What You Need to Know About Doctor Blades

Doctor blades are used in a printing machine to wipe excess ink off the ink cylinder’s smooth portion. They are used in many printers, from the ones used by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to those in your neighborhood printer’s machine. These have developed from their ancestors in letterpress machines. 

What You Need to Know About Doctor Blades


In printers, the doctor blade is responsible for creating a uniform layer of ink on the cylinder to be transferred to the printing plate. It does this when the machine presses the assembly against the cylinder and drags it in a wiping motion. The blade holder is adjustable so that you can fine-tune this meeting and get the best prints possible. 

It is designed so that the rub against the cylinder wears down the blade, not the cylinder. This is because they are cheaper, and it is easier to replace the blade than the cylinder. You can find both plastic and metal blades for your printer. 

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To keep the wear pattern even, your printer will use oscillating doctor blades. This means the entire system which holds the blades will rock back and forth inside the machine. Thus, you must keep a new, stiff blade installed correctly so that the oscillation does not affect your printer’s performance. 


Doctor blades are quick and easy to replace. On most printers, you will remove the holder, take out the old blade, install the new one, and reinstall the assembly into your machine. However, if you do not feel comfortable working on your machine, you can have a professional change the blade for you. 

If you want a professional-looking print, you will need to make sure that your doctor blades are kept new and stiff. This is because they are designed to oscillate and wear down over time to save you from having to replace your printer’s cylinder. Fortunately, they are easy to replace. 

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