The Heidelberg Hack

Sep.25, 2013
categories: studio

We are shiny, happy people here now that we have foil, beautiful foil! So many possibilities and just in time for making some sparkly custom holiday cards, among other things.

Our lead printer Tom Sprenkle explains how one of our trusty Heidelberg presses was converted...


Soon after moving into the Schoolhouse Electric building we acquired our second Heidelberg windmill press, which happened to come with most of a hot foil stamping attachment. But there were some missing parts and we never got around to using it in that way. We started using the press quite a bit for printing and eventually removed the foil assembly. Then we got another press and, as we had already used up all our existing electrical circuits, had repurpose the outlet we had set up for the heat unit.

A couple of years down the road and another windmill in our shop, it was time to get our foil up and running. Kevin, our electrician, updated our electrical situation by adding a completely new electrical feed and breaker box, and wired a new outlet for the foil heating unit. Meanwhile, we put in a call to Bob Basel (Portland's original letterpresser, and our go-to guy for parts, presses, and all manner of printing advice) who looked into some different options and found the necessary parts to complete the foil feed spool, put them together in his shop and then attached them to the press. We loaded it up with a sample roll of iridescent rainbow foil and tried it out. For the most part it went well but it turned out that the maximum foil pull was about 2.5 inches, which was far to little for the various cards cards we needed to print.

We increased the size of the pulley but it was still not nearly enough, and made us realize that some math might come in handy. With the help of Ben Shultz (printer Katie's husband & local bike builder/espresso machine technician) we figured out the size ratio of the pulleys and also, due to the closeness of the pulleys and angle of the belt, figured that gears might work better. Here we go!

Minor setback as the heated base was too small for the size of our foil dies, but Bob quickly found a new base in an old shop in Dundee (how does he keep track of all this stuff?). We're in business! Just in time for restocking all the Hello!Lucky foil cards as well as our special edition slang fancy cards for Cole Haan!