Conductivity - is the ability to conduct an electrical charge. It is determined by measuring dissolved salts, minerals, and other impurities in your solution. There is no "magic" number that will allow your press to run problem free. No two presses run exactly alike. Fountain solutions, water, ink pigments, paper, etc. all affect conductivity. Alcohol and alcohol substitutes will mask conductivity.

Some examples of problems caused by high conductivity:

  • Difficulty controlling density, ink emulsification
  • Premature plate wear
  • Blinding, Mottling, and Slow Ink Drying
  • Picking, Linting, and Ink Roller Stripping

Some examples of problems caused by low conductivity:

  • Plugging, Scumming, Tinting
  • Piling and Picture Framing
  • Plate Wear
  • Non-image area picks up ink

Measuring conductivity is even more important than measuring pH. Most fountain solutions contain excellent buffering agents that maintain pH throughout the press run, but changes in conductivity have a major impact on press conditions. Using a good conductivity meter, take and record measurements of water and fountain solution after mixing. Record that measurement. Take periodic measurements throughout the day making note of any changes on the printed copy. By doing this you will establish optimum conductivity ranges so you can react before problems occur. It is much easier to and less costly to prevent a problem than it is to fix it after it happens.

Burnishine recommends using our fountain solutions to combat this issue: Universal Fountain Solution, Universal Fountain Solution - SM, Universal Fountain Solution - SM Plus, Ultrafount Fountain Solution. Our solutions can help maintain proper pH and conductivity during press runs.