Ink Agitators - Are They Worth It?

Ink Agitator

Most printing presses do not have them. Yet some see the importance of having ink agitators in every fountain of their press. What reasons necessitate purchasing ink agitators, and are they really beneficial to a pressman.

What is the purpose of an ink agitator?
Quite simply, inks tend to back away from the fountain roller, causing the fountain to run out. This usually happens undetectable to the automatic ink leveler and so the result is that the fountain runs out. This in turns leads to waste. Plain and simple.

An ink agitator usually consists of a cone that continuously revolves, or simple a blade that moves back and forth across the ink fountain.

Why are ink agitators necessary?
Though their application fits into many types of offset printing, ink agitators tend to be used by offset printers. The reason for this is because many offset inks tend to be very thixotropic. In other words, they are viscous. Some will only use them in a certain color, for example yellow, which tends to be more viscuous than others.

What are the benefits?
The benefits are that they save money in paper waste. A fountain that runs out from time to time is going to, over the years, cost much more than the cost of a small investment of an ink agitator. In addition, inks that are not being stirred tend to form a skin on the top layer. When this skin forms, hickies become problematic and once again cause more paper waste and headache for the pressman.

In addition, besides the odd cleaning, ink agitators are virtually maintenance free. Their payback comes quickly.