Flexographic Printing Blog

Elastomer Blend Sleeves Eliminate Plate Issues In Flexo Printing

Posted by Luminite on May 18, 2017 3:36:21 PM

Looking to stop the excess costs from issues like plate lift, mounting problems, or ink incompatibility when printing? Try an elastomer blend sleeve for your flexographic printing needs.

Blends of elastomer, which can include both natural or synthetic polymers, are used in flexo sleeves to produce jobs that are:

  • High quality
  • Long running

These eliminate a variety of problems associated with plates, such as lift, registration issues, and poor ink transfer. Elastomer sleeves are ideal in applications where thousandths of an inch are the difference between success and failure.

Quality equals continued sales -- and more revenue.

4 Examples of Elastomer Blends

Here are four examples of elastomer blends -- available in varied durometers and surface tensions -- and their effective flexographic printing uses:

  1. Natural and natural blends -- for water-based inks. Durometers from 35 to 75 shore A. Surface tensions from 19.6 to 33.9 dynes
  2. EPDM and EP blends -- for solvent-based and UV inks. Durometers from 40 to 90 shore A. Surface tensions from 20 to 34.9 dynes
  3. Nitrile and nitrile blends -- for oil based inks and abrasive substrates. Durometers from 50 to 90 shore A. Surface tensions from 25.1 to 33.8 dynes
  4. Silicone and silicone blends -- for high temperature and adhesive applications.  Durometers from 67 to 90 shore A. Material as high as 35 shore D are available for light embossing


How Do Elastomer Blends Improve Printing Performance?

Elastomer blends are used to produce products with a variety of enhanced characteristics that are significant in printing. These can include things like:

  • Resistance to wear, heat, or chemical action
  • Having specific surface tensions and hardnesses
  • And more

These characteristics are obtained by careful choice, and mixing of several different components that make up the final composite material. These include:

  • Polymers
  • Fillers
  • Additives
  • Curatives

The choice of all of these components, along with precisely controlled vulcanization (heat and pressure treating) determine the final characteristics of the material. These can be selected to produce a sleeve with various features such as highest quality imaging, unmatched longevity, and superior ink transfer.

Laser engraving of elastomer printing plates and cylinders has been a popular industry practice since it was first introduced to the United States, by Luminite Products in the 1970s. At the time,   the quality and longevity of elastomer sleeves made them an attractive alternative to plates mounted directly on cylinders, which were:

  • Inconvenient to change out
  • Often short lived

Advances in both elastomer and laser technology have since kept laser-engraved image carriers at the forefront of quality and efficiency in printing.

Elastomer blend flexo print sleeves:

  • Enhance both efficiency and productivity
  • Can be run alone or in combination with other types of plates
  • Reduce press downtime.

When combined with air assist mounting sleeves they allow for almost continuous press operation for maximum ongoing profitability.

Elastomer Blend Product Options

When it comes to sleeves, cylinders, and plates, material choices directly impact the quality of your flexographic print jobs.

You have an array of options:

Flexo Printing: Ink Transfer

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