Tympan Sources

I’m looking for a source for tympan to use on my Vandercooks. I don’t mind having to cut it down. Are there any suppliers that still stock or produce .006 oiled tympan like the old Cromwell material?

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

15 thoughts on “Tympan Sources

  1. Nanikatsu - June 5, 2013

    Would you tell me your schedule in Tokyo and Minamata?
    So, I will hear my frinds of letterpress printer and type foundry.
    Someday if you visit to Osaka, Please visiting my studio.

  2. Kelly Shields - June 5, 2013

    I am going to be in Tokyo and Minamata in 2 weeks and I would love to visit a Japanese letterpress studio and possibly purchase some supplies. Yuichiro, can you please give me any advice or suggestions? Thank you!
    Kelly Shields

  3. Nanikatsu - May 2, 2013

    Hi Paul,
    Okay, I’ll send you some japanese tympan after holiday.
    This week is Japanese holiday week.
    I hope you like it.


  4. Paul Moxon, Moderator - May 2, 2013

    I would also like to try some Japanese tympan.

  5. Nanikatsu - May 1, 2013


    I’m a letterpress printer in Japan.
    I usually use Japanese tympan for my SP15, and it would be one of you need, I think.
    I will send you a sample, so let me know if you like it.

    Yuichiro Onishi
    Osaka, Japan

  6. Gerald Lange - April 4, 2013

    I’ve purchased from Sunshine so the company doesn’t exclusively sell to distributors. Though they are kind of a pain in the ass about it. There are also a number of distributors who can supply the various materials needed for packing, and are easier to deal with. Drumhead, LithPak, PolyPak, Kimlon, Riegal, etc., are all available. It does take a bit of research and persistence but the stuff is available. I’m stocked for life, so to speak. :—)


  7. Fritz Klinke - April 3, 2013

    As Paul has noted, I am in contact with Sunshine Paper Co. in Denver concerning these questions on tympan. I have yet to hear back from them but the owners have been involved. The die cut tympan is die cut from dies that originated with Vandercook and are now in Denver with Sunshine and are the property of NA Graphics. The .012 Kimlon that we offered is now out of stock and we have on order the former thickness–this material is hand finished and takes 90 days to get from Neenah on a custom order basis. It was formerly made by Kimberly Clark, hence the Kimlon name. Reigel has become part of Georgia-Pacific through a series of paper mill acquisitions. And G-P is now part of the Koch Brothers empire. Another brand of packing paper we sell is Alapak, but I am not sure which paper mill actually makes it.

    Sunshine Paper is the former Cromwell Company from Chicago. They moved to Denver in the 1980s and changed the name. Last year they sold their oil coating machine to an outside vendor and now all the tympan is treated by an outside supplier. I have seen the mill rolls at Sunshine that they will treat, then run through a sheeter or wind into the 700′ long rolls of tympan. They also get press packing paper in mill rolls that are about 5′ in diameter, and come in by rail.

    We are on a thin thread of having tympan of any sort still being made. I know of no other source than Sunshine. And they informed me last year that we are their largest customer for this product. We buy die cut sheets for the Heidelberg platen in lots of 5000 sheets and are on our second order for 2013, so we push a lot of this product as well as the square cut and die cut Vandercook, Miehle and Heidelberg cylinder sheets. I’ll be talking with Paul as I hear back from Sunshine.


  8. Paul Moxon, Moderator - April 2, 2013

    Great comments one and all. I mostly use a combination of .006″ tympan (x 2 or 3 plus thinner) and .016″ SunPak (x 3) as packing with .006″ tympan as a drawsheet on when printing polymer on my .070″ undercut Vandercook 4T. I find that a tympan drawsheet is an advantage with polymer, in which case the only makeready I do is to peel away about .002 to .003″ of the .006″ drawsheet thickness to achieve the right color (weight) of the printed form.

    I use Kimlon mainly for mixed forms, vintage, wood-mounted cuts and worn type. I understand that Kimlon is now only available in .012″. I have written to Neenah, the current manufacturer for clarification, and to induce them to provide swatches for the forthcoming second edition of my book.

