Innovative Solutions for Today's Flexographer & Converter

31 Oct 2018

Cleaning Solutions for Manual Cleaning of Anilox On and Off Press

Like it or not your operator is going to have to manually clean their anilox prior to or during a print run.

Choosing what cleaning chemistry to apply can either make the task quick and effective or an absolute nightmare!

The first task is to determine what ink/coating formulation you have in helping to select the right product for the job.

Knowing if you are dealing with a Water, Solvent, UV or combination of these ink chemistries is fundamental as all cleaning solutions have been especially formulated to clean specific ink pigments and resins.

When asked which type of inks are the most difficult to clean they are usually surprised to learn that water based inks and coatings generally present the most challenging cleaning issues as once the water/solvent vehicle that transfers the ink pigment has evaporated it is always difficult to rewet.

Even the best of cleaners will struggle to remove any ink that has been allowed to sit on a surface and dry out for an extended period of time and in particular on a porous surface such as a ceramic coated anilox.

So one of the secrets to getting ink off any surface effectively in addition to using the right cleaning product is to remove it as quickly as possible. This usually means at press side or actually on press itself.

In terms of the solution it must have a pH greater than the ink or coating that it must clean but not such that it will attack softer metals or is significantly hazardous to the operator or the environment.

Equally if using an acid based cleaner it again should not be below  2.5 pH . In both cases the cleaning products should be neutralized with fresh water immediately after using and the surface dried completely.

To remove staining, camouflaging, banding an acid based product such as our Eliminator has been proven very effective over many years such that most customers refer to it as “Magic in a bottle”!

For thicker dried on surface ink and some staining our Rejuvenator gel is also extremely effective and not being liquid is less prone to running around a roll making it very popular for on press cleaning.

We generally recommend applying these products using one of our Erazor sponges which helps hold the cleaning product against the surface to be cleaned and at the same time wick the contamination from the surface that is being cleaned.

For general lighter cleaning and on press wash ups our Reacleen and Deepcleen concentrates can be diluted with water and used from spray bottles for spot cleaning or pumped through the ink system for full wash ups on press.

There is no doubt that manual cleaning will never be as effective as mechanical cleaning such as with an ultrasonic system that we recommend but is an integral weapon in a printers daily arsenal that absolutely needs to be used if the performance or any anilox is to be maintained throughout a print run.

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18 Jun 2018

Sandon Global expands into North America with The Flexo Factor

A unique partnership has formed, bringing Sandon’s high quality anilox technology from the UK into North America.
Sandon Global Flexo Factor

Sandon Global / The Flexo Factor

Sandon Global, a UK-based manufacturer of new and refurbished anilox rolls, anilox sleeves and gravure cylinders, got its start in 2004 after its founders noticed a gap in the market for high quality anilox supplies. Based in Runcorn, Cheshire, Sandon Global’s staff have a wealth of knowledge in anilox manufacture accumulating in over 250 years of industry experience. The company has seen significant growth year-over-year since its launch is now taking on developing its worldwide export markets, including the US, where it has formed a partnership with The Flexo Factor, a North Carolina-based supplier of a wide range of flexographic converting equipment.

Both The Flexo Factor and Sandon Global were on hand at the 2018 FTA Forum and INFOFLEX exhibition, where they discussed their new partnership, and the benefits that Sandon Global technology brings to the US market.

In 2010, Sandon Global moved to a new 20,000 square feet site within which it could continue to expand production. “The site includes an isolated Engineering Department and Laser Engraving facility, with six state-of-the-art high definition Thermal Optic Lasers. These lasers are housed in a clean room condition environment which is climate controlled, plus includes anti-vibratory foundation flooring to ensure quality and consistent engravings are produced,” explains Stuart Mitchell, Sandon Global’s business development and export sales manager.

Mitchell stresses consistency as being of paramount importance when it comes to anilox technology. He says, It is crucial throughout our manufacturing process that we maintain the consistency of the anilox – from the basic functionality of the engineered base and ceramic to the constancy of a quality engraving. We recognize how important it is to be able to reproduce the same engraving specification time and time again, and understand that our customers depend on this consistency so that they can replicate their print jobs.”

Asked why did The Flexo Factor selected a European-based anilox partner, Steve Wilkinson, president of The Flexo Factor, explains, “As with all of the products that we offer, the decision to promote a product from Europe was based on a number of critical factors. For example, we look for products that surpass other competing products presently available in the marketplace in terms quality, repeatability and innovation. As Sandon Global met or exceeded all of these factors and many more, the selection process was very simple.”

