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FLEXO Magazine : June 2011
Technologies & Techniques Chambered Blade Retrofits upgrading Your older Flexo Press for Maximum Performance By Perry lichon Achambered blade system, enclosed reverse angle doc- tor blade (RADBS) is an essential part of today ’s flexo - graphic printing process. Flexographic printing requires ink to be delivered to the anilox roll in a precise, controlled and repeatable manner with minimal waste and emissions at any speed. The RADBS is the most cost-effective means of address- ing these demands on both new and old equipment. A properly designed RADBS provides for even blade contact across the entire anilox face and allows the operator to adjust the blade position as necessary. Maintaining even blade contact will ensure that the anilox roll transfers the amount of ink it was designed to carry. Systems that do not have even contact may allow excessive ink application in some areas and accelerated roll wear in others, resulting in wasted ink, poor print quality, reduced doctor blade life and reduced anilox roll life. Keep in mind that any required adjustments should be minimal, simple and easy to perform. The more complex the adjustments, the more room there is for error. A RADBS should not be the limiting factor in overall production. The chamber should be designed for maximum distance between blades based on anilox roll diameter and the maximum mechanical design speed of the machine. The machine’s high-tech features become worthless if the system cannot perform its primary function, which is to apply inks and coatings to the anilox roll without reducing overall prod- uct quality and production. Is RetRofIttIng RIght foR YouR sYstem? Reverse angle doctor blade systems may be installed on new flexo presses and retrofit to nearly every model of older flexo press. Retrofitting adds all of the benefits of a RADBS to virtually any existing flexo press, but there are important ques- tions to consider. Taking the time to address a few common concerns will ensure that you make the right decision. Q. How do I know a retrofit is possible for my system? If your machine has an anilox roll mounted in bear- ings and the bearings are mounted to a frame or sup- port system, chances are a RADBS can be retrofitted to your equipment. In most cases, this will also present an excellent opportunity to upgrade your anilox roll to a ceramic-coated and laser-engraved roll. Q. What specific data—type of press, press deck dimen- sions, web path, etc.—do I need to collect to pursue the idea? To get an initial quotation, you will most likely need to provide the diameter and face length of the anilox roll, the machine speed, the fluid type (water, solvent), the machine make and model, the number of color sta- tions and the press’s configuration (stack, CI, inline). Q. What kinds of features should I look for? That depends on how much you want to spend and exactly how you use the system (short runs, long runs, etc.). For example, you might opt for no blade wear compensation, or choose between manual-set or servo-set systems. Clean-up options include purchas- ing spare chambers, a simple flush pump system or a PLC-controlled autowash system. The sales profes- sionals you consult should discuss the features of their systems with you in great detail. Q. What are the special concerns for high-speed equipment? The provider of the RADBS must be informed of the mechanical design speed of your equipment, the amount of colors it prints, its web widths, etc. Higher machine speeds typically require a greater distance between the doctor blades. Higher speeds and fluid Photo credits: Courtesy of Retroflex, inc large series blade system. 76 FLeXO June 2011 www.flexography.org Higher Quality, Lower Cost • Retrofitting is possible for nearly every model of older flexo press. • A proper retrofit should involve the suppliers of your anilox roll, ink and printing plates to ensure that all components are correct for producing the highest quality product with the least amount of waste and expense. • To reduce downtime, it is best to retrofit the entire machine at once. • Retrofitting can typically run from $1,500 to $10,000 per print station, a fraction of what it would cost to buy a new press.
Sustainable Spring 2011