Ampersand Coasters, Part 2

With a simple "belly band", loose coasters are bound into a set.

[Three Packs of Coasters]

The second set of coasters gave me another serious problem to overcome. I knew that the day of reckoning was coming for this particular problem, and I’m glad it happened on one of my projects and not one that I was doing for a customer. Here’s the problem… The rollers are not making contact with the bottom of the ink disk when they roll up onto it. The end result is uneven inking, which really shows up on a big, solid background. The edge of the disk stays inked heavier than the center because there’s never a chance for that ink to get picked up. This means that the ink reaching the image plate is uneven, too.

At the bottom of the ink disk, there is a mark where the rollers are lifting from the ink.

[Rollers are Skipping the Bottom of the Ink Disk]

 Here’s the solution recommended by my friend, Sean, who helped me to find and move this press. If there isn’t time to drop everything and drive to a specialty hardware store for special washers, make some out of hard cardboard. It is stiff enough to keep from compressing over time as the heavy disk rotates above it.

I've cut three washers out of heavy cardstock.

[Homemade Cardboard Washers]

Here you can get an idea of how tricky it is to get the disk back into place with the washers on it. It may not look very tricky, but you need to know that the disk weighs about 50 pounds and is covered on one side with ink.

While inserting the ink disk, I need to hold the washers in place.

[Holding the Washers in Place]

 Here, the ink disk is back in place with the washers underneath of it, raising it up just enough to fix the roller contact.

Once the mechanism is assembled, the washers are barely visible.

[Washers in situ]

After inserting these makeshift washers, the disk is raised up just enough for the rollers to make contact almost all of the way to the edge. I don’t want to raise it up any further because the rollers could be damaged if they are repeatedly smashing into the hard edge of the disk.

The marks that we could see before are much smaller. The rollers are contacting the ink disk much better.

[Better Ink Contact]

After solving the problem, I was able to get through printing that second half of the designs for the full 12-coaster set.

The 12 coaster designs are sitting on a shelf waiting for the ink to dry.

[12 Coaster Designs are Drying]

At the end of the second-to-last design, I realized that I could rotate the coasters 180 degrees and print them again, giving beautiful, symmetrical patterns. These will have to be another set of coasters in the future, maybe with more pressure and a thicker layer of thinner ink for more dense transparent coverage.

For the last two coaster designs, I tried rotating them and printing twice.

[Two Late Experiments]

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