one of the advantage of this process is that you can write on it you can you know write longhand or you can print words and whatnot and they'll be coming out you know just like they would like white writing on black ground but when you transfer it to the plate they'll be backward but when you're president will be rightward again so if you want to write in your etching or you know put numbers in or something like that this is a good way to do it there now I made a pretty good mess of it next I have to take several steps first I have to I've already beveled the edge of the copper plate so it's not sharp don't want to hurt my laminator which is one of the next steps or my belts in my printing press will I print it so I've doubled the edges I've scrubbed it down with some fine steel wool just to kind of take the shine off of it and then I have to degrease it degreasing means you wash it with vinegar and salt let it dry and then I'll put these two together run them through the laminator run it through about four or five times be sure that that plate is completely hot and the laser toner will fuse stick to the copper plate like I said do that about 4 or 5 times and then I bake it in toaster oven and I don't know what the setting is like 350 degrees 400 degrees something like that and that will make sure that that toner is well fused to the copper plate very hard I can still do some work in the black area so while that's heating up maybe I'll just try that but the ground isn't very strong right now it's kind of fragile needs to be fused even harder it's kind of a dull look to it when I'm done fusing it in the oven it will be kind of shiny and that's when it's the toughest beautiful you may have noticed when I took that when I peel back the paper there was one little tiny spot there and that's where it is here when you see that happen that means you've got to put something there to keep that from being a big hole which is what's going to happen if I it's the way it is so I'm going to put some tiny specks of slip stop out I'm going to use a universal etching ground it's really easy to handle well now it's ready to edge and I'm going to put some of this transparent contact paper on the back so that the edge of the action won't eat away on the back of it and wrap up the extra areas with the shipping tape or something like that most people use very chloride and ferric chloride is a good etchant it's odorless non-toxic three harmless to human beings but it eats copper and brass but you have to etch it upside down that's the only that's the only funny thing about it but that's pretty easy to overcome that little obstacle so I recommend ferric chloride it's about a quarter of an inch 1/2 inch maybe above the bottom of the tray this is not fresh very chloride it's been used a number of times I don't know how many times I just used it until it's not working anymore and then I throw it away I wash it down the drain with lots and lots of running water it's a mineral salt no more harmful than table salt in my opinion as far as the environment goes I would welcome anybody to tell me otherwise looks like it's not quite deep enough to cover that in so I think I'll add a little more from my gallon jug I'll bite this for about ten minutes or I don't know I won't know how deep it's etched until I take it out look at it with a magnifier the way I make prints this in stages I do it through many many stages or States they're called I don't even take a print until I really have a no I'd no idea what it's going to look like and then I take a trial proof sometimes I'm lucky and that works the first time but usually not usually I have to go back and rework it when I make my half WordPress's I usually test it with this kind of process and sometimes I get to make a brand new plate to test each one this one is a kind of an experiment to see how that process of taking photographs off the web or any kind of digital photograph treat it with Photoshop and transfer it to metal plate with the laser printer on silicon transfer paper which is just the backing from label stock that I threw away the label to use the back the shiny side of the back if I agitate this constantly it's better than if I just let it sit probably speeds it up about twice whereas it might take five ten minutes sitting still if I educate it if I go in five minutes now I'm rinsed it all off and looks pretty nice I can see it better if I give it some of that vinegar and salt treatment again I call this pickling pickling it you're pickling it with vinegar and salt that cleans it up brings all that it takes all that oxides out makes it more visible and now I think I could probably print it out I'll look at it with a magnifier just to be sure with about ten minutes I think block that dry look at it with a magnifier give me a better idea how much H is there not much but you don't want that's too long if you do that's too long it'll by the way some of the finest spots but now I can print it after I strip off the plastic bag dry it off completely ink it up print it now most people would tell you you have to take the ground off first but lately I've been thinking well what for why not just leave it on and see what happens besides to decide you you want to etch it some more you will have a pretty good ground on it already plus there are some other etching techniques to try like aquatint ready to print I made a lot of videos of printing plates so you can always look at those but this is really hard because it's got that black round on it I can't tell I'm going to can't tell how I'm doing because usually I have some black ink tone to look at now most I have is a little bit of reflection but I'm going to print it anyway interesting way to work and I love surprises I'm printing on a Fabriano paper and I soaked it for 5 or 10 minutes and I've blotted off all the extra paper extra water excess I'm printing on the press that's going to my friend I warmed the plate before I printed I set the pressure using two hands you never sure about the pressure till you printed a print its identity when I'm done with this video I'll probably put it in the press ghost which is this the flash drive that I built into all my applet presses now about the videos on it books and things and I always put on moment number four my game proxy mates let's say this is the years eleven month is eleven the day is the 15th and it's 1730 there it is a little weird but pretty good start very dark and this area up in here which is all supposed to be black we'll have to take some reworking and that will be for the next part of the video when you that next part is about going back into the play and you can etch it or you could drive boy and you could do aqua tip I'm going to demonstrate dry pointing because my friend I think I think my friend wants to do dry point and that's a very direct process now that you've got the image going and you've got a trial proof you can make some judgments and start doing the dry point and then as you go along you can work on it and I might also strip that photo ground or that laser tone off of there to make it a little easier to see what you're doing when you're doing the dry point I think that's a good idea you

