Interprint (a Toppan company) operates in the decorative gravure marketplace where they develop and print designs used in the laminate decorative surface category for products such as flooring countertops, cabinetry, furniture and other like items. Their print surfaces uncannily resemble wood, marble, stone and granite, just to name a few. Interprint works with renowned designers to create some of the most popular decor surfaces.
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 they “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 some other systems we have used in the past. In addition, 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. In stating this, when we wash-up in the press we don’t get all of the ink out of the cells and require an off-press cleaning system.”
Luman got in touch with Joe Almeida, Flexo Wash territory manager and got a demo unit set up at Interprint. Luman states “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.” Interprint bought their Flexo Wash Gravure Cylinder Cleaner in 2008.
INTERPRINT IS STILL USING THAT CLEANER FROM 2008 TODAY.
Interprint has kept this machine running and continuously cleaning for 14 years. We asked Luman to share 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.
- Detergent to clean the cylinders is added as needed to the holding tank. (The machine lets us know when we need to make an add)
- Twice a year, the holding tank is emptied and the sludge is removed, a fresh bath is made at this time.
Luman states “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 amount of cylinders we are actually 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 500 LBS- 2000 LBS- up to 8’ wide - 1450mm circumference) “
Projected amount of cylinders cleaned per month:
The initial projection was for the system to clean an average of 150 cylinders per month. However, in reality, the lowest month was double that number since we started to track the through put data in 2011.
Size of cylinders:
Range in weight from 500 lbs. To 2000 lbs. Up to 8’ wide to 1450 mm circumference.
Actual amount of cylinders cleaned per month:
Year Total Washes Average Washes per Month
- 2011 3,580 298
- 2012 4,207 351
- 2013 4,558 380
- 2014 5,479 457
- 2015 4,697 391
- 2016 5,043 420
- 2017 4,746 396
- 2018 5,016 418
- 2019 5,191 433
- 2020 4,488 374
- 2021 5,580 465
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? How much time did you spend before the Flexo Wash Cleaner?
“The system is not faster than our previous cleaning methods, however it is safer on the cylinders. So, it may take twice as long to clean them with the Flexo Wash (about a 15-20 minute cycle time) however we are not damaging the cylinders which is a savings to us.
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. So, if it takes longer to clean them, we are okay with this. “
How much are your cleaning supply costs? How does that compare with before this cleaner?
“The cost of everything has gone up since our purchase back in 2008 so we don’t have a fair baseline to compare consumable costs. Nevertheless, the cost of the cleaning supply is not a make-or-break factor for us. We need an effective, environmentally safe, low VOC cleaner and will pay a bit more to get the results we desire. “
FUTURE GROWTH FOR INTERPRINT
As their business grows, Interprint will require additional cylinder cleaning equipment in the future and will assess the market for what technological advancements have been made to best fit their needs.
Luman adds “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.
As mentioned previously, the support from the Flexo Wash group has been fantastic. Joe Almeida in particular understands the industry, his equipment and has been pleasant to work with. Joe is open to hearing the good and taking the bad news as well in a positive, professional manner and has supported us over the years to ensure we were satisfied with the performance of our equipment. “