Meech International explains why the print industry really needs to be aware of static
Q Why is static an important consideration for the print industry?
International businesses need to take notice of static as a phenomenon mainly because when it is present on a printing line it will attract dirt and dust, which can result in poor print quality, with the printing press necessitating frequent cleaning.
But many CEOs working in this sector may not be aware of the financial repercussions that stem from the presence of contamination on the web. Frequent downtime spent on cleaning the printing press implies a reduction in machine speed, and therefore can lead to significant loss of production. This is obviously an unacceptable outcome for businesses that heavily rely on print.
Finally, there’s the health & safety angle to take into consideration. If accumulated on web rewinds, static can potentially generate harmful operator shocks. This is particularly apparent with today’s more common filmic materials, as they tend to generate higher static charges. End users are demanding more sophisticated standards in the goods they purchase than they may have done a number of years ago, and these filmic materials are being used more commonly as they are pleasing on the eye.
Q In which processes is static a particular issue and what kind of problems does it create?
Static can cause many quality and productivity issues throughout the printing process, but one area that needs special attention is unwind/rewind lines. Think about a digital label printing line, where a massive static charge can be generated both during printing and as the film or paper is unwound from a roll. These charges are capable of attracting dust to the web from several feet away.
The print quality instead is affected when dust has deposited on the material. After all, printers cannot offer a fast service if they have to keep stopping their machines to clean them due to the build-up of contamination attracted by static charges. Considering that quality expectation is much higher these days, this is a problem that requires an effective solution.
There’s also the issues with ink adhesion in the digital printing process, where uncontrolled static can actually repel the ink from the material surface. Not only does this scenario lead to increased production costs, it can also lead to reduced production speeds.
Q Is the print industry fully aware of the impact of static or does it need educating?
As a whole, the industry is still coming to terms with the effects static can have. A lot of companies are aware – more so today than they might have been 5 years ago – that particularly in filmic applications static control is needed, but they may not fully comprehend why. That’s where the experts can step in and help, with solid knowledge of the different applications and products available to help neutralise the charges, and keep printing lines running smoothly and at optimum speeds.
Q What are some of the challenges print manufacturers are facing today?
As already mentioned, quality expectations have significantly increased for printers compared to 10 years ago, but another big challenge they face is the minimisation of downtime. Printers need to be able to cope with the high volume of customer orders they receive, which means that a spotless, static-free web is required in order to keep presses running and achieve that perfect balance between productivity and print quality.
Q What does the future hold for the print industry and what will it mean for static control?
It is evident that print will continue to move to digital for the foreseeable future, which of course means production speeds will carry on increasing and more filmic materials will be increasingly employed. As a consequence, there will be a need for companies like Meech International to produce static control solutions that can be employed on printing presses and that will result in high quality applications.