Flexographic Printing Blog

Flexographic Printing Press Parts: What’s a Mandrel?

Posted by Luminite on Sep 13, 2023 10:59:41 AM


There are a variety of press types that can be utilized for flexographic printing. However, in order to provide a high-quality print, each printing machine must include certain elements. For the presses that utilize a print sleeve, the following is the typical Printing Press Sleeve setup:

  • Mandrel
  • Sleeve
  • Air Source

The process to secure the sleeve to the mandrel requires 80 lbs. of air pressure, which is used to slightly swell the fiberglass and allow the sleeve to slide onto the mandrel easily. 

The air source connects to the mandrel, and the air flows through holes at the end of the mandrel. Once the sleeve is in place, the air is removed. Without air, the sleeve adheres to the mandrel and can’t be moved. This provides a more detailed and replicable print. 

[Maintenance Tip: The mandrel has to be cleaned with alcohol prior to placing the sleeve. Anything the thickness of a human hair can stop the sleeve from sliding on.]


Did You Know?

  • A mandrel can last 20 years with the proper maintenance. Therefore, it is cost-effective to adhere to a strict cleaning process. 

A Little About Load-n-Lok

Luminite’s patented “Air Sleeve” system provides flexibility. With the Load-n-Lok system, sleeves and mandrels can be different lengths. The air source is attached to the sleeve, rather than the mandrel.

Benefits of this system include: 

  • Faster printing speeds
  • The ability to use multiple sleeves on the same mandrel
  • The ability to use one sleeve on multiple presses with the same BCD
  • Flexibility to serve multiple customers at once with multiple sleeves on the mandrel.

Note: With the Load-n-Lok, the air is applied to the sleeve with a special tool that attaches to the sleeve itself. Load-n-Lok sleeves are highly recommended for narrow web printers.


Flexographic Printing Press Parts: Next Steps 

The mandrel and sleeve are two necessary flexographic printing press parts. Understanding their place in the printing process can better facilitate flexographic printing optimization. 

Where to Go From Here? Luminite Resources:

Flexography Step-by-Step: How Flexographic Printing Works

Printing Press Breakdowns: 

Breaking Down An In-Line Flexo Printing Machine

Central Impression Printing Press: A Breakdown

Stack Press Breakdown: Parts and Processes

Identify Printing Defects: 

Diagnostic Chart & Troubleshooting Guide for Flexo Printing Defects

Tags: Flexographic Printing, Image Carrier, Load-N-Lok

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