Interprint operates in the decorative gravure business where they develop and print designs used in the laminate decorative surface category for products such as flooring countertops, cabinetry, furniture etc. Their print surfaces resemble wood, marble, stone, and granite, just to name a few.
2008: Interprint Buys a Flexo Wash Gravure Cylinder Cleaner
In 2008, Interprint transitioned to in-house laser engraving of gravure cylinders to support their internal design development. This process uses zinc as the engraving medium. The zinc is galvanically plated directly over a copper base then laser engraved, cleaned, polished and a final layer of chrome is plated over the zinc to seal the porosity and provide a durable exterior for printing.
Todd Luman, Laser Engraving Manager at Interprint, recommended they try a Flexo Wash Gravure Cylinder Cleaner. He states that:
“We gravitated toward the Flexo Wash system primarily for its minimal impact on the cylinder surface, meaning the system is less invasive to the cells (engraving structure) while cleaning compared to other systems we have used in the past.
Todd Lumin continues by saying how important having a low VOC cleaner liquid was for Interprint:
“We liked the fact we could use an environmentally safe low VOC cleaner to effectively clean the water-based ink on our cylinders. We run a few different low VOC water-based ink systems that are designed to set at low temperatures and cure fast. When we wash-up in the press we don’t get all the ink out of the cells and require an off-press cleaning system like the Flexo Wash system.”
After some deliberation and research into the market Todd Luman got in touch with Flexo Wash who set up a demo unit on-site at Interprint. Luman said:
“A demo Flexo Wash system was brought in and tested on several cylinders that were severely plugged. The results speak for themselves obviously as we proceeded to purchase the system in 2008, because the cleaning was safe and effective.”
Interprint is still using that same cleaner from 2008 today
Interprint has kept the machine running and cleaning for 14 years. Todd Luman shared what the secret was to long-term success with this cleaner?
“No secret really, just good old-school mentality of scheduling your machinery for maintenance before your machine schedules it for you. The system has lasted due to our preventative maintenance program and a dedicated group of individuals (operators) who take pride in their work environment and respect the equipment they use.”
Scheduled Maintenance Program
Every other month all the sprockets, shafts, chains, and rollers in the drive system are inspected for wear and replaced as needed. Additionally, the in-line oilers are inspected and refilled a task that doesn’t require much time.
Liquid to clean the cylinders is added as needed when the machine tells us to the holding tank. Twice a year, the holding tank is emptied, and the sludge is removed, a fresh bath is made at this time.
Todd Luman “This does not mean we have not had premature equipment failures. This happens, things break. However, I would contribute a fair amount of this due to the additional demand we put on the machine. Our equipment was designed and specked out to clean 1/3 the number of cylinders we are processing through the system (a lot of additional wear and tear, it may also be of interest to mention the size of our cylinders, which range in weight from 226 kg - 1000 kg - up to 2 meters wide - 1450mm diameter) “
Projected number of cylinders cleaned per month:
The initial projection was for the system to clean an average of 150 cylinders per month. However, the lowest month was double that number since we started to track the throughput data in 2011.
Size of cylinders:
Range in weight from 226 kg - 1000 kg Up to 8’ wide to 1450 mm circumference.
Actual number of cylinders cleaned per month:
|Year||Total Washes||Average Washes per Month|
How many days a week and days per year in operation?
Pressroom operates with three shifts, 24 hours a day/five days a week. Total of 240 days a year.
How much time do you spend cleaning each roll now and how much time did you spend before the Flexo Wash Cleaner?
“We can deep clean them with the Flexo Wash unit it takes about a 15–20-minute per cycle time for our biggest cylinders, but we are not damaging the cylinders which is a savings us a lot of money.”
Todd Lumin continues: “This does not mean we couldn’t use a harsher chemical and crank up the heat during the cleaning cycle to increase the speed of the cleaning process. However, the end goal is not to damage the cylinders. And 15-20 minutes is still fast cleaning, then we are okay with this. “
We need an effective, environmentally safe, low VOC cleaner, and will pay a bit more to be sure we get the results we desire. “
Future growth for Interprint
As their business grows, Interprint will require additional cylinder cleaning equipment in the future:
“A few things we take into consideration that weighs strongly on the final investment decision outside of the obvious (performance and price to a certain extent) has to do with the type of technical support/service provided by the manufacturer. The technical support, plus the responsiveness and willingness to listen to our concerns provided by Flexo Wash has been outstanding over the last 14 years which reassures us that Flexo Wash is a company that stands behind their product and will support their customer’s needs.” says Todd Lumin.