What You Need to Know About Cleaning Flexo Plates
For a clean sharp look your equipment needs to be clean as well. The squeaky wheel rule has us often paying more attention to maintaining and cleaning the bigger elements of the machinery, but what makes the difference is our attention to the details; cleaning your Flexo Plates properly qualifies as one of these details in the outcome of your printing. The following is a list of what to focus on when cleaning your flexo plates
- Solutions: Choose the appropriate solution. Be sure to look for a solution with a viscosity that will reduce dripping so that the detergent has prolonged contact with the surfaces of the plates. Depending on your ink use, you may need to include a de-greasing agent. Flexo plate cleaners usually come in either powder or liquid form. If washing by hand, soak the plate in the solution and let it sit before scrubbing, but do not let it soak too long or this can create damage during the cleaning process.
- Cleaning Method - Automatic: Your method choice is essential in order to avoid damage to the screens. If screens and fine reverses trap the dried ink then it is best to consider automated late cleaners. Using an automatic plate washer can save you time and money in a big way. If dried ink is not cleaned off properly it can add up over time and degrade the quality of your prints. Furthermore, you will eventually have to spend more time cleaning the plates than if they had been cleaned thoroughly in the first place.
- Cleaning Method – By Hand: Brush pressure is essential in preserving the integrity of your flexo plates. Too much pressure can create plate damage. You only need to scrub moderately once applying the cleaning solution. Be sure to keep a good amount of solution on the plate in order to avoid scratching. You can use a saturated, lint-free cloth or a specially-bristled brush. Be sure to use a proper cleaning basin such as this one from FlexStor that is resistant to the cleaning chemicals.
- Timing: As mentioned above, dry ink is clearly a problem in preserving plate quality, thus cleaning flexo plates directly after they have been used will minimize the time that ink has to dry. Since flexo plate cleaning is time consuming, it is best to schedule it in as an anticipated duty. This will prevent other seemingly important tasks from putting off the important task of plate cleaning.
- Environment Factors, Thinking Green: Policy changes over recent years have created tighter regulations on businesses and their effect on the environment. This should be taken into consideration when devising or innovating upon your flexo plate cleaning regimen. Consider recycling the plate washing liquid and rinse water for repeated uses. Also, automatic flexo plate cleaning machines will preserve the life span of your flexo plates so you are producing less overall waste.
Combining these various elements of the felxo plate cleaning process into a consistent system will yield long term beenfits, especially in the form of preserving your flexo plates and in maintaining high quality print outcomes.