If you're looking for rosin press plates and are having a hard time choosing between caged or cage-free rosin press kits, then this post is for you. Here we'll go over some of the pros and cons of each to help you make a better decision.
The Caged Rosin Press Kit
When I upgraded to a caged rosin press kit, I thought it should be 100% better than the cage-free rosin plates. After running the caged setup for a while, I started to miss the cage-free rosin press I had. My main gripe is the opening of the plates; there's only 1" 5/32" (29.4mm) between the plates when opened fully. With such a small opening, the bottle tek is out the window. Fat rosin filters even cause some problems without lightly pre-pressing them first. I like that the caged kit's rosin plates align well without much work. The cage can be annoying though due to the limited space for the parchment paper; you'll need to cut or
fold each piece to fit between the pillars of the cage.
Another thing to note about the Caged Rosin Press Kits is most have a rating for use with shop presses up to 12tons, which is more than enough but you should keep it in mind when looking for a press. While I can't speak for all the caged rosin plate kits available, I can say ours is very accurate on the temperature. The external thermal couple allows for precise
temperature adjustments of the plates; while the insulation between the plates and the cage helps reduce the dreaded heat transfer you may experience with the cage-free rosin plate kit.
The Cage-Free Rosin Press Kit
When I ran the cage-free rosin plates, I had them paired with a 20ton H-frame press. My first complaint was the amount of work required to ensure the alignment of the plates. The press itself was constantly shifting under pressure, which made it almost impossible to keep things in line. I can't blame that on the press plates, but it needs mentioning because it'll need addressed if you're building a rosin press. Also, with the cage-free rosin plates, you
can use a press up to 20ton. Depending on the shop press you choose, you should have no problem using fat rosin filters or the bottle tek when pressing.
Another thing to note is with the cage-free rosin plate kit you'll also experience heat loss at the plate due to the press acting as a heat-sink. To prevent losing heat at the plate, you'll need to add some insulation between the rosin plates and the press itself. I used a plastic
cutting board with great results; some people find thick leather works well. If you can mitigate the heat transfer, the plates have fairly accurate temperature. Since the thermal couple is in the heating element, the plates may run a couple of degrees cooler depending on your heat loss. I used a digital meat thermometer to help keep an eye on temps.
Whatever you do, don't use an inferred thermometer. They don't work with the cage-free rosin plates; you can read more about that here.