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FLEXO Magazine : November 2012
INK FUNCTIONS Ink serves to provide three things: color, printability and ad- hesion to substrate. What are the expectations for an operator when it comes to ink? Internally, operators have one objective; maintain condition. When it comes to ink condition, there are four that must be met at press. • If running water base, think of maintaining pH and viscosity • For solvents, maintain viscosity with the proper blend • For UV, avoid any light sources All inks can be compromised due to temperature extremes or contamination. The external ink process must deal with three main issues; ink selection, color match and then storage. • Ink selection should always focus on formulation, chemis- try and adhesion to substrate. Specific selections should be determined in a lab through testing and should stay within the realm of ink suppliers and support staff • When it comes to color matching, uncontrolled batches are probably the single greatest generator of waste in time and material at press. Much can be done before- hand to prevent all the waste. Have a vetted, stable proof- ing method, so the results are repeatable. If you cannot proof directly before going to press with an ink, retain wet samples of the matched ink made in press for later use in proofing new batches. Document batch formulas and any adjustments and recalculate for future use. Make sure you have a way to capture data by using spectro- photometers, viscosity checks, etc. • Ink storage may seem like a mundane exercise, but inks saved for another run play a critical role in tinkering. Inks are challenged by their environments. Controlling the elements of aging, exposure to air, light and temperature extremes are as vital to storage as they are in press. ANILOX FUNCTIONS Aniloxs, hand-in-hand with doctor blades, supply a mea- sured amount of ink and support the graphic image. Aniloxs are no exception as a source of tinkering. What would be our expectations of the operator? Internally, an operator would be expected to handle the primary cleaning process, maintain the physical condition, have aniloxs that are stored at press ready to go and be expected to use a simple scope to verify that cleaning methods are effective. The key to anilox cleaning is to maintain wet ink on the anilox. Have the operators document the ink station shutdown procedure, keep it in mind and focus first on getting the anilox clean. Aside from the documentation, make sure you use a cleaner that actually works on the ink system you are clean- ing up. Make sure the cleaners are anilox safe and those using them have the proper personal protection. If you decide to change cleaners, you may need to rework the cleaning documentation to reflect the new method. Certify the rolls and chambered doctor blades through a tagging system that makes identification simple. Also, flag potential issues associated with using an anilox with a minor flaw. 40 FLEXO november 2012 www.flexography.org