Anilox Rolls: When to Clean

Highly specialized, highly expensive, and highly-fragile, your anilox rolls are the centerpieces of your flexographic printing machines. You want your rolls to work as well as possible for as long as possible, which means giving them the proper care whenever needed. In this article, our flexographic cleaning experts at Flexo Wash provide your with a short guide to cleaning anilox rolls. Below, we’ll cover topics including the importance of cleaning anilox rolls, when to clean your anilox rolls, and how you can get fast, easy, and effective anilox cleaning using our specialized anilox roll cleaning machines. Read on for more information, and contact our cleaning professionals at (888) 493-5396 today!

The Importance of Anilox Roll Cleaning

If you work at a printing company, you know how important an anilox roll is to the flexographic printing process. Indeed, anilox rolls are the distinguishing feature of flexography and give it the ability to effectively and efficiently print a wide range of finished products. If you work in printing, you also probably know how expensive anilox rolls are (most run in the several hundred to thousand-dollar price range for an individual rolls). The last important thing you likely know about anilox rolls is their inherent fragility. On their surfaces, anilox rolls are coated in  hard, easily-cracked ceramic material will thousands of small indentations (called “cells”) responsible for precisely distributing ink onto a flexo plate. Even the lightest improper contact with anilox roll can chip or crack its surface, thus rendering it incapable of performing its essential function. For all the above reasons, you may also know just how important it is to properly maintain an anilox roll — but for same reasons, you may be afraid to do it.

In this article, our experts at Flexo Wash are here to remind you of the importance of anilox roll cleaning, give you tips on when to do it, and provide you with an easy, mechanized solution to help take the stress out of anilox roll cleaning. Dirty rolls can impact printing your printing business in a number of ways. For one, rolls with dried or caked-on ink will not perform to the same level of detail as clean rolls. They also take longer to do the same jobs. This is because dried-on ink prevents new ink from being properly transferred to printing plates (and subsequently to the substrates themselves). Put simply, dirty anilox rolls lead to lower bottom lines for printing companies. If you’re industry, you know this is a setback you simply can’t afford.

Cleaning Frequency

Many printing companies have asked us how often they should be cleaning their anilox rolls. Our answer is always the same: it varies. There are several factors that contribute to anilox dirtiness, and each of these factors occurs to varying degrees in varying commercial settings. If you your anilox takes on a relatively light workload with lower ink levels, you may not need to clean as often as another company’s anilox that is worked harder on a day-to-day basis. Another factor involved in anilox cleaning is that of preference. Would you rather clean regularly in shorter cleaning sessions, or less regularly in longer, more intensive cleaning sessions? The choice is up to you — but remember, don’t wait too long. If anilox rolls get too dirty, they’ll ruin your product.

At Flexo Wash, our professionals recommend washing anilox rolls after each and every print job. That being said, our specialized anilox washing machines can enable lighter-load companies to wash their anilox rolls as infrequently as once a month. With anilox roll cleaning, it really depends on usage. The more you use your roll, the more often it will need cleaning.

Signs That Your Anilox Roll Needs Cleaning

The biggest contributor to anilox roll dirtiness is dried ink. After each printing, a trace amount of ink is left on an anilox roll. This ink can collect in cells or other surface areas of the roll and can eventually lead to cell plugging, which will directly affect printing quality. You can tell that your roll needs cleaning when your color density or your coat weight diminishes. Another way to find out if your anilox roll needs to be cleaned is by using a Capatch Test Strip to determine your roll volume. If the volume is plugged 50% or more, then it is time to clean your roll.

Anilox Roll Cleaning at Flexo Wash

Many printing companies fear cleaning their anilox rolls due to the potential risk of damaging their costly and fragile investments. If you, like many, are in this boat, then we have good news for you. Here at Flexo Wash, we proudly offer several automated anilox roll cleaning machines for narrow web products, wide web products, and gravure products. Designed for maximum efficacy and efficiency, our anilox roll cleaning machines are used by some of the most successful printing companies in the world. To learn more about our products, and to ask our professionals ask questions about anilox roll cleaning in general, contact our team (888) 493-5396 today!

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