Wilkinson adds, “Sandon Global’s entrance into the North American market place will immediately enable individual printers the ability to differentiate themselves from their competitors with products, coatings and engraving technology that quite simply cannot be provided by other suppliers.”

The Flexo Factor serves all flexograpic markets, including narrow web labels and tags, wide web, corrugated, as well as the tissue segment throughout North and South America.

Wilkinson brings to The Flexo Factor a wide range of knowledge and experience, and a deep understanding of anilox technology in particular. Wilkinson not only managed Sandon in its early days, but he also had his own film extrusion and printing business. In addition, he served as both Technical Director and Chairman of the European Flexographic Association. In a quest for more career challenges, Wilkinson moved his wife and two young children to Charlotte, NC as a consultant in 1999, and in 2010 formed The Flexo Factor after having identified a need for a technically-based “One-stop-shop” that could help customers better understand and discover products and solutions to meet their needs.

-Published with permission from Label and Narrow Web .com

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15 May 2018

Eliminate to Rejuvenate!!

Eliminate to Rejuvenate!! If you are struggling to remove staining, camouflaging, banding and general contamination from your anilox then you need look no further as we have the perfect answer, it is a solution we call “Eliminator”. Developed after many years of research this product has helped hundreds of printers worldwide rejuvenate anilox  that would otherwise have been reworked unnecessarily.

The product is intended mostly for manual cleaning of any anilox, particularly if you do not have any mechanical means of cleaning the engraved surface whether it is ceramic or chrome plated.

That said most media and liquid pressure wash systems struggle to remove stubborn staining and marking particularly on ceramic engraved surfaces which is why many customers also find Eliminator as a great pre or post finishing solution to help enhance the finished result.

The problem is that most staining, banding and other stubborn marking is often heavily embedded into the porosity of the coating and not just on the surface so unless you have a ultrasonic cleaning system many of these problems can simply not be resolved without the addition of our solution.

While manual cleaning of your anilox  cannot match the deep cleaning of the ultrasonic deep cleaning process with the application of our eliminator solution combined with our Erazor sponges a few ounces of product can often rejuvenate an entire anilox within a few minutes. All it takes is a little elbow grease and sometimes a few applications for really dried in marking for most contaminates to be removed to the point that the engraving is returned to as near a sonically deep cleaned finish as manual cleaning is capable of. All you need do after applying the concentrate and rubbing into the surface completely around and across the engraved roll is to wipe it with a dry cloth to remove the contaminate as it is released from the coating , rinse with fresh water and dry completely to ensure no solution runs around the roll.

Sounds too good to be true ? It’s understandable that you should question its capabilities so please feel free to call us and ask for a free sample we will be delighted to send you a 8oz sample complete with our unique Erazor sponges to apply it.

I guarantee you will love it so what have you got to lose give us a call and save on your anilox roll replacement cost and achieve the consistent performance that your anilox should give you!!

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15 May 2018

Dirty Anilox

Dirty anilox. Two words that can mean the difference between you being able to print good quality graphics, retain your customer, or even make a profit.

Yet it is these very words that I have heard every day for my entire career and continue to do so which in part is why I formed The Flexo Factor several years ago to provide a “One stop shop” range of products, solutions and technical support  to help printers of all sizes overcome this everyday challenge.

What must be realized is that the anilox is “the heart of the press”. Just like your own heart if you don’t look after it at some point in time it will fail and you will suffer ill health.  The anilox is no different after all, its entire job is very similar to your heart, but instead of blood its job is to transfer ink to the printing plate.

To do this the anilox surface usually consists of a thin ceramic coating that is laser engraved to create millions of extremely small cells capable of carrying a given volume of ink or coating . While the ceramic itself is very durable it is extremely fragile making it very sensitive to impact damage and the engraved cells being so small are very susceptible to becoming plugged with the dried ink or coating that it is meant to transfer.

This loss of volume from each cell translates into loss of density, color strength, graphic quality etc. all of which brings me back to the start of this article concerning the downside of having dirty anilox.

So I hear you say what is the solution!!  No pun intended but using the correct solutions that are environmental, operator and of course product safe is critical and that is where “ The Flexo Factor” comes in.

How can we be so sure we that we have the solution for your particular application?  The answer is experience and a lifetime in the Flexo industry.

I can personally guarantee that our products have been tested and proven over many years of testing and all come from world class companies . Please check out our website to view our wide range of cleaning concentrates, ready to use solutions, gels and much more or give us a call and we will be delighted to give you personalized advice.

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15 May 2018

Blast That Roller

Blast that roller – Considering how relatively fragile the ceramic coating is on any anilox roll, the word ” blast” is not the type of noun that I would recommend associating with cleaning of any anilox. That said this is a word that many printers associate with cleaning of their anilox with the use of baking soda, plastic media or even water blasting the surface of their anilox to assist with the removal of dried ink.

