Practical Lithography Part 4

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Another certain result of this condition of things is, that the sharp pressure on the back edge of the stone would almost certainly cause an appreciable indentation in the cylinder covering. This would eventually cut through, or at least interfere with the working of a larger sheet at some future time.

The mechanism for raising or lowering the lithographic stone in the machine for the adjustment of pressure is comparatively simple (Fig.


[Ill.u.s.tration: FIG. 15.]

There are two screws similar to A which pa.s.s right through the feet of the stone carriage B B. A movement of the screws will therefore cause a corresponding movement of the stone carriage on the blocks or inclines C C. The lock-nut D holds the screw securely once the pressure is adjusted.

So few printers really understand the proper adjustment of a cylinder brake that some information concerning it will no doubt prove acceptable. In the first place, a continuous action brake which can be released at certain intervals is most suitable. It holds the cylinders perfectly rigid whilst the machine is running free, and applies a sufficient check at the points required. The intermittent movement referred to is obviated in various ways. Fig. 13 shows an example of one which is both simple and effective. It might be well also to explain the principle and purpose of the cylinder brake. It is almost impossible to cut mechanical gearing which will run easily and yet be entirely free from _slogger_. Consequently the revolution of a printing machine cylinder would be more or less jerky unless steadied in some way. This is especially the case when it reaches the stone, and, owing to the pressure applied, lifts a little in the gearing. A recognition of this simple matter will enable an intelligent workman to arrange the brake action with judgment and effect.

[Ill.u.s.tration: FIG. 16A.]

A comparison of the old arrangement of inking rollers (Fig. 16A) with the new (Fig. 16B) is in itself an object lesson in this question of power and its economical application. It is but reasonable to suppose that the power required to move a set of rollers arranged in the old-fashioned manner (Fig. 16A) will be infinitely greater than that which would be needed for such an arrangement as shown in Fig. 16B.

[Ill.u.s.tration: FIG. 16B.]

Pursuing this matter still further, the question of indiscriminate damping presents itself. Granted that the influence here is an indirect one, yet it is a cause which frequently leads to an undesirable finish.

Every printer knows something of the effect produced by excess of water upon printing inks. It hardens and stiffens them by accelerating oxidisation. In course of time their free working on the rollers is interfered with, and loss of power is by no means the worst result. Weak and impoverished impressions, abnormal wear and tear of the printing forme, and excessive saturation of the paper may follow.

In lithography generally, and in lithographic machine printing particularly, the damping of the stone is a matter which requires constant and careful attention; any arrangements for this purpose should therefore be as effective as possible. The damping rollers should be thoroughly cleaned each day, in order to remove any sc.u.m or grease which may have been collected from the printing forme.

[Ill.u.s.tration: FIG. 17.]

The arrangement of damping rollers shown in Fig. 17 is a decidedly practical one. The upper roller consists of metal, usually bra.s.s or zinc. It collects any acc.u.mulation of ink or sc.u.m from the actual dampers, and can be cleaned at any time without serious interference with the progress of the work. Its adoption, however, has not been very general, although it would be difficult to ascribe any good reasons for such a fact.



Register--Atmospheric Conditions--The Key--The Gripper-- Starting the Machine--Fixing the Stone--Strength of Colour--Grit--Making Ready--Regulation of Speed.

It is almost impossible to overestimate the importance of register in lithographic machine printing, and any suggestions which are likely to be of a.s.sistance to the printer in this matter will no doubt be welcomed.

Variable atmospheric conditions, insufficiently matured paper, or const.i.tutional defects in the machine, are frequent sources of inaccurate register. These may be to some extent unavoidable and therefore beyond the printer's control, but there are numerous other points which have an important bearing upon the accurate fitting of one colour or forme with another, and therefore require care and attention.

The following method of procedure is well worth consideration, as it has decided advantages over many others.

The _key_, or outline forme, to which the colour formes have been set up, is put into the machine at the beginning of the printing operations.

The exact position of the design on the sheet is arranged, and twenty or thirty impressions taken on a reliable paper. With these impressions as a guide it is a comparatively easy matter to register each colour accurately. This effects a saving both in time and material, and rarely fails to produce satisfactory results. During the early stages of the printing, when it is difficult to detect any slight movement of the stone in the machine, a sheet bearing an impression of the key may be printed in the usual way, when any variation in register will be revealed at a glance. The relative positions of the side lay and gripper seldom receive the consideration they ought to have. The gripper and side lay should be exactly at right angles to each other, and any divergence whatever from this rule simply courts disaster. If they form an acute angle there is a danger of the sheet moving _forward_ a little as the gripper closes. If, on the other hand, they are fixed at an obtuse angle, there is a proportionate risk of the sheet falling back as the gripper closes. If any degree of uniformity could be guaranteed in these movements, then all would still be well, but unfortunately no such guarantee can be given, owing to a possible variation in the cutting of different batches of paper.

