Traditionally, all doctor blades were steel. When early plastic and composite materials were introduced, they were not as high of a quality, so printers rarely used them. However, modern materials and production have introduced plastic and composite blades that are just as good. This has left many printers wondering which one they should use in different situations. Here are some different traits of each one and when you should use them.
Using steel blades can leave undesirable scoring on your anilox roll and lines on your print. Therefore, whenever you are doing a printing job that does not require precision, cheap steel blades are a great option. They are also the better choice when you are coating objects, such as glass. Additionally, these blades are known for their longevity.
Plastic blades are the best option when you need a higher quality print and wish to avoid damaging your anilox roll. This is because they are softer than metal, meaning more flexibility, so you are less likely to damage your roll, and you can get a cleaner wipe. While this may be the better option for many printing jobs, most people are concerned about longevity because steel is appreciated for its life expectancy. The good news is that these blades can actually last just as long as metal if they are used in the proper scenarios. This is because they are made from various durable plastics that can hold up to the rigorous challenges of a printing shop.
There are instances where printers will need to swap between plastic and steel doctor blades. By following these guidelines, you can understand when you need to use each one to get the best print for the perfect price. This will also let you protect your anilox roll from unnecessary scoring by helping you find the better match for your application.