Roundtable Q&A: Rolls & Roll Handling

William R. Bradley Jr., Director, Technical Sales - American Roller Company
Peter J. Mulheran, Vice President / General Manager – Eaglewood Technologies
Jeff Paduano, President - Anilox Roll Cleaning Systems, Inc. 

How have your rollers or roll cleaning products helped to improve efficiency and quality issues for customers?

Bradley: Since 1938, American Roller has developed value added products to the markets we serve.  As a provider of elastomerics, precision ground hardcoatsand plasma coatings, we often find ourselves customizing technology to cater to a specific customer’s need. Whether it is an application requiring better thermal transfer, wear resistance, or release characteristics, the focus is to maximize efficiency and reduce quality defects.

Mulheran: Because the anilox is arguably the most important variable in the flexo process it is imperative that it is taken care of properly.  By using the award winning Sitexco Laser Cleaning System our customers are able to completely control this variable.  The Sitexco System will track the wear and tear of every anilox in inventory, clean it, control it and measure the volume of the aniloxes.  The traceability program can recall every time an anilox has been cleaned, who cleaned, how it was cleaned, when it was cleaned and the after-cleaning volume.  This allows for consistency in color matching, print quality, density, and improved press up-time.  Not to mention this is the most sustainable cleaning technology in the world.  Most of our customers are achieving color matching and print densities previously unattainable. 

We have even developed a new software program that can tell the production team which aniloxes need to be cleaned on a daily basis.  This allows the machine to control the anilox variable even further.  Every morning a list of aniloxes that are in need of deep cleaning displays on the touch screen interface and this list is also emailed to the production team so there is full transparency as to which aniloxes will be cleaned that day and what their condition is.  The production team can even access the Sitexco System from the comfort of their desks to see where in the life cycle each anilox is and how to best utilize them to reduce press down time, improve make readies and reduce job costs. 

Paduano:  Simply put, a clean, well maintained roll makes life easier for everyone in the converting process.  Today’s printing and coating rolls are precisely engraved to client specifications so they can achieve high quality output at faster and faster speeds.  Customers who rely on our products and services reduce their set up times, use less ink and coating materials, and produce superior imagery and other visual effects on a consistent, repeatable basis.

What new technologies are being incorporated into your roll product portfolio?  How are they adding ease of use for converters?

Bradley:  Our field tech managers are on-site daily with customers, discovering areas to reduce waste/scrap and increase productivity. New product development is ignited off real world challenges identified “in the field.”  This has produced successful launches of new generation roller coverings and plasma coatings (traction and release) that address build up issues, web slippage and tension inconsistencies; ultimately reducing defects.

Mulheran: Our products are environmental leading technologies.  We have the best available technologies for all market segments in Flexo.  We are the leader in laser anilox roll cleaning with over ten years experience.  This system requires ZERO consumable.  The Sitexco System is the winner of the 2018 FTA Technical Innovation Award and a finalist in the Global Label Awards for innovation.  This system makes the process repeatable, sustainable and simple.  It can clean, measure, track and control the most important variable in the flexo printing process.  It’s not just cleaning anymore, it’s inventory management.  We also have industry leading sodium bicarbonate systems.  The Sanilox™ System is the most versatile anilox roll cleaning system in the world.   This technology can automatically clean rolls in or out of the press.

Paduano: The latest technology advancement we offer for precise cylinder cleaning utilizes a proprietary laser.  Lasers clean better than traditional methods and also remove a wider range of materials, including some very tough debris such as metallic based silicones.  The best part?  This state-of-the-art equipment is easy to use – simply load rolls into the machine, push a few buttons, and press start.  Operators are free to perform other duties until the cleaning cycle is over.     

What are some unique challenges customers face and how are you helping them overcome them?

Bradley: Over the last ten years technology has advanced rapidly. OEM’s are producing equipment to run faster and more efficient than ever before.  A key component to this success can be advanced roller designs and covering technology. Surface characteristics, electrical conductivity and thermal transfer efficiency of roller coverings/coatings can be determining factors on the “limitations” of a machine.   Today most customers are challenged to run faster and more efficient, without increasing their cost.

Example: A line can only run at 500 FPM due to a sticking issue between the web substrate and roller surfaces. American Roller can come into a customer’s facility and apply a wear resistant traction and release plasma coatings on the roller surfaces, in the machines!  All the cost associated with removal of rollers, freight, and delivery time is eliminated.  After 24-36 hours, the line is back running, and the performance improvement is instant. American Roller has provided on-site plasma coating services for over 35 years.  This service is usually performed on weekends, planned outages or over holidays. 

Mulheran: Anilox management is a key challenge, i.e., knowing your anilox is truly clean and assuring management is a simple process.  Simply place an anilox or many aniloxes inside of the machine, select which aniloxes are being cleaned on the touch screen and press the “On” button.  The laser will find the engraved area of every anilox, find the optimal focal distance and clean the anilox without any water, chemicals, media or consumable.  Once the anilox has been cleaned it’s ready for use immediately or can be placed in inventory.  The production team will know the aniloxes will perform the same way in press, after every cleaning.  This translates into repeatability and consistency with make readies and color matching. 

Paduano: We find more and more client’s processes are getting increasingly complex.  Many converters must use cross-linked materials and custom coatings to make their final products, and have struggled with removing the residue that inevitably gets left behind on their production rolls.  Up until now, many of these rolls could not get cleaned out sufficiently for the next job, and would have to get replaced or resurfaced frequently – a very expensive proposition.  In most cases, our Eclipse Laser System solves this problem – we have performed numerous studies and tests with top converters around the country with very positive results – some that have even surprised us!

Are you doing anything to help companies achieve their sustainability initiatives?  Is so, how are you doing this? 

Bradley: Our culture is to foster a long-term strategy with our customers.  It’s not about the order, it’s about the relationship. By partnering with customers on the front side of an opportunity and probing respectfully, their sustainability plans become clear. In support of this, let’s highlight our Research and Development Services:  For over 30 years American Roller has conducted thousands of tests to mimic and improve customer’s applications including chemical resistance, physical property, dynamic property, analytic and many other methods.  This is all done at no charge.  Using science and metrics accelerates the process, and the solutions our customers are looking for.  This effort is modeled and supports identified sustainability initiatives.

On the commercial side of the business, American Roller is always looking to please customers with competitive pricing, on time delivery and prompt and clear communication.  All areas must be intact with today’s marketplace demands. Yet another way to assist our customers with their initiatives!  

Mulheran: Our products are the most sustainable roll cleaning systems in the world.  Helping companies achieve their sustainability initiatives is why we are in business.

Paduano: Absolutely!  Our Eclipse Laser System can have an immediate impact on helping companies reduce their waste and operating costs.  The laser does all the work, so no consumables such as chemicals or cleaning medias need to get purchased for the system to run.  The laser only uses a small amount of electricity – about the same as running your dishwasher at home.  And due to how the laser beam functions, the only waste created is a dirty filter once in a while, which can go into the regular trash for disposal purposes.

 

Subscribe to PFFC's EClips Newsletter