The Importance of Anilox Cleaning

Working closely with customers to ensure consistency of Anilox condition has been a major part of Print Tech Solution’s business over the last 15 years. Through operator training and regular onsite support visits, Print Tech Solutions raises awareness of the importance of Anilox cleaning and the detrimental effect that Anilox cell contamination can have on ink lay down and subsequent print quality.

Steve Turner, Managing Director at Print Tech Solutions comments: “We encourage customers to think of the Anilox roller as an artist’s paint brush – the roller is used to deposit ink onto the printing plate, just as a brush is used to put paint onto a canvas. The principles are the same….just as an artist would never use a dirty or damaged paint brush, a flexo printer cannot hope to achieve high quality, consistent print if his Anilox rollers are not maintained and regularly cleaned.

If Anilox cells become contaminated with ink residue, it will have a direct impact on the amount of ink deposited onto the printing plate. In turn, this will reduce the density of the printed colour, forcing the printer to boost colour strength of the ink to compensate. However, this compounds the problem as high viscosity inks tend to dry significantly faster and become even harder to clean from within the microscopic Anilox cells. Ink Colour pigment is also an expensive part of ink formulation, therefore the extra costs involved in compensating for a dirty Anilox roller can be significant.

This problem will usually affect printers using water based inks, as they are formulated to withstand tough environments and will dry readily both on the surface and within the cells of the Anilox roller, causing contamination and reduced cell volumes.

Steve Turner comments: “During our site visits we often find customers using unsuitable generic cleaning chemicals to tackle the problem, which can cause immediate or long term damage to Anilox rollers, ink chambers, rubber rollers, pumps and pipes. Our advice to customers is always to be proactive in maintaining Anilox condition and we offer a number of specialist products for cleaning Anilox rollers.”

For customers who are unable to clean rollers off press, Print Tech Solutions’ smart® range offers cleaning solutions which are formulated specifically for Flexo press cleaning. In particular, smart® AQUASOL is a daily cleaner designed to remove water and UV based inks and coatings from all areas of the printing process. It is suitable for use on Anilox rollers, rubber rollers, polymer plates, ink pumps and doctor blade chambers.

Within the Corrugated market, large Anilox rollers are subjected to tough conditions and daily long runs involving water based inks which can cause deep contamination of Anilox cells. Print Tech Solutions has worked with customers on a developmental project to combat this issue, which led to the launch of success story smart® REVIVE, which has seen huge improvements in cell volumes after cleaning. smart® REVIVE is formulated specifically for periodic cleaning of Anilox rollers and effectively removes plugged contamination within Anilox cells.

Steve Turner says “For customers who can take Anilox rollers quickly and easily out of the machine, the fastest and most efficient cleaning method is Ultrasonic cleaning. This method uses a combination of finely tuned ultrasonic soundwaves, specific cleaning solutions and heat to gently remove ink deposits from within Anilox cells.” He concludes that “Whilst cleaning techniques and products play a key role in colour management, they don’t fix the problem alone. It’s vital that printers, supervisors and managers at all levels fully appreciate the importance of allocating time to Anilox care. Our company has built its ethos on supporting the use of our products with onsite training and regular service visits, providing our customers with valuable support and an early warning system for Anilox condition issues.”

For further information contact the Print Tech Solutions sales team on 0871 224 3838 or email: info@print-techsolutions.co.uk.