Roll Up Your Sleeves
Baking soda blasting can generally keep rolls clean for four to six months, if, between treatments, rolls are cleaned after each use with a non-hazardous chemical solvent. The baking soda media is a lower ph blend of surfactants that lift away inks and other residue. A complete baking soda system should include the applicator, a handling device for the roll and a vacuum system.
The baking soda exits the applicator as a jagged, 70 micron particle, and then shatters down to 8 microns to clean the cells. The best applicators, explains Jim Heffer, president of Anilox Roller Cleaning Systems, meter the media and contain flow additives to ensure even dispersion into rollers' cells.
Rolls need to be rinsed with water after blasting to remove media residue. Heffer says baking soda can currently clean 1,200 line screens. Cleaning tests are underway with 1,500 line screens. Each treatment costs about one-tenth the price of a new roll. A 10ý roll can be cleaned in two and a half minutes, and larger rolls can be cleaned on- or off-press.
Plastic media blasting, available for the past year and a half, employs "a malleable plastic media that can fold, bend, bounce back and be recycled," says Bob Temple, CEO, Absolutely Micro*Clean International. Average life cycle for the media is 120 cleanings.
Once the roll is positioned on a centering unit within a cabinet, a computer-driven gun applies a medium pressure, dry blast of the media. Plastic bead blasting can currently clean 1,200 line screens without wear, and has undergone testing for higher line screens. A fourth-generation blend of the plastic media, Micro*Clean IV, uses a "sharper bite" to cut cleaning time in halfabout ten minutes for small, narrow-web rolls, and 30 to 45 minutes for wide-web rolls. Narrow-web plastic media systems can run about $13,000, while a wide-web system is around $28,000.