Another press on Bidspotter.com this month that I’ve been repeatedly asked about is a Vandercook 15-20 Dry Offset press. Dry offset refers to the absence of water in the inking system. The process is used to print plastic containers and lids, cosmetic tubes, aluminum cans, etc. Dry offset ink is cured onto the substrate using ultra-violet light.

“Developed expressly for the production of printed circuits, nameplates and dials by the dry offset process. It will print from positive letterpress plates or forms on metal, glass, plastic cardboard, paper, and practically any other flat material up to 1-inch in thickness.” A production press (not a proof press). Both plate and work beds adjustable from 1.100″ to .600″. Powered cylinder and ink drum. 400 cycles/hour (= 9 secs/cycle). Optional vacuum base and grippers.

The inking system is identical to the 15-21, which has the old style bottom frame form rollers. What I’m not clear about is feeding. If there is no feed board or grippers material was laid directly on the bed? But since grippers were optional, a No. 4 or 15-21 gripper bar could be mounted to the cylinder. A feed board could then be fabricated. Has anyone had experience on such a press?

The 15-20 was in production from 1955 to 1962. The serial number is 50085, which according to the serial numbers table means that it had been rebuilt at the factory in 1965. This is the only know example of this model.

4 thoughts on “15-20 at Auction”

  1. Although this discussion is a bit old, I thought I’d plumb the depths.

    Our company had one of these as the first production press used for printing on Aluminum substrate in the late 1950s. It did have a flat area for the plate and another bed for the substrate. Both had adjustable heights so you could print from a number of different image carriers (plates) and on various thicknesses of substrate.

    In the early 1960s, three Mailander presses were purchased which replaced the Vandercook. A bit heavier-built, the Mailander presses were used until maybe 10 years ago when the production changed to screen process printing for the metal substrates. About 6 years ago, the printing was updated to use UV-cured inks.

    The Mailander presses found homes with people using them for production art printing and someone who will use the press for short-run metal decorating.

    While a student at RIT in the early 70s, I proofed some litho plates on a similar Vandercook (not certain of the model) as we were producing bimetal and trimetal plates in the litho plate lab at the time.

  2. My thought was that perhaps grippers could be mounted on the cylinder to be used as on a 15-21, but it has since occurred to me that a gripper trip lever mechanism would not be present. I would think this would make a 15-20 less appealing to most production minded printers.

  3. If grippers were an option, they would not have been on the cylinder, which is a blanket cylinder. The grippers would have been on the bed, as on a signpress. This was for rigid material such as circuit boards that could not wrap around a cylinder. So the lead part of the bed would hold the form, and the blanket cylinder would take the inked image, then transfer it to the material mounted at the foot of the bed.

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