20 Replies to “Creating Printing Plates with Laser Toner – Part 1

  1. Hello, I'm trying to understand how the written text was printed in black ink, when the text was indented, or recessed, into the copper plate. Can you help me?


  3. Some wrote, in Russian, "Can it print dollars?" with smiley faces. I wrote a better idea; Это не будет работать, лучше научиться делать красивые гравюры и продавать их за деньги, используя Интернет.

  4. Thank you for sharing the video. With the advent of digital press production, printing is become a dying art. Keep up the great work.

  5. Question for you @Bill Ritchie 
    I'm just getting acquainted with different printing methods, and am very interested in using images via computer and transferring them to plates. If you etched longer, would you have a better photo transfer if your purpose is just to transfer the image from computer to plate?

  6. I enjoyed this video very much.  One thing I would like to try when attempting this process is take samplings of precision micrometer measurements in the lightest and darkest regions (after etching and just before trial printing), to see if I can determine an optimal range to shoot for when etching each time.

  7. When you iron the silicon paper with the laser printed toner on it, you are sticking the toner to the copper or brass plate. Then you heat the plate with the toner that has stuck to it very hot for a good bond.

    You use ferric chloride to etch the plate, the same as circuit-board printers do. Watch PCB videos, also, for it is the same idea but PCB is for circuit boards, not printmaking. But you can print PCB.

    Small home laser printer works. I have HP 1018, set on darkest prrinting.

  8. Silicon-backed paper, that's the key. You don't buy it that way (not yet, anyway) but you buy label stock or contact paper, or any kind of self-sticking supply. Pull off the good stuff and you have silicon coated paper, the secret as to why the label stock doesn't stay stuck. This shiny surface paper can go through a laser printer (not an inkjet printer), and then you can iron on or run the paper through a hot laminator and the toner will transfer.

  9. I don't think you need to take down this video… you could add a little text over the video clarifying this point and maybe edit the description of your video. Your friend is right about the ferric chloride, but when used on copper your solution's nature changes.
    Thanks for all your uploads, very informative!

  10. Yes, you are right David, and when I can I will either withdraw the video or re-edit it with the advice to neutralize it with bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). There is a lot of new information on the Web (mine came from a former waterworks engineer who said they use ferric chloride in his industry but I must have misunderstood. So I trying sodium persulfate, and galvanic etching. thanks for your help and I hope others read this, too. Or, take it off YouTube! I will work on it.

  11. Phil, I missed this! I use bmp images at 1200 dpi, and I use the grain texture among the filters offered by photoshop. I don't keep notes, but that's the general idea. I start with jpg, change to grayscale, fool with contrast, etc., then change to bmp, and try it out. I do it by trial and error.

  12. Thanks for uploading your etching process, but please don't pour your FeCL3 down the drain! once you've used it with copper it's part copper chloride and that IS illegal to dispose of down your pipes. Call your local Landfill or Hazardous waste center, please google your local options.

  13. I set it for 600 dpi, make a grayscale mode, work the contrast to somewhat darker than I want. Then I use the "Texture:Grain" filter, and fiddle with that a bit more. Then I exit the filter OK, and change the mode to BMP, diffusion ditther. I save it thus. Now I'm not sure – do I take it back to Grayscale? hmm. or, when I place it in my InDesign layout program . . . next time I'll take notes. Help!

  14. Bill very nice video indeed. In photoshop what setting or settings do you use in order to make the picture into a negative? Thanks
    Phil Bivins
    Proud Mini Halfwood Press Owner

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