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The Advantages of Steel Doctor Blades

Printing BladesThe doctor blade is a crucial component of the flexo printing and gravure printing processes. It removes ink from the surface of the roller so that the intended volume of ink can be transferred. In this article, we will discuss the advantages of steel doctor blades.

When quality is your production priority, you cannot go wrong with a steel doctor blade. Blades made with this material are specially manufactured so that printing processes generate consistent, high-quality results. Many printers prefer steel doctor blades because they are:

  • Cost-Effective: Carbon steel is highly economical. Its durability makes it an excellent choice for short-run production jobs, as well as projects that use non-porous substrates or inks that are not very abrasive.
  • Durable: Doctor blades crafted from tool steel are designed with longevity and toughness in mind. Abrasive inks, such as white inks or those containing titanium dioxide, solids, or rough anilox rolls, can cause wear and tear due to friction. Tool steel doctor blades can withstand the abuse.
  • Long-Lasting: One significant cost in the printing production process arises from press downtime due to the need to change or adjust the doctor blade.   Many grades/types of steel and edge shapes are available so that you can choose the best option for the application.  Running long life tool steel in high wear applications and other grades in less demanding setups will help ensure that all of the blades will need replacing at the same time.  By replacing blades less often, you will save on production costs.

There are many advantages to running steel doctor blades. Contact Allison Systems to learn more about your options.

Things to Consider When Ordering Custom End Seals

End SealsWhen it comes to printing, consistency and quality will make or break your enterprise. Many printing firms are turning to custom end seals as a way to ensure they are getting the best possible results. Custom parts that fit your equipment are a great way to enhance your productivity while improving your business’s cost-effectiveness.

End seals are an essential component of your production processes. However, that never means you have to settle for the same end seal you are currently using if it is leaking or causing other problems. With a custom end seal, you can adjust the shape or material of the end seal to help solve issues with the current design.  End seal geometry can vary slightly from OEM specs, especially if you have switched suppliers one or more times.  Slight changes in geometry can cause the end seal to not mate with the doctor blade or anilox roll as it should and create leakage points.  If necessary, the material used to produce the end seal can also be adjusted to better match your current run conditions.

By working with Allison Systems, you will find it easy to keep up with the demands of your business. Request a consultation with us to learn about your options.

Durable Gold (QR) Metal Blades

Metal BladesIn printing applications, abrasive inks can wreak havoc on the metal blades that your equipment needs to function. Allison Systems strives to solve this problem by offering a product with exceptional durability, specially created to last as long as possible by employing innovative design. Offering a number of advantages over traditional blades, our Gold (QR) option is available with several bevel options and in thicknesses of:

  • 0.006”
  • 0.008”
  • 0.010”
  • 0.012”

Excellent at enduring abrasive inks, QR blades also serve to reduce scoring issues. As they wear down, they produce smaller particles than other materials – particles that easily flush away from the blade instead of sticking between it and the cylinder. That means less frustration for your team and better results when you print, especially over time. It also translates to less waste from unusable materials.

Value isn’t the QR blade’s only advantage, however. It’s also versatile. Available for use with gravure and flexo doctoring, it also supports containment applications with both chrome and ceramic rolls. With expansive uses and a long lifespan, this product stands out as an excellent choice when you want premium quality and the freedom to make the most of your blades.

Using CAD-Driven Equipment to Create Custom End Seals

End SealsEnd seals are a vital part of modern printing applications. With today’s CAD-driven processes, these valuable components are easy to customize in accordance with your operation’s needs. Turn to a company that offers specialized cutting equipment and enjoy all of the benefits of contemporary custom seals, including:

  • Personalization – Depending on your equipment and its intended use, any number of specific designs might be necessary to deliver the right results when you print. Because seals made with CAD-driven technology are easy to customize and create using various materials, they offer tailored precision without a hassle. Some of the available materials include foam, rubber, felt, and composite.
  • Replication – Since CAD systems can easily replicate an existing design, even highly customized variants are easy to reproduce with quick turnarounds. This is ideal for larger operations in need of numerous seals, as well as ensuring that quality replacements are easy to obtain when needed.
  • Cost-Effectiveness – In addition to saving time and delivering dependable results, CAD-driven cutting equipment creates the seals you need without breaking the bank. Those savings don’t come at the cost of quality, either. Superior to die-cut equipment, these designs help you avoid issues like warpage, concave edges, and chamber leakage.

Using Graphite Doctor Blades

Composite BladeGraphite composite blades need to be effective if they are going to deliver the results you are after. Similar in function to standard metal blades, these graphite doctor blades are perfectly manufactured to be used for flexo applications with laser engraved ceramic anilox rolls that have less than 500 LPI screens.

Featuring graphite lubricating characteristics, these blades offer a long lifespan when they are being used with abrasive water-based inks on large ceramic anilox rolls. These doctor blades are provided in a seal relief shape, which helps to reduce end seal distortion at the blade. It is also effective at reducing end seal ink leakage.

Graphite doctor blades are typically used for the creation of higher-end graphics in corrugated applications. You will be able to find these blades in 20, 25, and 35 mil thicknesses. Finding the right combination of material, shapes, and thickness is a must if you are going to get the results you are after when it comes time to work on your project. That is why you must work with an educated manufacturer to discuss your needs so they can guide you towards the perfect option to fit your specific needs. The right choice delivers the right results.

