Has Your Canon Print Head Warranty Expired?

Checking the warranty left on your Canon imagePROGRAF print heads is as easy as opening an Internet browser window.

As you’ll see in the video above, simply input your printer’s IP address in the browser URL bar, and you’ll be led to a Remote UI page, which contains lots of useful info.

Follow the step-by-step directions in the video to see how much time you have left on your print head warranty, so you’ll know when it’s time to replace them.

Special Savings on HP Z6600 and HP Z6800 Inkjet Printers at LexJet

HP Designjet Production Printers
Take print production to the next level with HP’s new Designjet Production Printers. Call LexJet at 800-453-9538 for special pricing.

Is it time to upgrade your printer? If so, consider HP’s new Designjet Z6600 Production Printer and Designjet Z6800 Photo Production Printer. This month, LexJet is offering a limited number of the new HP Z-series printers at a special discounted price.

Take advantage of the latest printer technology to speed up production and improve image quality. You will realize more efficiency, thus a better and quicker return on your investment, thanks to HP Double Swatch Technology – which uses two sets of printheads – Smart Drop Placement Technology algorithms, and the HP Optical Media Advance Sensor, which also improves print precision.

Both 60-inch aqueous inkjet printers are designed to make your workflow more efficient, reliable and profitable. You’ll notice a significant difference in your workflow when you upgrade to one the Z-Series Production Printers…

HP Designjet Z6600 Production Printer: Produce high-quality prints with HP 6 Vivid Photo Inks, which include Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and three shades of black (Photo Black, Light Gray, Matte Black). The three shades of black deliver rich density and smooth transitions for black-and-white prints. The Z6600 gives you a wide range of application options – from posters, photos and signs, to canvas and backlits – on a variety of print materials.

HP Designjet Z6800 Photo Production Printer: Get the same speed and application variety as the Z6600 with added features like an embedded spectrophotometer to create spot-on ICC profiles and a wider color gamut with the addition of Light Magenta and Chromatic Red to the HP ink mix.  The Z6800 also includes a built-in take-up reel, 775mL HP ink cartridges and heavy media rolls for unattended printing.

For an overview of HP Designjet Production Printers, check out the video posted previously at the LexJet Blog. And, for more information, including the special limited pricing on the Z6600 and Z6800, call a LexJet printer specialist at 800-453-9538.

How to Make Canvas Printing Work for You, Part 2: Printer Technologies for Canvas

Sunset Reserve Bright Matte Canvas Print
Printing fine-art photography on Sunset Reserve Bright Matte Canvas with the HP Designjet aqueous printer at Art Warehouse, Chattanooga.

Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. As noted in the previous installment, your clientele and market focus will ultimately dictate the choices you make regarding canvas materials and finishes. And so it goes with your choice in printer technology.

Though the volume you produce in canvas is an important element, it’s only one element of many that need to be considered to find the right printer. Those elements include:

  • Your current print production and application mix
  • What you want that print production and application mix to be in the future, and the clientele you aim to capture
  • The expectations of your clientele: do they require almost perfect fidelity to the original, are they more concerned about producing multiple prints at an economical price with short turn-arounds, or somewhere in between?
  • Your capital equipment budget, both initially and over the long haul of the printer’s life
  • How much post-print finishing you’re willing to do and how much finishing adds to your overall production time and costs

The choices in wide-format printing used to be fairly simple, but this simplicity also brought limitations. With the introduction of more affordable and reliable printers using solvent, latex and UV-curable ink sets, the potential applications became much more varied and print durability became less of an issue.

Canvas by AW Artworks
Point of sale gallery wraps by AW Artworks printed on Sunset Production Matte Canvas with a Canon iPF8300 aqueous inkjet printer.

Each wide-format printing technology – aqueous, solvent, latex and UV-curable – has certain characteristics that need to be taken into account based on each print shop’s goals, capital equipment budget and operating environment. While there may not be such a thing as the perfect printer, there is an ideal printer waiting to be used to its full potential.

Water Works: Aqueous-Based Printers
Aqueous-based printers, so called because the ink used is primarily water mixed with either dyes or pigments, are widely used for canvas printing and typically offer the best image quality. Most print shops have moved to pigmented inks because these inks provide a more durable print than dye inks; pigmented inks are now the standard.

Often referred to as UV inks for their ability to resist UV light, they should not be confused with UV-curable inks, which are discussed in the final section of this installment. The advent of pigmented inks for aqueous printers eliminated much of the laminating previously needed for prints using dye-based inks for short-term outdoor and long-term indoor applications.

However, it is still recommended that you coat aqueous inkjet canvas prints so they’re protected from environmental factors and to help ensure they won’t crack on the edges when they’re stretched.

Film laminates are rarely used for canvas prints, mainly due to aesthetic reasons. Liquid coatings enhance the canvas texture and provide a more “painted” or artistic look, and come in gloss, satin and matte to provide different finishes.

Film lamination is recommended for other print materials when you need extra rigidity, a different texture, protection from people picking or chipping away at the graphics, specialty applications (floor and vehicle graphics, for instance) or to gain about 20 percent added durability for longer-term outdoor signage (more than six months).