    Fritz is well aware of this thread. As he generally does, he’s working on providing a definitive answer before commenting and has discussed our concerns, as well those of his customers with his supplier. Bear In mind, that in many ways it’s a Quixotic endeavor to support letterpress equipment and materials.

  9. Gerald Lange - April 1, 2013

    Press packing that is impregnated should only be used as a bottom sheet, against the cylinder. If on top, yes, the oil or wax will transfer. Against the cylinder though it will help to prevent corrosion. A top sheet of PolyPak or Mylar won’t keep the sheet from burnishing on the reverse, but a non-slip sheet of Riegal tacked to it will. Under the top sheet Kimlon (rubber impregnated) will help even out the cylinder and is recommended for older cylinder presses. These come in various thicknesses. To add plus or minus, Riegal is quite useful as it is available in thin caliper. For a touch of grace, Japanese silk tissue really comes in handy. In the old days, Vandercook used to sell tympan material that was a composite of Mylar and Kimlon. Those were quite nice.

    This works:

    Useful configuration for hard, yet resilient, packing:
    Treated or oiled sheet such as Drum Head/Lithpak II to protect metal cylinder (or similar). Additional Drum Head/Lithpak II (or similar) and Riegal to pack. At least one additional cut-to-form-size Riegal as stretched taped on tympan to prevent burnishing of printed sheet. To prevent matrixing, change out undersheets on a per job basis. Replace PolyPak tympan top sheet if impression marked.
    (Severe marking may also damage Kimlon bottom sheet). Kimlon serves to even out impression on older presses. And is invaluable in that regard (treat it kindly).


  10. Eric Holub - March 31, 2013

    I’ve never seen two tympan materials manufactured exactly the same. Some oilier, some waxier, some just dry. The last time I spoke with Fritz about this, I thought his supplier was using a waxy process, but maybe that is another supplier gone. The fact is, nothing we use can be taken for granted, so buy whatever you need while it is still available if you intend to continue printing.
    Graham Mackintosh worked for a while at Plantin Press. Saul Marks insisted he run 60 waste sheets on impression before using actual stock, to draw off the oil from the topsheet; that was oily tympan. One tympan will wipe clean with typewash, another will not. I have been using a vinyl eraser to clean the topsheet with a specificr run of tympan because it does no respond well to typewash, the ink just smears over everything. Yet is is the same Reigel brand as the typewash-resistant roll I use at other times. Maybe it was intended as underpacking, even though it has a tail.
    For what it is worth, despite the die-cut description, I think Vandercook tympan sheets are cut from templates by hand, not cutting dies. We couldn’t afford them if they were really die-cut.

  11. Gerald Lange - March 31, 2013

    Whatever press packing you buy, best to make sure the grain direction is correct:



  12. The Arm NYC - March 29, 2013

    Hello Lad,
    If you print with softer papers you will likely find that a mylar top sheet burnishes the back of the paper in the area of impression. I find I am much happier with the finished piece when using conventional packing on the press.


  13. Ladboyle - March 29, 2013


    Do you have preference for oiled tympan v. mylar? If you do, can you share why? (I like mylar as it lets me wipe off my mistakes).


  14. The Arm NYC - March 29, 2013

    Hi Eric,
    I’m a huge fan of Fritz and NA Graphics, but the tympan his supplier is sending to him isn’t what it once was. It is more like the Sunpak makeready sheets if you have any of those, it isn’t strong and it doesn’t have the oiled surface of the material I had been buying from NA Graphics over the years.

    I’ve attached a picture, though I’m not sure how helpful it is in demonstrating this. The sheet at left is a piece of original Vandercook tympan, the next is from NA Graphics maybe a year ago (functionally identical to the Vandercook one, and just as good) then the last is the new stuff. It’s basically just manilla paper stock with a smooth surface. I am reluctant to call it tympan.

    If we can find a source for the good stuff I’d love to get my hands on a bunch of it. I’d prefer to get it from Fritz- he’s got the dies and I’d rather send my money in his direction than elsewhere.


  15. Eric Holub - March 28, 2013

    NA Graphics. Fritz has a company that will make it to his specifications.

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