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FLEXO Magazine : November 2010
Technologies & Techniques • Avoid letting water-based ink sit on the anilox to dry for more than 45 seconds; it will plug cells. • Revisit cleaning procedures on the aniloxes. • Have the anilox rolls periodically audited. • Once they have been audited, analyze the results and begin to send one anilox a month to be reconditioned. • The doctor blade type, its thickness and tip type are the makeup of how a blade performs. You should always be on the lookout for excessive blade wear, spitting, and hydroplaning. Anilox rolls and doctor blades are the backbone of the inking system. In my travels, I have seen rolls in the press not turning up to five minutes at a time, and rolls set on the cleanup rack and left with dried ink on them. Also, nearly every print shop has rolls that have deteriorated, are clogged and have damage to them and their cells. Your vendor can audit your anilox and, in the same visit, properly train your press operators on cleanup procedures and preventive main- tenance. They will also work within your budget to improve your anilox inventory. Inks and Drying. Are your inks drying or curing correctly? Is your ink consistent from batch to batch? Does it have the rheology (makeup and flow characterization) needed with your print and press configuration? If so, can it maintain its rheology with higher speeds and still cure or dry properly? Are your idlers properly cleaned and wrapped to give opti- mum dwell time for the ink to flash the amines, dry, and not pickoff? Most print shops house a wide variety of ink types, sometimes from different vendors. What is the date on these inks? Has any additive(s) been, well, added? What about contaminants that could effect drying and the overall makeup of the ink system? These questions are part of the variables of inks and drying that need to be addressed when pushing the press to its threshold. UV Adhesive. Is this the proper adhesive for your needs? Is any contaminant being introduced into the equation? Is it consistent from batch to batch? Proper testing procedures are what will make sure you are covered. UV adhesive are typically guaranteed for a year. Even though they seem to be doing a sufficient enough job, will they still perform when you push the speed of the press? Always make sure adhesives are clearly marked with an expiration date and remember that there is always the possibility of contaminates. Press Conditions. Is the press and its components cleaned and maintained on a daily basis? Do you have a preventive maintenance program set up to keep it in optimum printing condition? Are contaminants being introduced into the equa- tion because of the housekeeping or due to a lack of it? Work with and monitor operators on properly cleaning and maintaining the press on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Here are some things to think of and ask yourself about your printing department. • Is the production area properly maintained and cleaned, including the press and its components? • Have you setup periodic preventive maintenance proce- dures as per your press manufacture’s guide? • How about utilizing input from the plant on preventive maintenance with operators’ suggestions. Look over how you now address preventive maintenance, then write down and highlight any daily and weekly issues that occur in your plant. Try to build a preventive maintenance program that would eliminate these issues before they occur. If you ask for press operators’ help in theses areas, it tends to motivate them. Setting up goals based on their input is a great tool. Atmospheric Conditions in the Plant. I do not have to put a question here because I already know this is a huge issue in every plant. The ideal conditions are 50 percent humidity with 78-degree temperature. With testing and documentation, you can monitor and see how the atmospheric conditions come into play. ConClusion If you think you have done a good job on testing with proper criteria, procedures and preventive maintenance, just ask yourself this: Am I pushing the press to its threshold and achieving the speeds that the press and its components are capable of? Here are a few suggestions and questions to think about. • How involved are your press operators and maintenance department in your preventive maintenance program? • Do you unitize your vendors enough with their respective products? • Is this the proper product to achieve the press threshold? • Set up an open forum to discuss preventive maintenance and housekeeping with your printing department. • Do your press operators and supervisors properly test for issues that you see? • Do you have proper testing procedures on the end prod- uct to catch a problem before it becomes an issue? Once these and other questions are asked and answered, with suggestions made to improve your control, it will, in turn improve your end product—and your bottom line. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Etheridge is a technical print specialist with Mark Andy. He spent 20 years as a printer, lead printer, supervisor, and manager, and another 10 years working as a print technician for a number of press manufac- turers. For more information contact him at 800-700-6275 ext. 1056 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Anilox rolls should not be idle with water-based ink on them for more than 45 seconds. www.flexography.org november 2010 FLeXO 95 FLX_Nov10_mech.indd 95 11/1/10 2:27 PM
Sustainable Fall 2010