Flip the plates around so you change which end goes through the opening first and also flip them so the top surface changes. This will keep the plates from bowing too quickly. Try to designate one plate as the one that will get cut into. This way you only need to change one plate at a time. I do this and am using the same plates that I got with the machine 3 yrs ago. I do use my Big Shot for almost every card I make because I cut a die or emboss some part of the card. I will have to change one of them soon-it is the one that is scuffed/scratched.The scuff marks are beginning to be too noticeable.