Saving plates

I wonder if any of our members here try to save printing plates for reprint for both cost and environmental reason? Would like to hear successful case and failure case. The cost of the plate includes the time for processing at the machine can be considerable, is it?



Registered Users
Re: Saving plates

We used to save our plates for a five year period of time. Sometimes we had problems with using the plates again for a rerun. The plates wouldn't accept ink at times, they were damaged, or they wore out. It was also time consuming to maintain the plate archives. We also found most of the jobs never came back for reruns so we were just wasting our time.

In the long run, we archive our RIPed and imposition files and make new plates for each rerun. After the pressman are done with the plates, they put them into a bin to be recycled.


Well-known member
Re: Saving plates

We actually did a time/cost study on saving plates. We accounted for material cost, prepress time, chemicals ect on the savings side and the 2nd pressman's time, gum, storage ect on the cost side. Ultimately, we decided that we were better off recycling plates, unless we were almost 100% certain the job would be rerun.


Well-known member
Re: Saving plates


I save plates, but its one of those deals where it depends on your customer. If its a large job or one that I know will be reprinted you bet I save them. If its a business card or something dated very rarely will I save them. I will keep the digital file and a paper file. But my main reason is NOT environmental. I do it to help keep overhead down and the way the previous owner had the pricing set up was that every order has a plate charge so they still pay the plate charge and I run the plates that were burnt before. I hope this helps. Although it would be nice to say this was environmentally friendly I do recycle the plates that I pitch. Good luck.


Well-known member
Re: Saving plates

We, also save some of our metal plates. Mostly reorders like envelopes, letterhead, forms, labels, etc. and primarily the one and two color jobs. We save fewer 4 color process plates because the majority have dates or information constantly changes.

I agree when proper cleaning and gumming procedures are not followed this can become labor intensive especially if a new plate needs to be remade. However, most of the time, stored plates work very well; I remember using one plate for an envelope for close to ten years running it several times a year; the ends of the plates finally cracked from wear, but the image stayed bullet proof.

I never thought about the environmental impact this has, so I quickly assessed the "new plate to reused plate" ratio and found that 60% of the metal plates used in the last week were reused plates, which when extrapolated over a year's time represents about close to 700 to 1,000 plates. Hmm, that's close to ten gallons of developer we do not use year and we're a small shop. So we saved both money and part of the environment--a win win situation.

Edited by: Jaime Zuniga on Oct 11, 2007 12:28 AM


Well-known member
Re: Saving plates

It's Friday and I just got back from making many deliveries. During one of my stops I notice a job we printed three separate times this week for a client. It's an animation board that different artists use for initial drawings and are ordered per show. It's one of four slightly different layouts, all of which we've printed what seems like hundreds of times over the last ten years (always black ink). Now just in this week alone, had we not stored the plates for this job, we would have had to burn and process three plates; instead we pulled the plate archive loaded the cleaned gummed plate on press and done, three times. Now, I know someone is thinking run extra and deliver as they order. Well easier said then done, the paper is a special animation paper provided by the client and when a PO is issued the stock is released by the client for the order; and so that happen this week with an order printed Monday, delivered Tuesday, with another artist ordering a small amount Tuesday and later finding out it was not enough and order an emergency order yesterday and like stated delivered today.

I've thought long and hard about the benefits and drawbacks of saving plates. I've concluded that each shop should do what's best. For example, a shop that has a polyester plate maker like a Mitsibishi DPX, ABDick/Presstek DPM, or One of Xante/RipIt's offerings can not save plates because they're trash after they're used. A shop like ours uses a two different plates, poly for the less critical one time order type jobs and metal for the very critical and /or often ordered jobs so we can save the metal plates.


Re: Saving plates

Hi ken,

Like Kyle we used to save our plates....its swings and round abouts.
Some jobs you might get two to three printings depending on how well the operator cleaned / gum / packed plates, however if you had a lazy shit who didn't bother do his job then when you throw the plates back up on press then you would have downtime while waiting on a new set.

This is not so bad if you have a fast CTP device, your production manager won't like it though.
Downtime on the press is more expensive than the squared meter price of the plates. Also you have to factor in the cost of diposal of the washes / waste gum.....(around 60 euro cents per ltr).

Also the aluminium is high quality, you should look for 80% of the LME price per kg (circa 1.65 euro) from your recycle guys.

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