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FLEXO Magazine : November 2008
TECHNOLOGIES & TECHNIQUES Cleaning Goes Cold Dry Ice Blasting Offers Opportunities in Maintenance By Tyson Marlowe F ? ? ? ? ? lexographic printers/converters are driven by the need to reduce energy, material and labor costs, as well as to meet environmental regulations and consistently deliver qual- ity products faster. It is no secret that printers only make money when their presses are being used. It is also no secret that print- ing can be a dirty job, so removing the dry ink, grease, oil coat- ings and other ink additives and contaminants from the various parts of the presses is critical to ensure optimal performance and to prolong equipment life. Unfortunately, the most common methods of cleaning printing presses are time consuming, stall production, and do not always completely remove inks, grease and other contaminants from the equipment. Many challenges that flexo printers face are, or can be, tied directly to cleaning, including: ? Improper paper feed caused by press misalignment results in scrap. ? Poor print quality generates scrap. ??Reduction in printing speeds due to uneven airflow through color box dryers results in decreased efficiency. ?Mechanical failures cause downtime hours resulting in lost production. ? Premature wear of machine parts, shortens the lifecycle of printing equipment and parts. ? Routine preventative maintenance of printing presses and 46 F LEXO tertiary equipment is the difference between 150mm im- pressions and 400mm impressions in the lifecycle of a press. ? There are huge pressures to lowers costs, while improving ? quality and the industry is becoming more environmentally responsible (and lean). Regularly cleaning printing presses helps to reduce low print quality and high scrap rates. However, the demands of 24/7 production impact a printer’s ability to strictly adhere to routine preventative maintenance schedules, and as a result, cleaning the anilox rolls, impression cylinders, side frames and print deck mechanism is usually not done until the press is simply too dirty to function. When the printing presses are cleaned, printers engage large cleaning crews armed with scrapers, sanders and cleaning solvents to manually scrape and wipe the equipment of each color station. The more color decks, the longer the cleaning time, which extends production downtime and can easily add up to several thousand dollars in lost production per cleaning cycle. In this case, printers are not unlike other manufacturers. The Industrial Cleaning Habits and Practices Report recently released by Cold Jet LLC found that “nearly 80 percent of companies still clean by hand, opting to use solutions such as chemicals and sol- vents (55 percent), steam (17 percent) and abrasives such as steel wool (16 percent). More than 53 percent of companies use water NOVEMB E R 20 0 8 www. f l e x o g r a p h y. o r g