Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

The Imprint
Jackson, F. Ernest Mason, J. H. Johnston, Edward
Persistente ID:
MONG modern methods of printing is that known as " Off- 
set," and very special machinery has been designed by several 
printing-machine manufacturers which produces rather start- 
ling results. The Word offset is merely the reversal of the 
two-syllable word " set-off," a word execrated in every printing 
ofiice by every machine printer. Yet one may, looking back on 
the years of long ago, readily reason out how " set-off " has been turned to 
good account for the printer in " offset." Who being a letterpress printer, 
the origin of the art, has not suffered from " set-off " P From the earliest 
times, a " miss" on the " tympan " at hand-press meant that the one 
wrong deposit of ink from the forme would make itself evident on the 
back of the next dozen or more sheets; and who having had to deal with 
perfecting machines or even single-siders, when the work has to be quickly 
" backed up," does not know what set-off means P Try as hard as one could 
with oiled travelling bands, parailin-waxed rollers or other known contri- 
vances, one never really got rid of the difficulty of set-off. 
Yet it is just this kind of set-off (or offset) which has led up to a new 
system of getting ink on to paper and other materials, and what at one time 
was a curse to the printer, has come to his rescue now. In the old days 
referred to, a miss on the " make-ready " meant putting up a fresh sheet 
on the tympan, cylinder or platen. Powdered French chalk has been 
of great assistance among other contrivances to counteract set-off. 
It is practically established that the beginning of " offset " printing was 
when the trade was asked to print on tin or metal sheets, and this must 
have occurred any time between thirty and forty years ago. It was not 
found possible to pass a sheet of tin between the impression cylinder of a 
machine, and a litho stone, and gain any satisfactory result ; but when an 
intermediary impression cylinder covered with an india-rubber-coated 
blanket was introduced, it was found that the metal plate to be printed upon, 
would readily take up all the work laid down on the stone, after the ink had 
been transferred from the stone to the rubber-blanket, for the yielding 
surface of the rubber blanket allowed every detail to impress the surface 
of the plate presented to it. 
In case the process is not yet made sufficiently clear to all readers, it 
may be as well to present here the first diagram. It is that of a fiat-bed tin- 
plate printing machine, and is practically identical with a flat-bed offset 
machine of the present day. 
It resembles in all particulars an ordinary lithographic machine, with 


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