grainy ink coverage

hello all … can anyone help me troubleshoot why my ink is printing with a dotty coverage?? i have tried all roller adjustments and mixed two different batches of ink. double cleaned everything. each impression looks as if it has sand in the paper … is it because i am using rubber rollers? should i be using composite?? MANY thanks for any advice or thoughts on why this is happening and how to fix it.

Log in to reply   8 replies so far

It would be helpful if you could post a picture of the printed area in question. Are the rollers contacting the ink disc correctly? What press are you using? Has this happened before? I asume you have enough experience so that you are putting the right amount of ink on the press. What kind of paper are you printing on? If it is rough paper, you may need more impression, especially if you are trying to print a large area, or if you don’t have a big, strong press, to avoid damaging the press, you might try dampening the paper. What type of design are you printing (i.e. how much of the area of the chase does the actual printed area use?). I assume your ink is not really tacky (sticky), so that it is pulling fibers off the paper surface.

Taking bets here that they are using tranny white in the mix.

thanks so much to you both … great questions and i should have been more specific. i am using transparent white, and after some research i am learning that could be the problem.

but to answer questions from geoffrey … it is a pearl no. 11, and i don’t think the issue is ink coverage. i am using cranes lettre 134# (odd weight, but had in stock) … i have just purchased this press and so this was my first go around, but it was concerning that two different ink mixtures caused the issue.

i think i’ll also try dampening the paper.

and design is text based, no big images, just a basic open faced caslon … a bit small, but not too much so … or at least i didn’t think???

again, many thanks for all feedback…

After a good and proper form is locked up, good printing begins with good inking. One can mess with the packing and wave arms and curse, but it will do no good until the inking is right. At the right height and with the proper amount of ink on the press, rubber, composition or gummy bear rollers will print if they are inking the form correctly. Ink up the form and then remove the chase from the press and inspect the form with a magnifying glass to see if the ink is uniformly applied. Go no further until you can get proper inking.
Transparent white in the mix can cause problems. Try some other color, perhaps straight black, with the same form.
In troubleshooting you change one thing at a time and check to see what if anything changes.

I dont believe modern letterpress ink is even identical to the stuff i learned with for a start 75% of the old ingredients are banned and the substitute enviro friendly ingredients bring up problems that stump me .
Not always is it possible but you can often mix a small quantity in ratio to that in your mix but leave the mix white out of the mix altogether, once you have mixed the pigments (your two colours).
Take a sufficient quantity of opaque white and add to it in match head quantities (a tiny amount )of the pre mixed pigments you need , you will learn to do this easily in time ,the secret is a little at a time till you hit your shade .
It takes very little colour to stain through the opaque white so care not to mix too much of the two pigments to start and add tiny amounts always to the white ,you should not add white to the colour or you will end up with dustbins full of the stuff.

Katie….are you using all 3 rollers? I have a Pearl #3 which only has two rollers, and I often have to double roll the form to get what I consider good ink coverage. (However, I do have one roller which has a rough surface in spots, which contributes to my problem).

You might try inking the form, running the 3 rollers up on the ink disc again before taking an impression, and then inking the form again, to see if that helps.

Katie, You didn’t mention whether or not you were using oil or rubber based inks. Or mixing the two. That might also have a bearing on your problem. As suggested, try the same form with another color of ink, UNmixed, and see if inking is Ok like that. Then begin troubleshooting the mix.

I’ve seen problems like that, and 95% of them were caused by too much trans. ink mixed with a color that wasn’t finely ground enough on its own.

i can’t thank each of you enough. i am doing some test work today. to answer all questions … i am using rubber rollers, 3 of them. and i am using rubber inks. i am going to use straight black and see what i can do. marjorie, i think that my issue is transparent white … geoffrey, i will definitely try having the rollers ink twice before printing (thank you! great advice!). peter, thank you for the advice on how not to waste the white!! i have caught on to this quickly :) … inky, i am pulling out my magnifying glass.
tremendous thanks to each of you. hope this finds you well.
my very best,