Minimizing Downtime of Your Wide-Format Inkjet Printer

As your inkjet printer continues to crank out job after job, day after day, it’s easy to forget that someday your trusty old workhorse might just decide to quit one day.  In order to be prepared and to get production running again as quickly as possible, here are four important questions to ask yourself:

1.       Do I have the warranty hotline number and printer’s serial number readily accessible?

Write these numbers down and keep them where they can be easily found. Then, as you work with the manufacturer on the service/warranty issue, write down all the details, including the name of the person who helped you with the problem. In a nutshell: Document, document, document.

2. Do I have a manufacturer’s warranty or is my existing warranty through a third party?

Surprisingly, you may get on-site service more quickly through a third party. If you have a newer printer, and your issue is deemed non-fixable over the phone, you can usually expect someone to show up within 48 hours. Of course this time frame will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some third-party warranty suppliers with more service technicians at their disposal can have someone at your door within 24 hours.

3. How old is my printer, and is it still under warranty?

The age of your printer will most likely guide your decision about whether or not to sink more money into it or to simply replace it. If the answer is to replace it, the good news is that the cost of aqueous wide-format inkjet printers have decreased dramatically in recent years. Printers that once cost more than $10,000 can now be purchased in the $5,000 to $7,000 range. If you’ve let your warranty expire, it might be worthwhile to spend a little extra for a new printer instead of paying for parts and labor from a service technician.

4. Can I trade in the printer or get a free one somehow?

During the course of the year, printer manufacturers sometimes run promotions that give you cash back when you trade in your old printer for one of their newer models. LexJet is an excellent one-stop source for this information. So call a LexJet account specialist at 800-453-9538 if you’re interested in a trade-in. Be sure to ask about any special programs or deals that LexJet may be offering on printer purchases.

Being prepared to deal with repair issues can save time, hassles, and money down the road. If you ever experience difficulty with your printer or need guidance on repairs, warranty, or replacement, your LexJet account specialist is happy to help. Call 800-453-9538. If you have questions regarding any of the information in this post, ask away.

Maintenance Matters

Most of us already know that as our printers age, their print quality tends to drift. In addition to the printer’s age, and for lack of a better term, mileage, there are other factors that affect print quality.

Changes like new printheads, different lots of ink and media, and even environmental factors like temperature and humidity can have an impact on quality and consistency, especially over time.  In order to keep the quality of your output optimal, there are certain fundamentals that you must adhere to.

Routine Checks: While all printers are different, there are three basic steps that you can follow to maximize the quality and consistency of your output. These steps are nozzle check/cleaning, bidirectional alignment, and media feed adjustment.

Nozzle Check/Cleaning: This step seems like a no-brainer. However, many people only print nozzle checks when they see horizontal banding. It is possible to have several nozzles missing for a single color and not notice any horizontal banding, especially when printing in a high quality or high-pass print mode.

Keeping that in mind, if multiple nozzles are missing for a single color, your color may still shift. For example, if you are printing a shade of blue and you have some cyan nozzles missing, your blue may take on a purple hue. Nozzle checks should be done on a daily basis to ensure you are getting optimal print quality. If any nozzles are clogged, you should run cleaning cycles until the clogs have been rectified.

Bidirectional Alignment: In order to optimize print speeds, most shops print in a bidirectional print mode, which means that the printer lays down ink as the carriage moves in both directions. While this mode significantly increases print speeds, it also introduces the possibility of less accurate dot placement which will result in a “fuzzy” image.

This is a target used to check bidirectional head alignment. This check was done on the Epson 11880 under Manual Alignments. Though the 11880 has the option for an auto head alignment, I printed this for demonstation purposes. After printing the target, select the number that best represents the closest alignment of the two colors. This number is then entered into the LCD display on the printer's control panel.

To ensure the highest print quality, you will want to run a bidirectional alignment calibration. This involves printing a target that typically consists of a pattern (usually a series of vertical lines) printed while the head is moving in one direction, then another corresponding pattern (series of lines) is printed above or below the first series of lines while the carriage is moving in the other direction.

Protecting Your Inkjet Printer from Static Electricity and Clogging

By Bill Weiser

SolutionsSignSmHave you ever been shocked when touching your inkjet printer?  Most likely this occurs in the winter months when you are running your heater and the humidity is low.  Other than being an annoyance, this is potentially dangerous for your printer.

Depending on the level of the static electricity being discharged, and the place where the discharge enters the printer, this little spark could disable a printhead or fry the motherboard.  In addition to the possible damage to your hardware, static electricity can also cause dust to collect on your paper that will create flakes and white spots on your prints.

To prevent static electricity from interfering with your workflow, you can do a few very simple things:

Run a humidifier near your printer and keep the setting at 50% relative humidity.  This will dampen the effects of static electricity, as well as keep your ink cartridges from drying out and clogging. (You may have noticed that you get more clogged nozzles in the winter than any other time)

Don’t place your printer on a carpeted surface.  If you can’t avoid this, place the printer on a rubber mat with enough  surface space for you to stand on while operating the printer.

Use the Static Elastic™ cord across your media to prevent static build up.

Use an anti-static glove, brush or cloth when working with static-sensitive materials such as polyester films.

If you have any questions about any of these tips, call me or any other LexJet account specialist. We will be happy to help you. Call 800-453-9538.