While this process does indeed remove the dried ink and coatings from the surface and to some extent from within the engraved cell none of these methods is able to fully remove the contamination from the very bottom of the cell and certainly not from the porosity of the ceramic coating.

As each of these methods is dependent on positioning a nozzle a precise distance from the surface of the anilox and is also dependent on a consistent roll rotation speed and nozzle traverse speed, any interference with the recommended manufacturers guidelines can and often results in damage to the engraved surface, banding or barber pole effects that permanently mark the surface of the anilox. More insidious is the fact that the very thin cell walls often suffer micro fracturing which is invisible to the naked eye and will ultimately lead to cell wall breakdown and the inability of the engraved cells in that area to be able to carry a consistent volume of ink or coating.

In the case of the media type blast cleaning systems they always leave a residual of the material both in the cell and on the roll surface which itself can lead to plugging of the cells, contamination of the ink or coating being used, premature damage to the doctor blade, printing plate and even the bearings on the journals of all rolls in the inking chain.

While liquid blasting systems don’t suffer from quite the same issue, because water droplets are relatively large they struggle to clean higher line count engravings above 600lpi. They also generally depend on very alkaline solutions to assist the cleaning process that in some cases are so strong that they can undermine the ceramic coating, and need to be neutralized before being removed by a specialist waste company.

Environmentally none of these processes are very green in that they generate a lot of waste and can be toxic to the operator if inadequate safety clothing and equipment is not used.

Is there an alternative? Yes of course!! The topic is called “ultrasonics” and we will be discussing this in our next article.

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09 Apr 2018

The Flexo Factor is now the Approved Reseller for the award winning anilox manufacturer Sandon Global

The Flexo Factor and Sandon Global

I am writing to update you on some exciting news. The Flexo Factor is now the Approved Reseller for the award winning anilox manufacturer Sandon Global. With the exclusive responsibility for the sales and service of Sandon Global anilox sleeves and rollers throughout North America. The Flexo Factor is a perfect fit following a longstanding relationship with the business dating back to 1980.

I would personally like to invite you to visit the Sandon Global stand #726 in Hall H at the forthcoming InfoFlex trade show taking place in Indianapolis over May 7th & 8th at the Indiana Convention Center.

We are also attending various sessions at the FTA Flexo Forum at the Indianapolis Marriott in Indianapolis between May 6th & 9th so can organize one to one meetings in advance during this period if you would prefer. To pre-book a meeting in advance please contact me directly via email theflexofactor@hotmail.com or call 704-962-5404 and I would be delighted to introduce you to the Managing Director and Export Manager of Sandon Global who are both attending in person.

Some background information on the Sandon Global anilox systems and engravings can be found on my dedicated pages https://www.theflexofactor.com/

In the meantime, some highlights on The Flexo Factor and Sandon Global below for your reference.

Launched in 2004 Sandon Global manufacture and supply Anilox solutions to 53 countries.
Active members of several industry associations including FTA, EFIA and DFTA.
As an ISO 9001:2015 accredited company we pride ourselves on quality and innovation.
Our latest generation anilox engravings and ancillary products, include; sleeve covers, volume measuring equipment and sleeve storage.
Our customers receive ongoing and expert product and technical support.

Acknowledged by the flexographic print industry Sandon Global have received numerous industry and business awards including.

European Flexographic Industry Association Gold Award ‘Supplier of the Year’ 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2011. As nominated by EFIA printers this is an unprecedented and unmatched record.
British Chambers of Commerce SME National Award 2017
Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade 2016
Approved supplier to W&H, Allstein, Soma and Nilpeter

An active “Project Blue” 4 color fixed palette partner alongside Reproflex 3. Sandon Global have pioneered the recent technical developments within the international flexographic printing market.

http://www.reproflex3.com/project-blue/ Printed at Drupa 2016 on a W&H Miraflex.

Based in Pineville,NC The Flexo Factor has established a reputation for providing state of the art products tailored to each customers unique needs
With a “ One stop shop” catalog of products and solutions the customer has the comfort of being able to obtain everything they need from one place
Providing personalized technical support and helping each customer with advice and guidance to select the best solution to meet their needs is standard everyday practice
Consultancy, training on and off press is offered to ensure best practice and efficiencies are achieved at all times. This comes from decades of experience that The Flexo Team can provide as part of our complete package.

I look forward to receiving your feedback and hopefully meeting you at InfoFlex 2018.

Yours sincerely,

Steven Wilkinson
President

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31 Jan 2018

The Flexo Factor is pleased to introduce the ACE Vertical Plate Cleaning System.

