Quote Originally Posted by Mac064 View Post
One thing that many practitioners mention is the need for a vacuum press to make sure that the contact between the polymer plate and the positive (and indeed the aquatint screen if you use one) is as good as you can make it. Many (if not most) therefore reccommend highly using a vacuum frame. I don't have one, do not have access to one either and am unlikely to get one soon (they are not cheap). I was wondering how much degredation there is when not using one in the photogravure process.

I assume that in the heady days when photogravure work was at it's height, Alvin Coburn, Demachy and the greats did not have flash vaccuum frames either (or did they?). I guess they simply used a single light source (the sun) and glass frames. Their work that was hardly that shabby! In my other alternative process work, I have used very heavy plate glass or vintage split back contact frames which have been fine for my purposes.

You don't say where you're located but in the US this equipment can be found for free at print shops if you're prepared to collect them. I got a second 5KW lamp and vacuum frame a couple of years ago just for the cost of renting a van. They begged me to take the second unit they had sitting there! It's outdated technology for print shops and they just want to get rid of them.

For polymer plates (for photogravure) you really do need a vacuum frame. The plates are much thinner than copperplates and have a tendency to flex and curl when cut. Bad contact shows in the print as areas of uneven tone. Some plates are thinner than others and cut easier, eliminating this problem somewhat - Solarplate for example. I use the KM73s and have a plate cutter which ensures a perfectly flat, smooth edge. Well worth the investment.