Overinked…how to fix?

Hi all,

I’m finding that I often start a job with too little ink on my rollers (10x15 windmill press, newish/good condition Syn-tac rollers) after a run up, add some more and often find I have too much. My jobs thus far have been smaller runs (100-200), so I’ve opted not to use the fountain. Is the ‘correct amount of ink’ so delicate?

So, in situations where I’m not using the fountain (nor the rider roller), how do I control proper inking? If they do find themselves in an over inked situation, how do they get rid of ink easily/quickly (so far I’ve just been removing some with a rag from the big metal roller and running it up again)?

I’m learning as I go and I’m finding that I get the (Boxcar base-mounted photopolymer) plate overinked as well (since I’m fumbling through getting a paper fed properly, trying not to print on my tympan, etc. and the rollers are still adding into the plate). Any tips or tricks? It isn’t rare to have to pull the form out, clean it, return to the press, etc.

I realize it is just a matter of learning what works, but thought I’d see if there are any helpful words.


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welcome to my world of agony.

Overinking, underinking, rubbish distribution, wondering when I should try out the fountain, when should I use the rider roller, to skip feed or not to skip feed? So many bloody questions. Roller height, pa.

I don’t know about everyone else but there’s never a rule and when I have a run of a dozen jobs without having to tinker with anything I feel very very lucky.

Roller height is my biggest gripe.



3 times

I find that if I have too much ink on the press I will sometimes stand to the side of the press and SLOWLY!! feed a sheet of heavy cover stock between the very top two rollers (small steel and rubber roller below it) when it comes out it is covered with ink on both sides……sometimes I have to do that a few times. NOT EXACTLY A SAFE THING TO DO IF YOU ARE NOT COMFORTABLE/AND CONFIDENT WITH RUNNING YOUR PRESS…..ALSO IT”S JUST NOT SAFE PERIOD! but I do it. ;)

Other times I just flip the lever for the form rollers up (so I am not removing ink from them) and I will hit the main press rollers with a quick shot of type wash and the press wash up squeegee and then let off and let that work in and let the form rollers back down.

As far as roller height goes it best to have a roller height gauge……..if you don’t have one then just look at the piece your printing……if the sheet has impression on it but light to no ink in one given area I would think you need to set the rollers a little stronger for that area. Also you can look at the engraving/cut in the chase….. see if and or where you are missing ink on it and adjust you rollers accordingly.

You will also want to make sure your rollers are not set so strong that you are getting ink on the engraving base area……you just want to be kissing the top of the type or engraving/cut….which I would guess you already know.

another tip, if you have a spare roller, swap a clean one for the inked distribution (?) roller, quick and effective.

I have found that I have to use the ink fountain to get consistent inking even on the short runs. Invest in a type high gauge, adjust the rollers accordingly, use the ink fountain along with the correct packing and impression and your problems will away.

Using a paper sheet to reduce ink is called sheeting it off. Not the best, on safety grounds, also potential for fluff. The best method is not getting in that situation, just by learning to really, gradually, building up to correct inking. There’s about 5 years in that skill and you will still occasionally get it wrong. So, on a windmill try washing up the forme rollers and maybe the top steel, (because its easy to get at). Makeready is a juggling act and theres a lot of intuition. We used to be allowed 15minutes for a makeready. Whats the correct amount of ink? When you take a fresh off the press proof and when you run your finger across the inked area and the smear is less than an inch. never more, it might be a little less on certain stock, like coated for instance. Of course check the type itself under a glass for filled counters etc.

The first thing I do is set the feeder up. Get it running smooth before doing anything else. One less problem when feeding the first sheets. This way will help with over inking your plate too. Also saving you paper usage.

Thank you all for your input! I’ve learned a few of these techniques already (I have a type high gauge and use it religiously; what a difference!)

I’ll be trying (well, re-trying) a job this evening I hope and will be a bit less aggressive with my addition of ink. But, if I do over-ink, at least I have a few things to try.

Thanks again,

If you hear the ink “sizzle” you have too much on.

i thought if you hear the ink sizzle your hot plate is too hot???

Dick, that’s when you use foil instead of ink.

Again, thanks all.

@girl with a kluge. I’ve heard that before (and I’m certainly guilty of hearing it as a result of putting too much ink on.). In some cases I suspect I’ve put more ink on when in fact the issue was something else altogether (e.g. poor makeready).

I’ve also been paranoid that the temperature in my workspace (for all intents and purposes an unheated, Canadian garage) is affecting the ink consistency and that is causing the tackiness to increase/cause a ‘sizzle’.

I do keep my ink, rollers and paper inside the house (heated :) and aim a radiant infrared heater at the press for a bit before firing it up…but it is still chilly out there.

I’m quickly realizing printing is an exercise in controlling/removing variables.


Printing is an exercise in patience , the principle applied in this problem of over inking is you can easily add to get it right but its grim to have to remove it . everything in small amounts same with adjustments ,little by little works !