Joe Trungale is often considered a pioneer in the flexography industry. During his lifetime, Mr. Trungale strived to educate, share information, and advance aniline (flexo) printing. Joe started his career in the printing industry back in 1956 and very quickly became interested in flexo printing processes.
In 1970, he started working for Pamarco Global Graphics and remained with this company until his retirement in 1999. The company manufactures anilox rollers and flexo printing presses. At his retirement, Joe had risen through the ranks and was a member of the executive board and Vice President, General Manager of Parmarco’s Western Division.
During his time at Pamarco, Joe had become a member of FTA (Flexographic Technical Association) and was FTA’s National Workshop Chairmen for two and a half years. He also served on the FTA Board of Directors for six years and was inducted into the FTA’s Hall of Fame in 1985.
Aside from working for Parmarco, and his contributions to FTA, Mr. Trungale also was a teacher and educator. He taught at Fox Valley Technical College for over 24 years. He also did several technical presentations at the University of Western Michigan and Clemson University.
He was pivotal in helping the corrugated industry in furthering the development of flexo printing on corrugated materials. He became a member of TAPPI in 1973 and worked with their printing committee. Later, he served as Chairman of the printing committee. Eventually, in 1990, he became part of the Division Leadership team, and a National Chairman in 1993.
After retiring from Pamarco, Joe continued to remain active in the flexo printing industry. Due to his knowledge and experience, he was asked to write and publish the only book about anilox rollers—a vital part of the flexo printing processes.
A Brief History of Flexo Printing
The aniline or flexography (flexo) printing processes began back in 1890 in the United Kingdom. By the 1920s they had moved to Germany, where the majority of printing presses were being manufactured. The flexographic printing plates used at this time originally resulted in what was called “rubber stamp” printing because the process was poor and of low quality. Most problems stemmed from the ink transferring unevenly from the ink reservoir to the printing plate.
Early Ink Distribution System
The initial system used in flexographic printing machines was crude and consisted of two rubber rollers. One roller was used to pick up ink from a pan located below the rollers. Ink was transferred from one roller to the other. Pressure was applied to squeeze off excess ink. This system had limited controls other than the amount of pressure applied between the two rubber rollers.
There were problems duplicating the same ink thickness and films if print jobs had to be rerun at different times. It was also more noticeable when colored inks were used. The main cause of this issue was due to the amount of pressure applied by individual press operators. It was impossible for one press operator to create the exact same amount of pressure as another.
Invention of the Anilox Roller
In 1936, Interchemical Corporation’s International Printing Ink (IPI) division had developed an entire line of pigmented inks for the aniline (flexo) printing processes. This would help the packaging industry take a giant step forward, but the problem of ink transfer and its positive controls was a limiting factor.
An IPI employee, Douglas E. Tuttle, visited a client in Europe, and this client was using a coating that was transferred to the substrate using an etched cylinder. He believed this process could possibly be used to transfer inks in the aniline printing process.
Upon returning home to the United States, Mr. Tuttle began working on the improvement of ink transfer. In 1939, he applied to the U.S. Patent Office for a unique and new method of printing with fluid inks. This process allowed for precise control over the volume of inks, which could be achieved with minimal operator adjustment.
The etched cylinder used in gravure coating operations, at this time, was typically a steel cylinder with a copper plate. The copper plate was etched to the user’s specifications using various chemicals for the image or text to be transferred to the substrate.
In the procedure Mr. Tuttle observed in Europe, the etched cylinder also had different pockets that were filled with ink. The surface was wiped clean, and then, as the cylinder was applied to the substrate, the ink in the pockets released to create the printed image.
Mr. Tuttle explored different options for rollers because there was concern about the durability of copper plated and chemically etched rollers over steel rollers that were mechanically etched. He then set about to search for a company to produce these rollers.
After several trials, errors, and advances, finally, the first mechanically etched cylinder was produced. This roller was designed to be used in aniline printing as the transfer roller with ink fed into it by the rubber fountain roller.
Mr. Tuttle called this an “anilox” roller because, at the time, IPI was marketing different lines of inks with brand names ending in “ox.” Since inks used for aniline printing were aniline inks, IPI had started marketing them as anilox inks; hence, the reason Mr. Tuttle named the etched cylinder an anilox roller.
Even though a patent was applied for in 1939, Mr. Tuttle did not have an interest in manufacturing anilox rollers but, rather, primarily in continuing to improve flexo printing processes. He was against a single company having a monopoly on the manufacture of anilox rollers.
IPI also did not pursue the patent because they were in the business to sell ink. As a result, the name “anilox roller” became a generalized term used in the aniline printing industry.
Mr. Tuttle’s invention has been hailed as one the most significant contributions to the aniline printing industry and the flexo printing processes. Due to his contributions, he was aptly named “The Father of Flexography.”
Flexo Printing Today
Flexo printing continues to be a vital printing method used in a wide array of industries. Since the 1990s, one of the primary concerns of printers is being able to provide high-quality printed images, designs, and text for their clients and customers.
Part of maintaining consistent, high-quality printing is ensuring anilox rollers, printing parts, printing plates, and doctor blades are cleaned effectively. Simply wiping them off is not really effective, as there could still be ink residue left from the previous print run.
Today’s anilox printing rollers use very complex cells to hold the ink. In some cases, you would need to use a microscope to see ink contained within the cells on the roller. Wiping down the roller by hand, manually, will not get this ink out of the cells.
This is why printing companies rely upon flexo parts cleaning and washing solutions from Flexo Wash. Our unique cleaning methods and equipment incorporates the latest technologies. We offer the most innovative machines and cleaning solutions on the market to provide a deep, thorough cleaning.
Regular cleaning and washing help prevent potential damage to your printing presses and equipment. We are the only company in the flexo print washing industry to offer a money-back guarantee.
If you are not happy with your Flexo Wash flexo parts cleaning system during the first 90 days of use, we will work with you to ensure your satisfaction. If, at the end of this time, you are still not satisfied, you can return the equipment for a full refund.
To learn more about our printing press parts washing and cleaning solutions for your anilox rollers and other parts and components, please feel free to contact Flexo Wash at 888-493-5396 today!