clean up

looking for advice regarding clean up of ink on press. I’ve been using MEK but I’m looking for a less “harsh” method of cleanup. MEK works great but it’s some powerful stuff. I mostly use polymer plates so it has to be something that doesn’t react w/ adhesive on the polymer.

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Methyl-Ethyl-Ketone is definitely overkill for this usage! Plus being highly, highly flammable, a skin and eye irritant, and something of a neurotoxin. While it definitely has it’s uses, this probably isn’t one of them. Generally speaking, press-wash is the best choice as it is specifically designed to clean ink off presses and rollers. One of the best known kinds is California Wash (so-called because it meets California air-quality specs) which is manufactured by several companies. I use Varn’s California Wash because that’s what we have at my day job but there are plenty of other options. One source for all things press-related is Pressman’s Pride. I’ve dealt with them quite a few times and never had a problem with them.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

Uh, MEK- probably not the best thing to repeatedly use on rollers.

Perhaps you might consider kerosene. Look up threads regarding this though, there are plenty!

I like using the no-odor paint thinner and then simple green at the end.

Purple cleaner from the Auto Parts store works great! I have not used it on photo-polymer

I have been using baby oil followed by Simple Green - are there potential downsides to this combination?

I use Varn California Wash. Very stubborn clumps and aged bits can be worked effectively with naptha. I have yet to see anything on a press that required MEK.

If you use anything other than an official press wash, you will be removing valuable life from your rollers. OR you could be adding unwanted chemicals. The correct fluid will add (words have slipped my mind), that will help the rollers to keep there shape and maintain quality print. Using the wrong chemicals can harm your rollers beyond repair. You’ve invested in the equipment either in a actual printing press or a proof press. Find yourself a paper house or graphic supplier near you and purchase the proper chemicals.

I agree with Theo. Here’s what I use for cleaning rollers, and I like it (see the link below). You can add up to 25% water to it, but I haven’t done that. I haven’t tried it on photopolymer plates, because I don’t use photopolymer plates, but I would be surprised if it would hurt them.

(I use a faster drying solvent than this, on my type forms. I’ve always done that to avoid having the solvent come out on the prints. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever tried Varn A230 on my type forms…..I just use it on rollers).

Theo - what about mineral spirits in your opinion?

I am new to the letterpress but have been running my etching press for years. We have used a combo of 1 part water 1 part blue dish soap and 1 part veggie oil, It is non toxic and cleans up ink as easy as mineral spirits.