Printmaking Press Instructional and Maintenance Manuals

Conrad E-12 and E-15 Etching Press Maintenance Manual

Conrad E-12/E-15 Etching Press

Congratulations! You are the new owner of a Conrad Machine Co. Tabletop Etching Press. Conrad Machine Co. has been manufacturing professional etching and lithography presses since 1956. We are the oldest printmaking press manufacturer in the United States. The E-12 and E-15 etching presses are considered by many to be the best small, tabletop etching presses in the world. The E-12 and E-15 etching presses are designed to last a lifetime with minimal maintenance requirements. That is why Conrad Machine Co. offers the printmaking industry's leading 25-year warranty on the E-12 and E-15 etching presses. Listed below are instructions for unpacking, setting up, and maintaining your E-12 and E-15 Etching presses.

Unpacking and Setting Up Your Conrad E-12 or E-15 Etching Press

Conrad E-12 Etching Press

Your press is shipped in a two-piece box with a plywood palette base. To open the box, simply cut the steel strapping around the box and slide off the top half of the box.

Remove the metal staples and cut the tape on the lower half of the box. The sides and ends will now fold flat, making it easy to remove the press and palette from the box.

If you have a Conrad Machine Co. Stand/Workbench for your etching press, you will need to assemble your stand before you remove your etching press from the wood palate. Please see the stand assembly instructions below for more information. In order to remove your press from the wood palate, simply remove the screws and washers that are securing your press to the plywood palette.

Once your etching press is removed from the palette, you may move it to your Stand/Workbench and secure it in place. If you do not have a Conrad E-12/E-15 stand/workbench, you may use plywood palette as part of a workbench. Simply, remove the etching press from the plywood and rotate it 180 degrees until the press drive is hanging off the end of the plywood. The hand crank or star wheel will need to be off the edge of the plywood in order to turn. Once the etching press is positioned near the edge of the plywood palette, secure the press to the plywood palette. The 1/2" plywood palette can be clamped to a table or workbench with screws or C-clamps.

The Conrad E-12/E-15 etching press stand is the ideal workbench for your etching press. This stand is custom made to provide an opportune, stable working surface for your printing as well as additional storage for your inks and other equipment. If you are not using a Conrad etching press stand, you must set the etching press on a suitable table, bench, or stand and secure it in place with suitable clamps or screws to prevent movement of the base of the etching press when printing.

Your etching press ships with a protective sheet of Masonite between the upper roller and the bedplate. Simply, loosen the pressure screws to relieve the tension of the upper roll on the bed plate and pull the Masonite out of your press.

You are ready to print!

Conrad E-12 Etching Press Stand

Stand Instructions

If you purchased a Conrad E-12 Stand/Workbench you can visit the Stand/Workbench Manual page for assembly instructions. Use a bubble level to level the stand before bolting your press to it. You may want to think about where you are going to anchor your stand/workbench before you assemble your press stand. The stand can be secured to the floor or a wall to prevent it from moving as you print.

Optional Conrad E-12 and E-15 Models

Conrad E-12 Etching Press

Steel or aluminum bed plates

If you purchased a steel or aluminum bed pate on your Conrad etching press, bedplate bed stops will be preinstalled. You should check your press to make sure the bed stops are installed, tightened, and in proper working order before you print on your Conrad etching press.

IMPORTANT: DO NOT use this etching press unless the bed stops have been properly installed.

Direct Drive Models Star Wheels

If you purchased a Conrad etching press with a direct drive star wheel, you will find a bundle of four spokes next to your press in the press box. Unpack these spokes and screw them into the hub connected to the upper roll until tight.

Gear Drive Star Wheels

Six to one gear reduction drive models with an optional star wheel will have the same setup instructions as the Direct Drive Models above.

Conrad Etching Press Maintenance

Your Conrad Etching press requires minimal care and maintenance in order to maintain optimal performance. The most important area of maintenance is oiling and lubrication.

Lubricating your Etching Press

Conrad Etching Press Gear drive


Your Conrad press rollers turn in oil-impregnated bearings that require very little maintenance. Simply, put one or two drops of light machine oil, 30-weight motor oil, once a month into the small hole located on the top of each of the four bearing blocks.

Geared Drive

On the planetary reduction drive models, the drive is greased before it leaves our factory. Once a year, remove the pinion and crank assembly and inspect the pinion gear to see that it has a film of grease on it. If it appears dry, insert approximately three tablespoons of general-purpose grease in the opening and replace the pinion and crank. The rotation of the internal parts will distribute the grease to the planet and ring gears.

Pressure Screws

The pressure screws and the upright columns should be kept coated with a light grease applied with a small paint brush to prevent corrosion and to assure smooth operation.

Maintaining your Etching Press

Polishing Rollers

Keep your etching press clean and away from water. Try to keep water from coming into contact with the roller. If your Conrad Monotype press does not have chrome rollers, you may want to keep a light coating of oil on the exposed steel surfaces. You can accomplish this by keeping a tacky cloth, lightly oiled rag, handy. At the end of each day, wipe down the exposed steel surfaces including the rollers. Make sure to wipe off any excess oil on the roller before you begin printing, so the oil doesn't interfere with your printing or stain your felts.

As you use your press, the rollers will gradually become dull and stained. Don't worry; light staining or rusting on the surface is fairly common in humid and will not affect the proper operation of your press. You can clean, polish, and remove discoloration on your press rollers with fine steel wool or "scotch brite" pads. If you are going to store your press for any extended period of time, we recommend putting some type of oil-based preservative on the rollers to keep them from corroding and rusting while in storage.

Please call or email us for additional maintenance and repairs issues.

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