Elastomer Sleeves: More Affordable, Better Quality
- Durability – Elastomer will print 2-6 times longer than Polymer.
- Predicted Consistency
- Quality control in imaging and manufacturing
- Supply chain and re-use
- Cost Savings and significant ROI
- Production speed: From manufacturing to imaging to printing
Elastomer sleeves are thicker and more durable and can print 2-4 times longer than polymer sleeves. This eliminates the need to buy multiple plates or polymer sleeves for long runs and repeated abusive short runs that require many cleanings and press cylinder mountings. This leads to cost saving in the long run, and cost predictability. A typical comment from printers who have switched from Polymer to Elastomer sleeves is, “Elastomer usually costs less than polymer, and we’re only buying one set instead of two – so the savings are great, and our print results are more consistent”. Further cost savings are realized because elastomer sleeves eliminate the need to purchase expensive cushion adaptors and replace them in the future.
Sleeve durability does not just come from elastomer materials’ increased ability to stand up to press pressures, corrosive inks and cleaning solutions, but also from the way they are imaged. Digital control of the halftone shoulders contributes to dot stability and reduces break-off which adds durability and consistency. Below surface engraving also produces a more consistent product by reducing highlight press gain — even if a job is slightly over squeezed from press to press and operator to operator. We’ve been told by many print customers, “our pressmen love sleeves.” They love elastomer sleeves even more because below surface engraving reduces the risk of printing shoulders and the risk of inconsistent dot gains. Control of the shoulders allows for razor sharp text even at 1 and 2 point and the ability to print smaller reverse text without filling in.
Elastomer customization is possible through the chemical and physical processes of sleeve manufacturing itself. It is now possible to create a special elastomer compound specifically for your press to get the absolute best from your fingerprint. Because elastomers have no photographic layer, which is the time consuming part of new polymer development, customized materials for your specific needs can be developed in weeks and not years. Slight changes in elastomeric compounds can increase ink transfer for specific inks and substrates where polymers have hit a dead end.