Dry thermal plate processing eliminates the use of solvents, reduces plate making time and improves plate quality. This system eliminates the need for conventional chemical solvent or aqueous washout.
Prior to developing the plate in the thermal processor, the plate material is back-exposed to establish the "floor" or bottom side of the plate and main exposed through the film negative, which sets the artwork that will be the printing surface, in a typical photopolymer exposing unit. Back exposure stabilizes the plate. The main exposure forms the relief image. The thermal processor accepts the plate and, using precisely controlled heat sources and a small amount of contact pressure with a non-woven (synthetic) web material, removes the unexposed portion of the relief layer. To achieve the desired relief of the plate, it is rotated multiple times through the processor. Each rotation removes more polymer and increases the relief. A completed plate is then ejected from the unit and is ready for post-exposing and finishing.
Post-exposing and finishing involves exposing the final plate to short wavelength UV-C lamps to cure the areas where partially cured photopolymer materials lie.