DIY Anilox Audit
Put simply, Testex strips are used create an impression of a surface. Normally, it is used to create an impression of a flat metal surface, but in this instance, we will be using this solution on our anilox rollers. This method is used strictly for 30- and 60-degree hexagonal patterns. Not recommended for elongated cells or special engraving patterns.
In the flexographic printing industry, metallized replica tape is used with interferometric optical profilers to check the wear on printing rolls. It is preferable to measure a replica, rather than the original, because of the cost, complexity, and delicacy of these instruments. Replica tape makes it possible to bring the surface to the measuring device.
To perform the inspection properly, a strong, level table or bench is necessary. Generally, a 3’ L x 2’ W well lighted area will work for narrow web anilox rollers. Some suggested locations to perform an inspection is at the press operator’s clean-up spot at press (if it does not interfere with production), tooling area, anilox storage area, anilox cleaning area, or maintenance area. An anilox cradle or v-block is used to inspect anilox rollers, change bearings or gears, and clean up.
Before beginning your audit, we recommend that you clean your anilox rollers – In order to measure the engraving specifications, the anilox rollers should be free from dried ink or any other solution that would not allow us to generate accurate results. While evaluating the appearance of the anilox roller, be sure to pull the engraving specifications from the side of the roller, as well as inspecting for damages, dings, scoring, chipped edges, and cleanliness. A clean anilox makes it much easier to read, and greatly reduces the time to analyze the impression or cell.
- Apply Testex strip on cleaned surface towards the center of the anilox roller. Ever printer could be different, but it is important to apply the strip where printing occurs most often on the engraved face.
- Score the Testex strip until gray line or impression appears in the circle formation of the testing strip. This indicator will show whether the scoring was done successfully.
- Be sure not to touch the center of the Testex strip after applying. Always keep fingers on the farthest edges of the paper. Any imperfections will void the Testex strip and will have to be reapplied. One hard straight line when applying burnishing tool. Do NOT polish the surface, it will create ghosting on impression of cells.
- The time frame to complete an anilox roller inspection is based on preparation. Generally, a group of 50 can be completed in 4-5 hours. A group of 100 can be completed in 8-12 hours depending on locations of anilox rollers. When using the Testex method, you are looking at a time frame of about half of what would be a normal anilox roller audit.
- Once the on-site inspection is complete, we ask that you send the data to our facility and we will create a spreadsheet for you with all the information on it. This typically takes a few days to complete.