Sun Chemical helps converters navigate on-press challenges

The ink specialist provides a range of resources, including an Online Troubleshooting Guide, to ensure the best printing quality.

Modern press technology continues to push the limits of printing. With press speeds increasing and brands becoming ever-more discerning, Sun Chemical has taken strides to ensure that converters are generating the best quality print.

Sun Chemical offers an Online Troubleshooting Guide, which is a platform highlighting a range of common on-press challenges. By using this resource, Sun Chemical can direct users’ questions to the right experts for their applications. In addition, the company is using its social media channels, namely LinkedIn, to answer questions via the hashtag #SunSolve.

Sun Chemical has identified drying speeds as one of the more common challenges affecting printers today.

“One of the major issues we’re seeing is drying speed for the speed of the press, which can cause ink smearing or tracking,” explains Moe Rahmeh, technical customer service functional excellence director. “Those types of issues are non-starters because they’ll shut a press down quickly. Then we have all the variations of dirty print, which show themselves pretty regularly.

“Regardless of job design, everybody wants to run the fastest they can run,” he adds. “When we come in, the first thing we do is recognise the type of job we’re running, that way we can make sure we have the right ink in the press to start with. Today, you need a drying speed for high press speeds while keeping the ink wet on the plate and in the anilox. You need to dry it fast enough to where you don’t have any smearing or blocking. The biggest issue for us with drying speeds is making sure the chemistry is right. The chemistry of the ink is extremely important to be soluble enough to print.”

In order to successfully run presses at high speeds, there is a real marriage between the plates, the anilox and the ink, as they all work in concert with each other. For example, Sun Chemical has noticed a common drying issue as it relates to the anilox. According to Rahmeh, anilox technology and plate technologies are changing every day. So too is the surface treatment on the plates.

“If the customer is trying to get some real high densities on their anilox, and they’re pushing the anilox volumes up on the screen values, then you end up with some drying issues,” says Rahmeh. “You also then start getting dirty print. Sometimes just by looking at the anilox and the volume, we’ll know if we can get this issue fixed on-press or if we’ll have to go in a different direction.”

Sun Chemical has an extensive staff on-hand to help troubleshoot these types of issues. For Rahmeh, the company prides itself on asking as many questions as possible. The team has also been traveling extensively throughout the Covid-19 pandemic in an effort to help converters service their essential industries.

“We at Sun Chemical have taken a different approach to troubleshooting,” states Rahmeh. “The main thing for us is asking questions. We’re asking a lot of questions before we even get to the customer, so we’re prepared to address whatever situation we might come across.”

A big factor in Sun Chemical’s troubleshooting process is selecting the proper ink products for each customer. Tailoring a unique solution is key, as this is not a one-size-fits-all process.

“As an industry, we’ve always made the mistake – to make it simple for the customer – we’re just going to give you one ink that does everything,” comments Rahmeh. “My goal is to give you an ink that you just put in the press and run it. We try to address all those conditions within our formulations.

“At Sun Chemical, we can work with our own pigment group to develop these kinds of solutions,” he adds. “All of our solutions are coming from our experience in the field, and that’s really required. If we have all those things in place and we’re still having those kinds of issues, most of the time we find it’s just an imbalance in a viscosity or pH, and/or the anilox volume is too high or too low depending on the job design they’re running. We will come in and help you figure out the sweet spot.”

Sun Chemical has also been active in collaborating with press manufacturers, especially as they launch new press technology. “We are in constant contact with them as they develop new presses, especially as it relates to drying speeds and drying mechanisms, as well as how they set up the dryers. We’re looking at everything that goes into printing, we’re giving the suppliers advice as far as what’s needed for different substrates and the separation of the inks.”

Sun Chemical has developed a wide range of solutions for its NWTL (narrow web tag and label) customers. Not only are these troubleshooting resources available for seasoned veterans, they can serve a great need in helping those new to the industry get up to speed.

“We put a lot of emphasis on NWTL market,” says Rahmeh. “We’re collaborating with a lot of people, and that’s why I feel really strongly about what we’re doing for the entire industry.”