[Ill.u.s.tration: FIG. 18.]

Another matter of a similar character and quite as important in its issues is more directly connected with the gripper.

The type of gripper shown in Fig. 18 is probably the best for general use. It enables the printer to use two or more pins upon which to rest his sheet, according to the particular requirements of his work. Two pins are usually sufficient and answer best, for the following reasons.

It is by no means unusual to find that the paper, trimmed though it may be, has slightly convex or concave edges, owing either to insufficient damping or an inaccurate setting of the knife in the guillotine cutting machine. This can, of course, be avoided, but the point at present under consideration is one of _possible_ effects. This contingency and its effect are considerably exaggerated in Figs. 19A and 19B, but for purposes of ill.u.s.tration the suggestiveness of the two sketches is not at all too emphatic.

[Ill.u.s.tration: FIG. 19.]

Start the machine with a light pressure, for once the stone is locked up a certain amount of danger will always exist if at any time it is necessary to reduce the pressure. The stone may still be held by the blocks, even after the bed of the machine has been lowered, only to come down with a snap when pressure is applied. Such a danger might, of course, be averted by slackening the screws and blocks; but then the stone would almost certainly move out of position and the registration of the forme be altered.

Narrow slips of paper folded two or three times, and inserted between the block and the stone, will often check any tendency the latter may have to lift when the screws are tightened.

Of the many annoyances a.s.sociated with the lithographic machine printer's work, _grit_ is probably the most troublesome, inasmuch as its presence is almost imperceptible, while its effect is extensive and often disastrous. Its sharp grains become embedded in the inking-roller skins, and plough tiny furrows across the printing forme, doing much damage before the printer realises the presence of any foreign matter on the inking-rollers. Prevention is a simple matter enough, but a cure is rarely, if ever, accomplished. Dust the rollers and examine them carefully before commencing operations, and in this way ensure perfect cleanliness. It may seem a trifle, but it is none the less an important one, and perhaps the reader has already realised that "trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle."

[Ill.u.s.tration: FIG. 20A.--Patent conical counter shafting.]

[Ill.u.s.tration: FIG. 20B.--Patent conical counter shafting.]

[Ill.u.s.tration: FIG. 21.]

In _making ready_ on a lithographic printing machine, as in almost every phase of industrial life, method is the great secret of success. Method conquers the most stubborn difficulties, and, though it is not at all times profoundly interesting in its application, yet it more than repays any monotony it may involve. In the matter of lithographic printing, at any rate, a few methods of an essentially simple character might be cultivated with advantage. This chapter is not intended as a complete record of such methods, but a number of items are discussed herein which, though simple, are intensely practical, and likely to suggest more to the reader than is found described in the text.

The question of speed may sometimes seriously handicap progress. It is a self-evident fact that the solid impression of a heavy poster cannot be made at the same speed as a light tint in chromo work. Speed cones are usually fixed to a counter-shaft to regulate the speed of the machine as required. Figs. 20A and 20B show an improved arrangement of this character, in which tapering drums A A are subst.i.tuted for cones, the belt being moved and held in any position by the screw and forks B and C. D is the driving pulley which transmits the power to the machine.

Electricity as a motive power for printing machinery is quietly yet irresistibly winning its way into general favour, and for very cogent reasons. It is the most convenient form of motive power, and can be transmitted for long distances without any appreciable loss. It takes up little s.p.a.ce, and almost entirely dispenses with belts and shafting. It is also essentially economical, because it can be applied to the smallest press just as easily as to a 60' by 40' poster machine (Fig.




A Commercial Value--Peculiar Features--Colour Sequence-- Controlling Elements--A Question of Register--Suitable Paper.

As a commercial phase of lithographic printing, colour printing offers a vast and ever-widening field of usefulness. Nor is it altogether deficient in these artistic qualities which are pre-eminently suggestive, as well as attractive and artistic. Colour printing, in its application to lithography, is in many respects peculiar. It is not what might be described as a self-contained process; for its successful realisation depends as much upon the harmonious and skilful combination of colours in the design as upon the manipulation of the printing inks, the sequence of the colour formes, and their accurate fit or register during the actual printing. The most excellent printing would produce barely pa.s.sable results unless the design was effectively arranged, and prepared with some consideration for the conditions under which it might be printed. Nor is it at all unlikely that a design, however smart and artistic it might appear in its original form, would be irretrievably spoiled by clumsy handling or careless printing. The subject for immediate consideration is the practical employment of printing inks for the reproduction of coloured designs, their qualities, peculiarities, and relative values, as well as the means employed to make them amenable to commercial conditions. An intelligent appreciation of these points will not only extend the possibilities of printing inks, but will also enable the machineman to accentuate their attractive and suggestive power.

