In this Digital world, direct-to-garment printers have carved their place in the printing industry. They offer high versatility to print on garments whether single piece or a small lot.
In just span of time, Direct-to-garment printers are moving forward from an un-proven category of machines, to being identified as very high-yielding printers. However the DTG printers come with their own baggage. They indeed need regular printer maintenance to ensure good print-head life.
It is of great importance that one should be aware of the maintenance procedures of the printers to get best out of them. It directly relates to return on your investment into the printer.
As most of us are aware, Direct-to-garment printers use micro-fine nozzles of inkjet print-head to print a special ink onto the garment. The dtg ink is made up of water, pigment and polymeric compounds to ensure adhesion to the garment.
Due to higher amount of solid contents (compared to regular inkjet inks), these inks are prone to the settling of higher particles resulting into clogged nozzles.
This is especially true for White inks where titanium dioxide based metallic pigments are used to make the inks. It is this deceptive mixture which clog the tiny holes in your print head and ink tubes.
The best way is to create a dedicated maintenance schedule and strictly adhere to the time. This will not only help you prolong the print-head life, but will help you fulfill your orders timely. Here are few DTG printer maintenance tips from us for you.
1. Controlling the Environment
Where does the printer live think about the environment humidity, heat & dust, etc? It is good to have it in a controlled office type environment. Keeping it away from anything that would cause dramatic temperature changes throughout the day is important.
As it is because we want to avoid any in coagulation print-head drawing those kinds of things. Ideally room temperature should be between 20 to 25 ℃ with relative humidity between 40-60%.
2. Ink Flow
Ideally the ink tank for White ink should be with the agitator, which keeps stirring the inks periodically to prevent settling of heavier pigment particles. If it’s not there, shake the ink cartridges well at the start of the day.
You can also ensure to shake the cartridges periodically. This keeps the ink mixed and stops the ink residues from settling down. Even if you’re not printing with your Printer every day it’s important to power on the printer on a frequent basis.
By simply printing a few sample shirts on a daily basis ink flow will be maintained avoiding clogs. Sample shirts will help you promote your business causing ink flow to remain maintained. The printer once turned on should be turned off only at the end of day.
Remember that ink purges ink every time you turn on the printer.
3. Nozzle Check
Printing a nozzle pattern should be done on a regular basis before printing a job. Perform a nozzle check every day even if you are not using the printer. This helps you & your printer giving the best performance that particular day. A poor or missing nozzle has to take care of immediately.
Any clogs left unattended will turn to permanent blockages rendering the print-head unusable. Maintain daily record of printer nozzles to ensure consistency of behavior. It is good idea to use a magnifying glass to study the nozzle pattern.
Stray drops or unclear nozzle lines indicate the misfiring nozzles due to ink deposition on nozzles. Generally this is the starting stage of problem, when you should clean print-head and restore the nozzle pattern.
4. Capping Station
Capping station produces vacuum around the print head nozzle plate to suck ink through using the pump inside the station. Vacuum pressure clears the nozzles, preventing ink to dry. It also prevents the contact of air to the ink on print head nozzles.
This ensures that the ink doesn’t dry on print-heads avoiding head blockages. Frequent suction of inks in DTG printer leaves behind solid particles on the surface of capping station. It results into weak or insufficient cleaning action.
The capping station should be cleaned with demineralized water or special cleaning fluids. Splashjet’s CLI-Flush-Transfer Ink. We also provide a special fluid to be used on surface of capping station as a thin film which prevents the drying of the inks on print-head nozzles by maintaining high moisture. Splashjet’s CLI-DeCap – Capping Cleaning Ink.
5. Wiper Blades
After cleaning, the printer uses Wiper blade to wipe the surface of print-head clean. Wiper blades moves to and fro to clean the nozzle plate by gently rubbing it.
If there are deposits of unwanted particles on the surface of wiper blade it results into scratching or damaging the delicate nozzle plate. Periodic cleaning and replacement of wiper blades is extremely essential.
6. White Ink Flushing
By the time you are well aware about the sensitivity of white ink for the print-head. If your ink is causing frequent and persistent clogging of nozzles (you have to take considerable efforts in the morning to recover white ink nozzles), it is good idea to flush the white ink line with Splashjet’s CLI-Flush-Transfer Ink.
This procedure is a bit cumbersome, but you will be able to sleep peacefully in the night. This procedure has to be essentially done for long term shutdown of the printer such as long weekends or vacations. While this is a safety process, due precautions have to be taken to ensure smooth transition.
7. Flushing with Cleaning Solution
To keep your printer free from clogging, cleaning solution is needed. It is important to flush the printer when not in use as it removes the left ink residues from settling & clears the ink lines.
With Splashjet’s CLI-Flush-Transfer Ink flush the entire ink delivery system & then perform a nozzle check to see clear fluid. If you find any visible ink then keep cleaning the head until you see clear fluid.
Final Thoughts on DTG Printer Maintenance Tips
Keeping your DTG Printer in regular maintenance will be one of the most important elements on your to-do list. Whether you own an inkjet or laser printer, above Printer maintenance tips will help you maintain your printer in good working condition.
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