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FLEXO Magazine : February 2014
To make do, an operator is forced to apply more pressure, resulting in at least a portion of the blade buckling, so the side of the blade—not the tip—is making anilox contact. The consid- erably wider blade-to-anilox contact area is subject to hydraulic lift from ink pushback, resulting in a thicker anilox ink film. Metering on the blade’s side also results in edge slivering—a leading cause of anilox damage. The solution is to check the condi- tion of holders at least once each year. If they have deteriorated, invest in new retrofit blade holders/chambers. There are many popular cost effective solutions available. It just doesn’t make sense to “make do” with a compro- mised holder that will profoundly com- promise the entire print process. DOCTOR BLADE In the past, a common rule of thumb was that in order to achieve the smallest contact area, a doctor blade should be as thin as possible, often 0.006-in. However, because of necessary pressures needed to keep a chamber sealed to the anilox, we have determined thicker blades better resist bending or buckling. A thicker blade at 0.008-in. will result in a thinner contact area than a 0.006- in. Today ’s high speed HD wide web flexo presses are often running a 0.01- in. thick material. But to maintain a thin as possible contact area and reduced ink film, these blades often include narrowing tips, reducing the contact area to 0.004-in. New chemistry and high definition steels are proving to be more rigid and less aggressive to an anilox surface, and slower to wear when compared to earlier generations of steel. They also don’t require a “soft” or “hard” coating to achieve the desired results. Unlike plastic materials, HD steel leaves no dyne altering residue imbedded into the anilox ceramic. SUPPORT & TRAINING Do your operators know the answers to these questions? • What are the contact angles and contact areas of the blades run on your press? • What is the condition of your blade holders and clamps? • Are the blades you now run helping or hurting your operation? If you need help with assessments or training to reduce dot gain and dirty print, consult with your anilox or doctor blade partner. They should be able to help you with solutions. n About the Author: Paul Sharkey is the president and founder of FLXON INC. He has been actively engaged in under- standing and prevent- ing the causes of waste in the flexo process since 1976. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. www.flexography.org FEBRUARY 2014 FLEXO 27 email@example.com · www.vetaphone.com 101 reasons to choose Vetaphone CORONA & PLASMA 101 Booth #1316 See the other 98 reasons on our website #14 Easy Cleaning & Maintenance #14 #25 Quick Change Cartridge #25 #39 Humidity Resistant #39