"Colour is to design what salt is to food," and successful colour printing has been very aptly described as the adaptation of printing ink to the ever-varying character of work and conditions of employment. This very practical definition will form the keynote of a chapter which, by the very nature of things, must be to some extent authoritative and comprehensive. The colour sequence, _i.e._ the order in which the colours must be employed to secure the best and most economical results, is of primary importance in colour printing. On broad lines, the principle usually followed is one in which the opaque colours are printed first, and upon these all secondary effects are built up. This building up of colours plays also a most important part. Its relation to colour sequence is a necessary and influential one. For example, it might not be absolutely essential that even a yellow should be printed first, if it did not form the base for the building up of a green by the super-position of blues, of an orange effect in conjunction with red, or as a secondary flesh tone under the buff.

The difference between printing a blue over a red or _vice versa_ is also very striking. One produces a purplish-black brown, and the other a rich chocolate-brown. Other complications of a similar character are common, but these will indicate with sufficient clearness the possible modifications of colour sequence.

Another feature upon which colour sequence in printing largely depends is the point at which the outline forme can be most effectively introduced. It is advisable to print the outline forme at as early a stage as possible for obvious reasons. Perfect registration is far from easy to secure. Red in the lips, blues in the eyes, and isolated touches of colour in various parts of the design must fit the browns, and therefore fit each other, and yet they may have no direct relation to each other in the printing. A remedy has been already suggested, but once an outline forme is printed the cause of bad registration is to some extent removed, and a remedy quite unnecessary. When worked on reasonable lines it is frequently an advantage to make the outline one of the earlier printings, so that any harshness of contour, etc., may be toned down by the succeeding greys. It is often a matter of personal opinion, or perhaps of circ.u.mstance, which decides the final printings.

The pink may be reserved to impart brilliancy and warmth to the prints, or it may be equally suitable to hold back a grey, and, by regulating its tone and strength, soften down any tendency to hardness, pick out the darker prints, and emphasise the shadows. Even these suggestions, although usually regarded as standard ideas, must be subjected to modifications under certain conditions.

Here is a practical instance. Unless paper is unusually well seasoned and of first-rate quality, the temperature of the workroom equable, and the printing machine in good order--a combination of excellences which is unfortunately rarely met with--the colour sequence must be of a fairly elastic nature. To print a gold first is quite usual, because the bronze powder will persistently adhere to any preceding printings. From that standpoint alone such a procedure would be eminently practical and convenient, but suppose for a moment that the gold must fit a later printing with absolute accuracy, _e.g._ an outline forme, or as forming the base for some ornamental scheme, then the difficulties which arise are somewhat trying, and for this reason. The paper being new, the most serious distortion of any kind is likely to occur during the first printings, and so long as yellows, fleshes, or other colours of a similar character are printed first, no serious difficulty is likely to arise; but with the gold printing it may be altogether different. It is quite possible to make both yellow and flesh dry dead, _i.e._ without even sufficient tack to catch the almost impalpable bronze powder. At the same time, care must be exercised that the colouring matter is not left dry on the surface of the paper owing to its separation from the reducing medium. This plan has been adopted under actual commercial conditions and with conspicuous success, and it is therefore offered as a preventive measure which is free from many drawbacks which are the frequent accompaniment of novel ideas and operations. Here then is a simple practical summary of the idea. The yellow and flesh, or equivalent colours, are printed first, so that they will dry free from gloss or _tack_. The fit required between such colours and subsequent printings is generally a matter of minor importance, and at this stage distortion of the paper, whether it be by stretching or contracting, will not seriously depreciate the value of the print when completed.

Register between the gold and an outline is frequently of an entirely different character, and in many cases the slightest variation will be readily discernible, and have a decidedly bad effect on the finished work. Apart from this, the questions which decide or control the colour sequence have been clearly indicated previously.

This matter may be one of convenience also, for unless otherwise predetermined it would be unwise and far from economical to print a blue before a yellow, or a black before a red, etc. The amount of cleaning up thereby involved would become a serious and distinctly disagreeable item, and purity of tone in the lighter colours would be conspicuous by its absence.

The matter of well seasoned printing paper has been already referred to.

For effective colour printing the paper must also possess several other essential qualities. It should be firm in substance, sufficiently absorbent to carry the successive layers of printing ink, as far as possible unstretchable, and should present a smooth surface though not a glazed one. The chalky, dull, enamelled papers offer many recognised features of value to the colour printer. They a.s.sist in the absorption of the ink as well as afford a suitable surface for their impression.

Friction-glazed and other prepared papers are also excellent for colour printing by lithographic methods.

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Practical Lithography Part 4 summary

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