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FLEXO Magazine : June 2013
industrial applications. As a result, the steel’s metallurgic qualities, or charac- teristics, were not specifically aligned to the task of a doctor blade. Doctor blade converters purchased steel strips from various steel mills around the world that they thought would meet the needs of their custom- ers. Because many of their customers were not experienced or informed about the advantages of different types of steel in terms of metering, defect avoid- ance, process control and so on, many made purchasing decisions based on price. As a result, much of the steel used to make doctor blades was lower cost grades, which seemed to work well enough, when in fact it was contributing to production waste. BEST BLADE FOR YOU? Thirty years ago, blade selection was simple. The purchasing person hunted down the lowest cost strip steel at the dimension required for the blade holder on a PCMC or Kidder 660. “... Oh yea, can you make it Swedish blue steel if you’ve got it!” Partnering with a qualified doctor blade provider is a smart business strategy ...Today, the doctor blade is recognized as an integral process ele- ment of flexography. The quality and productivity demands of today ’s flexo require printers to partner with quali- fied doctor blade suppliers who can help find the best blade for a specific application challenges. A qualified supplier is one that is deeply engaged in product develop- ment, including exploring customized steel chemistry and treatments that will result in a blade that will perform best for your particular application. Such companies offer a range of blade materials, dimensions and edges, as well as technical assistance and operator training to assure optimum performance. Their staff includes metal- lurgical engineers as well as printers. To assure product quality and consis- tency, every step in the manufacturing process, from steel formulation to the finished product in the box, is governed by a strict ISO certified quality assur- ance program. Fortunately, in today ’s world of HD Flexo, there are new technology doc- tor blade materials that outperform cheaper quality steels every time. They last longer, reduce mid-run press stops, prevent print defects, reduce press downtime and add life to an anilox roll. Many printers using this new class of HD Doctor Blades report spending less on blades. n About the Author: Paul Sharkey is the president and founder of FLXON INC. He has been actively engaged in understanding and preventing the causes of waste in the flexo process since 1976. He can be reached at email@example.com www.flexography.org June 2013 FLEXO 71 Your finishing operators know this too. The new VLI delivers greater precision and speed of inspecting, slitting and rewinding. And that means quicker turnaround and perfectly finished rolls, every time. Speed and precision. www.rotoflex.com IT’S NOT ONLY THE SPEED OF THE STEEL,BUT THE PRECISION OF THE CUT AT THE CUTTING EDGE Do you make the cut? Find out at rotoflex.com/thecut RF_FlexoMag_4.5625x7.375.indd 1 4/16/12 4:29:48 PM