The Flexo Factor is pleased to introduce the ACE Vertical Plate Cleaning System.
Offered in two formats:
  • LCV-30S for plates up to  66.929 x 98.425”
  • LCV-40S for plates up to 82.677 x 110.236”

This ergonomically designed machine with its vertical format gives every printer the ability to clean their plates in a fast and efficient manner with minimal operator effort

With its clear folding doors the operator can even watch as the process as the plates are cleaned

While the system is capable of handling the largest of plates multiple smaller plates can alos be cleaned.

The cleaning process is carried out with a combination of high pressure spray nozzles and cleaning brushes with a blend of water and detergent.

All parts in contact with the cleaning solution are of a stainless construction

As well as washing the system can air dry and heat the cleaning solution for optimum peformance

For more information please call Our team of experts! The Flexo Factor can help you make the right choice to suit your needs & expectations. Let us help you to improve your print quality, consistency, performance & profitability.

Questions? Let’s connect!
Contact us at 704-962-5404 | 980-498-6930
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01 Dec 2017

New Year Savings & Stock Clearance!!!

New Year Savings & Stock Clearance!!!
2 Roll/Sleeve/Parts Ultrasonic Cleaning Unit for Sale

Includes:

  • All stainless 316 construction
  • Stainless lid
  • Auto filtration
  • Stainless steel basket
  • Separate holding tank
  • Drying bars
  • Rinse bars
  • Control cabinet including 4 FMG 600 w/ generators for maximum cleaning efficiency
  • Thermostatically controlled heaters for holding and wash tank
  • Touch screen control and fully programmable PLC
  • Requires 451A 3 phase power
  • Training & Commissioning

Features:

  • Machine can clean up to two anilox rolls or sleeves at a time ( max 59″ wide)
  • Average clean cycle 30 – 60 min
  • Addition stainless basket also permits parts to be cleaned
  • Uses a water /solution mix and is suitable for all types of inks water,UV and solvent.
  • Thanks to the automatic filtration unit solution will last for several weeks
  • Touch screen panel control for easy operation with fully programmable PLC.
  • Small foot print and can even be set up with full closed loop system for minimal environmental impact
  • Available for viewing in our Pineville,NC facility and immediate shipment
  • Call for price and further details

Our team of flexography experts can help you to improve your print quality, consistency. performance & profitability.

Questions? Let’s connect!
Contact us at 704-962-5404 | 980-498-6930

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18 Oct 2017

Introducing Sandon Global – More Than Anilox

Introducing Sandon Global – More Than Anilox

  • Are you struggling to break free of your competitors due to the limitations of your existing anilox?
  • Do you find that your anilox are just not as durable as you would like them to be?
  • Would you like to be able to try new cell geometries to help you achieve better opacity, tactile feel, more uniform coat weights and better overall print quality?
  • Would you like your anilox to stay cleaner for longer?
  • Want to achieve higher definition graphics beyond 200 lpi?
  • Need more technical support in helping you make the right chose of line count, volume and cell geometry?
All reasonable questions but the real question is, are you getting this from your current supplier? If the answer is no then please give us a call and let us tell you more about SANDON GLOBAL. We look forward to providing you with positive answers to all of the above.
Contact us at 704-962-5404 | 980-498-6930
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28 Sep 2017

Astounding Anilox Roll Restoration

Are you struggling to achieve color strength, density, graphic quality and consistent ink lay down?

Even If the answer is only some of the time for any of the above issues then it’s time to restore your rolls!

This does not necessarily mean re-coating and engraving your rolls but does mean deep cleaning your anilox beyond which your blast or pressure wash systems cannot do.

The best option is to ultrasonically clean your rolls but what if you don’t have time for this?

This only leaves manual cleaning which often does not work because the cleaning product you have traditionally used fails to achieve a uniform deep clean of the ceramic engraved surface.

Do not despair for we have the answer!!

Having been supplied into all Flexo market segments for many years our liquid Eliminator and our Rejuvenator Gel products continue to astound and delight our many customers throughout North America.

Both products will remove all forms of inks and coatings and the related staining, camouflaging and banding that often lead to anilox being refurbished unnecessarily or worse continued to be run with all the dire consequences of doing so.

Comments such as” Astounding”,” Miraculous”, “We could not run our press without these press side tools “, are common from our customers and we would be delighted to get your feedback as well.

If you would like to have a demonstration or receive your personal sample of either or both astounding products please call or email us and we will be delighted to give you more information, arrange a personal demonstration or ship a free sample to you – all you pay is packaging & shipping.

Contact us at 704-962-5404 | 980-498-6930

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