A group of RIT Mechanical Engineering students spent the 2014-2015 academic year in their senior design class collaborating with the RIT Cary Graphic Arts Collection to design and fabricate a 21st century hand-operated platen press.
The press that was designed during this engineering exercise met several requirements:
- be under 30 lbs
- fit in a 24 inch square table top space
- be manufactured with a majority of components which could be purchased from a standard parts supplier
- be able to print with commonly manufactured ink rollers, ink, letterpress chases, spacing and furniture
- the platen and packing had to be adjustable to accommodate many thicknesses of substrates
- the press had to accommodate vintage metal and wood type, as well as modern relief and polymer plates
- the quailty of the prints had to match excellent printing that could be obtained with vintage platen presses
The Cary Collection offers the the students' parts list, drawings, and assembly instructions under a Creative Commons license. The parts and limited machining time is estimated to be about $600. The Cary Collection assumes no liability in the resulting presses made using these documents; we are merely sharing scholarly work of a student group to the greater printing community.
Mechanical Engineering (BS)
Department, Program, or Center
Mechanical Engineering (KGCOE)
Chiu, George; Domos, Brendan; Herzog, Spencer; Sandidge, Nathan; and Weinstein, Kevin, "Hand Operated Tabletop Letterpress Assembly Instructions 1.0" (2015). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus
2015 Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
Credit: George Chiu, Brendan Domos, Spencer Herzog, Nathan Sandidge, Kevin Weinstein
This work was completed by students at the RIT Kate Gleason College of Engineering. It is intended for educational purposes only and is presented without warranty or any expectation that the work can be assembled as described, that the assembled work will function, or that it will operate error free. Neither the authors nor RIT assume any liability, either expressed or implied, in the resulting presses made using these instructions.