Maintaining equipment and creating a clean environment is critical in the printing industry. Large and grand format printers will only work well and produce quality prints if it is properly maintained. Additionally, the environment where prints are stored and packaged in should be clean and free of airborne particulate such as dust and debris.
When your business depends on printing equipment any downtime can result in loss of time and money. Any quality issues can result in returns or wasted material, leading to more lost profits. The lesson here is regular maintenance is vital. It is the kind of thing best done preventatively and regularly, instead of waiting for something to go wrong. Using the correct materials is also key.
To keep your large and grand format printers functioning well for a long time to come, follow these tips for print head cleaning and more.
Supplies for Printer Maintenance
The following supplies are considered essential for maintenance and repair:
- Gloves: Wear latex or nitrile gloves when performing printer maintenance. It is important to avoid direct contact with chemicals such as ink and cleaning solvents.
- Print Head Wipes: Use a polyester, lint-free wipe, with attributes like those of cleanroom wipes. Use these to clean print heads and other sensitive materials and areas of the printer.
- Eye Protection: Similarly, safety goggles protect your eyes. Just in case printer ink or other solvents splash, you will be glad you have the coverage!
- Paper Towels: Paper towels are a must-have for quick cleanup of any spills or messes.
- Print Swabs: Print head swabs are one of the most important supplies to have on hand. These are used to clean the hard-to-reach areas of your wide format printer. When you use print swabs you can extend the life of your print heads and improve print quality.
- Spray Bottle: Use this for careful, accurate spraying of your cleaning solvent. You should always refer to your specific printer manual for acceptable cleaning solvents.
The Importance of Print Head Wipes
Regular print head cleaning is essential. This part of your machine needs special attention and the correct tools. Dust particles, ink residues, and dirt can affect this very sensitive piece of your printing equipment. Wiping it down with the wrong wipe can make matters worse.
The idea is to clean the print head without introducing new contaminants and at the same time, removing the contaminants without damaging or scratching the surface. Print-head wipes are produced and packaged in cleanroom environments to ensure no contaminants are brought into your printer.
Printer head wipes come in a variety of options, but they share some basic characteristics that set them apart from regular wipes. Whether the wipes are impregnated with cleaning agents or not, they are lint-free and typically comprised of polyester. Nothing is more common and damaging to a printer head than an abrasive surface and linting properties. Aside from the nasty effects it can have on the printed product, it helps deteriorate your print head at an alarming rate.
Refer to Your Manual
The manual for your printer will give you specific instructions for maintenance. This includes how often you should clean and maintain your printer. It will also let you know which supplies and cleaners suit your specific machine. While some of these products are universal, like safety goggles and gloves, others will change with your printer make and model.
Other Maintenance Considerations
Factors like the environment in which your printer is located impacts maintenance and cleaning. Think about the operating temperature and humidity — higher or lower levels can change your printer’s efficiency. The cleanliness of the area also matters. The ultimate goal is to keep everything clean!