Businesses that rely on flexographic printing know the value of protecting their anilox rolls. These costly cylinders contain small pockets called anilox cells that collect and transfer ink from the fountain to the printing plate. Since the quality of the final product depends on the condition of the rolls used, it’s important to know how to properly maintain and preserve anilox rolls.
1. Clean Your Rolls
If anilox rolls aren’t properly cleaned, residue builds up, cells clog, and the distribution of ink across the roll becomes uneven. The resulting product may not be viable. Regular cleaning, however, can prevent wasted time and materials, starting with a daily wipe down with an anilox roll cleaner to prevent leftover ink from drying and a weekly scrub to physically remove the built-up residue. The most stubborn deposits require deep cleaning using a chemical wash, laser process or similar method. Consider scheduling regular deep cleans to dissolve the residue stuck in the anilox cells and enhance the efficiency and longevity of your printer.
2. Handle With Care
Anilox rollers are sensitive pieces of equipment that should be handled with care. If an anilox roll suffers any damage, including scratches and dings, the cells could become compromised and fail to distribute ink correctly. Once a roll is damaged, the print quality diminishes and you may need to replace the costly roll.
All staff who handle anilox rolls should be trained in best practices, from the initial unwrapping and inspection to storing the product when it’s not in use. It’s best to use two hands to transfer anilox rolls and avoid setting them on rough or dirty surfaces. Staff should never drag or roll anilox rolls, and they should always be housed in a protective sleeve. It’s also important to use cleaning implements and fluids that are designed for your specific type of anilox roll. Using products that are designed for ceramic coating on steel anilox rolls could result in damage to the surface and vice versa.
3. Schedule Regular Audits of Anilox Rolls
Periodic audits can give you a clear picture of the state of your anilox rolls and any factors that may adversely impact your print quality. In some cases, the wear on a roll may have reduced the anilox cell volume to the point that re-engraving is necessary. Audits can also determine whether volume degradation is the result of standard wear and tear or incorrect handling or cleaning. It pays to know what’s causing your anilox rolls to underperform.
Anilox rolls are central to your flexography. By ensuring that your rolls are properly handled and maintained, you can protect your product quality, boost printer performance and extend the lifespan of your anilox rolls.