Ink Leveller Add-On That Makes it Work Right

I recently discovered a small tip for ink level control.  Please take a look at the ink level bar above.  It controls the level of ink in our yellow ink fountain.  The bar across the fountain supplies the ink, but please notice the the tips just underneath it.  Each tip has a small valve.  We put them on recently for two reasons:
  1. The leveller did not supply ink evenly to the entire fountain.  It's a natural that it loses pressure as it passes each valve on the way to the end of the fountain.  Notice that the tip closest to you in the picture is wide open.  As you go to the other end, the valve is almost closed.  Why?  To account for the drop in pressure.  Now our fountain fills evenly when it turns on.  The result is ink that is fresh all the way across the fountain.
  2. The leveller does not leak when not used.  Sometimes we pull it out to change ink or clean the fountain.  We now simply turn off all the tips and nothing leaks out.  
The valves themselves were not that expensive, but with six tips per leveller it adds up when you outfit the entire press.  It's an upgrade to the leveller that makes it work right.  I'm surprised it didn't come standard with the press, but I highly recommend the upgrade. 

Press Parts - OEM vs Aftermarket

If you have the luxury of working in a printing plant that uses only OEM parts, my hats off to you.  It says a lot about where you work.  For the rest of us that use aftermarket parts, I thought I would list the pros and cons of each since we have seen the pitfalls of both.  Even though you may not be the decision maker, I thought some of you would appreciate some of the pitfalls of each.



Good Quality - Your press manufacturer will provide the exact part you need, designed to do precisely what you need.  Plug and play.
Warranty - If the part doesn't work, a manufacturer will stand behind the product and usually back it up with some sort of warranty.  We have had this happen a couple of times.
Exact Parts - Finding parts is a no brainer.  The press manufacturer will have the exact part and you do not need to choose between different brands or types.


More Expensive - Manufactured in Germany?  Then that's the price you pay for German engineering.  Manufactured in China?  I guess you get what you paid for.
One Source - There is no choice where to buy the part.  You have one choice and you pay the price you are given.  I am certain that press manufacturers abuse this market like any others.  Just like buying the printer for your computer and then finding out the replacement cartridge costs more than the actual printer.
Quality is not always better - Many aftermarket parts produce better replacement parts than the press manufacturer itself.  You could be paying for just the name.

Aftermarket Parts


Cheaper - Hands down, usually the number one reason to buy them.
Availability - Most of our parts come from Germany when we order OEM.  Who has time to wait for that?  If there is a local parts manufacturer, you can wait hours instead of days.  Who has time to wait when the press is down?
Quality can be better - This can sometimes be the case.  Sometimes these aftermarket dealers improve on the part and try to get the edge this way.


Difficult to select the best - The selection can be difficult if there are too many choices.  Quality can vary.
No warranty - You will not always get a parts dealer that will stand behind their part with a warranty.  This helps to keep the price down.
Variations in quality - Aftermarket press parts manufacturers who have reverse engineered their parts will sometimes use inferior materials to keep the price down.  You get what you pay for.  

Which is best?

I worked at a company that was so cheap that they preferred we held everything together with twist ties.  I don't work there anymore, but I am now thankful just to get replacement parts - no matter where they come from.  Having said that, I cast my vote for OEM press parts.  Nothing beats the quality... as long as I don't have to pay for it.

The Newest Tool For Measuring Blanket Thickness

Saw the coolest tool for measuring blanket thickness about 6 months ago.  It was brought in by our local blanket rep who had no intention of selling us one.  He simply used it for his own convenience.  It was called a PosiTector 6000 Since seeing it we have purchased our own and never looked back.  Let me tell you why I am so sold on this device and why I think every printer should have one.  First, let’s talk about how it works.

It’s a simple probe that uses magnetic or eddy current principles.  By putting the probe against a printing blanket, it can tell you packing/blanket thickness within thousands of an inch.  It simply measures the distance to the bare metal.

Oddly enough, it is not manufactured specifically for the printing industry... yet.  It’s main application is for measuring the thickness of paint against metal.   

The device's main purpose is to measure the
thickness of paint on metal surfaces.
However the printing industry is catching on to it for a few reasons:

  1. It doesn’t require a puncture in the blanket as some gauges do such as a pin guage.
  2. It is easy to use.  Simply put the probe against different points on the blanket.
  3. You can measure any part of the blanket unlike a prism gauge which will usually only measure the sides near the bearer.
Press operators can easily measure and even track the life of a blanket with minimal effort. 

But an additional benefit can be found from this tool.  Once you know your blanket height, you can measure piling.  This means that you can experiment with various fountain solutions, papers and inks and determine which product or combination causes less piling - not a bad advantage.  Comparison tests can be made and piling measured with any product.

The device costs in the range of $700 to $1200 depending on the unit you buy.  Better yet, ask your local blanket rep if he has one and get a demonstration from him.  Try it out and you’ll never look back.