Label Printing Snippet Part 1: The importance of a clean print environment
I recently joined MPS Systems Asia as Regional Printing Instructor and am very proud and happy to be here!
Throughout my career, I’ve had the privilege to work with labels and flexible packaging on various substrates and printing machines, and look forward to sharing my gained knowledge with MPS printers.
This is my first blog from a new ‘Label Printing Snippets’ series, offering insight into different topics to assist you as an MPS printer. Topics will range from the importance of cleaning, tips on running and maintaining your machine, how MPS presses are used in a variety of applications, and more.
Keep it clean, Keep it safe
For the print industry, cleaning is a very necessary and important part of the operator’s daily tasks.
This not only applies to the machines, but surrounding areas too such as the floor, walls, how material is stored on the work bench for current and following print jobs, make ready and washing up trolleys.
- Always use proper solvents or cleaning agents recommended by MPS as outlined in the press manual. (Never use NP or EA acetate on rubber, plastic guards or painted areas on the machine as this will remove paint over time, perish the rubber and turn plastic guards white making it difficult to see your printing plate. It’s best not to use these solvents at all.)
- Always leave the press for the next operator they way you want the press to be when you arrive for your shift. (Clean press, workbench, floor, etc.)
- Cleaning the press regularly will extend its life and performance. This includes path rollers, impression cylinders, chill drum, side frames and slide-out ink drawers especially if there’s still ink –the quicker the better before it dries.
An operator will be proud when machine and surrounding are cleaned. This is a strong motivator. Customers visiting your clean facility for a factory tour will notice and be impressed – which in turn can help bring more business for your company.
Maintain your press
The printing press, especially if it is new, is likely the most expensive piece of equipment in your factory. It is planned to be in service for approx.. 10 years.
In my years as a printer, I’ve seen many new machines not maintained the way they should. This causes production problems and premature wear and tear.
A printer’s main focus is production and quality, but cleaning the printing press should also be a high priority. Thorough cleaning should be scheduled daily, in addition to spot cleaning during wash up or if a machine is down waiting for a plate or material. Your scheduled preventative maintenance is also a great opportunity to clean the press.
You may also like to read this blog from my colleague John Beltman about preventive maintenance on modern flexo presses.
Don’t forget CILT
In addition to cleaning the machine and surrounding areas, also very important is CILT:
When a printer cleans, these additional steps (inspect, tighten, lubricate) can be observed and completed at the same time if seen as critical - this takes some training but mostly just common sense and care for the job we do.
This process can take place during the times I mentioned above, or a set time during preventative maintenance - a topic I will discuss further in a later post.
Our machines talk to us! A big part of an aware printer is to listen as well as watch the job running.
Important: always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect your hands and eyes from cleaning agents and solvents.
Get in touch
This is just a short article that briefly touches on a few basic steps and the importance of cleaning. So much more can be discussed, and I’m sure there are many other views on this topic.
Suggestions or feedback is valued! Feel free to contact me anytime regarding the above, or any other print concerns you may have.
Kane Marsh is Regional Printing Instructor Asia Pacific with MPS Systems Asia, providing training on MPS' narrow web flexo presses and specialized label applications. Kane has direct print experience on multiple presses in a range of printing technologies including flexo, gravure, offset, screen and a variety of applications.