Flash Poll Reveals Common Printer Problems with Ink, Anilox Rolls, Doctor Blades

Admit to challenges. Resolve to find solutions to them. Seek help and advice where appropriate. Learn from the experience. Those were the four fundamental instructions flexographic printers put forth to their peers in a recent FLEXO Magazine Flash Poll that sought to identify the most common problems encountered as a result of the ink/anilox roll/doctor blade interface.

What Packaging Format(s) Do You Print?

The survey honed in on typical remedies and the most effective solutions to dealing with six top challenges, namely:

  • Ink spitting
  • Anilox scoring
  • Excessive blade wear
  • Chamber starvation
  • Ink foaming
  • Ink misting

Other struggles reported by the printers sampled included:

  • Ink strength/color density
  • Effectiveness of ink curing and drying speed
  • Incorrect color and excessive color pulls at makeready
  • Color shift during the printrun

Eleven percent of Flexographic Technical Association printer member plants answered FLEXO’s query in the allotted two-week time window, April 30-May 11. Of the group, the vast majority—67 percent—said they printed flexible packaging. Twenty-three percent described themselves as label printers, 12 percent produced folding cartons, 6 percent corrugated boxes and 4 percent envelopes. Several members of the audience engaged in multiple applications, which explains why percentages quoted exceed 100.

What Ink-Related Issues Are Most Common?

Questions put to printer participants requested they identify the most commonly used inks, plate materials and anilox cleaning methods, plus offer thoughts on standardization of anilox roll inventories, as well as the most critical factors that contributed to their last change in ink, anilox roll or doctor blade.

Results, as summarized here, clearly indicate that while the problems—both frequently and sometimes encountered—are not at all surprising, improvements can be made in the manner they are being addressed on pressroom floors. Adherence to standardized operating practices and a training and educational program speaking to why they were established should prove critical elements in the campaign to keep presses running.