Automatic Blanket Washing - How It Works And How To Make It Profitable

An automatic blanket washing system on a heatset web press can be a real money-maker if it works right. I currently use an 2010 OXY-Dry Baldwin system that was purchased in 2010. Regardless of the type though, the principles are the same. Such systems offer a competitive advantage over shutting down and having the pressman manually wash the blankets. Waste, downtime and the potential downtime that is avoided all make it a worthwhile investment. Here are some points to keep in mind if you have or are planning to purchase one for your offset printing press.

How It Works
Automatic blanket cleaning brush
Quite simple, automatic blanket washing is accomplished by means of a spray bar and a brush. The bar is injected with solvent which sprays the printing blanket while the brush scrubs the blanket. With the impressions on, most of the solvent then stays on the paper and goes to the oven. With impressions off, most of the solvent drips down into a tray and is drained off. All this is performed while the press is running.

Further Details
  Beyond the simple explanation, there are other factors to consider. For example, if you are running a multi-color press, unit one tends to have more paper piling. A good blanket wash system will allow you to include a little water in your first unit to compensate for that.

The system works best with splicers
A good automatic blanket cleaning system will also time with splices. Just as a pressman will usually choose to wash blankets at a splice, the automatic blanket washing system will time itself with the splice automatically.

How To Make It Work For You
The success of an automatic blanket cleaner really depends on how well you take care of it and if you use it right. Your regular press maintenance should include this component. Here are some factors to consider:

1. It requires regular cleaning. The reality is that the brushes, particularly the edges, can get plugged with ink. We find that we must remove and examine them regularly.

2. Regular inspection is required.  The holes in the spray bar need to be periodically checked. These also can get plugged, but more so due to corrosion. The holes are so small. Try this, put an air hose up to one end and the high pressure should help clear them out.  Troubleshooting usually starts here.

3. Ink and water balance are critical. We had to learn to have an ink and water balance that is optimized for the least amount of piling. The automatic blanket washing unit can only take so much off the blanket. Depending on how much water you are running, this will greatly effect how much and the type of piling that takes place. You must tweak your water settings to get just the right amount of piling.

4. The brushes. I would like to say something about the brushes too. They are designed to last a good long time. We do not know how long they actually last, but have been told five years. So replacing parts is minimal. It's really only your solvent consumption that will increase.

In conclusion, I want to say something about explosions. On commissioning, our representative said that once or twice a year in the world, an oven explodes. This is almost always because pressmen are spraying extra solvent on the blanket to help it clean up. This is a no-no. Maintain it well and make it work right.


  1. Anonymous7:22 AM

    we use electra type washers and a cleaning cloth type fabric. no seems to work well but the fabric is costly.our nozzles will plug up so we use a additive in our water to keep nozzles clear

  2. I'm running a 40 inch 8 unit 2001 Heidelberg m-1000 b with a tcf 70s folder. We have a Baldwin abc washer attachment and are having a hard time getting the blanket cleaners to clean without blowing out the web and wrapping up. What speed would be a good start for cleaning blankets? We usually run about 30,000 iph because our run size is 20-40 thou runs. Every spec of the cleaners has been checked and set.