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Printing Press Accessories: Litho Press Tympan Products

Tympan For Hand Lithography


The tympan is a thin durable sheet material that has an even thickness used in hand lithography. The tympan is essentially a wear layer, protecting the printing paper and matrix form the horizontal friction created as the press bed travels through the upper pressure head of the lithography press. Hand held tympan sheets are used on hand operated litho presses, when printing fine art lithography.


Regardless of the material the tympan should be thin, even, smooth, low friction durable material.


Polycarbonate tympans work well with Takach scraper bars as they have a very smooth surface, resulting in less friction. Polycarbonate tympans will possibly scratch and should be handled with care. Larger polycarbonate tympans will become increasingly difficult to handle and stabilize. When raised for inking, large polycarbonate tympans may flex and fall onto the work surface. The flexibility allows the printer to curve the polycarbonate tympan as it is lowered to meet the paper and matrix, reducing the contact surface area. This will create less air pressure between the paper and tympan resulting in less registration shift.

G-10 tympans resist scratching, and are rigid. This makes them easy to stand up against the pressure assembly of the litho press. As G-10 tympans wear the fibrous core is exposed, this greatly increases the friction, and the tympan should be replaced. The cost of shipping G-10 tympans may be prohibitive, as they are extremely rigid and ship in large packages as a result.


Various tympan sizes, are necessary to print a variety of corresponding sized matrices (both plate and stone). To prevent damage to the scraper bar or scraper bar strap the tympan must be wider than the scraper bar. If not the scraper bar will have lines worn into it form the edges of the tympan, these lines will create uneven printing pressure in future use.

.062" Polycarbonate Hand-Held Tympan Sheets

Item # Sheet Name Size
1403648 Full Sheet Polycarbonate Tympan 36" x 48" x .062"
1403248 Three Quarter Polycarbonate Tympan 32" x 48" x .062"
1402436 Half Sheet Polycarbonate Tympan 24" x 36" x .062"
1401824 Quarter Sheet Polycarbonate Tympan 18" x 24" x .062"

.032" G-10 Hand-Held Tympan Sheets

Item # Sheet Name Size
1413648 *Full Sheet G-10 Tympan 36" x 48" x .032"
1413248 *Three Quarter G-10 Tympan 32" x 48" x .032"
1412436 Half Sheet G-10 Tympan 24" x 36" x .032"
1411824 Quarter Sheet G-10 Tympan 18" x 24" x .032"
Custom sizes up to 48" x 96" are also available *Must ship flat, oversize size package applies


The Tympan should be placed gently onto the paper, clean side down. The top side should be lubricated with tympan grease. Tympan grease should be applied with a pallet knife in a bead the same width as the scraper bar. Having a bead of tympan grease between the tympan and the scraper bar will reduce the friction greatly. This bead of tympan grease will be pushed to the far end of the tympan as it is run through the press. The grease bead should be collected with a pallet knife and reapplied to tympan at the starting point of the print.


A high pressure grease should be used, choose a tympan grease that stays thick, as it will be more manageable and less likely to seep onto clean areas in the print shop.

Tympan Grease:

Item #143:
The wide opening of this 1 Lb. container of tympan grease allows for easy dispensing with a ink knife. This eco-friendly LMX Red grease is designed for high pressure applications, and offers excellent wear resistance, with less friction and less heat on your equipment. Use on Litho Presses between the Scraper Bar and Tympan Sheet. This biobased and biodegradable grease is Made In The USA, from renewable US-grown crops, and reduces friction better than petroleum based grease. NET WT. 16 oz (1 LB. 454 GRAMS)


Tympans are prone to building up static, both through the printing friction and during lifting of the tympan from the paper. The severity of the static buildup will vary with many variables. If severe static is generated it can begin to lift the paper from the matrix, causing registration problems. Anti static spray is an option for reducing the generated static. Good lubrication and slowing the speed of lifting of the tympan from the paper will reduce the build up of static.


Tympans should be stored clean and on end, to reduce the accumulation of dust on the surface. A small hole can be drilled into the tympan so that it may be hung from a nail.


Tympans should be cleaned before and after use. Wipe the tympan clean before use, removing any accumulated dust, ensure that one side is extremely clean as it will contact the printing paper. To remove tympan grease after use, scrape the majority of grease off with a pallet knife, use a dry shop towel to remove as much grease as possible. A small amount of solvent such as Soysolv II may be used to break down the grease. A final wipe down with Windex or alcohol will leave the tympan oil free.

Automatic Tympans:

The automatic tympan systems, lays down and lifts the tympan across the matrix and paper as the press bed travels.
The purpose of the automatic tympan is to reduced handling of the tympan during printing. Essentially the tympan is raised and lowered as the press bed moves through the pressure head. The automatic tympan is attached to the press bed on the starting edge, and fed under the scraper bar. It rides on a guide roller as it is lifted towards a ceiling mounted pulley by a counterweight. The automatic tympan system works with 1/32" clear polycarbonate tympans.
Installation: The automatic tympan system requires drilling of holes into the press, and is easily assembled with common hand tools and some mechanical knowledge.
Item # Litho Press Size
1422648 2648
1423460 3460
1424072 4072
1424896 4896
The automatic tympan alignment roller, rides smoothly on ball bearings guiding the automatic tympan effortlessly onto the matrix and paper. The alignment roller has the convenient function of evenly distributing tympan grease over the tympan.

Automatic Tympan Replacement Sheets:

1/32" clear polycarbonate replaces 14 mil. mylar automatic tympan sheets.
Item # Litho Press Size
142264801 2648
142346001 3460
142407201 4072
142489601 4896
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