Europeans Have Precision Composing Room Devices

  • Here’s a brief review of some recent developments demonstrated at IPEX
  • Galley-like make-up gauges can be moved from frame to frame with ease
  • Register galley, squaring gauge, type caster among machines demonstrated

Examination of the reviews of last summer’s printing exhibition in London will convince any American printer that much is to be learned from the Europeans. Held at Olympia All from July 5 to 16, the huge Tenth International Printing Machinery and Allied Trades Exhibition, nicknamed IPEX, cover every facet of the graphic arts. I was particularly interested in news of composing room developments which might attract the attention of American printers. We like to think that we have the edge on Europeans when it comes to precision equipment, but we must admit that the reverse is frequently true.

All of us, though, are eager to hear of new methods and procedures in our specialty. Certainly we can appreciate an approach which, even if it is not completely adaptable to our own conditions, opens the way to fresh thinking. Here, then, is a brief review of some recent developments that have taken place in the European printing industry.

Stone-hands have been long-suffering in the matter of poorly made-up pages and badly justified lines. Anything that will increase productivity on the stone will be very welcome indeed. It certainly seems odd that the variables present in ordinary page make-up have not been universally tackled until now.

No Simple Device in This Country

Probably most composting room people have heard of the Vandercook precision make-up gauge, although the two is not yet in general use. Attempts have been made by individual firms to meet problems particular to their own production picture, but other than the long-used brass make-up galley with locking device, no simple device which can be used on a frame or bank has been produced for the American market.

The principal difficulty and make-up, particularly in publication and catalog pages, is the disparity between the hand pressure of the compositor and a lock-up pressure on the stone. A variety of home-made devices have been used to aid the comp, such as locks clamped to the frame and coin pressure applied. However, such method simply do not provide the necessary precision.

Two devices recently shown in Europe appear to have possibilities in this direction. They are both galley-like gauges, easily movable from frame to frame. They are equipped with transparent register sheets to facilitate the make-up of color pages.

The first of these galleys, called the Page Make-Up and Register Gauge, consists of a steel galley with broad, strong steel sides and a removable bar which fits across the open end, forming a chase. The head and one side are plainly scaled in picas for checking width and depth. There is a detachable hinged bar which may be applied either a tough glass sheet ruled in picas, a transparent plastic sheet for checking register, or a semitransparent span sheet for tracing position layouts.

Making up with this gauge, the comp first ladies in a rule at the head and side, upon which to check register against the ruled class. The page is then made up in the ordinary manner, after which the end piece is laid in place, metal furniture built against the sides and end of the page, and quoins inserted to lock up.

In a two- or three-color page, the type may be inked and the plastic sheet dropped over the form. Pressure is then applied either by hand or by a dry brayer. In make-up of the second color this sheet is dropped in position to determine accurate register. A further advantage at this point is that the sheet may be taken by another comp and the second or third color form made up in exact register, thus making it possible for two comps to produce the color breaks simultaneously on the same page.

Register Galley in Two Sizes

The second machine, called the Cornerstone Register Galley, has several features similar to the device already described. It is available in two sizes, 10.4 × 14 inches and 14 × 19 inches, inside dimensions. The pages are locked against a die-square, precision-built corner which is inscribed in picas. Five separate transparent sheets, including one marked in picas, are attached to a hinged carrier and are positioned by register blocks. Make-up is similar to that in the first device. Since the hinged are is above type-high, the galley cannot be used on approved press. After a form is made up and checked for proper dimensions, it is removed proofing.

A less complicated gadget that either of the above is the Cornerstone Squaring Gauge, a simple tool which consists of a checked transparent plastic sheet, marked in picas and stated to a solid end-stop which locks the check-sheet in position, enabling the compositor to obtain quickly an accurate line-up of the material in the page.

A casting machine measuring only 11 × 12 × 10 inches created a great deal of interest at IPEX. Name the the Brimulta Sortscaster, it is a hand-operated caster which is used to duplicate type sorts and sizes from 6-point to 48-point when no matrices are available.

A type-metal matrix is made of the character needed, from which sorts can be cast at the rate of about twelve per minute. The size is easily adjusted by a letter, and the mold opening adjusts automatically to the body and set original type piece which the mat was produced.

The device is primarily used in recasting ornaments, either singly or in combination. It may even be used to make type-metal duplicates of small line cuts or electros. Spaces and quads up to the 48-point em also can be cast.

A planer constructed of heart but resilient rubber should end quickly the long reign of the wooden planer, with its tendency to splinter and nick. In addition, there is less likelihood that the exuberant stone-hand will bang the fine serifs into submission.

A unique set of inking rollers has made an appearance in England. The rollers are designed to aid the printer who has a rush call for proof in color prior to the color break-up, or who may wish to show several possibilities of color to a customer from one color job. The set consists of a handle with four rubber-covered wheels and widths of 6, 18, and 48 points.

A type case with distinctly new capabilities has been introduced in Europe. It consists of a tray contains the standard layout in three separate compartments. These sections are plastic and are easily removable. For example, it is possible to take the cap section to another location to make corrections without carrying the entire case along. The sections are made in various colors, which can be utilized in a color-code scheme if desired.

The shop that has standing Monotype forms frequently has a space problem during the period when corrections are being made. An English device is a bracket which can be attached to the side of the stone, holding a case above the form. When not needed, the case may be swung out of the way. The entire bracket is removable to allow the form to be lowered from the stone.

An excellent arrangement for marking type cases in the frame was recently announced at a British industry meeting. A band of color is painted diagonally across all the cases in one frame, from top to bottom. It is easy to replace missing cases because the band will line up only when each case is in the correct position.

An effective method of storing galleys is described in a British publication. By using space where the ordinary galley cabinet not be fitted, it keeps frames and banks uncluttered and makes the galleys readily available. The method consists of galley shelves, designed for the long slug galleys, which can be affixed to brackets along a blank wall space. The shop mechanic could probably construct angle irons to do a similar job in shops too crowded to supply cabinet space.

A satisfactory European answer also has been given to her recurring problem: the identification, in certain sans serif fonts, of the cap “I” and the lower-case “l”. Since the cap “I” has fewer characters, file the shoulder of each letter the form of bevel. If this is done when the font is laid in the case, it will be easy to keep the two letters separate. Of course, it is not necessary to do this with Futura and those fonts of similar construction, as the cap letters are shorter than the lower-case ascending characters.

This article first appeared in “The Composing Room” column of the January 1956 issue of The Inland Printer.

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