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What sets our anilox coatings apart?

March 2023

The importance of the anilox coating in consistent flexographic printing cannot be overstated. Regardless of the quality of the laser you use, trying to engrave cells into a weak or variable outer layer will result in a sub-standard final product. A poor-quality coating will significantly affect overall anilox performance, whether it manifests in a shorter operational lifespan, impaired ink transfer, or any of the other myriad flaws that may occur. 

In contrast, high-quality coatings provide increased anilox longevity and more consistent and high-quality printing, leading to cost savings for printers. 

Ensuring consistent coating quality is a problem that anilox developers have historically struggled to overcome. However, Sandon Global has found the answer to make producing high-performance, durable coatings easy. Capable of sustaining up to approximately 1.6m or 250,000 cells engravings per square (inch/cm), our anilox coatings offer impeccable ink transfer and durability that ensures they set the standard for industry performance. 

The secret to this success lies in how we manufacture our products. 

Sandon Global is unique in the anilox production industry because we do not outsource any stage of our manufacturing process. Instead, all our products are manufactured in-house at our 48,000 sq. ft UK facility. This grants us unparalleled control over anilox quality, from the raw materials used to specific manufacturing techniques, and ensures that we produce the same standard and specification of anilox each time. 

One of the most important raw materials we use is Chromium Oxide (Cr2O3), which we import from leading manufacturers. The Chromium Oxide recipe that we purchase has been formulated in-house at our test powder line, allowing us to tailor the correct recipe for our process, rather than purchasing an off-the-shelf mix. This substance is perfect for creating anilox coatings; it offers exceptional durability and abrasion resistance and is ideal for laser engraving when applied to a clean surface.  

The criteria we use for Cr2O3 performance are very strict. All materials that go into our coatings are rigorously and regularly tested to ensure they can provide a porosity level tolerance of 1-2%, and a hardness value of 1,300 Vickers. These factors combine to ensure the coating is resistant to wear and scoring, and offers quality, precise printing. 

Adherence to these criteria is checked through our robust quality control process in our metallurgical laboratory. We have entered a knowledge transfer partnership with the University of Manchester that allowed us to recruit a specialist metallurgist. Whenever we receive a new batch of Cr2O3, this metallurgist tests it using our state-of-the-art scanning electron microscope, which is capable of up to 150,000 times magnification. This enables us to qualify the hardness and structure of the material – making sure it is of a high enough standard to go onto a Sandon Global anilox. 

Our unique production process also incorporates a proprietary enhanced densification treatment. This treatment is applied to an anilox prior to laser engraving to make the Cr2O3 coating completely impervious to any liquid. This eliminates the potential of substrate corrosion or oxidisation that can accumulate over time particularly when using water-based inks or coatings, aiding improved ink release from the engraved cells, ensuring optimum ink transfer. 

This commitment to quality and consistency has helped Sandon Global attain its current position as the anilox supplier of choice for the narrow, medium and wide-web printers. However, we are not content to stand still, and are constantly striving to broaden our engineering portfolio and build on the range of components, materials, and skills that we provide. We have partnered with leading universities and are engaging the best materials scientists in the country to deliver knowledge, laboratory access, and prototype experiments that help to fuel development. 

We strive for continuous improvement, continually investing in the latest technology, including recent investment in new plasma coating booths that will use thermal spray technology to produce anilox coatings that achieve even better hardness and lower porosity ratings.  

As we head into 2023, Sandon Global will continue its drive for innovation in anilox coating technology, offering unbeatable anilox quality to help our customers achieve the performance they deserve. With exciting news about some breakthrough product innovations on the horizon, we believe Sandon Global anilox coatings will set the standard for performance for years to come. 

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