Thinking of upgrading your screen- preparation capabilities by adding automatic screen-cleaning and reclaiming equipment? This discussion will help you make some important decisions as you adopt the technology and update your workflow to support it.
Chris Williamson, equipment marketing manager for Image Technology, Anaheim, CA, cites several benefits to using automatic systems, from quality to ecology: “You’re going to get a consistent screen and your mesh consumption is going to decrease as your handling of the screens decreases. Depending on how you processed your screens before having the machine, the automatic will speed up production time and screen turnaround, shorten labor time, and—in some instances—it can save on che-micals and decrease the amount of effluent going down the drain.”
Some manufacturers offer automatic screen-cleaning and reclaiming systems separately; some produce them as modular units that can be connected to work as a cohesive, inline system; and some engineer complete turnkey screen-preparation solutions that wash screens, reclaim, dry, coat with emulsion, dry, image via a computer-to-screen device, and develop—all inline (Figure 1). In other words, a screen comes off of a press and is loaded into one end of the system. It comes out the other side ready to return to the press for a completely different print run.
“In general, automatics take out the guesswork, and they allow the operator to walk away and do something else,” says Andrew Weidenhamer, US and Canadian equipment sales manager for Sefar, Lumberton, NJ. “You know your ink system. You know your mesh count. Inputting those parameters allows the machine to determine the best cycle. There’s some trial and error, but there are enough benchmarks for optimum cycle times, given proper chemistry for reclaiming.”
Employee health and safety and the protection of the environmental have grown in importance over the past several years. Sylve Ericsson, executive vice president of Passaic, NJ-based Interchange Equipment, says automatic screen-cleaning and reclaiming systems offer printers a powerful tool in that department, because they reduce exposure to the chemicals and tools used in the process. He also notes that automatic systems reduce chemical usage and waste.
“Most find the working environment for manual screen reclaiming the worst place to be,” Ericsson says. “An automatic reclaiming system minimizes the evaporation of fumes from chemicals because they are kept in a confined environment in the machine. It also saves on consumables—chemicals. A machine uses chemicals more thoroughly. They have a longer mileage.”
Types of automatics
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