Polymount's Film Cleaner device cleans printed films for reuse or even selling
The cleaning of printed films
von Ansgar Wessendorf,
When restarting a press following a job change, an average of around 1000 metres of waste is produced. On an annual basis, this means an average rate of around six million metres of start-up waste per printing plant. In view of the high value of many substrates – especially in packaging and label printing – such waste is hardly justifiable in either economically and ecologically way.
To cunteract this problem, the Dutch company Polymount B.V. offers the Film Cleaner machine for cleaning and thus reusing printed film substrates. Cleaning such substrates is also advantageous if they are not to be reused but recycled. This is due to the fact, that with clean films without any ink residues usually higher resale prices can be achieved.
Effective and simple
The Polymount Film Cleaner (PFC) machine removes ink from printed, commercially available film substrates without leaving any residues. For this process, the film is unwinded in the machine, fed over several rollers through a tank provided with a cleaning agent and microfibre brushes, dried using scrapers and hot air. Finally, the cleaned film gets rewinded onto a core.
The PFC is designed for reel widths up to 1300 mm and substrate thicknesses from 12 to 200 microns (also suitable for thicker substrates on request). Depending on the substrate and ink coverage, the PFC operates at speeds of up to 150 m/min. It removes all commercially available ink systems such as NC, PU, 2K or water-based (WB). The composition of the cleaning agent is specially tailored to the needs of the respective customer.
Currently, a total of seven PFC cleaning machines are in use by customers. The latest installation was at flexo print shop Cirepa, a Belgium based manufacturer of flexible packaging. For demonstration purposes, a PFC is located at Polymount’s headquarters in Nijkerk. On this pilot plant unit, potentially interested parties may test the cleaning efficency of the device under practical conditions and using their own film substrates.
The PFC is used by customers for a variety of applications. These include cleaning start-up waste for reuse for the makeready routines of new jobs on flexo and gravure printing presses. This may result in waste savings of up to 80%. In addition, the PFC can also be used to clean defectively printed film substrates in order to regranulate them free of ink or to add the recyclate obtained in this way as additional raw material for the manufacturing of transparent films.
Economically and ecologically reasonable
The PFC system for cleaning printed film waste meets both economic and ecological demands. This means, it reduces disposal costs and waste rates through reuse, or even by enabeling the reselling of such treated films. In addition, it contributes to a significant recuction of the carbon footprint of print shops through waste prevention, thus meeting this increasingly important customer requirement.