Although there is no exact formula for preventing every difficulty in the press room, there are ways to sharply reduce or completely avoid many problems. Pamarco helps its customers make their press room as successful as possible by recommending preventative maintenance programs that are designed to help them do just that: reduce or avoid problems. One of the ways Pamarco has done this is through a printable outline provided to customers with a step-by-step guide to best practices. This article is intended to address that outline in a new format, to discuss the advantages preventative maintenance can afford your company, and to cover some additional information about cleaning.
Before we dive into suggestions and steps that are part of Pamarco’s preventative maintenance program, it seems helpful to understand the reasoning behind preventative maintenance in the printing industry. An everyday analogy that might help us relate is to think of flossing versus going to the dentist. We don’t have to go to the dentist every day, and while it’s important to make those deep cleaning visits consistently, it’s very important to be flossing our teeth in between to avoid difficult cleanings and more serious complications. Rolls are the same way; if they aren’t cleaned deeply from time to time, they will end up plugged and may cause loss of color or even rejected materials.
Now that we’ve established why it’s important, let’s talk about what preventative maintenance involves. The upkeep program that Pamarco recommends has three parts: daily, weekly, and quarterly or periodic. The daily portion is simple: use a good cleaner to circulate through the press wash-up system. This is quick and effective on press cleaning that does not require much man power or time, but it cleans the rolls on a daily basis. It is important to pause here for a moment and mention that Pamarco sells a lot of cleaners, but there are many other choices out there. The best cleaner is the one that’s being used, but be careful because many are effective but unsafe. Wherever you get your cleaner from, the pH should be no higher than ten.
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The weekly piece of the program involves what Pamarco calls spot cleaning. This means taking an off-the-shelf cleaner, spraying the roll down, and then aggressively scrubbing it with a brush or a pad. Pamarco’s Cleaning Blanket (seen left) comes into play in the weekly step. It is a great alternative to weekly spot cleaning because it allows the operator to avoid spending thirty or more minutes cleaning the roll. Instead, the Cleaning Blanket can be set and left to run alone. The operator can be otherwise occupied because there is no physical scrubbing.
Although the least-popular because of all that it entails, Pamarco’s final recommendation is a periodic or quarterly deep clean. This part of the program occurs off press, or with a very involved cleanup process if the roll is left on press. Off press means that a cleaning machine needs to be established in the plant with soda blasting, a flexo wash, or an ultrasonic tank cleaning system. There are also mobile cleaning services that will come in and clean your rolls on press for a fee. An alternative to these methods is Pamarco’s cleaning paste. The paste goes directly on the roll, is left for an hour, and then manually scrubbed. While not ideal as a standalone deep cleaner, this paste can really stretch out the time between the deepest cleans.
So far we’ve covered the reasoning for preventative maintenance and an outline of how it works, but now let’s talk specifically about the chambered systems, cleaning plates, and some odds and ends of general housekeeping.
Cleaning is very important to keeping things efficient. When it comes to cleaning chambered systems, they can be run with the anilox roll. Cleaners can easily circulate with the chambers, and we recommend doing this weekly. Typically very easy to drop down or pull off, it is a great idea to sync cleaning chambered systems with weekly doctor blade changes.
Plates should be cleaned as soon as they finish running. Something to keep in mind is that many cleaners will need to be diluted to clean plates, especially rubber polymer plates. Pamarco recommends a soft bristle (horse hair is preferred) brush. While these brushes are reusable, they are easily ruined if left uncleaned. For the same reason, they should always be stored out of direct sunlight. The last recommendation for cleaning plates is that it is vital to use a lint-free rag to avoid putting lint on the plate and causing all kinds of issues when you start running it again.
Pamarco has several general housekeeping recommendations, as well. One of the most important suggestions is using magnets in filters to draw out any metal particles from the doctor blades; it is important to keep them out of the chamber system. If filters and magnets are not used, the anilox roll can easily be scored and possibly destroyed. Instead of spending thousands of dollars in damage, magnets are relatively inexpensive and worth every penny. Another common sense issue is that any spills need to be kept as tidy as possible to prevent ruining anilox in various ways. It’s a safety hazard, too! Keeping spills out of the press room benefits both the company as a whole and the individual – no one wants to get hurt on the job.
In summary, we have reviewed Pamarco’s best practices outline, discussed what benefits preventative maintenance can bring to your company, and covered a few points of practical information about cleaning and housekeeping. While there is no method that is guaranteed to eliminate all problems, many issues in the press room are easily avoided through the use of a consistent preventative maintenance program. If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment to begin or revisit your preventative maintenance program, please connect with me at 404-691-1700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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