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Press testing: It’s all good

Jul 1, 2010 12:00 AM

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It is time to look at press testing, again, due to the volume of calls coming in regarding problem pieces of equipment.

For new presses, sheetfed or web offset, the press test on the printer's floor is a way to ensure the press is installed properly and will meet the requirements of the printer. It is always wise to put in writing the print quality requirements of the press and include it in the contract. The time to discuss issues is when writing a contract, not when a large press is on your floor. The press test should consist of six exercises:

  • Breakaway dry solids | This testing will ensure that all pressures are set correctly and roller streaks are not an issue.
  • Wet solids | To see the effect of the dampening system on the lay of ink and to determine if there are any streaks caused by the dampening system.
  • Ghosting | The test will determine the amount of mechanical ghosting that is present in the press.
  • Fit | Can the press fit a job on a standard stock?
  • Streaking | This test will use a dot pattern printed in four colors to determine if there are streaks that would show in a screen tint build.
  • Print Quality | Look at all print quality factors and concentrate on doubling and slurring — and, if necessary, Digital Register Analysis. The Digital Register Analysis test is done when misregister is detected.

Nothing is worse than finding out after the warranty is up that you have a problem that is mechanical or electrical, not a training issue.

For used or rebuilt equipment, the issue is much larger and more complex. For used equipment, I feel the press should be tested on the floor of the printer and then when it is installed on your floor. Several used press dealers strongly challenge that statement. Would you purchase a used car viewed from six feet away with no test drive, no mechanic looking at it and no CarFax? The argument I hear is that there is a warranty. Well, how good is the warranty and how long is it good for? Buying a used press from the original manufacturer and having it reconditioned and warranted by the manufacturer is a good idea.

I would do all six tests on the used press just like I recommended for a new press.

A good contract and a good press test are good insurance that you will get a good press.

Raymond J. Prince, NAPL partner consultant, is a leading expert in pressroom technical and operational issues. Contact him at (605) 941-1492 or