Cleaning Your Anilox Rolls the Right Way

Keeping your anilox rolls clean is essential in ensuring that your flexographic system works the way it’s supposed to. When anilox rolls get “dirty,” it’s due to a buildup of ink from past printing sessions. Ink can dry in the cells of the anilox rolls and cause serious problems for future prints. Thankfully, ink buildup can be easily remedied (and prevented from happening altogether), through proper and regular anilox roll cleaning.

For many business owners, however, anilox roll cleaning appears at face value to be anything but easy. Anilox rolls themselves are not only incredibly important to the flexography printing process — they’re also very fragile and quite expensive to replace. Together, these characteristics make anilox rolls fairly intimidating to clean. Fortunately, our flexography cleaning professionals here at Flexo Wash are here to help. In this article, we’ve put together a short guide on how to clean your anilox rolls the right way. We’ve also provided a wealth of information on our industry-leading anilox roll washing machines, designed for both wide and narrow web products and used by some of the world’s top printing companies. Read on to learn more about anilox roll cleaning, and contact our professionals at (888) 493-5396 today!

Do My Anilox Rolls Need to Be Cleaned?

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. When your anilox roll color density or coat weight diminishes, that’s a telltale sign that your nilox roll needs to be cleaned. 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.

Flexography Ink Cleaning: What To Avoid

There are several dos and don’ts to pay attention to when cleaning your anilox rolls. Firstly, it is important to use safe and non-corrosive cleaners with a pH value between 6.5 and 10.5. Do not use 100% acidic, ammonia, or chlorine as cleaning liquids. If you’re using a journal system, be sure to handle your anilox rolls with great care. We recommend keeping protective covers on your rolls when storing them as well. If you are using anilox roll sleeves for your flexography printing, we recommend thorough rinsing after each use, and regular cleaning with the use of approved cleaning chemicals. (Stay away from harsh chemicals such as oven cleaners or other cleaners not specifically developed for cleaning sleeves.)

Anilox Roll Cleaning Methods

While chemical cleaning is the most common form of anilox roll cleaning, there are several other methods that may also be used for more intensive cleans. These methods include:

  • Ultrosonic Cleaning: Ultrasonic cleaning uses high-frequency sound waves sent through water or another solvent to break down ink or other unwanted deposits on an anilox roll.
  • Baking Soda Blasting: This relatively new anilox roll cleaning method air-blasts fine, uniformly-sized baking soda particles at the surface of a rotating roll. The baking soda particles are smaller than the anilox roll’s cell openings and effectively reach in to break down any offending material. A vacuum is then used to remove the baking soda and unwanted material, leaving the roll clean.
  • Plastic (Poly) Bead Systems: Plastic (poly) bead systems work in the same way that bake soda blasting does, except they make use of tiny plastic beads to clear out unwanted ink and debris inside an anilox roll’s cells.

Anilox Roll Cleaning at Flexo Wash

If you are searching for the fastest and most effective way to clean your anilox rolls, look no further than our products here at Flexo Wash. As an industry leader in flexography cleaning solutions, we proudly manufacture our own line of state-of-the-art cleaning machines, designed to clean anilox rolls for the following products:

  • Narrow Web Products: Our fully-automated, highly-effective anilox roll cleaners for narrow web products will have your anilox rolls cleaned and your cell volume totally restored in under 20 minutes. We also offer optional adaptors available for sleeve cleaning.
  • Wide Web Products: Our anilox roll cleaning machines designed for wide web products include our FW Side Load, FW Inline Cleaning, and Cylinder Washing machines, each with their own unique advantages and specialties.
  • Gravure Products: In addition to the above products, we also provide a selection of anilox roll cleaning machines specially-designed for gravure products. Click the above link to learn more!

Used by some of the world’s leading printing companies and designed for optimal cleaning performance, our anilox roll cleaning machines will provide you with the perfect anilox roll cleaning solution for any flexography system. If you are interested in learning more about anilox roll cleaning or any of our products here at Flexo Wash, please contact our flexography team at (888) 493-5396 today!


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