Getting print to turn out the way you want it to shouldn’t be an impossible process, or an overwhelming one. No matter your place in the print industry, from wide web to corrugated packaging, the end result should always be a happy customer and a successful business model. In order to achieve this, however, it is necessary to understand the anilox roll and why its care is critical to achieving your goals. This guide will walk you through each step of that process: from receiving your anilox fresh in the box to the careful maintenance that will ensure its longest possible life.
Let’s start the moment that the new roll arrives in its standard packaging. What do you see? Is the container damaged? Is the roll itself damaged? Is it bent or busted in any way? Are there scratches in the chrome or ceramic or other signs of abuse? Your receiving process will be much smoother if you pay attention and catch these problems before the roll goes into the machine.This is also one of the most crucial steps: say no to damaged goods. Don’t sign for it. But before you do reject it, pull out your handy smartphone and snap a quick photograph as proof to show your supplier and shipper. Not that you should need any, but it can’t hurt to play it safe.
When you have a proper package in hand, you should open it up to find a perfect anilox roll inside. But how to keep it in pristine condition during the transition from package to press? Protect your roll by keeping it covered until the last possible moment. Be cautious. If you’re using a hoist, measure the distances, put the choke strap in the center, and check the balances before lifting and during roll installation. Inspect and remove covers or tape very carefully and do not use a sharp knife.
Before installation, it is highly recommended that you check the credentials or specifications of the roll. Make sure it is exactly what you ordered and what you need it to be. Mark the serial number, volume, cell shape, and line count so that you have records, or use the Pamarco certification that comes with each roll for your records. What’s important is to know your roll before you put it to use.
The anilox roll lifespan is dependent on many factors and can vary quite drastically based on the situation and care, but they should generally have a three- to five-year life if used and maintained properly. Most often, rolls are retired prematurely due to excessive wear, damage, or cell plugging. This is an unnecessary task when caring for rolls in the recommended manner can spare your business the expense and switch.
When it comes to maintenance, Pamarco always recommends inspecting your ceramic anilox roll before and after cleaning. This type of monitoring ensures that cleaning is being handled in the correct manner for your specific roll. If you have properly inspected the roll upon receiving it, then you should have documentation of the original cell characteristics and an understanding of how your roll is working under its current circumstances.
While there are differing methods of cleaning based on your situation, the most common methods are as follows: stainless steel brushing using cleaners (chemicals) designed for the application and ink system, on-press cleaning systems, and off-press cleaning systems. While there may be times when it is necessary to remove a roll from the press to carry out deep cleaning, this involves losing out on run time, so it is in your interest to consistently clean your anilox roll. Pamarco’s newly developed CellRestore was created to assist in cleaning plugged rolls while on press. This chemical makes cleaning a much easier task by lengthening the time between those deep cleans. No matter the cleaning choice, an anilox be cleaned while the ink is still wet. This will minimize or eliminate the need for off-press cleaning systems and can often lower the amount of down time for your press.
The standard recommendation for cleaning a ceramic anilox is to wash it with a detergent and water daily, manually clean it with a stainless-steel, or brass for chrome, brush weekly, and deep clean it monthly with soda blasting on or off press. By adhering to these guidelines of proper cleaning, you are providing your anilox roll the greatest chance to live a long and healthy life. And that’s definitely the best thing for your company.
To better understand the current status of your roll, or to know when its condition warrants heavier-than-usual maintenance, Pamarco always suggests an anilox roll audit. This type of inventory maintenance is key to keeping your roll line-up printing correctly every time. After performing over 70,000 audits, the experts at Pamarco have the knowledge to help you get the most out of your rolls with each job you undertake.