One of the critical factors concerning anilox life is wall thickness. In most cases, a wall width between 4 and 6 microns is ideal. The post-engraving process of diamond polishing ensures flat and smooth wall-tops. This gives the blade the necessary support, as long as the wall surface is polished after engraving. A wall that is too thin will reduce blade life. It also increases the likelihood of fragmenting the anilox wall, which can cause score lines and cell channeling that can only be corrected by re-engraving your anilox.
For correct ink volume and longer anilox life, the proper depth-to-opening ratio is incredibly important. Ideally, the depth of the cell should be 25 to 35 percent of the opening. The smoother the bottom of the cell is the better the roll releases ink. A cell such as an Eflo HD will release more efficiently and require less cleaning, which will lengthen the life of the cell. In today’s world of short-fiber substrates, consistent volume application is critical, making the depth-to-opening ratio more important than ever. Knowing your ratio along with the correct BCM and LPI is vital to ensuring both the long life of your anilox and consistently successful print.
An appropriate doctoring system is key to the life of the anilox. Inconsistent metering often occurs when anilox are compromised due to improper doctor system usage. A magnetic filtering system is highly recommended in order to avoid score lines caused by metal particles becoming lodged between the blade and anilox. Whenever a steel blade is used for metering, a diamond polishing process is used to ensure the consistently flat walls that lengthen the life of the anilox. Whether you are using steel or plastic blades, pressure is critical for consistent metering, as well as for lengthening the life of both blade and anilox. Blade pressure can be altered if the blade is installed outside of the end seals, so please check this when installing a new blade or if you’re having metering problems.