Printing industry application for the removal of ink from parts that have been removed from the press, or from tools and accessories used in the printing process. This application usually involves the use of some type of parts cleaner.
The primary purpose of off press cleaning is to clean up after a print job and prepare for the next one, and to perform inspection and maintenance tasks on printing equipment.
|Key Feature(s)||Performance, Environmental, Worker Safety|
|Activity(ies)||Equipment Repair & Maintenance|
|Industry(ies)||PR - Printing|
|Widget(s)||Pressroom Tools, Parts & Accessories|
|Method(s)||Manual Parts Washing, Agitation Parts Washing, Combination Cleaning, Automated Spray Washing|
|Soil(s)||Ink - Flexo / Water-Based / UV & EB, Ink - Gravure, Ink - Letterpress, Ink - Offset / Newspaper, Ink - Plastisol, Ink - Screen|
|Material(s)||Aluminum, Plastics, Steel (mild, carbon, stainless), Rubber, Synthetic Polymers / Elastomers, et al|
|Product(s)||Mirachem Printing & Ink Products|
Off press cleaning of Ink Filters from a press , before and after, using a Crystal Clean Model 2740 Combination Cleaner with Mirachem QX-470 Water Based Ink Remover.
Off press cleaning is typically not a part of the actual production process. Rather, these tasks are usually part of cleanup after a production run, or are a routine maintenance function. For the majority of shops, most cleaning jobs are off press applications, and these also tend to be the most demanding in terms of product performance. This generally becomes less true as the size and complexity of the press increases, when on press cleaning tends to become more significant.
Off press cleaning is distinguished from on press tasks (cleaning in place) for two primary reasons:
Off press cleaning covers a broad range of tasks in the printing industry. And while the particular items being cleaned, and the specifics of the ink being removed, may vary greatly, these differences do not change the nature of the application.
The choice of a cleaner for an off press ink cleaning application is dependent on four factors:
In most cases, off press cleaning will involve the use of some type of parts cleaning equipment, usually a manual or combination cleaning unit. The choice of equipment is primarily driven by the volume of work in the shop, and the availability and/or cost of manpower to do the cleaning.
Manual parts cleaners are usually selected in operations with a low - medium volume of off press cleaning. These units are both effective and versatile, and can accommodate a wide variety of parts and tools. These units are manpower intensive, however, requiring a single operator at all times. Depending on the ink, Mirachem QX-424 or Mirachem QX-470, will be the primary product recommended for manual parts washing in printing applications. For operations using agitating parts cleaners, both Mirachem QX-424 and Mirachem QX-470 could be used.
Combination Cleaners are the equipment of choice in shops with a medium - high volume of off press tasks. Combination units offer the same features as a manual parts cleaner, with the addition of a small or medium sized cabinet that permits automated spray cleaning. Combination cleaners' free operators to perform other tasks while using the spray cleaning function, and typically provide better cleaning efficiency than manual parts washing. Mirachem QX-470 is the primary product recommended for combination cleaning in the printing industry.
In larger operations, it is not unusual to find both types of parts cleaners in use, and some operations may even utilize much larger automated spray cleaning equipment. Mirachem QX-470 is the primary product recommended for use in automated spray equipment in printing applications.
The ink being removed, and the amount being removed, in a particular application will play a role in establishing the cleaning process. Inks are formulated for different types of print jobs, and some are more difficult to remove than others. Print production dictates how frequently cleaning tasks can be performed, which can impact how much ink must be removed at one time. Both of these factors will contribute the development of the cleaning process.
Most text and lower-quality graphic print applications use less complex inks. These inks typically contain fewer additives, and dry through absorption, or with the application of heat, UV light, or an electron beam. Many ink cleaners will satisfactorily remove these soils. Mirachem QX-424 is the primary product recommended in these cases. Mirachem QX-470 will also be effective.
Higher quality print jobs use more complex inks, containing specialty varnishes and other additives to impart specific qualities. These inks typically require a specific curing step, such as heat, UV light, or an electron beam. Fewer ink cleaners on the market will be effective at removing these soils, and effective cleaning will be more dependent on an efficient process. Mirachem QX-424 and Mirachem QX-470 are both recommended in these cases.
These inks are typically used in the highest quality 4-color print jobs, such as photo magazines and high-end advertising materials. Typically the most complex inks, few market choices exist for effective ink removers, and effective cleaning will almost certainly be dependent on process as well as product. Mirachem QX-424 and Mirachem QX-470 should both be evaluated in these applications.
An effective process is critical to the success of the cleaning application. It needs to take into account not only the ink being removed and cleaning method being used, but also the way in which the cleaning fits into the production workflow. The best cleaning in the world will not be helpful if the process disrupts production.
Development of the cleaning workflow also needs to factor in any material compatibility considerations. For example, certain metals, such as mild or carbon steel, may be susceptible to corrosion, and may require steps to manage the issue.
A significant factor for consideration is the extent to which automation can be used to reduce man hours spent on cleaning. Using a Combination Cleaning unit or Automated Spray Cabinet for off press cleaning can be a tremendous labor savings, provided the operation has enough cleaning work to make the equipment cost effective.
There are several other items that should be considered when choosing an ink cleaning product.
Many cleaning chemistries can have a negative impact on substrate Materials. Care must be exercised in product selection to avoid damage to parts and equipment.
As mentioned above, some substrate materials are susceptible to corrosion. Aqueous products without sufficient corrosion protection features can damage items made from these Materials.
Natural and synthetic Materials can be susceptible to swelling if cleaned with incompatible products. Items such blankets or ink, train, and Anilox rollers, can be impacted by this issue.
Seals, gaskets, hoses and other parts made from plastics and elastomers can become brittle if cleaned in incompatible chemistries. This can lead to parts cracking, peeling, or even disintegrating.
Mirachem Printing & Ink Cleaners are formulated to address these concerns, and will help prevent material compatibility issues from impacting productivity or print quality.
Environmental & Worker Safety
Many traditional ink cleaning chemistries have come under scrutiny for their environmental and worker-safety attributes. Often, these products are solvent-based or contain hazardous ingredients, bringing them to the attention of air-quality and worker safety regulators. Mirachem’s Printing & Ink Cleaners are consistently chosen to help reduce or eliminate these risks.
Regardless of any product information that may be available, there is no substitute for practical qualification of a product's suitability for an application. No product, or process, should be implemented without a practical trial and evaluation of the results.
No two printing operations are exactly alike. Because of these variables, it is impossible to know in advance which products and processes will be most effective for cleaning. Evaluate multiple products and methods for use in an application, even if they are not specifically marketed for the purpose. Manufacturers should offer sample quantities of their products for testing and qualification.
Mirachem does provide technical support that can assist in product qualification, including development of workflow, and evaluating performance in our test center.
In larger operations, other facility cleaning and maintenance applications may exist in addition to the off press cleaning tasks. In operations with these more general industry cleaning applications, Mirachem’s Cleaner / Degreaser products, like Mirachem 500 or Mirachem M2750 , are sometimes used in both in the ink and general duty cleaning applications. This can be a cost saving benefit by reducing the number of products being stored or used on one shop.