Purchasing End Seals

Are your end seals not working the way they used to by either leaking more than before or not lasting as long?  The methods used to produce end seals can have an effect on their shape thereby making it difficult to find end seals that perfectly fit your equipment.  So, what can you do to get the right end seal you need without unnecessary delay? The answer is to contact Allison Systems so that we can help you with either duplicating your existing end seal or creating custom end seals for your needs.

Most end seals provided by Allison Systems are created using state-of-the-art CAD-driven cutting equipment that can efficiently and effectively deliver the size and shape you need. This high-speed equipment allows the freedom to maximize design reputability, cost-effectiveness, and customization options for our clients. This creates a superior product that is an excellent choice for businesses like yours that far outshines products made by other methods.

Whether you need end seals made from foam, felt, rubber, or combinations of materials, you are going to be able to find a seal that works for you when you work with Allison Systems. Just reach out to us to start the discussion on your needs so that we can ensure you get the end seal that works best for your application.

Choosing the Right Composite Blade for Your Needs

Composite BladeWhen it comes time to choose doctor blades for your printing press, you’ve got some decisions to make. Are you going to use metal or go with a different material, such as a composite blade. Whatever you decide to use, choosing the right blade for your print application is an important step.

Composites can be a smart selection as they provide long life at high speeds as compared to some other materials. Look at the type of products you print, and that will help you make the decision. If you need fine screen metering with a ceramic anilox roll, then a composite, such as Allison Systems’ Fiberglass Plus, is a good choice that is effective with most water-based inks including those that are abrasive or have high solids content.

Take a moment to think about what types of printing you do most often. Composites are ideal for line work and some process jobs on paper and board substrates. Composite blades which are blended with graphite are ideal for higher-end graphics on corrugated materials.

Allison Systems will offer blade selection guidance that will help you make the most effective decision on a replacement. A blade analysis, which covers blade alignment and contact angle, may also help you decide if the current type of blade you are using is appropriate for your application or if you should switch to another type.

Blade Selection Guidance

Plastic BladesWhen it comes time for doctor blade replacement, you may be wondering if another type would work better on your press, or if you should simply keep ordering the same type you’ve been using all along. There are many options on the market ranging from plastic blades to  composite to metal. Our team at Allison Systems has assembled a few points for consideration to help you make sure you get the blades you require for your printing application.

Consider your roller material, the length of the press runs you typically require, and the abrasiveness of the inks you use and that will give you a solid starting point for consideration of which blade material you should purchase. You will want to look at blade edge shapes as well to obtain good wiping characteristics and reduce ink leakage.

You also need to think about the product and the substrate being used.  High-end graphics or line work?  Paper, film, or corrugated substrate?  All these points need to be considered when choosing a blade.

Allison Systems will offer blade selection guidance by working with you to choose the right blade for your application as well as diagnosing any issues you are having with your current blade.  Learning about your current blade performance can help you to make decisions about any future changes.  A blade analysis is often part of this process and gives insight into the alignment and contact angle of your blade thereby allowing you to make setup improvements if needed.  Allison Systems will also provide sample blades for testing with your application to verify the chosen blade is effective for you before you commit to an order.

The Gravure Printing Process

Doctor BladeGravure printing was developed hundreds of years ago and is still a viable method of printing today.  Well known for its excellent print quality and consistency over long runs, it can be the printing method of choice for demanding print jobs.  Also known as rotogravure, it is a relief method of printing where the image to be printed is engraved below the surface of a chrome-plated cylinder.  The durability of the chrome-plated cylinder and the direct image transfer from the cylinder to the substrate are two of the reasons for the high quality and consistency of the process.  However, the process of engraving the cylinder can lead to high costs, particularly for short-run jobs, when compared to other methods of printing.

The gravure process is relatively simple in theory.  The engraved cells are filled with ink while the cylinder is rotating and partially immersed in a pan of ink.  A doctor blade is applied to the surface of the cylinder in a manner that removes all the surface ink from the cylinder without damaging the cylinder.  The ink remaining in the cells is then transferred to the substrate as the substrate becomes sandwiched between the cylinder and impression roller.  The substrate with the wet layer of ink then goes thru dryers so that the ink is completely dry before the substrate moves to the next station where another ink color is applied.

Printing Blades for Printing

Printing BladesYour printing job is only as good as the quality of materials that are used to create the product. That applies to every element at each step along the way, from the design to the inks, substrate, and other components to the press itself.

Your printing company can truly only control some of those steps along the way, not the entire journey itself. However, the elements you can control, like the performance of the press, benefit from your full attention to detail and professionalism. When you examine the first piece off the press and the last piece off the press, it’s your ultimate goal for the two to be indistinguishable with the quality just as high from first to last.

Allison Systems will help you maintain your company’s reputation for quality by providing doctor blades that perform flawlessly on each job. There is no worry of streaks or imperfection in the images due to blade defects with Allison doctor blades which are manufactured under our ISO9001:2015 certified quality management system.

As a busy print shop, you go through many blades and need a trusted, affordable source for quality components.   Allison Systems offers a range of materials from metal to plastic to composite in a variety of edge shapes. In this way, you are sure to get the exact blades you need for your application.

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