Vandercook inking problem

Hello everyone,

I am printing on a Vandercook SP15 and have been having problems printing small text with steel back polymer plates.
The text is often smudged or is darker around the edges of the alphabets. I have adjusted the rollers according to a 3/32” strip on the gauge. The base, bottom of the base and the bed is clean. I am using no packing. I’m using Vanson rubber base ink. I’ve tried cleaning the ink off and using fresh ink to no avail. The paper I am using is a bamboo based paper.

The Vandercook works great with bigger images but I’ve always had problems with small text. I live in Singapore which is extremely hot and humid. I have heard that heat and humidity affect inking. Is the climate the cause of my inking problems? Please help! Thank you all in advance!


image: zhien.jpeg


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You might mention what kind of base you are using and who is making your plates (plus manufacturer and brand of plate) for you. Also, what is the condition of your press (including cylinder bearing adjustments) and rollers (age and condition). That would help in diagnosing the problem.


Add into mr polymers comment . (bielerpr)
Does your adhesive cover the whole of the rear of the polymer ?

You might also check the cylinder packing for indentations or other uneven surface defects.

Sometimes impressions of previous jobs can leave a dent, if the impression were too heavy.

I am assuming that when you say that you are using “no packing” you actually mean that you are using the standard packing but none additional. Is the paper free of inclusions, or does it have some strands of the original bamboo fiber in it?

Hello jhenry,

Yes I am using standard packing with no additions! The paper is free of inclusions. I have tried printing standard cartridge paper and got the same effect.

Thank you!!


I am using a standard boxcar base. As for the plates, we order it from a friend in China so we’ll have to get back to you on that. We bought the press last year off the internet and is in fairly good condition. The rollers aren’t new (they came with the press off ebay) but seem to work fine on other jobs.

Thank you!!


The adhesive only covers the edges of the plate, away from the actual design!

Thank you!!

Pending how thick your adhesive is, it acts like a trampolin for the rest of the plate. To print small type perfectly, you want hard packing, the rollers adjusted to the type (Plate) not some measurement. If you have other plates with small type, fill your bed so the width is covered, pull the form rollers back (the rollers who ink your plate) until they don;t ink anythink, than adjust until you have ink on the raised surface of the plate left and right on your bed.
Make sure the plate is solid adhered to the base.

Also ink, you want an even thin layer of ink on your rollers, if the rollers are worn or uneven 9Take them off the press, place the roller on 2 pieces of wood so you can turn it freely, place a ruler lenghtwise on the roller, the ruler needs to be longer than the roller length, If you can see any gab, time to replace the roller.

Hello typenut,

I will follow your instructions and get back to you on the result!
Thank you so much!