All About Flexographic Plate Cleaning

Flexography is a new kind of printing press that can be used to print on nearly any sort of substrates such as plastic, solid metal, tissue and paper towels. Flexo uses flexible rubber plates and quickly drying ink to print. Flexographic technology is increasingly growing in popularity because:

• Flexo sleeves are light in weight and easy to maintain
• Flexography works with many kinds of substrates

Cleaning and proper maintenance protocols should be keenly observed to ensure the flexographic equipment maintain an optimal quality of prints and longer life. Cleaning flexographic plates may not be as simple as it sounds. It may also require strict adherence to a set of guidelines. Below are the basic maintenance processes recommended while cleansing flexo equipment.

Proper cleaning material

While cleaning flexographic plates, it is best to use a soft material such as a sponge or a lint-free rag. Abrasive or coarse materials are likely to affect the integrity of the plate severely. More people continue to use nylon mesh to clean flexographic plates. This is a poor cleansing material.

As critical as it is to use a soft cleansing material, it is equally vital to use the right cleaning agent. It is recommendable to test the plates before attempting to clean them. Tests establish whether certain agents will damage the plates while cleaning. More chemical cleaning agents are available in the market. Though the chemicals clean flexo equipment well, some of them disintegrate and dissolve into the plate. Substances dissolving into the plate alter the chemical composition of the flexographic plates leading to problems in the long run. Alcohol is, therefore, regarded as the best cleaning agent available.

With automation appealing to many people, more people have opted to purchase plate cleaners. Auto cleaners optimize cleaning solutions, and they are more likely to clean all the ink. Automated cleaners, however, offer different cleaning solutions. It is important to understand the type of cleaner that would work best given the type of ink used.

Timely cleaning
Once plates are ejected from the cylinder, always clean them. Leaving ink on the plates to clean later is not a good maintenance policy. Additionally, it is imperative to use clean plates during printing. Dirty plates trap particles when they are stored. Some of the particles may be hard to remove. It is also important to apply proper flex storage solutions to avoid the use of dirty plates and improve their functionality.

Some establishments focus more on output production and postpone cleaning the plates. It is, however, necessary to continuously clean the plates for optimal production in the long run. Proper cleaning practices will guarantee that flexo printing equipment such as flexcart and flexstand last longer. Moreover, staff designated to cleaning the printing equipment must be well educated on the proper cleaning processes. For additional resources, visit FlexStor.

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