Stop Curl and Ink Issues Before They Happen

Follow 4 steps for a trouble-free print run

Paper curl and ink absorption issues are common sources of headaches for operators of offset press and digital equipment.

With paper curl, “moisture content, or lack of it, is usually the culprit,” says Shawn Mohac, a production manager at the Bay City, Michigan-based F.P. Horak Company. Too much moisture causes paper curl, paper stretch, feeding problems, and print quality problems. Conversely, too little moisture causes static, paper shrinkage, stacking issues, and other handling headaches.

Ink absorption issues are also two-fold: Lack of absorption can lead to smearing and transference of ink to paper stacked above the sheet, whereas too much ink absorption results in poor print resolution and lack of detail.

Paul Gerber, director of technology for Glatfelter’s Specialty Papers Business Unit, offers advice to head off trouble before it begins:

Maintain your press.

“Basic care and maintenance goes a long way to making paper run [effectively],” says Gerber. With each job, verify that you’re running in accordance with the recommendations of the press manufacturer.

Understand the job and your customer’s expectations.

Know up front what quality expectations your customer has in mind. These will guide subsequent decisions relating to paper choice and total print cost.

Pay attention to your press chemistry.

“Chemistry in a printing press is a delicate balance,” says Mark Mead, a production manager for the F.P. Horak Company. “Maintain and monitor your fountain solution, keeping it within the recommended range to ensure that it isn’t affecting the way the paper is running. It all has to blend well for it to function properly.”

Match your paper to your ink.

Once you know your ink chemistry, find the paper to match that will meet your customer’s expectations. “Printers should understand how their press chemistry performs with the sheet they’re using,” says Gerber.