Hi all,

I own Arab platen press and I have been having some hard time with it. It almost feels like I need to troubleshot each job I do. Roller high, ink amount, packing, different ink, different position etc.. I am getting quiet frustrated as everything I am trying to do takes triple the time. I cant say I can confidently print something without troubleshooting everything.

Last night I was trying to print out my bossiness cards. After few prints I started to realized the ink is going all wonky. I cant figure it out why is this happening. I tried almost everything but nothing seems to work.

I am attaching some photos for you to see.

First one is first run and than it goes all wonky.

I would appreciate any advice you might have.

Thank you so much.


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Log in to reply   8 replies so far

Rhetorical question and answer maybe ?
What variables are involved. Time lag between A + B.
Temperature and humidity change.?
Heat or lack of, difference in the performance of the rollers.
Rollers in the fridge for a few minutes prior, or warmed in the hands or hot towel, etc., prior.
Ink temperature between pass,s.
3rd shot down, no chance of good print with tatty s/h packing with underlay smashed to bits,??
Process of elimination maybe.
Etc., Etc., good luck .

When I see the first print inks well and then the succeeding ones are lighter and lighter I check that the roller is not too high, or the type too low. This would be because when the roller cycles a few times the type gets well inked and the first print looks nice but the next print the roller has only cycled over the type once and the type gets insufficient ink. If the rails have been taped there may be one layer too many or perhaps raising the type up to the rollers a bit by sliding a slip of paper under the plate base would be an easy way to get good contact.
In this shop we print wood mounted polymer plates some of which are very old and many of which were made by different outside vendors so the exact thickness varies. If a cut is not quite .918 it may still ink up if the rollers cycle over it a while but when I start printing sheets they start printing lighter and lighter. One thing I do at setup is when I first put the chase with the clean plate in it into the press I roll the inked up rollers up over the plate by hand and examine the plate to see if is inking up everywhere. Sometimes I see areas on the plate that have no ink and so I know that the roller is not making good contact with the plate and needs a sheet or two of paper behind it to raise it up to the roller height.
I don’t know that this is the issue with your press but it is something you could look at. Other issues to maybe look at are if the bed and the platen are exactly parallel and actually flat. If one of these is an issue then a plate might ink up and print well in one location but not in another. You might try setting up the chase with many small letters of type, like every two inches all over the platen, not just the corners. This will distribute the pressure over the middle and outer edges of the printable area and may show areas of unevenness. Also, if a previous owner had replaced one worn roller truck but not another or for some reason trucks on one side are a different diameter from the other the rollers would ink one side more then the other. You could check that by making a print, changing the trucks from one side with the other and checking your print after without changing anything else on your setup but the trucks.

Firstly: Kristina is not printing from type, but from polymer plates! Secondly: I’m the person who sold the press to her and have been using this press for several years, since 1976 – using metal type – without major problems arising. All trucks were replaced. However, I don’t know exactly how the press is now housed. Humidity can, of course, play a role here. The Arab platen press has got leather straps on which the trucks roll. With changes in humidity the straps might swell or shrink. My advice would be to incorporate two ‘bearers’ on either side of the plate to give more support to the rollers. Especially when I print fine type from polymer plates I incorporate 12 pt strips on either side of the image or text to give extra support. When trimming down, these disappear.

And, to add the the comment I placed earlier, even after having been printing since 1970, I sometimes still encounter problems! It can be the ink, the paper, the temperature in the workshop, the humidity, the tackiness of the ink, all these factors play a role… no two jobs are the same! Instant solutions don’t exist here!

I teach that you must think like the press. Also that you must be a little smarter than the press. Not much, but a little.
What these mean is that you must understand how the press was designed to work and how it was adjusted to work when it was new. The press has been worn and perhaps messed with by someone who turns nuts and bolts without understanding what she or he is doing. Any adjusting or nut and bolt turning is to get the press back to like new. Think like the press and don’t just try anything.
After having a decent design well locked in the chase, you must have good inking before going any further. No amount of arm waving and cursing, nor messing with the packing will do any good without good inking. New printers often use too much ink. You want to get kiss inking in the correct amount that is repeatable for each impression.
I am not familiar with leather straps on the rails, but question whether you can get good even inking and compensate for wear on the leather. I would suggest type high bearers out next to the edges of the chase. They are a remedy for the symptom rather than a cure for the cause but may get you printing well quicker. Help the press do its job.

Dear all,

Thank you very much for your comments. The post was written in desperate state of time as we were trying to print out our business cards on time. Ended up with blindboss :)

The press is in studio with heating on and I would say no much humidity over there. The press is also very well looked after.

I think using bearers its great idea which I dint think of yet. Its worth trying.

Thank you all. I will keep you posted how it went.


Snap shoot form our studio.

You have not posted how your attempted solution(s) went.
We are interested. Close the loop please.