Ink fountain on a Windmill

At what point do you Windmill users use the fountain? I typ use the whole train except the fountain. Our main thing is wedding invites and are between 100-175 sets normally. At what point is the hassle of setting up the fountain worth it?

Log in to reply   14 replies so far

good quality business cards 1,000
4 head numbering 5,000

Like Mike said Quality, if your really concerned about eveness during the run, any quantity. The same goes on a floor model type handfed or Kluge auto. I know it’s a hassle, but it takes two to three rags maybe 2-4 oz. solvent and 10-15 minutes time, thats without the wash-up blade. Thats a good wash-up black to red, red to black, metallics more of each, dark to light colors the same.

I used my fountain all the time. I do not put ink in it unless it a 300 copies or more or a lot of coverage.

I put a little ink on the inking plate and let the fountain roller pick up the ink and as press runs for a few minutes. The ink evens out and I then I put my form into the press. I think by using the fountain it gives the ink a better flow.

Like Mike and b.blroscak it only a few minutes to clean the fountain.

I run my fountain pretty much all the time for runs over 100 or those that take a lot of ink. I figure it takes just as much time to clean as it does to add dabs of ink and mix-in.

I have similar questions - I’m wondering time wise when it makes sense to use the windmill versus C&P.

Do small invitation runs with a unique color make sense on the windmill or do you make sure there are other projects using the same color.


Sounds like the set up isn’t too bad. Where we run into trouble is pretty much our designs take differ ink amounts in different areas, and each card is different.

Hmm, then you might have to fiddle around with the keys which will take more time. My keys are set pretty much evenly across (what amounts to) the printable area with a set screw locking the fountain blade into place. I’ll adjust the keys a little sometimes, but not all that much.

Generally, I use the fountain for runs over 500 and anything that needs heavier coverage.

I personally find the whole Windmill cleanup to far more of a pain than anyone else. I don’t know why I have so much trouble with it, but it takes at least 30 minutes and sometimes more.

I have two extra rollers at the back. one acrilic ( heavy metal - coming soon ) 4” oscillating from my AB Dick duplicator T-head and one 2” Heidelberg form roller. I stop occasionally to add few dabs of ink. cleaning up is a breeze. a stinky breeze … lol.
notice the 2” oscillating rider roller.
I mix 0.7 ounce of ink. 100 carats on my digital jewellery scale - that is the 100% of the mixing formula. most of it goes to coat the rollers, not for printing. never needed to mix more ink. on very few occasions the cappuccino paper cup was scraped clean of ink.

image: rollers.JPG


Thats an interesting setup.

Alternatively, I use the fountain for every job. Even very short run & small coverage jobs. If you want perfectly consistent inking it’s the best way to go. Plus cleaning the fountain doesn’t take more than 2-3 minutes? The metal rollers clean up so much faster than the rubber ones.

You can decide based off how critical your ink density is.

Louie Dudas:

From what machine were you able to source the oscillating rider? That would be a handy item in the bag of tricks. Guessing it’s from some small offset press or other, but curious which one.

Thanks in advance.

Mike from Montana:

that oscillating rider was custom made by me from AB Dick T-head oscillating roller parts and a 2” ABS pipe. the 3” dia. short roller was reworked to become a 2” dia. and longer oscillating roller.
my little 9x18 metal lathe paid for itself over and over again !

We sell quite a few windmills and some customer complain about the ink coverage.

I would like details and some sketches, and I know that no one rides for free…..

Norman of Hicks Brothers Printing Equipment, LCC

hello Norman,
Those of your customers who do not complain are the very polite ones. It is well known that the Heidelberg 10x15 platen is just not good in printing solids. I don’t care how good are you at rocking the boat, size does matter. Four form rollers are MUCH better than two!

This rider roller is not going to increase the quality of the solids by much. It is intended to eliminate ghosting and in my case as an ink accumulator, since I don’t like to use the inkwell. Also it works real good in redistributing the ink on the rollers. It works quite well on printed borders.

Thank you for the no free ride offer. But fist of all, this is not my idea. It was patented a very long time ago and was manufactured as an option to one of the US platen presses. I do have the copy of the patent somewhere, but I could not find it to reference it here. Second, I don’t have drawings of it. I usually do the “design on the fly”, change things as I go and the outcome of the design highly depends on what I have laying around the shop to use and adapt for the project.

A picture is worth thousand words. In this one you can see the AB Dick roller in the front and my roller in the back. The clear acrylic tube was removed and the parts were machined to fit the ABS drain pipe. The shaft was cut and extended in the middle with a 1/4” threaded rod and two lock nuts, the connecting bolts were replaced to fit the new width which is 15” for the roller and 17 1/4” for the shaft. After assembly the whole unit was machined concentric and polished between live centres.
And I still spend a heck of a long time setting it up properly just like with the original rider roller.


The only way to get better solids on the Heidy is to skip-feed. I did few jobs like that. After 30 or so impressions and warm thoughts, I usually skip a beat … LOL. It is really the switch off your brain and follow the beat affair!!! Next project, if I get around it, is automating the skip-feed on the Heidy.


image: the original AB Dick T-head roller and my new rider roller in the back

the original AB Dick T-head roller and my new rider roller in the back