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FLEXO Magazine : June 2013
Plants & Processes Improving Efficiencies and Profitability With the Anilox Roll Pressroom awareness Makes Both Possible By Bill Poulson The anilox roller is a precision tool that is used in the flexographic printing process. Handling techniques will have a lot to do with how it performs, as well as how it will last through its lifecycle. Many variables within the flexo process can cause premature wear or damage to the anilox roller. All are areas that affect the efficiency and finally the profitability of the manufacturing process and anilox roller budget. Many of these issues also have a direct affect on run time efficiencies of the pressroom. When production is stopped for unexpected anilox roller changes or unnecessary downtime, the plant is losing money. Two areas worth focusing on in attempting to alleviate the problems are anilox management and the doctoring of ink through the flexo process It’s a given that every flexo printing plant should have an anilox management program. Essential elements follow: a. Have an active inventory list put together for each press line or press type. This will allow you to track each roller as it comes into your plant. Once the roller is unpacked it should be identified and listed into inventory. Place a new number on each roller for easy identification and make sure that number correlates with the manufacturing number supplied as well. Document date-in, as well line screen, volume and any other data that is necessary b. Create a tagging or identification program. Tags should mirror the anilox list c. Once the tag is assigned to a specific anilox roller, it will stay with that roller. This has to be known to all that handle these rollers. The tag will be listed at the press station when the roller is placed into the press as well. If this practice is maintained, the system will take care of itself and all anilox rollers will be identified at a glance, wherever they are in the building. d. Have your anilox supplier audit and monitor your inven- tory at least once a year. Handling and care is a given when you are discussing anilox roller wear and the everyday issues that arise. Most converters have issues with the basics, and that is where you have to start. All the work is done upfront by the anilox coordinator, so the operators only have to make sure that when the time comes for putting a system together, they only have to manage the tags and make sure they stay with the roll- ers. This simple method will need a person to manage it. It is not a full-time job, but needs to be done by an individual that is methodical in his or her duties. INK FLOW & DOCTORING Everyday issues can affect anilox wear. Look at every area within the flexo process that comes into contact with the anilox roller. Start with the ink system. Getting the ink to press and keeping the system clear of contaminates is a key issue. Newer presses use double pump sys- tems to keep pressure down within doctor blade chambers. Keeping these pumps synchronized, so that they always pump at the correct intervals, affects ink flow to the anilox surface. This makes sure we keep a reasonable level of negative pressure in the ink chamber. This is most important when running at high speeds above 1,000 fpm. Make sure that the pumps are syn- chronized and this will directly affect ink flow within the chamber. ANILOX MANAGEMENT MADE EASY • Have an active inventory list put together for each press line or press type • Create a tagging or identification program • Have the anilox supplier audit and monitor inventory at least once a year • Handling and care is a priority when seeking to avoid anilox roller wear • Everyday issues arise. Most converters ignore the basics--that is where to start Filters and magnets help assure that the ink stays clean and flows well. Ink goes to a solid state if pH drops. solvent inks start to solidify and get more abrasive and affect friction of blade to the anilox surface. Photos: Harper Graphic solutions. 56 FLEXO June 2013 www.flexography.org