If you are looking for quality flexographic printing, you need to keep your plates clean and properly maintained. Besides quality printing, maintaining and cleaning plates extend their life and saves you money since you don’t have damaged plates to replace. To protect your investment and extend its lifespan, here are a few misconceptions about flexographic cleaning you should avoid:
1. You Can Clean the Equipment Anytime You Want
The appropriate time to clean your flexographic equipment is immediately after use. It is not advisable to leave the cylinders and print sleeves uncleaned after use. If you wait too long to clean your flexo equipment, it will be extremely difficult to clean them later. For best results, clean the cylinders and sleeves immediately they come off the press. Delays cause the ink to dry and harden, making it even harder to clean your flexo equipment.
2. You Can Use Any Type of Cleaning Product
Again, this is a huge misconception. Besides giving your plates and sleeves a thorough wash, use the right cleaning solution for best results. Cleaning your flexographic equipment is not just about getting rid of the ink. Just because a cleaning solution can get the ink off does not mean it’s the right one. Factors to consider when selecting a cleaning solution include the type of inks that need to come off. If the inks are water based, industrial alcohol or soapy water can get the job done. The thing to keep in mind is that for every ink type, there is a corresponding cleaning solution.
3. You Can Use Any Type of Cleaning Tool
Well, if you want to avoid abrasion, choose your cleaning material or tools carefully. Rubber print sleeves may last long and are durable, but their surface is soft. If you use a harsh cleaning tool or method, you will wear out the surfaces of your photopolymer and elastomer print products. Avoid using harsh tools such as wire brushes and any metallic materials while cleaning your image carriers. For best results, use soft brushes that can remove the ink without damaging the rubbery surface.
4. Storage Isn’t an Important Consideration
It is if you want to reduce damage risk. For instance, don’t store your flexo sleeves in a horizontal position to prevent damage. Also, do not stack your sleeves up too high since they can easily fall and hurt someone, especially if they are stacked up horizontally. The best option is the vertical storage solution, which uses less space and stores more sleeves. Besides, it does not endanger the safety of your workers. Vertical storage not only provides easy access to sleeves, but it also keeps them in excellent shape. You can organize them easily in a way that allows your workers to access individual sleeves with utmost ease. Besides, vertical storage keeps your sleeves safely secured.
5. You Can Store Your Sleeves Any Time after Cleaning them
If ‘anytime’ also refers to ‘immediately’ after cleaning your sleeves, this is not recommended. Avoid storing your sleeves immediately after cleaning them. Instead, give them a couple of hours for solvents and other liquids to evaporate. To protect your sleeves from harmful UV light, wrap them in a film or paper. Before storing them, make sure the storage temperatures are not above 90 degrees F or under 32 degrees F.
For quality flexo printing services, regularly have your flexo equipment and associated accessories such as sleeves and cylinders cleaned regularly. This involves cleaning them immediately after use and letting them dry completely before storing them under the recommended temperatures. Once cleaned, wrap them in a film or paper and then vertically store them for easier retrieval.