The Secrets Behind The Doctor Blading Process
If you’re in the process of printing a product, you want to make sure that you get the best results possible, with the least amount of product wasted. This is why we recommend the doctor blading process. But, how does that process work, and how can you facilitate it for your company? Below, we explore your options, as well as why this process may be the right choice for you.
What is the Doctor Blading Process?
One option you may consider as you form films is doctor blade coating. This doctor blading process is dependent on the surface you must cover—a sharp blade is affixed at fixed distance from that surface. During this process, you’ll use a coating solution. The coating solution remains in front of the blade, and the blade moves across the surface. What this does in the end is create a wet film.
What sets the doctor blading process apart from certain alternatives is its effect on thickness levels. The thickness of a film created through doctor blading is more well-defined than that of films created through certain alternative processes. In a printing process, the doctor blade is essentially removing excess ink, creating a smoother, more level surface.
Naturally, the types of solutions used in the doctor blading process can affect the final outcome. You’ll typically use inks and pastes that have higher amounts of binders and thickeners. What this gives you at the end of the day is a higher viscosity formula. We use polymers like glycerol to increase a formula’s viscosity as well.
What is the Doctor Blade Made Of?
Clearly, the doctor blade itself is a crucial component of the doctor blading process. Here’s the good news: a doctor blade is typically relatively affordable. It’s easily disposed of, and you’ll often see it made of two materials–steel or polymer.
Additionally, there are three main tip configurations for doctor blades. These include:
- You recognize straight doctor blade through its straight, blunt edge. Usually, we reserve this configuration for a less refined print.
- We cut a beveled blade at an angle. The resulting edge is beveled, which allows for more precise scraping and shearing.
- The lamella tip blade can be the hardest to recognize. It’s rather unique, which is thin at the tip. This thin tip becomes larger when we use the blade in a step pattern.
How is the Doctor Blade Replaced?
Inherently, we don’t make doctor blades to last. You must replace it periodically, and the removal and replacement process varies depending on the type of machine you’re working with. With many machines, the process involves simply removing the blade and the blade holder, affixing a new blade to the blade holder, and then placing the blade holder back into the machine. Often, experienced employees use a tool called a doctor blade puller to avoid injury during this process.
Keep in mind that the risk of injury is fairly high if you don’t know what you’re doing, and it can take employees a while to get the experience necessary to use a doctor blade the way they wish. It’s just one of the reasons why many business owners choose to work with third party manufacturers rather than having their employees handle processes like these. The reality is that while you can potentially train your existing employees to replace a doctor blade, there’s a high risk involved if they don’t have the necessary experience. The alternative would be hiring new permanent employees to come on board and handle the process for you. But that in itself holds drawbacks—hiring a new set of permanent employees specifically for doctor blading isn’t viable for most business owners.
Why Else Should I Work with a Third Party Manufacturer?
There are other clear benefits to working with a third party manufacturer when it comes to the doctor blading process. We’ve covered the bodily risks to the employees and the costs that come with hiring a new set of permanent employees.
Other issues to consider are:
- Generally, working with a third party can be more affordable than managing processes like the doctor blading process in house. This is due not only to the cost of labor, but the cost of renting or buying permanent facilities suitable for manufacturing. Plus, you’ll have to consider the same with equipment. These expenses build up over time, and it’s often more feasible to sign a contract with a third party and outsource these processes.
- Quality control is important in manufacturing, needless to say. And it’s sometimes difficult to maintain quality control when you’re processing and manufacturing in house. This could be due to the facilities or inexperienced employees—but you don’t have to worry about that with a reliable third party manufacturer. Working with a third party means that you’re much more likely to maintain quality.
- You don’t have to worry about miscalculating timelines or parts being back-ordered when you work with a third party. Additionally, while you’re involved in the process, you always have the opportunity to focus on other tasks while the third party manufacturer handles their assigned project for you.
It’s clear that when it comes to doctor blading, third party manufacturing may be the right way to go. From here, we recommend reaching out to manufacturers, asking questions, and exploring how to set up your next project. CTI is here to help—call us at 419-924-5566 or contact us here.