Prepare and maintain image carriers for printing

Business Sectors (Suites): Machine Printing
Developed by: Improve
Approved on: 29 Feb 2020


This standard is for printers whose job includes preparing image carriers and related consumables (such as blocks, pads, plates, or engraved cylinders) and storing them for reuse. 

Image carriers are the materials which carry an image for transfer directly or indirectly to the substrate. The most common type of image carrier is a plate and these are found in lithography, flexography, die stamping and pad printing. Gravure uses a cylinder engraved with 'cells' and a number of direct impression processes such as letterpress, and embossing uses dies or blocks. 

This standard requires the printer to be able to prepare an image carrier for printing, which will usually involve mounting the image carrier into or onto a carrier either by self-adhesive tape or by mechanical means, such as locking a block into a 'chase' using 'furniture' and 'quoins'. 

It is not expected that the printer will make the actual image carrier involved in these processes, as blocks, dies, engraved cylinders are usually made by specialists. 

Storage of image carriers for re-use may involve cleaning ink from the carrier using plate cleaner and/or removing adhesive or mounting materials from it. Once ready for storage, the image carrier and any associated pieces have to be carefully protected labelled and filed so they can be quickly located when required again. 

Note: This standard is not intended for use by lithographic printers

Performance criteria

You must be able to:

Prepare image carriers for printing

  1. comply with health and safety requirements and procedures at all times
  2. obtain specifications and requirements of the items to be produced following standard operating procedures
  3. obtain equipment and materials required to carry out the job following standard operating procedures
  4. check equipment is set up and in good working order following standard operating procedures and any manufacturer's instructions
  5. check all materials required are to specification and free from faults
  6. check image carriers is of the right specification for the printing machine
  7. prepare image carriers for use by fitting into/onto any externally prepared carrier devices, using mounting and backing materials following standard operating procedures
  8. check image carriers are located in position prior to fitting to printing machines
  9. prepare any associated image transfer materials following standard operating procedures
    Store image carriers for re-use

10. identify image carriers and any associated materials for storage following standard operating procedures
11. check they have not suffered any physical or image damage that would prevent them from being re-used in future following standard operating procedures
12. report any image carrier wear or damage before storing following standard operating procedures
13. clean printing ink or mounting adhesives from the image carriers using a suitable cleaning agent that will not cause damage to the image carrier
14. check cleaning residues are washed from carriers following standard operating procedures
15. identify storage locations following standard operating procedures
16. protect image carriers and other materials with suitable packing/ protective materials
17. store carriers following standard operating procedures
18. complete the labelling/identification requirements of the carrier(s) and, if required, complete any records that form part of an indexing system

Knowledge and Understanding

You need to know and understand:

Health and safety

  1. your duties and responsibilities for health and safety as defined by any specific legislation covering your job role
  2. manufacturer's health and safety requirements relevant to your job
  3. how to stop a machine in the event of an emergency

4. how to communicate with colleagues

Workplace policy and practice

5. workplace objectives, priorities, standards and procedures *

The identification and assessment of printing options

6. the stages in the printing process from pre-press to printed product

Time and resources

7. how to maximise productivity

The operation of equipment

8. the operation of image carrier mounting equipment *


9. the principles of printing and image transfer for the process(es) you use

The causes and treatment of common faults

10. raw material faults
11. processing faults
12. machine faults

Administrative procedures

13. recording and reporting


14. any specific environmental legislation that covers processes in your company
15. control of pollution

Quality assurance and control

16. techniques for controlling quality
17. equipment for controlling quality in offset lithographic platemaking *

Problem solving

18. sources of information


19. the types and characteristics of lithographic printing plates
20. how to maintain the quality of printing plates during storage and handling


Scope Performance

Scope Knowledge





Links To Other NOS

External Links

Version Number


Indicative Review Date

28 Feb 2025





Originating Organisation


Original URN


Relevant Occupations

Printers, Printing Machine Minders and Assistants, Printing Trades

SOC Code



machines; printing; lithographic; equipment; flexographic; operate; maintain; inks; coatings;