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Can print maker prevent ink discoloration on etching plates?

"Commercial engraving and printing"
by Charles Hackleman
from Abe Books

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Q. I've often heard that color inks can change color when in contact with some etching plates but thought it was an old wives' tale.

If the original poster is reachable, could you tell me more about the phenomena? What inks you used? Or post pictures of your proofs if you still have them? It might become a research project for me.

If others see this, any insight as to why this would happen or has anyone experienced this?
I did some literature research and found a mention of this in a book from the 1920s, Hackleman, Charles W., - Commercial Engraving And Printing, Indianapolis, Ind.: Commercial Engraving Publishing Company, 1921<

"Zinc is the metal most used because it is cheaper than aluminum and for most work answers just as well, although some lithographers prefer aluminum because it is lighter in color than zinc and is thus easier and more satisfactory to use for transferring, and because it has some advantages for printing color work"-- pg 208

The chemicals used in some of the colored inks affect the metal in plates made of zinc and copper, but plates of aluminum and nickel are not affected. For instance, take a light tint that is to be used as a border and endeavor to print it with an electrotype plate, and the tint will be discolored."
--pg 575

F Eng
- Boston, Massachusetts
December 5, 2022

Ed. note: Since 1989 we've strived to build a legacy of aloha & camaraderie incompatible with anonymity; everyone is welcome to read anonymously, but is asked to use their real name & town when posting :-)

↓ Closely related postings, oldest first ↓

Q. I am a print maker and am having trouble with the pigments in my inks changing color or discoloring when using zinc or nickel as my etch plate can you tell me if I can prevent this by wiping fist (before inking up) with sodium hydroxide?
Robert Michael Hedger
student/artist - Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

A. Without knowing exactly what is causing the discoloration (most probable cause are oxides that are reacting with something in your inks), I can tell you not to wipe the zinc plates with Caustic Soda [affil link] . They will be severely attacked. Nickel will not be attacked by this mixture but it may simply not fix the problem.
Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico

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