As sign fabricators, we understand that the process of creating signs is intricate, requiring precision, accuracy, and meticulous attention to detail. With all of the focus on precision and detail, sign fabricators should review their current processes to identify where they could improve. One common area that sign fabricators could improve when producing photopolymer signage is optimizing their washout time. Many don’t realize how important washout times are for photopolymer signage, and how having the right washout brush is key for fabricators to speed up their washout times.
What Happens When You Don’t Have the Right Brush?
Washout units and processors often use brushes to remove the unhardened polymer from the surface of the plate. Washout brushes are normally made up of single spiral filaments locked onto a cylindrical support to reach all areas of the polymer. The washout process takes place via the mechanical abrasion brought about by the bristles of the brush as they come into contact with the surface of the plate. When the washout is complete, all the unexposed polymer should be washed away. What you have left will be all the area that is exposed, ready for drying. To see whether a plate is properly washed out, you can inspect it by running your fingernail along the edges to make sure there is no polymer leftover.
One of the most important things to know about the washout process is that washout times should not be too prolonged or extensive. Generally, 5 minutes is enough time to wash all your products. A proper brush will be able to scrub the unexposed polymer out neatly and efficiently in the time allotted. If your washout time exceeds 5 minutes, there may be something wrong with the brush you are currently using. In case you use a normal brush, which does not have excessive moisture capacity, it’s more than likely that your brush is not washing off excess polymer efficiently. Keep in mind that brushes with medium or firm bristles can scratch and wipe away too much of your plate, damaging your end-product. Additionally, due to the lubrication of water-based solutions, the excess polymer is more likely to settle between the bristles of a normal brush. This excess polymer will harden, making the brush ineffective and more likely to deteriorate quickly.
To keep this from occurring, it’s critical to have the right brush that will go above and beyond to get the most out of your photopolymer materials. Not only will owning the proper brush boost efficiency and improve washout performance but it will also lower the risk of overwashing your photopolymer. With this in mind, we want to share our hidden secret for improving washout times for photopolymer material.
Finding The Right Washout Brush
If you fabricate exterior signage on a regular basis, it is important to have a brush that improves the processing of exterior grade photopolymer. Our EX brush is designed with material that is both high-quality and eco-friendly. Its main benefit is that it enhances the washout of non-exposed polymer material. It guarantees that your work will be completed without waste and to your exact, unique requirements. With this brush, you can reduce your wash times by 40% with no additional scrubbing. This brush also allows for a smoother, more uniform wash across photopolymer sheets compared to regular brushes.
Here are a few benefits of our EX Brush:
- Contains a larger amount of bristles, designed to optimize the cleaning experience,
- Makes up of softer bristles that line more closely on the pad,
- Has increased moisture levels,
- Provides enhanced capacity to absorb moisture with lower degrees of hardness,
- Offers faster, better wash-out for exterior signs,
- Dissolves polymer better,
- Undergoes less clogging compared to regular brushes,
- Has low viscosity to push photopolymer through the Airbrush system with minimal pressure, and
- Improves washout cleaning of the Novacryl EX material.
How to Extend the Life of Your Washout Brush
For optimal use and results, it is important for you to maintain the level of quality of your brush by cleaning it on a regular basis. Here are 5 simple steps on how to best maintain and extend the life of your brush.
- Change water after 5-7 runs in a static tank setup.
- Set your processing tank water level to be 1/16th of an inch below the tips of the brush bristles.
- Set up an open flow system for the processing tank. This is where the intake water is split into hot and cold water intake in an open setup. The drain valve should also be set in an open position. Both the intake water and drain valve should be set to maintain a constant level of water over the bristles at a constant temperature of 70-75 Fahrenheit.
- At the end of your shift or production day, make sure to drain the processing tank. Wash down the brush bristles, processing tank sides, and tank bottom. This removes all photopolymer residue in the tank.
- Add 2 cups of white vinegar to the filled processing tank water each production day. This will reduce the ability of polymer residue to stick to the brush bristles.
Sign fabricators must make sure that they have the proper brush for efficient washout times and outcomes. Fabricators that make use of the right washout brush will be able to improve their washout times and boost productivity while saving time and money, allowing them to become more successful and achieve more profit in the long run. Sign fabricators should take this opportunity to assess and evaluate their current operations and workflow procedures to make changes that enhance their efficiency when manufacturing photopolymer signage.
Nova Polymers has the finest equipment you need to improve your washout times and save time and money. We are dedicated to helping you identify and resolve any issues in your production and process so that your signage business can grow and prosper the way you want it to. For more information about our services, contact us today.