MAU Art & Design Glossary

Zinc Plate


Zinc Ban

A zinc plate is a metal plate that is used in lithography and intaglio printing.

Zinc plates were often used as a substitute for stone, aluminum and copper plates but nowadays, they are not used as frequently as before.
They came to be used in place of stone plates which were expensive, heavy and difficult to handle, but aluminum plates are preferred today because they are lighter and have greater printing durability. When purchasing zinc plates, they must be prepared for use by asking the supply store to polish and grain the surface. They must be handled with care so that excess grease does not get on the plate surface because they are more susceptible to oil than aluminum plates.

When used for intaglio printing, zinc is softer than copper so it has the advantage of being easier to engrave and employ other types of direct carving methods. But when used as a drypoint plate, characteristic burrs disappear with repeated press printing, and this is a drawback. When making zinc printing plates through corrosion, they should be kept away from copper plates and other metals. Diluted nitric acid is used for the corrosive liquid. Zinc plates can be purchased at specialist stores that handle printing supplies.


  • Zinc plate used in lithographyZinc plate used in lithography
  • Close-up photo of zinc plate used in lithographyClose-up photo of zinc plate used in lithography
  • Zinc plate used in intaglio printingZinc plate used in intaglio printing