Pressroom Consumables

While low-cost chemicals may appeal, they could increase costs in the long term by damaging critical parts of the press, says Sachin Shardul

14 Dec 2011 | By Sachin Shardul

When margins are tight, printers all too often view pressroom consumables as an area where money can be saved. Yet, while plate cleaners and blanket roller washes are clearly an expense that can’t be avoided, choosing a product based primarily on its price is fraught with danger.To make them more effective, cleaners and washes made from the cheapest raw materials are typically mixed with other more aggressive substances.

This method of formulation can result in plate damage, shorter plate life, blanket damage and wash-based lithographic problems, claims Padmakar Ojale country manager at Fujifilm India.“By the time you add up the cost of fixing these problems and the extra paper waste, the extra few pence that well-formulated products cost pales into insignificance,” he says.Rather than cost, suppliers agree the most important criteria when choosing a product should be compatibility. With blanket washes, poor on-press compatibility can cause an over-hardening or softening of the rubber press components. In extreme cases it will shorten roller life and reduce quality.Parag Pimple, territory sales manager at TechNova Imaging Systems believes compatibility has become an increasingly complex subject. He suggests printers should always seek advice on the issue, as today compatibility has a dual meaning.

“It’s not just about on-press product compatibility any more,” he says. “Packaging printers in particular also need to uphold their duty of care and control the use of products that may potentially migrate from the packaging into the food, beverage, toy or pharmaceutical product.”Pimple advises printers to seek out products approved by Fogra or German independent testing institute Isega. “Let us not forget that the rollers and blankets are at the heart of the printing machine and are there to do a job, namely transfer ink and dampening solution to the printing plate, blanket andthen printed product,” he says.

Correct application“The aim of the printer is to consistently transfer this image with minimal variation and minimal start-up waste. To do this, the rollers and blankets have to be maintained accordingly, and the correct application of a premium Fogra approved wash is a step in the right direction,” adds Pimple.The trend towards low-alcohol and alcohol-free printing only adds to the importance of getting the right product. Regular maintenance of the pan and dampening form roller is crucial with this type of printing, as the absence of alcohol leaves the printer with a narrower operating tolerance.

Therefore, it is hugely advantageous to have predictable and controllable damp feed,” says Pimple.“Some meter roller cleaners can contain acetone or other roller damaging chemicals, so the use of a premium quality cleaner is important,” he says. “Once again, product compatibility is essential to high quality, cost effective and environmentally aware printing.”Put simply, a cheaper product will only prove more expensive in the long run. 

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