Monitoring viscosity is critical across a range of industries. Any time you have a process that requires a fluid to be used in the finishing of a product, it’s incredibly important to be regularly measuring and taking note of the viscosity of that fluid.
That’s why you need to be using some type of viscometer in your printing applications. Failing to do so can leave you frustrated with a whole range of viscosity problems — all of which affect your bottom line.
In this article, we’ll review five of the most common printing applications and why viscosity control is critical to them:
- Flexographic printing
- Gravure printing
- Offset printing
- Corrugated printing
- Pad printing
If you’re working with one of these applications, and you’re not regularly monitoring viscosity using a viscometer (often as part of a complete viscosity control solution), we recommend updating your processes as soon as possible.
#1 — Flexographic printing
Flexographic printing uses fast drying inks and soft plates (often rubber or plastic) to print on a wide range of substrates, from product packaging, paper sacks, plastic bags, milk and beverage cartons, and disposable cups; to labels, adhesive tapes, envelopes, and newspapers. Without using viscometers to ensure consistent viscosity, branding images and messaging may not print correctly, possibly leading to low quality and rejected print runs.
#2 — Gravure printing
Gravure printing uses ink combined with a cylinder-mounted metal plate to produce a sharp, fine image. It’s most often used for long print runs that demand higher quality; the downside is that it’s typically more expensive. Viscometers are used to monitor viscosity and ensure that products such as magazines have readable text and clear images.
#3 — Offset printing
Offset printing is a very common method of printing that uses a rubber plate (or blanket) to produce consistently high quality images. It’s cheaper than gravure printing, but doesn’t quite stack up in terms of image quality. In offset printing, viscometers help protect against running or smeared ink in high volume batches of products such as newspapers.
#4 — Corrugated printing
Corrugated printing is used to print on any type of corrugated box starch, whether single or double-flute. This includes pizza boxes, retail displays, shipping boxes, higher quality packaging, signs, and more. Poor viscosity control in this application can lead to streaky lines, spotty or uneven images, halos, incorrect color, smearing, and more — making viscometer usage all the more important.
#5 — Pad printing
Pad printing is technically a type of gravure printing, but it comes with its own set of challenges, as it’s often used to print on objects that no other printing process can accommodate (i.e. medical and electronic objects, appliances, clothing, and toys). Ink viscosity is incredibly important in pad printing — unless it’s exactly right, the ink may end up being either too dry or too wet, creating problems for proper image transfer.
If need help controlling viscosity in your printing process, contact Saint Clair Systems to learn about our viscometers.