Ink chambers are a core component in the flexographic process and should be cleaned and maintained along with your care and maintenance procedure of your anilox rollers and complete flexographic print machine.

Ink chambers in flexographic print serve two main functions:

  1. To meter the ink accurately and consistently. The ink chamber encloses the anilox roll and the doctor blade, creating a sealed environment that allows for precise control over the amount of ink that is transferred to the printing plate. This is important for achieving high-quality print with consistent colour and image definition.
  2. To protect the ink from contamination and evaporation. The ink chamber helps to keep the ink clean and free of dust and other contaminants. It also helps to prevent the ink from evaporating, which can lead to viscosity problems and print defects.

In addition to these two main functions, ink chambers also offer several other benefits, including:

  • Reduced ink consumption
  • Reduced cleaning costs
  • Increased press run speed
  • Faster wash down with ink chamber

Overall, ink chambers play an important role in the flexographic printing process by helping to ensure high-quality prints and efficient production. Ink chambers using metal or polycarbonate blades enable the machine to run faster than the conventional rubber ink rollers and provide a more accurate management of ink.

To support the function of the ink chambers, it is important to monitor ink viscosity. If the ink becomes too thick and starts to congeal, it will affect the flow of Ink through the Chamber. To prevent the formation of hardened and dried ink particles, ink chambers should be monitored for ink build up regularly and cleaned accordingly. Any dried ink particles could become trapped between the doctor blade and anilox rollers which can lead to scoring. Once an anilox roller is scored it will need to be refurbished, which is a costly and time-consuming process.

Here is a more detailed explanation of how ink chambers work:

The ink chamber is typically made of carbon fire, and is sealed with chamber end seals to form a sealed unit. The doctor blade and retainer blades are installed within the ink chamber, which then run against the anilox surface to produce the ‘doctoring effect’. The ink is pumped into the chamber and transfers onto the anilox roll. The doctor blade then wipes away the excess ink, leaving a thin layer of ink in the cells of the anilox roll. This ink is then transferred to the printing plate, and finally onto the selected substrate.

Ink chambers are a critical component of modern flexographic printing presses. They help to ensure the correct ink is administered to produce high-quality print and efficient production.

Unkept ink chambers in flexographic print can cause a variety of issues, including:

  • Incorrect ink viscosity: Ink that is too thick or too thin will not transfer properly to the substrate. This will result in a variety of print defects.
  • Contaminated ink: Ink that is contaminated with dirt, dust, or other debris can cause a variety of print defects, such as: mottling, streaking, and voids.
  • Colour variation: An inconsistent ink transfer can lead to colour variation across the printed substrate.
  • Press downtime: Unkept ink chambers can lead to frequent press stoppages, due to rejected printed products. It will also reduce production output, increasing your costs.
Red ink has contaminated the ink chamber due to it not being cleaned throughly our regularly enough

Build up of red ink has contaminated the ink chamber due to incorrect cleaning

Reduced life of components

In addition to the print defects detailed above, unkept ink chambers can also shorten the lifespan of these components. It also increases the risk of equipment failure.

Here are some tips for keeping ink chambers clean and in good condition:

    • Clean ink chambers regularly using a suitable specialist cleaning solution.
    • Inspect ink chambers regularly for signs of wear and tear.
    • Replace ink chambers when they are worn or damaged.
    • Store ink properly in a clean and temperature-controlled environment.
    • Use a filtration system to remove dirt and debris from ink before it is transferred to the printing press.

By following these top tips, you can help to extend the lifespan of your flexographic printing equipment. It will also support high-quality print and productivity for your business.

If you would like assistance with the care and maintenance of your anilox rollers and surrounding core components, speak with our team to arrange your anilox site assessment.

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