Ghosts in the Machine

By Pat McGrew / Published:

This is the first in a series by Pat McGrew on “Living with Your Inkjet Press”

You bought the new digital inkjet press with a plan in mind to monetize it. You waited anxiously for the installation, paid close attention to the training, built the maintenance routines into your daily routines, and started sending work to the press. But, after the first month, something seems off. It’s hard to put your finger on. You are experiencing The Second Month. This is where the ink hits the paper, and the reality of living with the new press settles in.

After the trainers leave and before you develop buyer’s remorse, there are tricks to living with your press that will allow you to maintain your inkjet excitement. That is the purpose of this series, starting with this first episode on dealing with ghosts.

Ghost Hunting

On an inkjet web press, one of the most common complaints of the new buyer is that ink is transferring as it comes through the press, leaving ghost images. Ink transfer happens when the ink isn’t fully dry before it gets to the rollers. The rollers pick up the still tacky ink and transfer it, on the next rotation, to another part of the paper. It might be hardly perceptible, or it might be extremely obvious, but no transference is acceptable in a final product.

When ghosts are spotted, the common first reaction is to dial back the ink levels, turn up the dryers and/or or change profiles. For many installations, the profiles and settings used are the ones recommended by the installers and trainers. They may have the best intentions, but unless they have been standing in your shop with your jobs for an extended period, those recommendations may be costing you money and negatively impacting print quality.

The solution to is not “one size fits all” in most print shops. You will often notice differences between two identical presses sitting side by side. To exorcise the ghosts, start with one file, work the process, and then come back to the rest of the files showing transference issues. As you bring new work to the press, you should learn how to select the best profiles based on what you learn from dealing with transference.

With some diligent investigation, you can banish the ghosts. The Living with Your Inkjet Press continues with more on Ghostbusting!

Editor’s Note: for more helpful guidelines on profiling see:

Understanding Linearization
Pigment Ink and Creme Brûlée
Undertanding Press Settings and Profiles


About the Author

Pat McGrew


Pat is a well-known evangelist for inkjet productivity. At McGrew Group, she uses her decades technical and marketing experience to lead the industry toward optimized business processes and production workflows. She has helped companies to define their five-year plans, audited workflow processes, and developed sales team interventions and education programs. Pat is the Co-Author of 8 industry books, editor of A Guide to the Electronic Document Body of Knowledge, and a regular contributor to Inkjet Insight and

Leave a Comment