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FLEXO Magazine : August 2012
Proper Storage Extends Plate Life By Randy Reynolds Proper storage of liquid photopolymer plates will extend plate life and provide faster turnaround on orders that are refills of previously run jobs. Converters dread finding plates that have degraded in storage. Here are a few steps that will minimize plate degradation and extend plate life: Clean Plates: Plates should be thoroughly cleaned after each pressrun. Residual ink deposits on printing plates foster cracking and surface tack. Plates with dried ink are harder to clean and perform poorly during the next pressrun. • Liquid photopolymers should be cleaned immediately after use with detergent and water or a similar plate wash solution and a soft bristle brush, lint-free rags, or an automatic plate wash machine. Do not use a solution with a temperature in excess of 140°F • Plates should be completely dry before storage - leftover cleaner or ink can deteriorate the photopolymer surface Light: Photopolymer plates cure in the presence of light, typically in ultraviolet (UV) light, such as direct sunlight, or in standard light sources including warehouse lights (unfiltered mercury vapor lamps and metal halide lamps), fluorescent, and incandescent light. If a plate sits in front of a window or other light source for an extended period, eventual damage may occur. • Store plates after cleaning in a cool, dry place away from any light source. • Plates stored on cylinders should be wrapped with an opaque material, such as black polyethylene film Heat: Prolonged heat exposure can affect a plate’s physical properties. Heat accelerates UV light degradation and increases the likelihood of ozone cracking, tack, and shrinkage. • Plates should be kept preferably in a cool, dry storage area. Generally, the best temperature range for plate storage is 70°F - 100°F with a relative humidity of 60 percent-to-80 percent. Most photopolymer like printing plates should not be affected by higher storage temperatures (up to 1200F) and higher humidity (up to 90 percent RH) • Good air circulation in the plate storage area will help maintain more consistent temperature and humidity conditions for the plates Plate Storage: Pre-mounted plates can be stored on a hanging rack or stood on edge to maintain their in-the-round, curved position. • Placing the plate back into the shipping box will help to protect it from possible damage • If an in-the-round plate is stored flat, the plate may buckle and separate from the mounting material, thus damaging it beyond repair About the Author: Randy Reynolds is business manager for AVantageTM liquid photopolymers manufactured by Anderson & Vreeland, Inc. Reynolds is respon- sible for all external sales and support for AVantageTM liquid photopolymers, including corrugated, multi-wall bag and stamp resins. He is a seasoned veteran in the flexo industry with 16 years of sales and management experience. Exclusive to FLEXO TechTip#1