Anilox Cleaning Equipment
Machinery manufacturers are dedicated to making sure the “heart of flexo” is well maintained.
Flexo Wash machinery can clean up to nine anilox rolls during a single wash cycle!!
It’s said that the anilox roll is “the heart of flexo.” For human beings, taking care of one’s heart is of paramount importance to ensuring health and longevity. Much like how a proper diet and regular exercise is vital to heart health, a flexographer taking care of anilox rolls through proper care and storage is pivotal in providing high quality, defect-free printing.
Today’s label customer demands are often tied to pushing converters to lower prices and shorten job runs. Patrick Potter, vice president of operations at Flexo Wash, says that these factors have created for converters a dramatic increase in job changeovers and increased inventories, or both. “If the anilox roll is the heart of the flexo printing process and critical to maintaining a well-run operation, proper cleaning, care, and maintenance of your anilox inventory is essential to your survival. The absence of good cleaning practices will lead to increased downtime and inconsistent print results,” he says.
Joe Walczak, president of Sonic Solutions, notes that using a dirty anilox roll means that color densities on the final product will not equal those specified for the job. Because of this, he says, the printer will incur costs in wasted ink, paper, and labor to determine that there is a problem and then correcting for it. “An idle press is not generating revenue; and an undetected print error could ultimately mean losing any repeat business from the customer,” says Walczak.
In order to avoid the aforementioned downtime, inconsistencies and potential revenue loss, converters have various anilox cleaning technologies available to them, supplied by manufacturers dedicated to delivering the peace of mind that a clean anilox roll provides. What follows are descriptions of the latest machinery offered from some of the industry’s anilox cleaning experts.
Flexo Wash was founded in 1990 by an inventive Danish label printer in response to increased demand for improved print quality, as well as a safe and efficient production process. Centrally located in Louisville, KY, USA for over 20 years, Flexo Wash, LLC provides Flexo Wash cleaning technology in North America for the flexographic and gravure printing industries. “Today’s inks and coatings can be difficult to clean, even when they are still wet,” explains Potter. “The longer an ink or coating has been allowed to dry in the cells, the more difficult the cleaning process can be.” Also, he says, plugged and dirty anilox rolls create surface tension that prevents cells from accepting and releasing the correct ink volume. “Converters cannot wait to cleaning their rolls until the anilox can no longer perform. The market is too competitive, and dirty anilox rolls cause inconsistent print quality, increased downtime, excessive waste and thereby loss of competitiveness.”
Potter stresses that with anilox cells getting increasingly smaller, there is a growing need for quality cleaning. “Otherwise, quality printing cannot be obtained,” he says. “Deeper cells can exasperate plugging issues. Plugged anilox rolls cause difficulties in getting the right color, poor color densities, and inadequate ink distribution. Wasted time, ink and substrate is also an issue – and expensive. Smaller cells mean a more delicate cell structure. Delicate cells are more easily susceptible to damage from improper handling, doctor blade scoring and poor cleaning methods. Abrasive cleaners, pads and brushes are no longer a possibility in deep or small cells.
Flexo Wash offers cleaning technology for converters needing to clean from one to nine anilox rolls during a single wash cycle. The Flexo Wash FW Anilox Cleaning Systems incorporate “plug ‘n play” simplicity, Potter explains. “Place the roll, close the lid and push the start button. The entire cleaning process starts with liquid spraying, then rinses with high-pressure water, and finishes with an air blow dry. The whole process is 100% automated. And the systematic cleaning process is safe and harmless to the anilox rolls, employees and the environment, and cell volume is completely restored in less than 20 minutes.
Adding to lower costs, the Flexo Wash Cleaning Solution is filtered for re-use again and again. Another benefit is its simple maintenance: “Change the filter monthly and clean the liquid tank every half year,” Potter says.
“Flexo Wash technology helps our customers print better,” he adds. “We use a safe and gentle cleaning method that does not damage even the thinnest of cell walls. In fact, the cleaning method offered by Flexo Wash means that you can both deep clean the rolls and wash them on a daily basis without harming even the finest screens. It does not matter if the anilox is wet or dry. It does not matter if you need to clean water-based, solvent and/or UV inks, adhesives, lacquers, varnishes, laminates, etc. – it all can be cleaned in the same Flexo Wash FW Anilox Cleaning System with no changes to settings or liquids.”
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