Web Cleaning for the Printing Industry

Web cleaning is a vital secret behind flawless print quality and a thriving printing business.
In the world of printing, a clean web is not just about aesthetics, it’s the cornerstone of efficiency, cost savings, and customer satisfaction. 

Web cleaning in the printing industry is the process of removing contaminants and debris from the continuous material web as it travels through the printing press. This crucial step ensures that the web is free from dust, debris, ink residue, or other particles, maintaining clean surfaces for high-quality prints.

The cleaning methods may include contact and non-contact techniques, and the goal is to reduce waste, improve print quality, and enhance the overall efficiency of the printing process.

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Why is web cleaning important in the printing industry?

Web cleaning avoids production errors during printing and converting. Kelva’s Web Cleaning solutions effectively clean the upper and lower surfaces of high-speed webs such as paper and packaging materials.

Cleaning immediately prior to printing prevents particle-related flaws in the print image and reduces the reject rate significantly.

Benefits of using web cleaning in printing

Improved Productivity

Less downtime for maintenance and troubleshooting enhances operational efficiency, resulting in financial gains.

Competitive Advantage

High-quality, clean prints attract more customers and business opportunities.

Customer Retention

Meeting deadlines and providing consistent quality can lead to long-term customer relationships.

Sustainability

Reduced waste and energy-efficient methods cut costs and support eco-friendly practices.

Cost Savings

Fewer rejected prints and less material waste lead to reduced production costs.

How web cleaning works in printing

From the continuous material web as it moves through the printing press. This process ensures that the web remains clean, allowing for high-quality printing and reducing the risk of print defects.

Your typical application of web cleaning in printing will be done by non-contact web cleaning. That means that the cleaning process happens without physically touching your paper web or other material web surfaces to be printed on such as solid board or corrugated tissue.

Overview of the web cleaning process in printing

Web cleaning in printing is an essential step in the production process, particularly in high-quality printing applications. It ensures that the final printed materials meet the desired standards and minimizes the risk of print defects caused by contaminants on the web.

Contaminant Detection

The first step in web cleaning is often contaminant detection. Various sensors and monitoring systems are used to identify contaminants on the web. These contaminants can include dust, dirt, paper fibers, ink residue, adhesive residue, and more.

The two cleaning mechanisms:

Contact Web Cleaning: In this method of web cleaning in printing, a physical cleaning mechanism, such as brushes or polymer rollers, comes into direct contact with the moving web.

Non-contact Web Cleaning: Non-contact web cleaning technology like the Kelva Cleanflow ® use special ionizing air and suction blowers to dislodge and remove contaminants from the web without direct contact. This approach is often used to prevent potential damage to delicate materials.

Static Control

Static electricity can attract and hold contaminants on the web’s surface. Anti-static devices, such as ionizing bars or brushes, may be used to neutralize static charges, making it easier to remove contaminants.

Web Cleaning Position

The cleaning mechanism is positioned at a strategic location in the printing process, usually just before the printing unit. This ensures that the web is as clean as possible before it comes into contact with the printing plates or cylinders.

Contaminant Removal and Collection

As the non-contact cleaning mechanism removes contaminants from the web, they need to be collected and disposed of. Depending on the dust load, this can involve suction or a conveyor system to transport the contaminants to a collection point. At KELVA, we use specifically designed and configured filter/fan units.

Printing

Once the web is clean and free of contaminants, it moves through the printing unit where the desired images or text are transferred onto the material.

Good to know: Maintenance of Web Cleaners
Once a web cleaner is installed, maintenance is no issue and life-time can be for decades. The contact cleaners are also very stable and only the polymer rollers have to be replaced, when all their adhesive sheets have been used up and the rollers are empty.

Best products for web cleaning in printing

The choice which product to use to improve your printing process with web cleaning is very important. Consider factors such as how many material varieties you will have to handle, how delicate the material surface is, how many job changes you have to make, what web width, web speed and web tension you are facing and also, if you know, how big is the dust load at process interfaces and in your working environment.

From the Kelva side as experts in web cleaning in printing, we suggest our line of non-contact web cleaners such as the Kelva Cleaner Line. Discover our selection of non-contact web cleaners on our product page.

