Incorrect application of grease within the ink chamber assembly process, can lead to deterioration of your print quality and anilox roller condition.
Within the flexographic printing press, the ink chamber system removes excess ink from the anilox roller. Its purpose is to deliver a precise, metered amount of ink to the printing plate to achieve the desired effected on the finished print.
The ink chamber provides better control of ink film thickness, ink consumption and colour consistency. With its two blades, which run along the length of the chamber, the doctor blade manages the ink transfer to the anilox roller, whilst the retainer blade captures any excess ink and forms a seal within the ink chamber.
Why apply grease?
To ensure a good seal is maintained within the ink chamber, a thin film of grease is applied along the position of the doctor / retainer blades and end seals. This provides containment of the ink and ensures a good seal is achieved.
Once the grease is applied the doctor blades and seals are positioned and secured in place.
Using too much grease.
If too much grease is used, which in our experience happens too often, when the doctor blades and seals are positioned and secured, the excess grease is squeezed out and transferred into the ink chamber.
When the print process begins, the excess grease is then transferred to the anilox roller and stereo, which in turn is transferred to the printing plates. This will result in grease marks displaying on the finished print.
This obviously has consequences to your business in print quality issues and unplanned downtime to rectify the issue. Definitely not the ideal situation for your print business.
Only a fine amount of grease is actually required to provide the correct seal between the doctor blades and chamber end seals.
Using the wrong grease.
To create a strong seal within the ink chamber, a silicone-based grease, (preferably food grade silicone) should be used. A silicone-based grease is water based and if this does get into the system, it won’t cause contamination. It will also be easy to clean and wash away, using a cleaning solution, which is formulated for anilox rollers.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of understanding of the greasing requirements and the differences between greases, many operators use the wrong grease. It doesn’t help that generally the wrong grease is in tubes, with a nozzle which makes it easier for the operators to apply. This, however, results in the over application of the (wrong) grease.
Typically, the incorrect grease used are too thick and designed for totally different purposes, such as electrical contacts or batteries. They are developed to harden on application, which when used on the doctor blade chamber causes numerous issues, not least that it is extremely difficult to remove when hardened.
Over application of a thick, electrical formulated type grease will result in the grease finding its way into the chamber and being transferred to the anilox rollers and printing plate.
Not only will this cause grease print marks on your finished printed products, it will cause the cells within the anilox rollers to become blocked. Persistent use of the wrong grease can cause irreversible damage to the anilox rollers and even the printing plates.
Applying and using the wrong grease will cause:
- Hardened grease to form in and along the doctor blade chamber.
- Grease transferring to the anilox rollers.
- Grease transferring to the printing plates.
- Anilox roller cells becoming contaminated.
- Anilox rollers becoming damaged.
- Printing plates becoming damaged.
- Grease marks on finished printed products.
- Print rejects.
- Unscheduled production downtime.
- Wasted materials, time and money.
It is imperative that the appropriate grease is used and applied in the correct amount and manner, to avoid print issues and damage to your anilox rollers.
Keeping in close contact with our customers and visiting site to undertake regular site assessments and scheduled audits, enables us to quickly pick up any erroneous habits or incorrect care and maintenance procedures.
We are always here to help and guide you on the care of your Anilox Rollers and surrounding Print Process.
Using the correct grease, cleaning solutions and care of your flexographic print process, will pay dividends to your business with reduced rejects, and consistent high-quality print and productivity.
If you need to review your flexographic print care and maintenance to keep your anilox rollers in top condition, contact our team.