Flexo BasicsPrinting Plates

Flexo Print Sleeves, Cylinders, and Plates Care and Maintenance

The importance of adequate care and maintenance methods cannot be overstated when it comes to maximizing the lifespan and usability of flexographic printing equipment. Use these suggestions to keep your flexo equipment working as long as possible.

Flexo Print Maintenance: Take Care of Your Flexo Print Sleeves and Plates

Elastomer flexographic printing sleeves are especially resistant to abrasion, aggressive inks, and solvents. Photopolymer printing products, on the other hand, while useful for certain types of jobs, are more vulnerable to:

  • Swelling
  • Wear
  • Distortion

Speed Is Essential

Although it may be tempting to take a break after a long printing session, delaying cleaning for even a short period can cause damage to your print sleeves and cylinders.

Select the Best Cleaning Solution

Wash your flexo sleeves and plates thoroughly. But not so quickly. It’s not as simple as sprinkling on some ink-dissolving chemicals.


  • Water-based inks
  • Use mild soap and water
  • Most rubber types respond well to isopropyl or industrial alcohol
  • Rinse with water
  • Inks that are solvent-based, oil-based, UV-based, or electron beam-based
  • Use a solvent appropriate for your ink type or a nonvolatile wash-up solution that has been approved

Prevent Abrasion

Rubber print sleeves are tough but have a soft surface – abrasive cleaning tools and methods can scour the rubbery surface of elastomer and photopolymer print products. Gently remove excess ink and debris with a soft-bristled brush. 

Air Dry

Allow the air to do its evaporating magic. However, using an air hose is not recommended because contaminants in the lines may attach themselves to your drying sleeves or plates.

Proper Storage

Wrap sleeves and plates in black-backed paper or film to prevent ozone and UV light from changing their physical properties.

Temperature and storage conditions are critical:

  • Never above 32°C / 90°F
  • Never below 0°C / 32˚F
  • Little to no humidity
  • Away from ozone-emitting devices such as electric motors and lights

Implications of Improper Handling and Care:

Careful handling of your print cylinders and image carriers can save you money and time in the long run. Cylinders are made from rubber but can become damaged or out of balance if dropped or hit repeatedly.

Flexo Print Sleeves Should Be Properly Maintained to Protect Your Investment

Inadequate cleaning and storage can, at the very least, leave debris that degrades print quality. However, if you take the necessary precautions and use the appropriate products for the job, your flexo products will last and produce high-quality prints every time.