I don't like to promote products, especially ones that are unproven. But there was a new product released at Drupa by Grafinkontrol for offset printers that I think is going make waves in the industry. It is an automatic blanket cleaner that uses dry ice (carbon dioxide just like you see above) to wash blankets. It promises the following three things that together could add up quickly to justify the cost:
- No emmissions. Since carbon dioxide occurs naturally in our atmosphere there's no concern about what it gives off.
- Solvent free. This cost savings alone could justify it. Not only does it require no solvent, but you can now eliminate costs associated with disposing of any waste solvent from your current system.
- No waste. That's right, not a single copy is lost on a wash. Done at full speed.
Here's how it works:
Dry ice is injected from nozzles onto the printing blanket while running. The carbon monoxide immediately vaporizes and removes the piling from the blanket, including paper, water and ink residue. The company that showcased it, claimed it causes zero waste.
Little has been revealed by Grafikontrol at this point as to how the blanket piling will be removed as it flies off the blanket. Our company is currently mulling the idea of trying an early prototype model to see how well it works.
Interestingly, cleaning a press with this method is nothing new for printers. Many will rent these dry ice machines to clean their presses. They work awesome. Take a look at this machine. You can rent these to clean no doubt locally:
Here are some questions we have in connection with a system that uses this same approach to clean blankets:
1. What effect does it have on the blankets in the long term. Continuous spraying of a subzero substance on a blanket may have adverse consequences like cracking or spitting. The blanket may quickly lose it's desirable properties. Only experimentation with it will reveal how the blankets deal with this.
2. What are the costs savings? If you add up costs of waste, blanket wash, disposal and maintenance of our current automatic blanket wash, will it justify investment in such a system? How quickly will we get payback?
3. How will they solve the problem of removing waste from the blanket? The piling has to go somewhere. No doubt this method can remove it quickly, perhaps by some sort of vacuum, but will we be plagued by hickeys afterward?
This system has a lot of potential and could put businesses like Baldwin or Oxy-Dry out of business if they don't jump on board with it. Time will tell. I'll be sure to put more posts up about how it works for us to keep you updated.
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Related articles:Automatic Blanket Washing - How It Works And How To Make It Profitable
Troubleshooting An Automatic Blanket Washing System
How We Greatly Reduced Blanket Piling
Troubleshooting Piling Problems