If your business uses flexographic printing, you are probably familiar with anilox rollers. These cylindrical tools transfer ink from the well to the printing plate using small pits called grid cells. The number of cells on a roll varies and determines how much ink is transferred. One of the most important things you can do to protect the quality of your product is to keep these cells residue-free. However, cleaning anilox rollers can be complicated. Before you dive in, educate yourself about the various considerations that affect cleaning.
1. Know why you are cleaning
Put simply, reels that are not properly cleaned will produce sub-par products. When a roll collects debris, it cannot transfer the appropriate amount of ink to the platen. The grid cells become clogged, reducing their ability to collect ink and resulting in an uneven volume distribution across the roll. Ink residue also increases surface tension. In this case, some of the ink will stick to the roller instead of transferring to the printing plate. Failure to use screen cleaners can result in reprints, wasted materials, and lost labor or time.
2. Develop a cleaning schedule
If you want to optimize your flexographic printing, you should develop a schedule that takes into account various cleaning needs. While your buns don’t need to be thoroughly cleaned every day, removing any residue daily with a cloth and cleaning fluid will keep ink build-up from hardening and clogging the cells. Even with daily wiping, there is usually some residue left behind. To remove debris, scrub your rollers with a brush and detergent every week or two. Make sure that the brush you are using is suitable for the surface of your anilox roller. Every few weeks, consider doing a thorough cleaning with a chemical bath or similar process that loosens and removes stubborn residue.
3. Use good quality detergents
Once you’ve established a cleaning schedule, it’s important to choose quality cleaning products that will remove dirt without affecting the anilox roller. Before choosing a product, make sure it is compatible with the surface material and core of your roll. Avoid multipurpose cleaners when it comes to your daily cleaning fluid. If your product wasn’t designed for anilox rollers or ink removal, you’re wasting time and effort repeatedly wiping your rollers down. When doing the weekly scrubbing, be sure to use a paste or cream cleaner to physically break up any ink build-up that may remain despite daily cleaning. Many companies rely on regular chemical baths to effectively and thoroughly clean anilox rollers. However, some people prefer chemical-free methods. Regardless, choose a product that meets your specific needs, be it water-based or solvent-based.
With regular and effective cleaning, you can ensure high-performance printing and extend the life cycle of your anilox roller.