Super-flex Universal flexographic plate solvent
Super-flex is probably the most widely used of the safer alternatives to Perch/n-Butanol for the processing of solid photopolymer flexographic plates. Super-flex is blended from Hydrocarbon solvents which do not have any known adverse effects on the environment or operator, unlike Perch/n-Butanol which is the traditional washout solvent but is classified as Toxic & Flammable.
Flash point: Above 62o C
Specific Gravity: 0.84-0.87 @ 20o C
Boiling range: 150 - 200o C
TLV: 100 ppm Recommended
Super-flex - compared to Perch/n-Butanol
In most cases Super-Flex does not require any expensive changes to plate making equipment currently using Perch/n-Butanol. Change over to Super-flex is quick and economical, in addition to which it has upto twice the life of Perch/n-Butanol and can thus process many more plates before replenishment. Also the product does not have the high evaporation rate of Perch/n-Butanol, where some 30% could be lost through evaporation.
Easier to handle
The flash point of Super-flex is above 62 OC compared to 50OC for Perch/n-Butanol, thus it is less flammable. The density of Superflex is 0.86 compared to Perch/n-Butanol at 1.4, which means that it weighs 40% less, which is most important when containers of solvent have to be lifted and carried.
Better Plate Quality
Super-flex has been found to give low swell and better reverses, with plates looking much cleaner after processing.
Processing of plates with Super-flex is very easy, involving few changes if any to standard processing equipment - wash and dry times are similar to those for Perch/n-Butanol, and all types of plate finishing (including germicidal light finishing) are compatible. One big advantage of Super-flex is its ability to process any of the major brands of flexographic photopolymer plates. Even the most ozone resistant plates on the market can be processed in Super-flex.
Change over from Perch/n-Butanol to Super-flex
First ensure that all seals, tubing and pumps etc. are designed for Perch/n-Butanol (seals made from Viton are suitable).
In the washout section of the machine, readjust the switch controlling the level of solvent, taking into account the different s.g. of the Super-flex (0.86 compared to 1.4 for Perch/n-Butanol). Because Super-flex lasts much longer the solvent replenishing system needs to be readjusted.
Super-flex is a more gentle solvent for photopolymer plates than Perch/n-Butanol, but care should be taken to ensure that plates are given the optimum back exposure and face exposure. Thick gauge plates which are under exposed can produce unstable detail i.e. lines may go wavy, dots may be lost. It is recommended that back exposure and face exposure tests be carried out in conjunction with washout in Super-flex.
Indications are that for the same brush settings, washout times for certain photopolymer plates may be increased by 20-30% compared to washout times in Perch/n-Butanol. However since less swell occurs with Super-flex, brush pressures may be increased to compensate for the lower solubility without risk of damaging plates.
Care should be exercised in order to avoid foaming, which will lead to inefficient (and long) washout. Foaming indicates either excess brush pressure or insufficient replenishing of fresh solvent. Should foaming occur, reduce brush pressure and/or increase the replenishment rate of Super-flex.
Super-flex is more temperature sensitive than Perch/n-Butanol. The recommended washout temperature is 20oC minimum and the washout rate will be faster when the temperature is increased, but the maximum temperature should not exceed 30oC. Temperatures lower than 20oC should be avoided.
Super-flex will successfully washout plates whilst holding a much higher polymer level than Perch/n-Butanol so less solvent needs to be replenished during the washout cycle.
Super-flex has a relatively low rate of evaporation, which means that less solvent is lost through the extraction system of the washout unit. Due to less absorption by the photopolymer plate, less solvent is carried over with the plate into the dryer, leading to lower solvent loss and similar drying times to Perch/n-Butanol.
Plates washed out in Super-flex have a clean floor and look much better than plates washed out in Perch/n-Butanol. However after washout and rinsing, plates should be thoroughly blotted dry (to remove traces of Super-flex on the surface of the plate), and immediately put into the drying oven. Failure to thoroughly dry the surface of the plates can allow the Super-flex, which has a high boiling point, to become very active and cause the fine detail on the plates to be damaged.
N.B. Most machines are already equipped with an adequate system to pre-dry the plate - or can be easily modified to incorporate this feature.
There is less 'orange peel' associated with processing in Super-flex but normal de-scumming procedures will eliminate orange peel completely.
Drying temperatures should be as normal, 60-65oC and should not be taken above 70oC to hasten drying, as recent information has indicated that the polyester film support on photopolymer plates can become unstable at temperatures above 70oC.
If drying times are paramount Super-flex FD can be used which will substantially further reduce drying times. Separate data sheet for Super-flex FD is available.
Normal finishing procedures give no problems with photopolymer plates washed out in Super-flex. For full technical assistance for your equipment or plates please contact your plate & equipment supplier.
Super-flex can be successfully reclaimed by C.K.Chemicals Solvent Recovery Process. Waste Super-Flex will normally be collected from site at the same time as delivery of new material.
Separate Health & Safety data is available.
Super-flex is available in 204 litre & 25 litre containers.
A Guide to adjusting reclaimed Super-Flex
Super-Flex is a mixture of an alcohol and hydrocarbon solvent. After distillation the ratio of the two components should be checked using a hand held refractometer and adjusted as required. The solution and refractometer should always be tested at 20° c.
A refractometer capable of measuring 60-90 “Brix” is used to determine the refractive index of the Super-Flex.