With the advancement in the field of printing technology, Anilox rollers have gained much more popularity than transfer rollers used in laser printing.
In printing, Anilox is a procedure that plays a major role in providing the required amount of ink to a flexo printing plate.
Anilox roller is a ceramic roller or an engraved metal roller mainly brought into the printing press to transfer the ink from the roller to the printing plate.
Its main purpose is to pick the ink from the roller or from any of the configurations and deliver a uniform amount of it to the rubber plate for the printing process.
How Does Anilox Roll Work?
This hard cylinder-shaped roller contains millions of fine dimples referred to as cells and is semi-submerged in the fountain of ink to make a thick layer of it on the roll.
After that, a doctor blade is applied to scrape the extra ink from the roller surface to have the measured amount of ink in the dimples.
After this, the roller is rotated in contact with the printing plate on which the ink from the cells gets transferred to the material for the required impression.
This provides better performance and offers cost-effective solutions to the customers.
After the use of this metallic roller, there is no need for any hot foil units to complete the task. Just select your roller type and let it do proper work with special care.
Why Is Regular Anilox Cleaning Important?
Due to the regular use of anilox rollers for printing work, chances become high that these start delivering low-quality printing.
Proper maintenance and cleaning are thus essential to give it durability and longevity and to get the ideal printing results.
It is quite essential to keep your anilox roll clean so as to deliver more volumes of fine printing work, which involves the interaction of multiple colors of ink as per the requirement of the customer.
To compete in the market, it is more vital to maintain a good anilox roller which is the most effective thing to develop business and production.
How to Clean Anilox Rollers?
Cleaning the anilox rolls starts with the following few essential guidelines.
Not following them may lead to rolls becoming even dirtier, which can be time-consuming and difficult to clean.
Here are a few tips and guidelines for you to follow:
-> As soon as the rolls are taken out, ensure that you wipe them out and clean them with a high-quality cleaner solution.
If the ink (especially water-based inks) is allowed to dry and deposit on the cells, it becomes too hard to remove.
-> You should not remove the rollers out if there is ink remaining in the system. Also, check guard the air movements over the anilox.
-> In addition to performing daily cleaning of the rolls (after each new set-up) you may need to deep clean them as and when required (usually every 2-3 months) to achieve the best performance and durability.
A few basic methods for cleaning the anilox rolls and getting enhanced printing results are as follows:
1- Using Brushes
If you love the DIY tasks and want to handle anilox roll cleaning manually, you can use quality anilox roll cleaning brushes that can help clear the minute cells in the roller in a safe manner.
High-quality brushes made of brass, stainless steel, and horsehair (or nylon) are recommended for cleaning the anilox rolls and can be purchased online at a low cost.
Choosing an appropriate brush is important so that you do not damage the sensitive parts that are important to perform the printing work on the plate.
If you are not pretty sure about the brush type or quality, you may get in contact with your anilox roll manufacturer to get an idea about the best type of brushes and tools that can be used for your specific roller type.
2- Using Baking Soda
Cleaning anilox rolls can also be done using a technique that involves blasting the anilox surface with baking soda or sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3). Fine particles of baking soda are air blasted on the rotating roller surface.
The fine particles, which are smaller than the cell openings, reach deep into the surface and fight the unwanted deposit materials.
A vacuum is used further to clean the surface from baking soda and remove material.
The technique mentioned above works great for rollers that employ the usage of water-based ink.
You may, therefore, need to check your roll type before you use any of these techniques.
3- Using Aggressive Chemicals
Deep cleaning of the anilox rolls using aggressive chemicals, solutions, and ink-specific solvents is advised every 2-3 months.
In this method, the roll is firstly treated with an ink-specific solvent. They are then blasted with heated chemical agents or an alkaline wash.
Solvents for cleaning are used to separate the bonding materials from the ink.
Chemical anilox cleaning in a machine can prove to be much effective, especially when you choose a good ink-specific solvent.
Solutions that are user and environmentally friendly can be used with this method to avoid any hassle and damage made to the environment.
However, care has to be taken that upon choosing the wrong chemicals/solvents, the rollers can get corroded or completely damaged, which is hard to recover.
4- Using A Laser Cleaning Method
To avoid the inconvenience and nuisance that can be caused by chemicals, anilox laser cleaning is also many times recommended.
The laser beam can leave a high impact on the ceramic surface of the rollers which leads to contamination getting free from the dirty surface.
The so-called method of cold-evaporation (which is dry and gentle) proves to be effective and can take from 40-45 minutes to complete.
However, care has to be taken that it requires proper knowledge and experience to achieve the right settings of anilox rotational speed, laser beam scan width, etc.
5- Using An Ultrasonic Cleaning System
The ultrasonic cleaning technique is the fastest method that can clean up to 90% of the contaminants in a much faster and more convenient way.
This is a tested and proven method for cleaning most of the printing components that are tough to be cleaned in a normal way.
The ultrasonic anilox cleaning device employed for the task handles all the cleaning process on its own; for this reason, there is no need to let an additional person watch the cleaning process.
How Does An Ultrasonic Anilox Cleaner Work?
An ultrasonic anilox cleaning machine, through the cavitation process, reaches the depth of the roller and clears any residues of the ink or liquid from the holes, crevices, and internal chambers.
The level of cleanliness as delivered by these automatic cleaning devices is nearly impossible to achieve with any other device or method.
The waves of ultrasonic cleaner machines go through the microscopic cell openings disturbing the cleaning liquid deep in the cavities of the cell to remove the settled and dried ink from every nook and corner of the roller.
To get the best cleaning results, it is recommended to make use of a heated cleaning solution in an ultrasonic anilox cleaner which is specifically formulated for the cleaning task at a specific temperature, as recommended by the industry experts.
These cleaners provide a pre-determined frequency operated independently with a low voltage supply.
This maintains a stable distribution split from a line fluctuation which results in a hot spot being shifted up and down to prevent damage due to the concentration of the power at one point on the roller.
For people who are NOT an expert, you can go for hiring professional anilox cleaners and cleaning companies that can help provide you with many affordable services.
These are best to get your rollers cleaned in an easy and hassle-free way!