What is this machine?

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image: IMG_4976.jpg


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It looks like a Fairchild Scan-a-Graver (although I can’t read the nameplate on the left.

Hardcopy photographs could be wrapped around one cylinder and a special flexible plate material could be wrapped around the other and a sensor would read the tones in the original photo and use a stylus to engrave lines in the plate to varying depths to reproduce the artwork on a relief plate. These were used in many newspaper shops for reproduction of photographs.

There were several manufacturers of similar machines.

John Henry


That is awesome. Is there any way to obtain the engravable plastic material these days?

I don’t know. I suppose you could use a variety of materials to test, including photopolymer plates. If you put out feelers on this list and other internet resources, you may come up with some ideas. I had a box of styli at one point (actually, many points) for these machines, but I don’t know if I can put my paws on them anytime soon.

If you can locate a manual, it might give you some information on the thickness of the plate material, etc.
When I taught at Northern Illinois University, we had one of these in the lab, and I fooled around with it a bit. We had material which was used for producing plaques and display items. If I recall correctly the material was around .015-.025” thick.

The electronics and sensors may be your headache in getting it off the ground at this late date, but it would be worth a try.

I’ll check out the logical spots in my shop for the styli, and will post if I find them.

John Henry

My college newspaper (The Harvard Crimson, a daily) had a Fairchild Scan-a-Graver. It produced decent halftones for letterpress printing.

As John Henry says, it is a thin plate. The SF supplier Somerset Metal sold .900” strip material as Fairchild Base.
Would they have been mounted with sticky-back tape?