Method and apparatus for thermal processing a photosensitive element

CAFC
  • US 6,797,454 B1
  • Filed: 02/19/2002
  • Issued: 09/28/2004
  • Est. Priority Date: 09/07/1999
  • Status: Expired due to Term
First Claim
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1. An apparatus for forming a relief pattern from a photosensitive element comprising a flexible substrate having an exterior surface and an interior surface, and a composition layer on the substrate capable of being partially liquefied, the composition layer having an exterior surface and an interior surface, with the composition layer and flexible substrate joined at their respective interior surfaces, comprising:

  • a roller mounted for rotation in a first frame portion for supplying an absorbent material to the exterior surface of the composition layer;

    a drum mounted for rotation in a second frame portion with means for supporting the photosensitive element on an outer circumferential surface of the drum with the exterior surface of the flexible substrate contacting said outer surface, the drum positioned for delivering the photosensitive element to the absorbent material, wherein at least one of the first and second frame portions are movable relative to the other;

    first heating means for applying heat to the exterior surface of the composition layer on the drum adjacent where the absorbent material contacts the layer at the roller, the first heating means adapted to heat the exterior surface of the layer to a temperature T1 which is equal to or greater than a temperature T2 sufficient to cause a portion of the layer to liquefy, while maintaining the exterior surface of the flexible substrate at a temperature T3 at least 20°

    F. below temperature T1;

    second heating means for heating the roller to a temperature capable of heating the exterior surface of the composition layer to a temperature T4 which is equal to or greater than temperature T2 while the absorbent material is contacting the exterior surface of the layer and while maintaining the exterior surface of the flexible substrate at the temperature T3 which is at least 20°

    F. below temperature T4;

    pressure means for causing the photosensitive element and the absorbent material to come into contact between the drum and the roller at a pressure sufficient for at least a portion of the liquefied material of the composition layer to be absorbed by the absorbent material; and

    separation means for separating the photosensitive element from the absorbent material.

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