How Catapult Print Eliminated Downtime with Flexo Wash Equipment
Mark Cook, the founder and CEO of Catapult Print, has created a unique, customer-driven business that has invested heavily in the latest and greatest technology. Rather than using just the human eye to compare color and cross-check continuity, Catapult’s modern systems ensure consistency and quality with every job. At Catapult, everything is driven by technology, meaning that every label to come off press will be the same as the approved proof, whether it's the first print run or the fiftieth.
When Cook started Catapult Print in April of 2018, he took a different, more modern approach to the company. He invested in the top of the line Nilpeter presses and kitted out their production site with the most innovative technology, allowing Catapult to produce a superior product.
Catapult operates 24/7 to fulfill demand and ensure they are always delivering for the customer. They are rapidly growing, having just installed their fourth Nilpeter press in the space of two short years with the capacity to house ten full-time presses.
With increases in business and production, it is vital that all processes are as efficient and streamlined as possible. Cook recognized that the lost time incurred by poor anilox and parts cleaning was a pressure-point towards their “zero down-time” objective.
Higher-Quality Printing Means Using Harder to Clean Inks
Some of the ink used in high-quality printing, such as metallics, can prove difficult to clean off the anilox using traditional methods alone. The former anilox cleaner that Catapult used was causing some tension towards their tight production goals, which in turn slowed down the efficiencies driven by their advanced make-ready procedure.
Catapult prides itself on treating every job as the work of art that it is. “Illustrations and graphic design that are true works of art add an enormous level of intricacy to the printing. As these designs grow more popular, the technological advancements that make this possible are quickly becoming indispensable to today’s printing industry.”
According to Chris Mountain, Factory Manager at Catapult Print, “we have strict tolerances for color matching; we match all of our inks to Pantone digital library and our target is under DE 2. With the old anilox cleaner since they were not cleaned properly, we were noticing weaker colors and spitting issues. This was causing at least a few hours of downtime a week as we always take the time to make things right before the job is printed.”
Dirty Aniloxes and Downtime are Points of Pain
The cleaning portion of the production chain was the weak link, with too much valuable time being spent trying to clean aniloxes that never really were getting clean. Their previous cleaner would only allow for one anilox to be cleaned at a time. Not only was this time consuming for the team, it was also inefficient.
Mountain says, “We were not happy with the previous cleaner due to the various issues. We had contact with Keith Young at Flexo Wash and he suggested we trial the machine for a week. When he came to install the machine for trial, we decided to put it to the test with our dirtiest anilox, which was badly stained and the old machine could not get clean. After about 20 minutes in the Flexo Wash anilox cleaner, it came out like brand-new and we knew we would need to purchase one right then!”
Catapult purchased the FW Handy 2x2 Anilox Cleaner. This anilox cleaner allows for four aniloxes to be cleaned in a single cycle, removing all unnecessary down-time and producing like-new parts after every wash.
Parts Need Cleaning Too
In addition to the troubles with anilox cleaning, there were other parts that required dedicated maintenance as well. Catapult had a specific employee responsible for cleaning chambers and other press parts throughout the day.
Catapult decided to purchase the PK Eco Maxi WR Parts Washer after seeing the positive results from the Flexo Wash Anilox Cleaner.
Statistics Before Flexo Wash
- They cleaned 1-5 anilox rolls per day, sometimes running the same anilox for hours as it wouldn’t be clean enough.
- They spent $13,000 a year on cleaning solutions.
- The former anilox cleaner could only clean one anilox at a time.
- To clean an anilox roll, it would have to be run many times through the cleaner as it was not clean enough on the first pass.
- They had a few hours of downtime a week dealing with dirty anilox rolls.
- Parts were cleaned manually by hand, by one dedicated employee.
- Cleaning parts would consume an entire shift.
Statistics After Flexo Wash
- They clean 10-20 rolls per day.
- They spend $6,000 a year on cleaning supplies.
- Flexo Wash anilox cleaner cleans four rolls at the same time and they are totally clean after one cycle.
- Most anilox rolls are cleaned once a week.
- Anilox rolls that are used for metallics, adhesives and/or whites are washed after each use.
- Flexo Wash machines have completely eliminated weak colors and spitting issues with the ink. Ink downtime is down to nearly zero hours a week due to how well the aniloxes are cleaned.
- The dedicated parts washer employee is being utilized in other departments. Time spent cleaning the chambers is significantly reduced to ⅔ of the original time.
Cook recognizes the importance of minimal downtime in the printing process, and a weak cleaning system was contributing heavily to that downtime. By modernizing the “housekeeping” elements of the process, keeping both aniloxes and parts clean and on a cleaning schedule, the results are excellent. Consistent high-quality color, even production and little-to-no downtime are all the benefits of a Flexo Wash cleaning system.
Mountain has some words of advice for other converters who are wondering if they should invest in a Flexo Wash cleaning system:
“To others considering investing in a Flexo Wash cleaning system, I would fully recommend and ‘go for it!’ This has been one of the best decisions we’ve made regarding machinery and we are very happy with the investment.”
The preceding press release was provided by a company unaffiliated with Packaging Impressions. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of the staff of Packaging Impressions.