Table top press impression speeds?

Hi Guys,

I was just wondering what the general range was for impressions per minute / per hour on tabletop clamshell style presses like C&P Pilots, Kelsey 5x8’s, Adanas etc.

I know they are not rated as high volume presses, but I’m just trying to get an idea of what you guys are achieving and what I could expect.

Also, how many impressions do you get before you need to re-ink the rotating disc.

I’m considering an Adana 85 and looking forward to hearing what you can get out of this style of little press!

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Basically NO general range for I.P.H. too many *X* factors involved, but (1) *Rule of Thumb* (2) learning, (experience may sound pompous) (3) Original publicity/speil from the Mid 50,s implies anything up to 1,000, I.P.H. from the 8 x 5 but the over-riding factors are considerable, i.e. business cards can metaphorically be thrown in (to register) up to 75 per 5 minutes, equates to 900 I.P.H.

Adana,s original Spiel suggests/implies speed(s) of 1,000 copies per hour *can easily be obtained* quoted from Original Flyer issued to the authors, >College of Knowledge< early 50,s, …

Yes, with business cards etc, but with a second pair of hands laying out the copies, to dry,??? as well. Anti set of spray was well into the future, way back then, for table tops.!!

With most anything bordering on photocopier paper, up to reasonable watermarked writing paper etc 600-700 I.P.H. would be more like the obtainable and sustainable, and even that figure based on a second pair of hands *Fanning out* the stock for feeding.!

Inking intervals? again little bit of an *X* factor, the addition of the Duct mechanism, which can be fitted to the 8 x 5 helped, but performance overshadowed (generally) by the Type and Colour of the ink and the absorption into the stock etc.

For hand inking, of the plate, again around every 50, impressions worked, But in the ideal world removing the chase at every new *blob*for >running up< would be desire-able, *we tried* but the novelty soon wore of, may be relevant to Your (quoted) Short Run(s) perhaps. Good Luck.

Ok - that is WAY more than I was even hoping for! I would have been happy with 500 biz card impressions over a 10 hour shift, so anything approaching even half the quantities you mentioned would be a game changer! I’ll be printing mainly for myself, so this would free up my time substantially. Thanks for your input and sharing of knowledge, Mick.

How are the rest of you faring?

I find it hard to believe that anyone could do anything like 1,000 copies per hour on an Adana 8x5. I can get up to around 800 in an hour on my hand fed, treadle operated Arab press. It slows down after the first hour due to fatigue.

I can’t see how hand feeding and pulling the impression by hand on an Adana could come near that. I’d suggest that realistically around 250 in an hour would be good going, particularly if you are not used to the foibles of letterpress printing.

As for how often you will need to ink the disk, I believe there again could be a considerable variable for some. If the surface being inked were large or blocky I would think your frequency of inking would be upped due to needing of a doublepass. (sometimes these areas will need twice the inking.) However, since you said you would be printing business cards, then perhaps your work will be mostly small font text which will not require that. Also your type of ink chosen will yield a level of opacity to consider.

Geoff, My third paragraph! above was just about 100% accurate for Max., number of I.P.H. under the quoted circumstances, including the obtainable and sustainable,.
My stated quote from Adana,s original speil was/is from an original flyer on sight now, (probably mid to late 50,s) the small print at foot specifies. D.A. Adana, 17 Church St Twickenham Etc. but quotes, London Showrooms, .1 Ludgate House Fleet St. E C 4, & Manchester Showrooms, 60 Oldham St. etc.!!!

Presumably D.A. signifies Donald Aspinall, ??

Your scepticsm re the best number of I.P.H. possible is appreciated BUT, is it just possible that the shortfall, under test, is influenced by too frequent breaks, to check on the 4 *XXXX* supplies, *Hoges* has tipped us of enough times.??? Regards, Mick.!!!

