Inspect. Save. Repeat.
Is this your anilox?
Plugged cells are without a doubt causing you to lose volume, but you could probably identify these plugs with a basic microscope. In fact, there's a good chance you'll catch this anilox before it makes it to press.
But what about when you run into a more challenging situation...
How much volume are you losing here?
If you're using that same basic microscope, there's really no way to tell. These cells are also plugged with dried ink, but the appearance is more subtle.
Can you put this on press? How long will it take you to decide? Likely, after hours of calls to the ink department and wasted test materials, the conclusion will be that the anilox needs further cleaning. But the damage is already done to the bottom line for this job.
Enter the 3DQC...
In less than one minute, inspection with the 3DQC determined that the effective volume of this anilox was 1.85 BCM - more than a 25% decrease over the specified volume of 2.6 BCM!
So the press operator never had to know the anilox was plugged because this issue was caught with the 3DQC immediately after first cleaning and handled prior to storage.
No downtime. No waste. No stress.
Your anilox QC program, centered around regular 3DQC inspections, once again kept the anilox out of the spotlight and off of the operator's list of worries.
How much money did you save this time?
Let's take a look...
How much is your anilox inventory costing you?
Having a thorough and up-to-date understanding of your anilox inventory has tremendous savings potential because incorrect knowledge of your inventory can cost you in a variety of ways:
1. Press setup time. You try to compensate for the plugged anilox cylinder by adjusting any other press parameters you can think of. Run some material, check the result, do it again and again. The clock is running, setup costs are escalating, and the dumpster is filling up. If you had 3DQC volume measurements, none of that would have been needed. The cleaning team would have already expended a little extra elbow grease to clean that cylinder, your boss wouldn't be complaining about labor costs, and your stress level would have been much lower.
2. Ink re-formulation time. Don't even go there. Now you're messing with even more stuff that isn't going to solve a problem that's only going to get worse anyway. In addition to the dumpster filling up and the bank account emptying out, now you're literally pouring money down the drain. Just stop already. A scan with the 3DQC during cleaning would have kept the ink in the tanks rather than in the city's sewers.
3. Premature replacement or re-surfacing of the anilox. Replacing an anilox before you need to is like replacing your car's engine every time it needs an oil change. Those cylinders are expensive. Keep them working until they're too worn to deliver the right amount of ink. The 3DQC will not only tell you if the cylinder is plugged, it will also tell you that the surface wear has reduced the volume below acceptable limits. What's not to like about that?
4. Rejected print jobs. OK, let's add a pile of rejected prints and an irritated customer on top of an upset boss and a blown bottom line for the print job. All of this could have been side-stepped by just checking the cylinder with the 3DQC before it went on the press. Inspect. Save. Repeat. Simple as that.