Printing 3 colors business cards - best way?

Hello dear members,

so far you have helped me a lot with the setup of my press - thank you!

Now, I want to get printing! :)

The first thing I want to print is a business card. The front is 3 colors, the back is one color.

What would be the best way to go ahead with business cards on an 8x12” tabletop press?

Is it the best to cut the paper to size prior to printing, and then print them each by one?

Or is it better to print two or four at the same time and then cut them to size?

As I would like to have a solid colored backside, I guess it’s best to have some overprint area and cut it to size later, no?

I know that letterpress printing isn’t the best technique to use when you want to have solid colored areas, but I think my press can handle it at business card sizes.

What I’m looking for now is some “best practice” hints and leads so I can start right away. I’m not planning to do commercial jobs, but I’m eager to do my own business cards…

Thanks in advance for your help!

Kind regards,

Log in to reply   6 replies so far

Welcome and good luck.
I can’t imagine what press is both 8 X 12 and a table top.

Starting with the size. I suggest a card with two cards up and 1/2” to 3/4” all around to give you room the handle the card without getting your fingers in the ink.

I’d assume you are printing from either a wood mounted cut or polymer. In which case creating two sets of images is easily done on the computer when creating the artwork.
If you are using metal type set it once and as you are printing rotate the card, effectively printing one right side up, then using the other edge of the card upside down.

Put some kind of crop marks on the front.

On the back (solid) side get a cut or block that is larger that the combination of the two on the face. Make sure that is is large enough to bleed past the edges of the final cut size.

Common practice would be to print the solid twice. Often using two plates, one as a screen tint, using the original color, followed by a solid of the original color. Simpler variations of this are double or triple ink the rollers between impressions. Or double hit the impression while it is still wet and in position on the press. My feeling is best results would be a single hit, let it dry and print it again with a second hit.

Another simpler alternative is to choose a duplex paper stock. One with a different color on each side.

Good luck, post some pix,
Steve Varvaro

Hey Steve- Craftsman, in america, and at least several other european manufacturers, produced 8x12 and 9x12 sized tabletop presses. I know of a Craftsman Monarch 9x12 because I used to have one.

Hey Newbie-

Solids on a tabletop press. It is usually asking for trouble, but a small print area like a business card sized solid should be able to easily print on a press that is your size if you reduce the tack of the ink (by adding something like a reducer- setswell, Vanson smoothlith, Gan’s rubber based reducer if you’re using rubber base ink, etc etc.)

This will make the ink a bit ‘wetter’ and easier to transfer, which will make your ink come off onto your paper more easily- and allow the paper to release from the block as well. A 2x3” (or larger to account for bleed!) solid form like that is really going to hang on to the paper, and you need to have quite a bit of extra paper around the print area to keep it on the platen. Additionally, you should be using Drier in your ink to cause it to set quickly. When you pile your cards for drying, you would do well to stagger the sheets on a large flat table or drying rack so that the ink can sit for a while and dry. However, there is ample time to dry between runs if you follow what I am proposing below.

I recommend printing a sheet that can hold 4 cards, but printing them one at a time, one card to a corner. (See diagram attached.) Sheet size could be, say, 7.125x5.5”. This allows for a small handling margin at the edges and for plenty of room for the paper around the cards, and a ‘gutter’ for a rubber band to stretch across to hold the sheet in place on the platen after printing.

I believe the printing terminology for this is ‘work and turn with a tumble or two’ or something like that.

So the idea is this- you print one card’s worth of graphic at a time, but you run your entire stack through the press for ‘run 1’. ROTATE but DO NOT FLIP your paper- 180 degrees. Print ‘run 2’, feeding the opposite corner into the press.

After this, TUMBLE- meaning flip your pile over. Feed the other two corners, the corners which have not received ink, through the press.

Hopefully, if you add a little drier- 3 way, tu way, cobalt, whatever drier you want- to the ink…You’ll end up with ink that is ‘set’ and doesn’t ‘offset’ or mark up the sheets when you pile them again, because that would be a negative aspect.

Best of luck!

image: 2x3 times 4.jpg

2x3 times 4.jpg

how about the Kelsey 9x13, had one as a skinny kid, took two people to jump on the handle to print a large form on that beast..

I think you’ll have much less grief printing the solid if you use a rubber plate. I mount a piece of offset blanket to type high, but you might find a block for eraser carving big enough for the image area.
Don’t try to print anything else along with the solid, as it will just contribute to the problem of ghost image, a hard one to beat on a small platen.

Parallel Imp, that is a fantastic Idea and not one I would have ever thought of myself… Kudos

3 color business card, eh?

That brings back memories. Only once I did a 4 color business card job, 2-UP, no problem squeezing with the Heidi. Could not figured out why cant I line up the fourth color until I realized that with every color I squashed the paper bigger that it’s original size. I could not line up the fourth color because of paper stretch!

Photo-polymer plates intended for rubber stamps are good for solids with no depression on paper. I use them for mock color embossing. First I apply the ink with the rubber stamp without denting the paper, then choke the surroundings with the hard plate and dark ink. The colored reverse details are amazing.