The anilox rolls used in your printing press units are expensive investments, so knowing how to clean and maintain them is a good way to protect them and your business. Improperly cleaned equipment can fail more often, leading to expensive replacement parts, repairs and downtime. There are three main topics you should know about when it comes to cleaning anilox rolls, the solutions to use, the schedules to keep and the procedures to practice.
Not all cleaning solutions will work well with the anilox rolls and sleeves you use for printing, some will fail to remove the excess ink as well as the dust and grime which can accumulate and others will cause pitting or scoring of the expensive textured surface. Your first bit of research should be to know which anilox cleaners work best with your particular model and you should avoid cleaning solutions that do not say “aluminum safe” on the label.
It is recommended that you clean your anilox rolls and sleeves after every job. This means both cleaning between different projects during the workday and cleaning at the end of the night, even if the same job will be picked up again in the morning. During the workday, your roll should be kept in motion when not in use to prevent ink from drying in the engravings, this means that at night, when the unit is turned off, there should be no ink in the wells to dry on the roll. Getting in the habit of cleaning everything before locking up, is the best way to avoid damage to parts, equipment and projects.
Once you find the right cleaning solution and schedule for your needs, it is time to get into the tricky parts of cleaning your rolls and sleeves. Your first step should be to remove the item from the printer with both hands or a hoist to avoid damaging the surface and take it to an area designated for cleaning. You will then thoroughly clean the ink off with your recommended cleaner and rinse the roll completely. Most professionals will tell you to rinse it several times to prevent the cleaning solution from being absorbed into the core and damaging the roll. After rinsing, dry the roll completely and store it safely until it is needed again.
Proper cleaning and maintenance of your printing press and shop can lead to longer equipment life, less downtime and fewer expensive replacements. It is important to thoroughly clean your anilox rolls and sleeves to prevent damage to this costly investment. You can research the proper cleaning solutions, set a daily cleaning schedule and practice the procedures to get the best results.