Different Methods of Anilox Roll Cleaning

In a printing house, you need reliable tools to help you get the job done quickly, correctly and cost effectively. This is true both in the components that help create the print as well as in the processes to clean the components, such as using an anilox roll cleaner. Before we can talk about some of the cleaning processes involved, it’s important to understand some things about two of the most common printing methods being utilized in the industry today.

What are Common Commercial Printing Methods?

Commercial printing houses have long relied on doctor blades and anilox rolls to the point they have become an essential part of large-scale printing. Flexographic printing (or flexo), uses doctor blades to help control the amount of ink left over on a printing cylinder. Rotogravure (known as gravure) also uses doctor blades in a similar fashion.

What is an Anilox Roll?

Anilox rolls are cylinders, usually made out of aluminum or steel, that are covered in ceramic and engraved with anilox cells (tiny dimples). The anilox roll works in tandem with the doctor blade to deliver a very precise amount of ink on a printing plate. Depending on how detailed the images are that need to be printed, anilox rolls can have lower or higher line screens. However, after lots of use, these anilox rolls need to be cleaned in order to preserve optimal printing performance.

How Does Anilox Roll Cleaning Work?

Printing houses rely on proper cleaning procedures to help ensure quality and consistency across the board. If cleaning is done periodically and effectively, it can help to increase the shelf life of anilox rolls as well as the transfer of ink to the plate. This is what makes printing repeatable and stable. The other major benefit of anilox roll cleaning is a financial one. Rather than spending thousands of dollars on new rolls, taking care of the ones you already have can prolong your investment and save your reputation as a clean, reliable printing press.

Here are some of the main methods of anilox roll cleaning.

Manual Chemical Cleaning

This can be done either daily or a deep clean can be done every couple months.

Machine Chemical Cleaning

The roller is blasted with heated chemical agents to separate the ink from the binding.

Ultrasonic Cleaning

Using a combo of cleaning agents and ultrasound waves, the roller is washed.

Anilox Blasting

A blasting powdered agent is used to dry clean the anilox roller.