Pros & Cons: Pad Printing in a Clean Room Environment
Pad printing is a fantastic, fast, quick-drying process allowing for adjustment to ink coverage, density and evaporation each step along the way. It is also vulnerable to the changing conditions in the environment surrounding your pad printing area. You may find it beneficial to consider setting up a clean room to protect your jobs from exposure to any sudden variables and contaminants that could impact the quality of the finished product. Today we’d like to help you evaluate the pros and cons of investing in a clean room.
- Controlling temperature and relative humidity (RH) allows for consistent ambient climate conditions. Very helpful in a pad printing environment to guarantee the same quality over multiple runs.
- Eliminating items with a propensity to throw off dust particles from the closed clean room keeps your operation free of dust and other airborne contaminants. Get rid of those plywood pad bases – typically standard issue for pad printing – and replace them with something cleaner, like aluminum.
- Replacing flame pretreatment eliminates another source of soot contamination, as well as the risks of working with an open flame.
- Producing a consistent, clean product improves your reputation in the marketplace, increases your daily production and attracts new customers.
- Providing a stable climatic environment opens the opportunity to implement an ink maintenance program to systematize the process, a further guarantee for consistency across runs and between operators.
- Commissioning a pad printing machine for use in a clean room allows for special procedures to be undertaken at an opportune time. Special sterilization and validation is carried out on the equipment prior to initial use, often by expert third party providers. Any component of the machine’s design which may be subject to dust or contaminant generation is outfitted with additional guarding to minimize this exposure.
- Pretreatment options are somewhat limited. Flame pretreatment is usually prohibited because of the possibility of generating soot from an open flame.
- The use of air blowing at the pad to assist on ink transfer may not be workable.
- Some installs are presented with no way to adjust climatic conditions.
- Many clean rooms exhibit lots of air turbulence due to pressurization and air exchange frequency. This can create drafts and negatively affect ink pickup, especially in cupslide machines, requiring heavy use of a retarder or more frequent thinner additions.
- There can be a high learning curve required in making often severe adjustments to former ink working mixes once the environment is stabilized.
All in all, usually the Pros outweigh the Cons. Once a proper print process has been established, it can be used reliably every day.
Think you’re ready to come clean? PPMoVT’s engineers can help put you in a clean world of your own! Whether they help you design a new pad printer for your clean room, or design retrofits for the old one, call us at 1-800-272-7764, or use Live Chat on our Home page. Pros & Cons: Pad Printing in a Clean Room Environment
A word of warning: You may find yourself wanting a clean room at home.