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FLEXO Magazine : March 2011
Technologies & Techniques Optimizing Ink Release from Your Anilox Roll Nets Savings Minimal Waste, Consistent Color & improved quality By sean Teufler Today ’s printers understand productivity pressures and narrow margins. They often find themselves chasing ef- ficiencies to stay competitive in the flexo market, avoid wasting money on the production line and increase profit. Take a look at the economics of manufacturing. Inks and substrates are the two largest costs to a printer. Prices on these consumable items rise with global demands on raw materials, so it is imperative to trim waste wherever possible. Help yourself by tackling some of the greatest drains on resources during the makeready and the production runs. Stop printing unnecessarily thick ink film. Pay close attention to the color matching process. The secret to savings, on both of these fronts, requires some basic groundwork, namely optimizing the ink transfer from the anilox roll. There are three approaches to fine-tuning ink scientifically: 1. Determine the optimum printable ink film thickness us- ing a banded roll. 2. Adjust the anilox roll inventory. 3. Set up a system to maintain the desired volumes. First, discuss your options with your ink supplier and ask whether the supplier has any new products that will reduce ink film thickness. Aim for a combination of correct color strength and optimum printability. It is simple to achieve either color or printability, but not both, without calibration by testing. Trial and error is one method for determining the right ink film thickness for your application, but it is too inefficient to recommend. Using a banded roll is much more reliable, ef- fective and economical. Banded rolls continue to be the best tool for evaluating color strength and printability, without the concern that no range has been established. Designing a banded roll is simple. Take the following steps: • Have your ink supplier quote the ink volume deemed most successful in achieving consistent lay-down of sol- ids and color strength on the substrate you plan to use. • Make that recommended volume one of the center bands. Then choose two to four more that are higher and lower in volume. (See Table 1.) These different volumes Stop Wasting Money on the Production Line! • Banded rolls continue to be the best tool for printers to evaluate color strength and printability. • Consistent anilox roll performance comes down to cell quality, consistency and volume—all traits that can be best evaluated with an audit. • Strongly consider whether your anilox roll clean- ing methods are up-to-date, fast and effective. Inks change and sometimes the cleaners you previously used will no longer work as well to emulsify and remove dried ink. • The moving target of color can be greatly stabilized with a scientific approach. Remember, it is the dif- ficulty of achieving color that creates the most waste during setup. 40 FLeXO MarCh 2011 www.flexography.org FLX_March11.indd 40 3/18/11 1:33 PM