Is it worth it?

I am thinking about dropping do work with polymer and mag plates and purchasing a AB Dick 8820 Offset Printing Press.

Will the 8820 or AB DIck 360 do 11x17 sheets?

So, would this be a good way to good?

Log in to reply   15 replies so far

Depends what your market will buy. Might be good to invest in a good copier.

I have one that I have been messing with. No washup blade makes cleanup a bit annoying. It would be good for cheap one-color work. Everyone I talk to recommends a Ryobi 3200 with Crestline instead.

I did enjoy the AD Dicks we used them for NCR paper and envelopes never had a envelope feeder. 11x17 max we had wash up sheets. back in the day there was a couple guys pros at fixing them, you will be on your own now. my brother has a copier that prints folds and staples one copy or 1000 hard to compete but your not letterpress any more you will be selling 1000 business cards for 20.00

Not looking to do s lot, but at times I have send the job to wholesale printer. But time frame is poor. Two week period.

So a AB Dick to just do a 8.5x11 or 11x17 might bring the time frame down.

Aaron, what kind of work do you plan to produce, and do you have any experience with offset? If you’re having trouble with letterpress wait until you have to deal with ink and water balance. Do you plan to run heavy solids? AB Dick only has 2 form rollers, so solids are difficult to achieve. Multiple colors? AB Dick has direct feed. Register is hard to maintain. And when printing on thick paper feeding can be a challenge.
Quality work can be achieved by an experienced operator. Expect to spend a lot of time to gain that experience. I’ve been printing with AB Dicks since 1977 and I avoid tight register and solids.
In short, if you want to produce sellable work right away, you might be better off with a good color copier.

Have you looked into getting plates made? That’s another whole ball of wax.

Aaron, the AB Dick has an integrated dampening system,
which means as you run you are emulsifying your ink train.
So colors are difficult to maintain for long runs. If you are only running black ink you will be fine. From reading your posts over time here at BP I think you are opening another can of worms. AB Dicks, Mutiliths, Davidsons,
are not made for longevity, Chiefs and Hamadas are 2nd runners up. They are a whole different set of different kinds of printing problems. So I’d say no they are not worth it for you. best james

One of the big reasons I never got into offset, despite numerous people encouraging me, was that the whole front end (film/platemaking/etc) was a lot of additional resources that took up precious space.

I won’t fault Aaron for thinking out of the box—after all, some jobs folks just want stuff done and, if you can do it, you might get the work you’d like. Envelopes are still lucrative (at least for runs over 1000), but digital is creeping up on that too.

Biggest problem I see is supporting the older offset equipment. An AB Dick with Kompac (non-integrated dampening) and a chain delivery (a must for printing envelopes!) is not a bad pick, though the Ryobi (AB Dick clone) is better supported.

If I were to get into offset, I’d get a direct to plate imager/platemaker and run throwaway polyester plates. Problem is finding the money in the offset trade—it’s there, but finding the right clients is the challenge.

Any offset duplicators need a continual supply of consumable parts to stay running. In general, parts wear out quickly (compared to letterpress machines) and can’t be repaired but instead need to be replaced. You can still get many things from the various Printer’s Parts Stores around the country, and in the case of a Chief 15 or 17, the San Diego place has it all, even repair manuals and rebuilt presses. But it is not a cheap solution to the problem.
It used to be easy to take a night class at community college and get familiar with small offset, but today that is a rarity, and it is probably easier to find a Vandercook workshop.

Aaron David,
Been a small commercial printer for almost 40 years, Intaglio, letterpress printing up to 42 inches, lead, photopolymer, steel rule diecutting , foil stamping, offset printing up to 36 inches, and digital to 27 inches, we run 1250s in our duplicator dept. unless you like a challenge, a good copier will make you more money than any duplicator. Oh yeah, we use a imagesetter for our plate film, photo polymer. and we still have a full darkroom with cameras’ film to 37 inch. Any questions from anybody, will respond when able… Best of luck friend!

Thanks everyone. I guess I should wrote the post, is the AB Dick 8820 better than the AB DIck 360 for just everyday 8.5x11 one color 20 pound or 60 offset work.

Wanted to know if the newer model was worth the extra money to get.

First, I started in printing in 1964, with a 10x15 C&P and a 500 Offset Davidson Press.
I have run for many years, a 360 AB DIck, a Heidelberg KORD. a Multilith 1250 Offset Press.
I worked in the darkroom shooting neg for many years. And, ran Heidelberg Windmill, Heidelberg Cylinder and C&P and Now the V-50.

I just wanted to know if the newer AB Dick a worth the extra $700 I see on ebay.

I personally prefer the older 360 over the newer models. They’re sturdier and have manual controls, not electronic. They’re good for quick and dirty printing. You can get a good plate material that will run on a toner copier or printer.

Thank you that what want know.

Yeah, well, when you ask if an AB Dick 360 will do 11x17, you see why we might think you don’t have any offset experience.

I ran Gestetner 211s, Multilith 1250s, Ryobis, and AB Dick 8810/20s for 20 years. I wouldn’t want to go back to that!

For simple single colour work you can’t beat a digital duplicator. We run a couple of Risographs linked to the computer and can turn out decent quality invoices, flyers, draw tickets etc as well as NCR and envelopes.

It’s so quick and easy to work compared to the old days toiling away making plates and washing the press. It was the only way in those times as there was no alternative but it was hard work.

Some of you lads and lassies dedication to letterpress is admirable to say the least. We just use our heidelberg platen for numbering, perfing and creasing these days. In the north of England nobody is interested in how you produce the print as long as it’s cheap and they get it tomorrow!

A lot of printing businesses in the UK have found it tough recently. It’s hardly surprising when you can go online and get 500 double sided full colour matt laminated business cards for £15 - and that includes delivery to you in 24 hours! It’s very difficult to compete with that.

Keep up the good work.