In the printing industry, anilox rolls are used to evenly distribute ink across a design for one or multiple items and need to be thoroughly cleaned between uses to prevent damage to the rolls. These are expensive parts of printing equipment and can be custom-made for your company, so it is important to treat them with expert care for a long and productive product life.
How Anilox Rolls Are Made
Anilox rolls are a cylinder made from an aluminum or steel core with an industrial ceramic outer layer. This ceramic layer is carved into intricate patterns of dots or cells meant to transfer ink. The ink is applied to the raised portions of the roll and deposited on the surface meant to be printed and can seep into the ceramic if not cleaned between uses and when put away at the end of the day. You will need to use special anilox cleaners to keep the surface from pitting and provide a clean transfer of ink time and again.
How To Clean Them
The first step in cleaning your anilox roll is to determine what it is made from and which substances the manufacturer recommends to get the best result. If your core is aluminum, for example, then you want to make sure that your cleaner is marked “aluminum safe” because the ceramic coating is porous, and the chemicals will seep into the core. If your cleaner has sodium hydroxide in it then it can cause pitting or bubbling to an aluminum core and must be rinsed thoroughly off ceramic sleeves and avoided for rolls with aluminum cores or bases.
Once you have found the right cleaner and thoroughly cleaned your anilox roll or sleeve, it is a good idea to rinse it several times before drying it. If you leave it to drip dry or for the water to evaporate, you can cause rust to the core and cracking to the ceramic coating of your rolls. You can use alcohol wipes or compressed air to dry your rolls, but it is important to ensure that the air lines are free of oil and that the wipes are designed for use on your type of anilox product.
Printing with anilox rolls can give you precise lines on your plates, but the rolls and sleeves are expensive investments that need to be understood for proper cleaning and care. Your first step should be to understand what materials are in your anilox products and how your cleaners can interact with these materials.
You will then want to carefully clean and thoroughly rinse your rolls before drying and storing them between projects or during breaks long enough for the ink to dry.