Unpacking the Anilox

After producing our first anilox roller in 1946, Pamarco eventually went on to develop the ceramic roll still used today. Over the past seven decades, Pamarco has founded and refined a manufacturing process based on consistency. By providing one of the highest quality products on the market, we hope to bring that same consistency to the doorstep of our customers around the world.

Before diving into our anilox rolls, however, it is essential to understand what Pamarco is all about. As a company that believes in relational and technical product development, Pamarco embodies the strongest ambitions in industry progression. With over seventy years of industry leadership, our company has proven its adaptability and innovative spirit through persistent, unflagging growth.

It is our privilege to offer the print and packaging community an expansive product portfolio and decades of experience in the flexo, offset, gravure, industrial, coating and laminating, corrugating, and embossing markets. Pamarco provides the total packaging and converting solution with an award-winning product line supported by a dependable team focused on putting customer relationships first.

Within the parameters of our company, our sights have been set on helping clients get the most out of the products we produce and represent. A proven strategy that has been around for ages, we find putting customer needs first an invaluable tool for both attaining and retaining customers, as well as for the morale of those behind the scenes at Pamarco. The act of helping others is good for the soul and the business.

When it comes to the details of anilox rolls, one of the most important topics we cover in our educational program (available to you!) is preventative maintenance and general care recommendations. Without a preventative program in place, it is nearly impossible to document, monitor, and control your anilox inventory in a way that makes your company capable of consistently delivering high quality print. Upkeep and attention to anilox roll handling increase the value of your anilox roll and maximize your investment, so it’s always a worthwhile venture.

In order to achieve roll longevity, Pamarco recommends a daily, weekly, and quarterly or periodic maintenance program. Although it sounds complicated, it is a fairly simple program to follow once the routine has been established. Not only are the steps outlined below, but this information and more can be found on our blog:

Pamarco’s Best Practice Recommendations for Anilox Rolls:

Daily (Light Cleaning):

  1. Circulate quality cleaner through press wash-up system
  2. Be sure to use a pH no higher than ten

Weekly (Spot Cleaning):

  1. Spray cleaner onto dirty spots
  2. Aggressively scrub with brush or pad
  3. Circulate cleaners in chambered systems (sync this with doctor blade changes for greatest efficiency)
  4. Cleaning Plate and CellRestore

Quarterly/Periodic Options (Deepest, Off Press Cleaning):

  1. Soda Blasting
  2. Flexo Wash
  3. Ultrasonic Tank Cleaning
  4. Mobile Cleaning Services (On Press)
  5. Laser Cleaning
  6. Plastic Bead Cleaning

General Recommendations for Longest Roll Life:

  1. Avoid sharp knives when opening anilox roll packaging
  2. If using a hoist, measure carefully and put choke strap in center
  3. Retain all anilox records for future reference
  4. Regularly inspect rolls (from day one!)
  5. Always clean rolls while ink is still wet
  6. Place magnets in filters to remove metal doctor blade particles
  7. Prevent and/or quickly handle workplace spills
  8. Use lint-free rags on cleaning plates
  9. Soft bristle brushes (horse hair if possible) stored out of direct sunlight and cleaned immediately after use
  10. Clean plates after each use
  11. Dilute cleaners for cleaning plates, especially rubber polymer ones
  12. Proper storage of rolls to avoid score lines or other handling damages
  13. Use protective roll covers every opportunity
  14. Reduction or elimination of chemical cleaning
  15. Correct doctor blade and metering pressures for the job and roll being used

While incidentals are unavoidable in any operation, following Pamarco’s best practice recommendations will limit many preventable issues. Always keep in mind that maintaining a roll is vital; failure to do so means running the risk of inefficiency and inconsistency in print.

While cleanliness is critical for roll longevity, another factor to consider is the original engraving specifications and whether or not they truly match your needs. The first place to look in this line of thinking is the level of ink film thickness needed on your printing plate because this is what determines color strength and print quality. Engravings with a consistent depth to opening ratio will provide the most reliable density. To put it another way: the percentage of ink that can transfer to the plate is equal to the depth of a cell at a given line count. This means that choosing a line screen count at the proper depth to opening ratio will produce a consistent cell wall. A uniform wall is stronger so it lasts longer, prints more consistently, and can even be resistant to damage.

Sometimes you may have the correct roll engraving and it still underperforms. At this point we have to take a closer look at the roll – what is the underlying problem? Why aren’t things working properly? The very first sign of possible anilox wear or plugging is a struggle to maintain consistent color. Color strength inconsistencies can occasionally be the result of something else, but that is not typically the case. In situations like these, accurate knowledge is everything. Roll audits are great for uncovering these minute but impactful details about your rolls, and the information gleaned provides you with a solid benchmark for each roll’s performance over time.

In the 70,000+ roll audits we’ve performed over the years, the data speaks for itself: 25% of rolls show wear, 10% show damage, and 65% have lost volume from poor cleaning. We help clients regain control of their anilox roll performance by collaborating with them to build cleaning routines that work. One plant reported that they were saving fifteen minutes a shift on anilox cleaning problems that were directly related to dirty print. That amounts to seven shifts of production saved by simply using the correct technology and following the recommended maintenance program.

While our auditing program is designed to help clients one by one, Pamarco is also investing in programs that are designed to bring much more education and information to the center stage for the entire industry. It’s a standard that has been set by many companies in our industry. Check it out here for details on the education possibilities into which FTA, AICC, Pamarco, and other collaborators are currently investing time and resources. If you’re anything like me, this is an exciting movement to participate in. By focusing on education and information sharing, we are engaging those around us in the future of what we do. This is the kind of company Pamarco wants to be.


Author : Katie Graham

Questions or comments?
404.691.1700 ext 105 or Email: katie.graham@pamarco.com


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If you’d like to find out more about Pamarco, how to properly maintain and extend the life of your anilox roll, or to learn more about any of the topics covered here, you can contact me at katie.graham@pamarco.com.