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News & Press: Industry

How a Micro Fiber Cleaning Plate Can Effortlessly Maintain an Anilox Roll

Monday, July 10, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Alyce Ryan
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Originally Published On: FLEXOGRAPGY.ORG

Today’s world is all about time. What can you do in a day? Could you do more? When you consider what can be done in a small increment of time, building a better package is not likely to be on that list.

But what if it can be? What if you can increase your quality of print and lower costs in just five minutes? And the icing on the cake: Most operators already know how to do what it takes. There is no training required or limitations on the press that can be used to make it happen.

Let me begin by telling you how I came to this conclusion; it took a lot longer than five minutes. I started in the print industry when I was 19 years old. After working for many years in different departments and having a range of experiences, I noticed there was one consistent issue throughout: the struggle to maintain print quality because of dirty anilox rolls. It seems this problem and the fight to correct it have been around for as long as flexo printing has existed.

We all know one of the main factors of good print quality is the cleanliness of anilox rolls. When a roll is new and proper steps are taken, print quality is great. But that quickly changes as the cells get plugged with dried ink.

That’s when the questions start flowing: Is this print quality still acceptable? Should we let this go or is the order going to get rejected? Didn’t we just clean the rolls? It soon becomes an everyday hassle. No one wants to stop production to clean anilox rolls; time is money.

A Micro Fiber Cleaning Plate Brings Efficiency

After realizing there weren’t many options for keeping aniloxes clean without losing time, I set out to develop my own alternative. I started looking for the right materials, ones that would attach directly to the print cylinder. During my research, I traveled to Europe and met with manufacturers there. After study, testing and retesting with multiple materials, I was finally satisfied with the results that came from a micro fiber cleaning plate.


It takes five minutes or less to install an anilox roll micro fiber cleaning plate on most machines. And it’s the same principle as the printing plates operators already know how to mount. The best part? Once the plate is mounted, it cleans the anilox roll while running the press—No more forced downtime.

There doesn’t have to be a sacrifice of production hours to take the roll out and exchange or clean it. You also don’t have to wait until your rolls are clogged to fix the problem. This plate can be installed on new or aged rolls, and used as soon as the operator notices a roll getting dirty or having any trouble printing. By allowing roll maintenance from the very beginning, printing will be more consistent and higher quality. And, by keeping it clean, you extend the life of the roll itself.

Breaking the Cycle

Any given anilox roll cell is about 100-µ. in diameter, depending on the volume specifications. To put this in perspective: a human hair is about 70-µ. in width. This plate is unique in its approach to cleaning that tiny cell. Micro fiber is a structure of about 50-µ. per fiber. In the plate, there are millions of micro fibers per square inch, providing the potential to actually penetrate into that cell and irritate the dry ink into moving out.

It’s the toothbrush for anilox rolls. Think of brushing your own teeth. If you just rinsed and never brushed, you would get buildup, fast. But, if you add a brushing motion, things start moving around. It’s the same principle here. When you finish printing and take the ink out, the washing cycle injects water with solution, but that’s it. Eventually, it’s just rinsing the top. The bottom cells are drying out and becoming full; it’s a terrible cycle.

Once this cycle begins, it does not take long before rolls are being pulled and the machine is down for hours for soda blasting, hand scrubbing, or another time consuming cleaning method. The reason the micro fiber anilox roll cleaning plate is a unique approach is that it allows you to clean and maintain directly on press during production. It eliminates the time required to move the roll or the safety issues that come from hand scrubbing next to sharp doctor blades. Not to mention, it’s also a very clean process.

Because the micro fiber holds very little moisture, it won’t splash the product when running and cleaning at high speeds. Once installed, it usually takes around one hour to clean or maintain. Maybe you have an order that will take 45 minutes, or maybe one that will take an hour and a half—the point is that time is not an issue. If you have a station not being used for printing, it can be cleaned during that time. If the roll is clean, but the order is still running, you can just disengage the anilox. Or, you can ignore it and let it run; it will not damage the roll to leave it on.

Unique Advantages

Please understand, this plate does not replace all other cleaning methods. There are ways to clean or resurface a roll that may be beneficial, but there are many advantages to using a micro fiber cleaning plate for an anilox roll. It is much safer for operators. It can also extend the anilox roll life and the time between those very deep cleaning sessions where you must stop production.

Cleaning doesn’t have to be such a struggle. This is a way to effortlessly, efficiently and effectively clean your rolls. It is easy, safe and economical. The micro fiber anilox roll cleaning plate leads to less downtime, longer roll life and, to put it simply, more savings. Why wait until you need to stop production for cleaning or to buy a replacement roll? Take five minutes and build a better box now.