letterpress problem

Hello everyone,
I introduce myself, I am a italian graphic designer with the passion of the press. Recently I purchased a windmill that I put in my garage and I started to print something. You can see my profile instagram // nostroinchiostro.
But I have a problem … I want to understand what is the exact process of the letterpress.
The printers, here in Italy they tell me that the process is this:

• first print with ink
• and then inkless

But, from the many videos that I have seen on youtube and vimeo, in the rest of the world are printing all in one step.

I have tried to do one step, but in some cases when the letters are imprinted, close/not perfect

What do you say, what do you suggest? Is there a particular polymer to use? Special inks? Different Make ready?
I have print with gmund cotton 600 and cordennons wild.


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I had a look at your Instagram and don’t see what the problem is. It looks like you are getting decent results. Are you asking about switching to photopolymer plates? From what I see, it appears you are using magnesium plates.

If your intention is to print inked letterpress with impression, you should be able to do it all in one hit if you have everything set correctly. If the rollers are too low and are inking the sides of the type relief as well as the face, this will be less forgiving with more impression. The solution would be to get the rollers set right, not to try to back off the impression and then later hit it again blind.

If you are instead talking about the prints you have done with elements of blind impression and other areas that are inked, these of course would need to be done as separate plates, but I can see you are already doing that.

Can you clarify what you are asking?


Thanks for the reply -The Arm NYC-
The main problem is that when you put more pressure on the paper usually the work is not cleaned, for example, the letters are not very sharp. It ‘a problem of heights? We use 23.56.
Second problem is that the paper GMUND COTTON and Cordenons wild absorb a lot of ink.
Do You know the best paper?
In Italy we do not use inks based rubber, it could be a solution?
I tried to use polymers and magnesium, but maybe I’m wrong to ask the heights?
Because many tell me to do two steps, one ink and one without?
What the correct process of letterpress printing?
There is a guide that teaches me the letterpress method (windmill)?
Thank you

Hi Remo,

I also looked at your instagram and couldn’t really see a problem.

Like “The Arm” said, you can ink and print with impression all at once. Form roller height is critical for clean inking of the plate and impression. You can use a roller gauge, but I typically adjust by sight. Another thing to consider is your roller height will vary when you are inking large solids vs small type/line art.

As far as manuals go, the Heidelberg manual is here:


And here is another:


Good luck!

Printing requires a balance of a number of parameters, including the correct amount of ink, height of your rollers, impression and makeready. If your letters are not sharp, chances are you are using too much ink and roller height is set too low.

It’s hard to tell from Instagram photos. Maybe you can post photos here showing us specifically what you are having trouble with.