Just to chip in, I’ve screen printed over 200 shirts an hour manually, which appears to be a much more involved process than letterpress - that includes manually threading and positioning the shirt over the platen, (you overload it and then pull it back to correct print position…..straight, too), pulling down the screen and then manually flooding and printing with a squeegee, then raising the screen and removing shirt…. So the higher quoted impressions per hour for letterpress would make sense to me, since I just need to locate my card, operate the lever and then remove the card. The flooding and printing automatically happens with lever operation on letterpress, whist I still have to do that manually on a screen press.

What I didn’t know was if there was a mechanical limitation on the machinery - ie, would the inking rollers bounce off the poly / lead if you print above a certain Impressions Per Hour speed, for example. From the literature, it seems not to be a mechanical limitation and that it is more of a human limitation! I plan on buying a brand new press and printing business cards with small font and a small logo, so for inking purposes, the disc should be considered smooth and the design fairly limited on it’s thirst for ink!

1000 iph on a table-top sounds theoretical at best, but not unexpected considering the sometimes silly sales pitches made for the smaller table-tops as being viable business tools. :)

That number comes out to one every 3.6 seconds.

And I’ll believe there is a single printer who can keep that pace up, and maintain consistent inking, for an hour… resulting in 1000 usable cards… when I see it. :p

My tips for speedy tabletop printing is to re-ink the disk often using a brayer, and test to see if you can stack a few prints without transferring ink. In my experience I haven’t had any trouble with ink-transfer when printing on uncoated stocks and keeping stacks relatively short.

Tbh, the impression speeds are well over what I was hoping for, so i don’t think I have anything to worry about!

You did bring up an interesting point though that I have been considering, and that is of ink transfer onto the back of the stock after printing.

How does something like a windmill avoid that, since it’s printing so much faster and automatically stacks the stock, one on top of the other?

20vK, thats an easy one, since a long, long time ago virtually all automatic M/c,s Cylinders & Platens use what is referred to as ANTI Set of Spray, i.e. previously it was a *Wet* spray that gave a quick blast to every sheet as it settled on the pile to act as barrier to prevent the following sheet contacting and *Setting Off* on the underside of the last sheet.
The *Wet* spray was eventually replaced with *Intergram* or similar which is in effect French Chalk, in emergency *El Cheapo* talcum powder does exactly the same job.

Generally, with hand fed Platen on short runs, it is not considered a problem, in that with enough flat space to spare the copies are set out to dry individually, or with a second pair of hands, *Handy*? simple drying racks, are used (perhaps you already have and use such) for your Silk Screen output.??? They certainly do such in our Local Silk Screen unit, & backed up with Adana,s x 2, & Proof-press, Vandercook at last count…..Meaning we have a good *yardstick* for Your inspection.? When/If.!!

One more tiny ploy, still used when needs must,!! i.e. with heavy forme with a lot of ink up, hand fed and with no *set off* means, EVERY sheet/impression is interleaved with *sacrificial* paper, rubbish photocopier, redundant N.C.R. even newsprint at a push, if the interleaves are slightly bigger than the original stock it is comparatively easy to shake out the good stock. OR the more laborious DE-collating.
Frequently seen here U.K. also, with expensive Wedding Stationery and similar, usually with Gold Dust/Silver Dust produced jobs the Copies are interleaved at point of impression and the *Interleaves* are left IN, !! Why is unclear, stop the dusting powder migrating maybe.?

Good Luck. Mick

These days letterpress is often of the deep impression variety and the inked area is below the surface of the paper it becomes difficult to set off.
I used to print information on matboard(180,000 pieces in an order) samples for framing, the client wanted the print pushed in to avoid set off.

Mick and Mike,

Awesome info from both of you - many thanks.

I can’t believe I didn’t take into account the impression depth - makes a lot of sense! Very interesting to hear about the intergram powder though - I was guessing at some sort of air blower on the larger machines. I’ll certainly read up more on the subject - I find it fascinating!

I can’t wait to get stuck in - thanks so much for the detailed posts, very much appreciated

If the heavy impression work pokes out the back of the sheet, set-off can be worse.
As Mick says, interleaving (also known as slip-sheeting) can solve that problem.

Whomever would hit stock so hard as to poke out the back of the sheet probably wouldn’t care about setoff.