In printing, doctor blades are one of the most important parts of the entire press. This small piece helps clean off the excess ink from the anilox roll, which maintains a smooth layer of ink to be transferred onto the printing plate. By design, doctor blades will take more damage than the roll itself, so this easily replaceable piece keeps the more expensive parts of the machine in good condition for longer. Doctor blades are usually made of either plastic or metal, and the type of blade you choose depends on what you need it for.
In most cases, metal blades are usually available in the form of tool steel, carbon steel and coated carbon, each with unique benefits to your machine. A good economical choice, carbon steel is perfect for short-run process jobs or non-abrasive ink. Tool steel is sturdier than carbon steel, so it will hold up well to abrasive inks with high percentages of solids that pass through the anilox roll. Coated carbon is a long-life option with enhanced corrosion resistance, improved lubrication and overall better performance.
Plastic blades are cost-effective and designed to meet specific needs for different printing jobs. From high-speed Gravure printing to Flexo containment and even Coating applications, plastic blades are versatile and able to support a wide variety of functions. Since plastic is not quite a sturdy as metal, plastic blades are usually thicker for added rigidity.
Depending on your printing application, you may need different types of blades. Metal is strong and has a longer lifespan, but is usually more expensive than plastic. Plastic is less expensive and specialized, but may not be as sturdy as its metal counterpart. Always be fully informed on the demands of your printing job before purchasing your blades, and replace your blades regularly for maximum efficiency.