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

About Us/Our History

QuickSet’s ink pre-setting project for web offset printing was initiated in 1981, over 14 years before the CIP3 Consortium was even formed, dating at approximately the same time as Frank Drazan first looked into ink pre-setting with RR Donnelley, although the QuickSet effort was completely independent and took a different direction from the Donnelley approach. QuickSet’s roots are in web offset printing, particularly newspaper web offset printing, and 100% of its development efforts were performed on newspaper presses. The techniques and methods QuickSet developed have been proven to work on newspaper, commercial, web-offset, and sheet-fed presses – with essentially no restrictions for implementation on target presses.

During the early years, we built and tested many designs for low cost plate scanning devices, including moving bars with embedded photo diodes that glided over vacuum tables. We even used the very first CCD camera ever built inside a plate scanning cabinet, and went on to try many other concepts. While we could get results that worked for testing and proving out the technology, the speed and reliability combination was lacking. In 1998, we adapted large format blueprint scanners to accept plates, finally producing a time-efficient and reliable process using a relatively low-cost scanner (in the range of around $20,000 instead of the customary $100,000 - $250,000).

Also during the early years, many designs for low cost interfaces to the target presses were attempted, including dials with “clickers” (as opposed to high cost servo motors), but everyone wanted “half-a-click”, and even when making finer adjustments available, a finer adjustment was always needed, leading to the necessity for an infinitely adjustable numbered ink adjustment. In 1999, we invented the QuickSet Ink-Key Lever, which allowed retrofitting existing units to numbered levers (without the need of installation personnel, and without the need of modifying or performing machining on the target printing press). The QuickSet Ink-Key Lever simply replaced the existing ink-key screws, and since has been adapted to the most popular press units and has become the world’s number one selling lever retrofit for web offset presses.

Steve Surbrook and Louis Surbrook took their 18 years of research and development on the ink pre-setting project and founded QuickSet in 1999 – and shortly thereafter, the patent application for the QuickSet Ink-Key Lever was filed. With a reasonable low-cost scanner now implemented, and a stand-alone lever product available to generate significant revenues, the efforts on the development of the QuickSet Ink Pre-Setting product accelerated.

Building upon the years of previous experience, countless man-hours of additional testing ensued, until the ink pre-setting product was eventually perfected in 2003, and shortly thereafter first sold to Snohomish Publishing Company, which still uses the product today. Shortly after that first sale, Raster Image Processors (RIPs) started to become prevalent in the industry for direct-to-film (and eventually direct-to-plate) applications. QuickSet already used the .TIF file format due to its use of adapted blueprint scanners, so we were quickly able to interface directly with the RIPs to get plate image information, eliminating yet another costly item. Since then, QuickSet has sold dozens of systems, and over 100 press lines are currently being run using QuickSet ink pre-sets.

The key to QuickSet’s much higher accuracy compared to CIP3 is the difference in the QuickSet architecture compared to all other efforts. In 1995, the CIP3 Consortium was formed, and the industry as a whole adopted the CIP3 model for ink pre-sets. CIP3 takes strips of the plate image and converts them to a percentage of ink coverage. This is all CIP3 does, and it is an approximation for an ink setting. QuickSet uses a very different process from CIP3. QuickSet’s approach was based on realizing the target press’s actual characteristics are very different from an approximation, and that any target press’s actual characteristics could be measured and used to provide near-perfect ink pre-sets. Instead of using an approximate number for ink pre-sets (which is the CIP3 model), QuickSet decided to measure, with accurate devices, the exact characteristics of the target presses, and produce a comprehensive “map” of the exact values needed on the target ink-keys to hit density at every single ink coverage percentage. In other words, each individual ink-key position is completely mapped out, so that the system knows the exact value needed to reach the desired density for any percentage of ink coverage at any ink-key position (we call this the “QuickSet Fingerprint”). What is significant is that every single ink-key position is wildly different than any other ink-key position, something most vendors and printers still have yet to figure out. The name “QuickSet Fingerprint” signifies that we know the unique individual characteristics of any particular ink-key position throughout its range of motion. Since the exact values needed to print at the desired densities are almost never near the CIP3 approximation, the QuickSet Fingerprint delivers a much more accurate ink pre-set. In most installations, the QuickSet accuracy is so high that over 96% of all ink-key positions do not need adjustment beyond the initial ink pre-set. This is also why QuickSet has the only ink pre-set that can be said to produce True Color.

If there was any doubt after dozens of successful installs and over 100 press-lines using QuickSet Ink Pre-Sets, in 2011, QuickSet posted a video on YouTube showing a QuickSet user who routinely gets to True Color with QuickSet ink pre-sets in 1/10th the number of impressions compared to this same customer’s Closed-Loop system starting with a CIP3 ink pre-set. QuickSet’s ink pre-setting system produces the most accurate ink pre-sets in the world, and this publicly posted video allows potential customers to see the difference QuickSet makes without having to travel to an actual QuickSet site.

Steve and Louis Surbrook (along with Steve’s twin brother) were also founders of the companies responsible for inventing inkjet proofing for the newspaper industry, and that same technology is still being used by USA Today and has been adopted by 80% of the daily newspapers throughout the USA. The same holds true for halftone patents. All moire-free conventional halftones produced on film and CTP devices (i.e. different methods than performed on circular drum devices) fall under patents produced by our founders. Significant leaps forward in web offset printing units, such as the continuous-blanket-contact design, and advances in jaw-type folders, also come from our founders. Even the original patent for the tool-less plate lockup popular on most web offset presses today was from one of our founders. We have our roots deep in the newspaper printing industry in all its varied aspects, and in the words of many industry experts, our founders have produced (outside of desktop publishing) most of the significant technological advancements for newspaper printing that have occurred in the last 30 years.

Recently, QuickSet has become a primary contact (for its sister company, Color Impact International) for sales of the Quick-Start-Tower, a revolutionary compact low-profile web offset printing tower that prints 4-color on both sides of the web with perfect corner-to-corner register, all without electronic controls. In combination with the QuickSet Ink Pre-Setting System, the Quick-Start-Tower delivers, at make-ready, perfect registration (with no Fan-Out) and perfect ink settings, resulting in amazingly low paper waste. The tower’s very competitive price and high reliability due to its simplicity in design and tight tolerances during manufacture make it the printing tower perfectly suited to today’s printing industry. In short, the Quick-Start-Tower is the most technologically advanced shaft-less 4-over-4 newspaper printing tower ever built. With patent applied for, the Quick-Start-Tower is sure to proliferate throughout the printing industry and attain a dominant position in today’s market.