Welcome to my column where I will share best practices for Flexo Wash technology and common flexo challenges. I want to answer your real world questions, so be sure to send them to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will feature them in an upcoming column. As your partner, I look forward to handling all your issues as soon as possible and offer lessons learned.
Question: How do I care for my sleeve adaptor and gaskets on my anilox unit?
There’s not a lot of maintenance involved in keeping up the sleeve adaptors. The gaskets are what you need to keep an eye on, as they provide the seal between the adaptor and the sleeve. You need to keep these clean and make sure that they are still sealing the sleeve. Read on to see how best to do this.
What are Sleeve Adaptors and Gaskets?
Many Flexo Wash customers use our custom-made sleeve adaptors in their anilox units. Flexo Wash sleeve adaptors are made out of UHMW plastic and the ID (inner diameter) of the adaptor is slightly smaller than the ID of the sleeve while the OD (outer diameter) of the adaptor is slightly larger than the sleeve OD. The journals on the sleeve adaptors are knurled in order to provide grip on the roll gears that are in the anilox cleaning unit. Since there are many different sizes of sleeves in the market, each set of adaptors is custom-made based on each specific sleeve. This means that the gaskets that are supplied with each set of sleeve adaptors are custom-made as well.
Proper Care for the Sleeve Adaptors
As far as the actual adaptors go, there is not a lot maintenance involved in keeping those in working order. As long as you don’t have large chunks of plastic missing out of them and the journals are still knurled, the adaptors will be fine. If you do have some damage or the knurling on the journals are worn off, you can take them to a machinist and they will be able to turn the adaptors down a little bit and re-knurl the journals. If you do not have that option, you can send them back to us and we can have it done. However, that will take a few days and you won’t have any adaptors to use on your sleeves. Of course, we would be more than happy to supply you with a new set of adaptors if necessary.
Proper Care for the Gaskets
The sleeve adaptor gaskets are what you really need to keep an eye on as they provide the seal between the adaptor and sleeve. If those are damaged (or in some cases missing), then moisture will get into the inside of the sleeve.
Check to see that the gasket is not dried out
The gaskets are typically ¼” thick Neoprene. In some cases, the gasket may be a little thinner or thicker; it really depends on the application (like covering a plastic RFID ring/handle). Over time, Neoprene will start to dry out and may shrink or crack. If you notice that the OD of the gasket is now smaller than the OD of the adaptor, then it is time to order new gaskets. If the gasket is split or has cracks in it, then it needs to be replaced as well.
Keep gaskets clean as possible
It is also very important to keep the gaskets as clean as possible. Sometimes, when we do demonstrations here at the shop that require sleeve adaptors, we will see ink off the end of the sleeve stuck to the gasket when we pull the adaptors off. While that shows we had a good seal on that sleeve, it also means that we may not get a good seal on the next sleeve. That ink has to be cleaned off the gasket or you run the risk of the gaskets not sealing against the sleeve the next time you use them. In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be that much ink on the end of a sleeve (or not enough to stick to a Neoprene gasket). Unfortunately, that is not normally the case.
So, keep those gaskets clean! They will last a lot longer if you keep the ink buildup off of them. If you notice that the OD of the gasket is shrunk (relative to the OD of the adaptor) or there are cracks/tears in them, order some new ones from us. When ordering, it is helpful to have the the ID and OD of the current gasket. If you do not have that information, the ID and OD of the sleeve will put us on the correct path.
Give us a call at the shop and we can help you troubleshoot the problem.
As always, if you need immediate assistance, call us at Toll Free: 888-493-5396 | F: 888-543-5396
Flexo Wash US
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2010 Plantside Drive
Louisville, KY 40299