December 9, 2021
Precision rolls deliver consistent pattern reproduction for multiple applications
Manufacturers and converters use coating, metering, and anilox rolls to create attractive and functional substrates.
Textured rolls, also known as coating rolls, metering rolls, and anilox rolls, use patterns measured in lines per inch to deliver specific attributes and appearance characteristics. At IR Engraving, we specialize in producing new as well as cost-effective refurbished textured rolls for customers in a variety of industries. Our team employs multiple techniques to engrave roll patterns, depending upon the final application, but all of them start with a clean base roll. We electroplate copper that bonds to the steel surface and precision-polish the roll, engrave the copper surface, and then finish with a layer of chrome to protect that surface.
The refurbishment process involves turning down the used roll so we can start with a clean steel surface. Reconditioning rolls allow manufacturers and converters to maintain their sustainable manufacturing processes by recycling rolls. See below for a summary of engraving processes used for both new and recycled rolls, including their application.
Engraving precise textures onto a roll surface requires understanding tolerance and application requirements.
Mechanical engraving – The oldest form of producing textured rolls uses a knurling tool to press into the copper surface and transfer the engraving pattern. We use regular soft copper for mechanical engraving, with additives at our disposal to make the copper surface harder if needed. The mechanical engraving process works well if the pattern features one cell size to put down a uniform coating, such as glue, often used in various forms of packaging materials. Mechanically engraved rolls can also be used to put a pattern into a packaging substrate, such as a foil or film.
Electromechanical engraving – We use hard copper for this technique, with a diamond stylus as the engraving source. The stylus vibrates and pokes holes into the copper in the shape of an inverted pyramid. The copper surface is highly polished, and the stylus provides more precision in the production of coating rolls and metering rolls.
Electromechanical engraving is the preferred technique for the packaging industry. We have the ability to feed a greyscale image to the machine, and it automatically varies the cell depths to print a simulated tonal range. Producers of laminate flooring, wood grain marble simulations, paneling, countertops, and packaging foils use this type of textured roll.
Laser/chemical engraving – We use this process for specialized pattern embossing rolls that the first two methods can’t accomplish. We spray a black lacquer on top of the copper, and then send the image to the laser. The laser then removes just the paint coating to expose the copper beneath it. The roll then goes to an etching machine that uses ferric chloride acid on the copper. These rolls can be used to put images on labels or even individual pills for the pharmaceutical industry.
IR Engraving is a leader in the design and production of engraved rolls and plates, gravure rolls, and custom machinery for a wide range of industries. As part of the Precision Roll Solutions family, we help the world’s leading manufacturers leverage texture and other process variables to make their products more effective and enhance their impact in the marketplace.