PO Box 542707, Lake Worth, FL 33454
Phone: 206.849.7770

About Us/Our History


1981. A time when modern designs for web offset printing presses were just in their teens… Microcomputers were just invented, and companies like IBM and Apple were yet to make personal computers. This is when ink pre-setting for web offset presses was first pioneered. One group, us (the pre-incorporators of QuickSet), and the other group, Frank Drazan with RR Donnelly, had different approaches. Frank Drazan trained pressmen to make better guesses at ink settings. Our approach was to use this new tool, the microcomputer (we used the very first commercially available personal computer), to predict where to set the ink. At this time, there were no computer monitors. You had to use a TV set as the computer monitor. This was 14 years before the CIP3 consortium was even formed. [In 2006, before Frank Drazan died, he conceded to me that I had made his ink pre-set training obsolete, and with a fatherly pride (he was my senior by over 40 years) handed me his life memoirs, his pressman training manuals, his library of materials, and told me he felt I was a worthy successor to carry on his work. – Steve Surbrook, President and Founder, QuickSet]

From the beginning, our target for ink pre-sets was web offset newspapers, and we wanted something most printers, regardless of size, could afford.


Plate Scanning:

We looked for a way to get digital representation of the plates with low-cost devices. Expensive drum plate scanners appeared, but our target was to have something affordable by most printers. To scan plates, we tried photo-diode light detectors on vacuum tables, and then cabinets with CCD arrays (our first cabinet used the very first commercially available CCD array). Reliable plate scanning for input eluded us for many years. We succeeded finally by adapting blueprint scanners to accept printing plates and films. Shortly thereafter, Raster Image Processors became prevalent throughout the industry, making scanners unnecessary. We could just get the plate data from the RIP.

Ink Adjustment Mechanisms:

At first, we dealt with ink-key screws. We used retrofit “clickers” on the ink-keys to adjust ink, with each successive plate scan indicating how many +/- clicks to make from the last plate setting. Printers always wanted a half-click. When we gave them a half-click, they wanted another half-click. We soon realized we needed digital-value numbering but infinite adjustment capability. We then invented, and patented, the QuickSet Ink-Key Lever retrofit: a self-install lever that fits into the hole vacated by an ink-key screw. QuickSet’s patented lever has become the #1 best-selling lever retrofit for web offset presses in the world. While also having the #1 satisfaction rating of all lever retrofits, QuickSet’s lever prices are STILL, (to this very day) 1/3rd or less compared to any other lever retrofit.

Perfect Accuracy:

When we started addressing the accuracy issue, we quickly realized that just knowing the ink coverage percentage along the plate was not enough to provide accuracy within the +/- 0.05D tolerance needed to meet the SNAP standard for ink density. Without factoring in the mechanical variables of the press, ink pre-sets based on raw coverage data were quite poor. We thought it was obvious that ink pre-sets must take into account mechanical variables of the target printing units, so this is where we concentrated our efforts.

For over 20 years, with ink coverage percentages merely as our STARTING POINT, we spent our time discovering how to exactly correlate ink pre-sets to the actual printing press hardware being used. What we did not know is that QuickSet would end up being the only company to attempt this. Knowing the exact variables to account for, and measure, to achieve perfect ink densities for any particular target press unit was the goal we pursued in the ensuing years.

We succeeded. In the end, this required being able to map every single ink-key throughout each ink-key’s range of motion to know exactly what ink key setting would provide desired density at ANY ink coverage level needed. With a complete mapping of behavior at every single ink key position on a press unit, and with a complete mapping of a press unit’s variations (including roller variations, and even how the ink blades flex), we could provide near-perfect ink densities.

During the time we were developing our techniques for greater accuracy, 20 companies came together (in 1995) to form the CIP3 consortium to make a standard for data transfer of plate data. Bandwidth for data transfer was very low in those days due to technology limitations. Unfortunately for the industry, the industry actually thought of CIP3 as the ink pre-set itself, not realizing CIP3’s actual definition was just a method to limit data transfers to a “thumbnail” size image of the plate. To this day, all newspaper CIP3 ink pre-sets are just the transfer of very small-sized plate images, and nothing more. The actuality is that one can barely call CIP3 an ink pre-set. In fact, current CIP3 accuracy levels provide no better densities than what they provided in the early 1980’s, and so-called “learning algorithms” for CIP3 never delivered on their promise of improved accuracy. [We have even had customers (after we have replaced their CIP3 with QuickSet) call their CIP3 vendor and say: “QuickSet sorted out our press line in under two weeks. How come, with over 10 years and learning algorithms, you couldn’t sort it out?” With all due respect for other companies’ efforts, CIP3 cannot, and does not, provide the accuracy of a QuickSet system. CIP3 was a lot of promise, but did not deliver for newspapers on accuracy.]

Our efforts required an expenditure of time and effort that other companies cannot follow (the cost in time and effort is just too great). This makes our efforts unique. We spent countless man-hours over two decades to discover: 1) the relevant variables for ink pre-sets for web offset newspaper printing, 2) what tolerances for these variables are acceptable and functional, and 3) how to reliably measure these variables and make adjustments for them. We developed the mathematical models to describe the physical behaviors. We built, and refined, various tools to make the press-mapping process easier. We learned all the ways a press does not repeat its behavior, how to measure the variations, and how to adjust the presses to eliminate or suppress the variations. We also built software tools that would automatically adjust for some of the measured variations. In the end, we were able to achieve ink density levels equivalent to closed-loop systems directly from our ink pre-sets. In other words, we delivered on ink-density accuracy (directly from ink pre-sets) for newspaper printing, a feat no other company has achieved.


After almost two decades of development and after applying for patents, we founded QuickSet as a business entity in 1999. Our proprietary technology and innovations are 100% home-grown (self-developed) entirely in the USA, and by a team of prolific innovators (over 30 patents, ranging across press parts, halftones, proofing, and even press designs) focused on the newspaper printing industry. QuickSet initially survived off of lever retrofit sales, and then started installing its ink pre-setting systems in 2002, a full 21 years after the start of our initial research and development. Since then, QuickSet has had over 250,000+ levers retrofitted onto presses worldwide, and hundreds of press lines are regularly using QuickSet Ink Pre-Sets.

At an ever increasing pace, more and more newspaper printers are realizing they either overlooked us or missed us, in what can only be described as the "million dollar" blind spot. In a typical 10 year span, the typical QuickSet user has saved close to a million dollars more than an equivalent CIP3 installation. QuickSet really does offer a better ink pre-set. We like to say the dust has finally settled.