Troubleshooting Guide

Burnishine created this guide to help printers diagnose and solve common press problems

With so many different printing plates, presses, and dampeners out there and even more fountain solutions it can be difficult to know which type of fountain solution works with a specific plate. We thought we would help you and created an easy to use chart to know which of our products works on these different plate types, presses and dampener types.

Dried ink pigment does not properly adhere to the printing surface and ink rubs off easily as a result. Chalking is typically caused by an ink and substrate incompatibility, ink and fountain incompatibility, and ink additives.

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.

Occurs when ink picks up too much water. Ink becomes shorter and won't distribute well on ink rollers. As ink collects more water, you will start to see light, uneven copy, snow flaking (little white flecks appear in solids), scumming, stripping, tinting, toning and picture framing.

Ghosting is when an unwanted faint image appears in a printed solid. It is generally caused by a mechanical problem, but sometimes adjusting the ink will correct the situation.

Better known as chemical, gas or fume ghosting. This is very difficult to overcome because it doesn't appear until after the job is printed and dry.

Specks seen in solids that are typically surrounded by an unprinted ridge or "halo". They appear mainly due to maintenance reasons.

Paper fibers become loose and adhere to ink rollers, plates and blankets causing specks in printed solids. Linting tends to appear like an evenly distributed collection across the entire surface of rollers and blankets. In severe cases, lint can adhere to the plate surface and can attract ink. It can also begin to show in the non-image area like little hair specks. If you had a recent paper jam, this might indicate a sheet of paper is wrapped around one of your rollers.

Appears as a fine speckled coating of ink on your ink tower guards. It usually happens when long ink filaments split between roller nips. When split filaments can't be retrieved by the rotating rollers, the ends break off and become airborne.

Appears as an uneven or blotchy solid on the printed piece.

Occurs when the printed ink from one sheet adheres to, or partially transfers, onto the back side of the next consecutive sheet.

Measures the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. The lower the number, the more acidic it is. Higher numbers are more alkaline. The pH scale ranges from 0 (strong acid) to 14 (highly alkaline). 7 is neutral. It's important to know the scale jumps in multiples of 10. This means that a pH of 4.0 is ten time more acidic than 5.0, and one hundred times more acidic than 6.0.

Picking is when small areas of coating are pulled off the surface of the sheet. A quick test to see if paper is prone to picking is to take a piece of masking tape and lay it on the paper. Don't rub, just let it self adhere. Then rapidly pull the tape off. Examine the tape to see if there are bits of paper coating on the tape. If so, it is prone to picking.

Happens when ink collects on the blanket outside the sheet perimeter. Picture framing is a visible effect caused by the other problems such as ink emulsification, tinting, toning, scumming, misting and piling.

Happens when the ink becomes too short due to emulsification. Ink builds up on the rollers or on the blanket and then it becomes too short to transfer properly. Excess pigment will then build up and start to pile or cake.

Image area can't pick up ink, or image is no longer on plate due to premature image wear.

Halftone areas or reverses begin to enlarge and fill in. Plugging is also referred to as "filling in".

Image area disappears or begins to break apart before expected. If the image is broken up or missing on the plate, it is considered plate wear. If the image is on the plate, but does not accept ink, it is plate blinding. Unfortunately, with premature plate wear, you will have to make a new plate.

Ink rollers can no longer carry ink in certain areas. The glazed surface of the rubber roller is more hydrophilic, or water loving, and ink can no longer stick to those areas.

Ink adheres to non-image area of the plate during the press run and cannot be removed using a damp sponge.

Ink doesn't dry as quickly as expected.

Tinting / Toning is an overall tint of ink in the background of the printed sheet. Ink appears in the non-image area, but does not adhere to the plate. It can be removed easily with a wet sponge.

Density of ink is too light.