Maximize Your Anilox Investment
With anilox rolls being a main artery of the flexographic printing process, you would be foolish not to maximize their value. Not to sound trite, but the United States economy is hurting at the moment, and it’s not easy getting the most bang for your buck these days. Consider this: statistics show that 80 to 85 percent of all rolls are damaged prior to being worn out, according to Mike Huey, technical graphics manager at Western Division, Harper GraphicSolutions (www.harperimage.com). “Routine cleaning, inspection, and storage all play a large factor in providing optimum care for these delicate instruments,” he says. “Identifying root causes of damage and enacting measures to protect against future damage is critical to prolonged anilox life.” There are also other ways to get the most out of your anilox rolls, including resurfacing existing rolls and working with your suppliers to enter into buying programs.
Handle with care
Considering Huey’s comments, a good way to start getting the most out of your anilox rolls or sleeves is to take care of them. “Better housekeeping, care, and handling of your sleeves and anilox rolls is the key to getting the most bang for your buck,” says Ashley Foran, marketing director, ARC International (www.arcinternational.com). “It all sounds so simple, but in truth, very few printers take the time to allow for cleaning of their anilox rolls and sleeves.”
There are a number of things printers can do to optimize the lives of ceramic anilox rolls, according to Mark Hahn, vice president of sales and marketing, AAA Press International, Inc. (www.aaapress.com). These include proper setting of steel doctor blades to shear ink from the face of the roll; use of ink magnets or filters to remove larger metal particles present in some fluorescent and standard ink colors; proper use of ultrasonic anilox cleaning systems; proper use of ultrasonic anilox cleaner (using the 90-10, no more than 5 rule); regularly cleaning the cleaning solution when it dips below the recommended pH; and experimenting with press side cleaning pastes, which remove 95 percent of impacted and dried ink without the use of abrasive cleaning methods.