The Heart of Flexo printing – anilox cleaning

A technology solution for maintenance of anilox rolls

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L-R: PR Tripathi, production head, Dhariwal Industries, a division of Manikchand Packaging along with KV Hebbar, proprietor, Scanvik Packaging
L-R: PR Tripathi, production head, Dhariwal Industries, a division of Manikchand Packaging along with KV Hebbar, proprietor, Scanvik Packaging

The anilox roller is the very heart of flexographic printing. If all other prepress conditions are perfect, but the anilox roller is not clean, you cannot produce consistent color and print quality. Keeping your anilox rollers clean after each job, ensures the printer’s ability to produce repeat print jobs with consistent color and print quality in minutes rather than hours.

As the lines on the anilox are getting finer and finer, the need for quality cleaning is increasing; otherwise quality printing cannot be obtained. In this context, the new laser technologies especially, present new challenges to flexo printers. The deeper cells can exasperate plugging issues. Plugged anilox rolls cause inadequate ink distribution, poor color densities, difficulties in getting the right color and waste of time, ink and substrate. Smaller cells mean a more delicate cell structure. Delicate cells are more easily susceptible to damage because of improper handling, doctor blade scoring and poor cleaning methods.
Pads, abrasive cleaners and brushes are loosing their effectiveness in deep or small cells.

Because of the above-mentioned issues, printers cannot wait with cleaning of their anilox rolls until they cannot perform anymore. The market is simply getting too competitive for the continued use of uncleaned anilox rolls which cause inconsistent print quality, increased downtime, excessive waste.

A proactive approach to maintenance of anilox rolls and thereby also to become more competitive is to:
– Clean the rolls after each job;
– Keep a regular maintenance schedule on rolls;
– Clean the rolls immediately after removal from the press and before storage;
– Keep new rolls clean from day no 1.

Today everyone knows that aniloxes need to be clean for optimal printing quality. Properly cleaned anilox rolls however also reduce set up time, reduce press down-time, minimize waste of ink and substrate, improve productivity and increase the roll life. Therefore it is a must to clean the rolls. Because of the finer lines it is also necessary to find a safe, gentle and automatic cleaning method, that will cause no wear or tear on delicate aniloxes.

One such method is to use Flexo Wash technology which uses a safe and gentle cleaning method that does not harm even the most delicate rolls. In fact the cleaning method offered by Flexo Wash means that you can both deep clean the rolls and wash them on a daily basis without harming even the finest rolls. Eco-friendly cleaning liquids used for anilox cleaning dissolve the ink built up in the anilox cells by a heated cleaning liquid wash followed by a high jet water spray. The ink and or varnish are first softened chemically and then the deposits are dislodged by the force of the water spray. The liquid applied is filtered and re-circulated. There is no abrasion whatsoever thus preserving the integrity of the anilox roll surface. The cleaning liquids are not size limited and hence have the ability to penetrate the high-screen-count anilox cells. Finally, by drying with compressed air the cleaning and rinsing process is completed. No manual handling takes place during the entire cleaning process thus avoiding any damage to the anilox roll.

It does not matter if the anilox roller is wet or dry. It does not matter if you need to clean water-based, solvent and or UV inks, adhesives, acrylics, polymers, lacquers, varnishes, or laminates. The Flexo Wash FW Anilox Cleaning Systems incorporate ‘plug ‘n play simplicity’–

Set the time, close the lid and push the start button. The whole cleaning process starting with liquid spraying, rinsing with high-pressure water and at the end drying by means of air will run through automatically;
The systematic cleaning process is safe and harmless to the anilox rolls, employees and the environment;
– The cell volume is completely restored – in a few minutes;
– The cleaning solution is captured and filtered for re-use again and again lowering costs;
– Simple maintenance – Change the filter monthly and clean the liquid tank every half-year.


Flexo Wash based in Denmark has a range of cleaning equipment for both narrow and wide web flexo and gravure printers and is a pioneer and world leader with over 2,000 global installations. In India, it has met with very good success with over 35 installations in reputed companies such as Uflex, Mehta Flex, Parakh Agro, IDMC, Huhtamaki PPL, Tetra Pak, Manikchand Packaging and Shrinath Rotopack. Flexo Wash is sold and serviced in India by Mumbai-based Scanvik Packaging.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

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