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.
The starting point for automatic screen cleaning and reclaiming is the standalone, non-conveyorized, self-contained unit. You load the screens in, the machine cycles, and then you unload the screens to move them to the next step.
“A non-conveyorized system contains an ink-removing chamber and an emulsion-removing chamber. Those are for small to medium shops, whether graphics or textile. They want to automate, but they don’t have the money or space for a full-blown unit,” Williamson explains. “The systems require manual loading and unloading and transport. There are two dip tanks. Workers load a screen into the ink washing section, then they pull it out, dip it into fresh water, and then dip it into a tank that has emulsion remover. It softens the emulsion, and then they put it into the high-pressure rinse section, and then put another screen into the ink-wash section, and shut the door. When one screen is de-inked, the other screen has its emulsion removed.”
The next level in automation is the inline system. Two configurations are available. One keeps the screen stationary during each stage of cleaning and reclaiming and automatically moves the screen down the line upon completion of each step. The other keeps the screen in constant motion the entire time, stopping only when the operator unloads the screen at the end of the line.
“When you have an inline system where the screen is always moving, you have a smaller footprint—but your operated costs are much higher. The solvent and/or the water is always transferring from chamber to chamber,” Weidenhamer explains. “The advantage to an inline system where the screen starts in one chamber, and you have ink removal, then it indexes to the next chamber, is that you get a much more cost effective system because you don’t have as much solvent transfer into the water. It’s much more cost effective with chemistry.”
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