Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Etching Press Modifications

A few years ago, after a small windfall, I bought myself this little intaglio press. It's sold by an Italian company called RGM, and it's fundamentally identical to the Fome portable press available from Jackson's. So similar in fact that I strongly suspect that they're all just pumped out of a factory somewhere in China and re-badged by the end sellers. It's a decent, fairly well-engineered, entry-level press that doesn't take up a lot of room, but it's not without its issues.

The hand-crank supplied with the press is just stamped from a sheet of mild steel, and it's not nearly strong enough. Mine started to bend when the press was under even moderate pressure. I replaced that with a cast iron pulley wheel taken from an old pump, and that works much better, although its spokes can interfere a bit with the pressure adjustment screw on that side.

The other major issue is the bed, which was just a piece of 270mm wide 3mm stainless steel. It was adequate, but the felts and paper and everything tended to slide on its surface when they came up against the roller. I replaced that with a piece of 12mm plywood, a bit longer than the original bed. The knurled lower roller grips the wood very positively, and the felts stay in place on top. There's a possibility that it may end up being warped by the pressure of the rollers, but if that happens it's a very cheap and easy thing to replace.

The third issue, and it's one that I don't think I can do anything about, is the diameter of the rollers. They're only 34mm in diameter, and ideally I'd prefer them to be at least double that. The small diameter means that there's quite a steep angle of attack when the roller meets the plate, which is not ideal. However, they do work, and the press will produce pretty good prints, up to about A4 in size.

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