Here are three ways you can ensure maximum endurance and anilox performance:
Proper care begins when the anilox arrives
Inspect any new roll that enters your facility immediately. Check to make sure the crate is undamaged. Remove the roll from the crate and inspect it thoroughly. Be sure to identify any dings, dents or scratches on the roll. One of the biggest mistakes a printer can make is simply adding an uninspected roll to inventory, particularly if it arrived in a damaged crate. By identifying issues early, anilox companies are often able to help correct the issue before it disrupts print production.
Use care while installing the anilox into your press
Remember that anilox rolls are precision instruments and must be handled with care. Never leave a roll resting on its engraved surface as doing so could break down cell walls and cause scoring or streaking. Instead, always support the roll by its journals. While installing, cover the body with a wrap or covering to protect it from impact damage. It is also important to remember that ceramic, while durable, is not impact resistant and can chip. Chipped ceramic on the ends of an anilox can lead to ink and solvent leaching which ultimately reduces the life expectancy of the anilox.
Use and storage
Anilox rolls are not a “set it and forget it” component. Once the roll is installed, never run it dry with the ink chamber against the roll. Doing so can cause excessive doctor blade wear and potentially score the anilox. Keep the roll running while ink is in the chamber to prevent standing ink from drying in the cells. If plugging does occur, never use tools to try and removed dried ink. Instead, follow a proper cleaning schedule that includes chemical cleaners with a pH between 6.5 and 10.5. Never use chlorine, ammonia or any cleaning solution that is 100% acidic as these will corrode your anilox.
Finally, store the roll either covered on a rack (to prevent contaminants such as dust from entering cells) or in its original crate, taking care that the surface is 100% clean and dry prior to storage.
Following these simple guidelines can help prolong the life of your anilox roll, which can easily exceed two years depending upon care and environmental variables such as humidity.
About the author: Doug Jones is Vice President of Marketing at Apex International, a global supplier of anilox and meter technology.