Typical rubber materials used in the manufacturing of ink rolls include neoprene and polyurethane. Able to be utilized in machinery sized anywhere from small office equipment or large printing presses, ink rollers are widely used in industries, including industrial manufacturing, for machining applications such as metal and plastics processing; electronics, for use in computers, printers, calculators and data coders; printing, for use in the transfer of ink to paper, textiles, film, foil and more; pulp and paper, for newspaper printing, commercial printing and paper converting; and art, for use in metal decorating applications. Also, ink rolls can be used by police departments in order to obtain fingerprints or palm prints for proper identification of individuals.
Additional industries that benefit from ink rollers include textile manufacturing, lumber processing, glass working, leather making, roofing and many more. In commercial settings, rollers are useful in applications such as barcode printing and photographic printing. Ink rollers are generally manufactured by injection molding, in which the heated rubber material is injected into a closed mold, or compression molding, in which the heated rubber material is placed in an open, heated, mold which is then closed with extreme pressure. In addition, foam neoprene rubber may be used in the creation of rubber rollers.
The process to form foam begins with mixing a certain number of chemicals and then adding a gassing agent, which causes the material to expand. The expansion forms a foam strip, which consists of numerous trapped gas bubbles. After the foam is formed, many types of foam cutting processes can be performed, such as laser engraving, which is often used on ink rollers in order to create the printed pattern. An example of how ink rolls are used in printing applications can be described through the process of a printing press. In a printing press, a plate is mounted on rotating cylinders within the press. Next, the plate is passed under a roller that coats the plate with water.
Pre-treated with an oily material, the image area on the plate remains uncoated because it is water-repellant. Then, an ink roller is passed over the plate and an oil-based ink should be used so that the ink will only adhere to the plate on the sections that resist water. Finally, the ink is transferred from the plate to another rubber roller, which serves to transfer the ink to the object being printed on.