Advantages of using Web Cleaning in the printing industry

Not keeping the printing web clean has serious effects on print quality and efficiency. It causes print defects like ink contamination, streaks, and color inconsistencies. This leads to increased waste, rework, equipment wear, and customer dissatisfaction, impacting the company’s reputation and profitability.

On the other hand, the implementation of web cleaning in the printing industry can lead to a number of advantages.

The advantages of using web cleaning

General

  • Less wear on the rubber blankets and printing plates
  • Up to 60% reduction of blanket washing
  • Healthier working conditions
  • Higher print quality due to the removed dust and debris
  • Less waste
  • More stable printing processes, as the paper is clean when passing through for printing
  • Less washing cycles. Thanks to web cleaning only the first tray of the printing machine has to be cleaned regularly, not all trays
  • Less need of washing chemicals
  • Longer blanket lifetime
  • Less dust when materials and jobs are changing
  • Less set-up times during job changing, as the machine stays cleaner

Financial

  • Short-term ROI
  • Amortization within one year
  • Easy implementation into new or existing production environments
  • Less spare part costs
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Looking for a web cleaning solution to improve your production and save costs?

Feel free to give us more details about your Application, Material, Dust type(s), Web width (mm) and Web speed (m/min), so that we then can already take your information into account when contacting you.

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What materials are commonly used in the printing industry?

The printing industry employs a wide range of materials, each suited to different applications and printing methods.

Common materials

Each material has its own characteristics, compatibility with different printing processes (e.g., offset, digital, screen printing), and suitability for specific end-use applications. Printers select materials based on their customers’ needs, the desired print quality, and the intended purpose of the printed materials.

Paper

Used for various print applications, from newspapers and magazines to packaging and promotional materials.

Solid board

Multilayered boards used for packaging.

Film

Transparent or opaque films are used for transparencies, labels, and flexible packaging.

Textiles

Fabrics like cotton, polyester, and canvas for textile printing.

Plastics

PVC, vinyl, and other plastics for labels, banners, and packaging.

Metal

Metal foils, typically used in foil stamping and embossing.

Glass

Specialty printing on glass for applications like glassware and signage.

Wood

Wooden surfaces for applications like packaging and promotional items.

Ceramics

Printing on ceramic materials for items like mugs and tiles.

Labels

Adhesive-backed materials for product labels and stickers.

Vinyl

Commonly used for signs, vehicle wraps, and decals.

Acrylic

Transparent material for high-end signage and displays.

Fabrics

Cotton, silk, and synthetic fabrics for textile printing, including apparel and home textiles.

Corrugated Board

Used for packaging, particularly in shipping containers and cardboard boxes.

Canvas

Primarily for fine art and photographic printing.

Specialty Materials

Specialty substrates like magnetic sheets, metallic papers, and holographic materials for unique applications.

Suggested non-contact web cleaning models

BR45

KELVA BR Series

For web width up to 1400 mm, for film/foil applications.

TL1

KELVA SL/TL Series

For web width up to 2000 mm with special air handling options and ideal for higher dust loads.

TLX

KELVA TLX/HS/ST Series

For wide and very wide web width up to 10’000 mm and flexibly configurable to special applications and high dust loads like in corrugated and tissue production.

Web cleaning is a process employed in various industries to remove contaminants from material webs during production. While the core concept remains consistent, there are notable differences between web cleaning in the printing industry and its application in other sectors.


In the printing industry, contaminants often include dust, paper fibers, ink residue, and adhesive residue, and the materials being printed are typically flat and flexible. Cleaning methods in this context can be both contact and non-contact depending on the material properties and focusing on maintaining print quality and reducing waste. Environmental considerations revolve around sustainability and energy efficiency, with fewer regulatory standards compared to some other industries.

In contrast, different sectors face unique challenges. For example, the semiconductor industry deals with extremely small particle contaminants and adheres to stringent cleanliness standards. Other industries like textiles or food production also have their specific requirements, including regulatory compliance and specialized cleaning methods. The cost considerations and customization of web cleaning equipment can vary widely based on industry needs.

Ultimately, while web cleaning serves a common purpose across industries, the methods, materials, and priorities differ significantly, with each sector tailoring its web cleaning approach to suit its specific contamination control requirements and production processes.

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