Yes, damaged and unclean anilox rollers can significantly affect your print quality and your profits. This can be prevented with the appropriate wash down process integrated into your flexographic maintenance programme.
Anilox rollers are essential components of the flexographic printing process. They are responsible for transferring ink from the ink reservoir to the printing plate. A variety of print defects can result from anilox rollers that are damaged, contaminated, or unclean.
Dirty and Clogged Anilox Rollers can cause print issues due to:
- Inconsistent ink transfer: Will lead to uneven ink coverage, colour variation, and other print defects.
- Reduced ink transfer: Caused by the cells of an anilox roller being clogged with ink residue or debris. When cells are clogged the amount of ink transferred to the printing plate is reduced, and results in light or faded printing.
- Poor ink laydown: Damaged or unclean anilox rollers can also cause poor ink laydown, which can lead to problems such as mottling, streaking, and slurring.
- Increased ink consumption: Generally due to an attempt to compensate for inconsistent or reduced ink transfer. Print operators often add further ink pigment to boost the colour strength. This is an attempt to compensate for a contaminated anilox roller.
To maintain print quality, it is important to keep anilox rollers clean and free of damage. Regular inspection and cleaning of anilox rollers can help to prevent these problems from occurring. Once damaged an anilox roller will need to be refurbished or replaced. Both options could be an avoidable expense to your business with the correct care and maintenance in place.
Regular wash down of your anilox rollers will:
- Maintain consistent print quality: Anilox rollers are responsible for transferring ink from the ink chamber to the printing plate. Over time dried ink can build up on the anilox roller and will interfere with the ink transfer process. This causes variations in print quality. Regular washing with an appropriate cleaning solution will safely and effectively remove dried ink and maintain consistent ink transfer.
- Prevent wear and tear: Dried ink can also act as an abrasive, which can wear down the cells. This can lead to score lines on the anilox roller. Once an anilox roller is scored, it will need to be refurbished. Unless you hold a spare anilox roller, this is a costly and time-consuming process and will significantly impact on your production schedule.
- Extend the lifespan of the anilox roller: An anilox roller is a precision engineered component and an expensive element of a flexographic printing press. Regular cleaning helps to keep your anilox rollers clean and free of debris and ink build-up. This will extend their lifespan and save your business money in the long run.
- Improve and correctly regulate ink flow: Dried ink can clog the cells of the anilox roller, which can impede ink transfer and cause uneven ink coverage on the printed substrate. This will lead to deterioration of print, especially noticeable if you have fine text or graphic such as a branded logo to print.
- Maintain overall press hygiene: A clean anilox roller contributes to a clean and hygienic printing press environment. This can help to prevent the spread of bacteria and other contaminants, which can affect the quality of the printed product.
Depending on the specific printing application and the type of ink you are using, will influence the frequency of your anilox roller wash down. In general, it is recommended to wash down anilox rollers at least once a day, and more frequently if necessary.
A few Top Tips to keep your anilox rollers in top condition:
- Inspect anilox rollers regularly for signs of damage or wear.
- Clean anilox rollers regularly using the appropriate cleaning solutions.
- Store anilox rollers properly when they are not in use.
- Handle anilox rollers carefully to avoid damage.
By following these tips, you can help to ensure that your anilox rollers remain in good working condition and you gain the optimum performance from them.
If you would like too:
- Discuss your anilox roller maintenance plan.
- Identify persistent print issues in your flexographic print process.
- Undertake an audit of the condition of your anilox rollers.
- Have a complete assessment and wash down of your anilox rollers.
- Training for your print operators.
The above highlights the issues that can be avoided with a correct integrated wash down care programme for your anilox rollers. This will enhance your print production and gain a higher-quality of print.
Correctly formulated cleaning solutions play a major factor in maintaining your anilox rollers, our cleaning solutions have been specially formulated for anilox rollers.