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September 24, 2012

We seem to always be damaging our anilox. What can we do to reduce this and is there any way of repairing the edges of the anilox without a full replacement?

Considering how long anilox have been around, you would think that this topic would be long since over but unfortunately it continues to be the bane of every print shop. I will also assume that you are referring to laser-engraved ceramic anilox. Damage to anilox falls into three main categories: Impact, scoring & chipping.

Impact damage is usually caused by the roll surface coming into a hard usually sharp surface or having a nut, bolt or other foreign object run through the print section.

Scoring is a little more complex and although it can also be caused by contamination in the ink such as metal particles and other larger hard objects it more often comes from running blades dry, running blades out of alignment, applying too much pressure, running at the wrong angle or simply choosing the wrong material, thickness or just not changing it soon enough.

Chipping generally occurs on the edge of the anilox, which is the most fragile area of any ceramic anilox. It is critical if a anilox is chipped that it be filled immediately with an epoxy filler or two part filler such as JB weld as quickly after the damage has occurred. Although it will never be a permanent fix, it will slow the rate of break down, and help reduce further damage to the blade and leakage from the edge of the roll. If you do not repair the chip immediately it will migrate around the circumference of the entire edge of the roll, making replacement the only option. One thing many printers do not take into account is where the ceramic particles go when they chip off the roll, which is into the ink and how much these ceramic particles actually contribute to scoring of the roll face so it can have to major visible effects on the anilox and not just on the edge of the roll. In my experience, if the repair is carried out speedily and with some care, the repair can hold up for several months or longer if it is monitored and perhaps even repaired again.

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