Along with the development of pigmented inks, there have been a plethora of printable media – from photo papers, polypropylenes and polycarbonates to fabrics– optimized for these inks that provide excellent color reproduction and greater longevity.

In other words, if you’re doing a variety of applications, including canvas prints, aqueous printers will fill the bill for most of those.

Following is a rundown of aqueous-based printing’s strengths and weaknesses, based on the latest printers from Canon, Epson and HP

Cost: Aqueous printers have a significantly lower cost of entry. You can get a 42-inch or 44-inch wide printer for $3,000-$8,000 or a 60-inch unit for $10,000-$13,000, as opposed to $16,000-$30,000 for an entry-level solvent printer, around $20,000 for a latex printer, and more than $60,000 for an entry-level UV-curable printer. The greatest cost will be on the finishing side. You don’t have to coat aqueous prints, but as noted above it’s recommended that you do. From print to ship, expect to add at least 48 hours to production since you should wait 24 hours before coating and 24 hours before stretching. The coating step obviously adds labor and the cost of the coating to the equation as well. There are a lot of companies that run multiple aqueous printers to keep up with demand, but have usually added automation in the finishing department, such as coating machines and canvas stretching machines, which will be discussed in subsequent installments. Even with automation, the lag time between printing and shipping is an important consideration. The most important element in the cost-to-print equation is finishing since time and labor are the largest cost factors in the print process. Some studies of the cost-to-print put ink and media as less than 10 percent of the total operation costs.

Maintenance: Aqueous printers require little maintenance, other than keeping the production area as clean as possible.

Operation: They are virtually plug-and-play, so there is very little time lost tweaking the printers for different materials. Because of their relatively simple operation, they are the most reliable printers over the long haul. Moreover, with the more complicated latex, solvent and UV-curable printers the addition of a RIP (Raster Image Processor) software is necessary, requiring additional training and knowledge.

Quality: You typically get a nicer-looking print with a wider color gamut at production speeds than you do with other printing technologies. The wider the color gamut, however, the slower the print speed. When you’re researching printers ask about speeds in the highest-quality mode.

Applications: Though aqueous is versatile enough for almost any application, including canvas, specialty applications like vehicle wraps are more difficult and time-consuming to accomplish than they are with solvent and latex printers (UV-curable printers are not ideal for vehicle graphics, or stretched canvas, since the ink tends to crack when stretched around corners or rivets and over stretcher bars in the case of canvas).

Speed: This is actually somewhat of a wash when compared to entry-level solvent printers, particularly with the latest technology, which prints about twice as fast as the previous generations. Basically, upgrading to any new printer – be it aqueous, solvent, latex or UV-curable – will increase production speed significantly.

Printheads: HP and Canon use thermal printheads, which don’t last as long as the piezo heads used in Epson’s printers and in most solvent printers. Fortunately, the cost of each thermal printhead is relatively low, and significantly lower than the cost to replace a piezo printhead.

For the rest of this series, click on the following links:

Part 1: Materials, Finishes and Textures

Part 3: Latex, Solvent and UV-Curable Printing

Part 4: Coating Canvas

Part 5: Canvas Wrap Options


Extreme Sale: Price Reduced on LexJet Extreme AquaVinyl While Supplies Last

Printing signs with vinylSave more than 20 percent on LexJet Extreme AquaVinyl w/PSA, engineered for all aqueous printers, including dye and pigmented inks and thermal and piezo printheads.

Take advantage of this special pricing on all widths and roll lengths of Extreme AquaVinyl while supplies last. The 36″ x 40′ roll, for instance, was $181, and is now only $139.

Plus, LexJet Extreme AquaVinyl comes with a one-year warranty against fading, peeling, cracking, bleeding and running when using pigmented (UV) inks. The scratch resistant coating eliminates the need to laminate and is waterproof.

Extreme AquaVinyl can be used for a variety of flat surface applications, such as short-term outdoor signage, long-term indoor graphics, window graphics, special event graphics, and other flat panel advertising.

Jon Otteson, who printed the sign project show here on the vinyl, said, “I’ve printed a lot of fine art projects, but this was our first signage project so it was a little nerve-wracking. Fortunately, it worked out very well and we learned a lot along the way. The printer and the material were both perfect, and compared to what we had before the signage is 50 times nicer.”

LexJet Adds Latex: HP’s L25500 Latex Inkjet Printer Now Available at LexJet

HP's environmentally friendly HP L25500 latex inkjet printersHewlett-Packard has selected LexJet as an authorized reseller of the 60-inch and 42-inch wide HP Designjet L25500 latex inkjet printers. With the addition of the L25500, LexJet expands its portfolio of inkjet printing technology, fitting perfectly into a range of LexJet printable inkjet media already developed to be compatible with latex inks, including LexJet’s Simple line of vinyl for vehicle, specialty, window, wall and other sign and display applications.

The HP L25500 can print on a wide range of media, papers and textiles, including media optimized for solvent and low-solvent inks. Designed for both indoor and outdoor graphic production, the HP Latex Inks are durable, odorless and emit very low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) so that no special ventilation is required. Moreover, the inks do not require special handling, are non-flammable and non-combustible. The printer uses internal radiant heaters and forced airflow to cure the inks, speeding up turnaround times on printed graphics.

The HP L25500 utilizes six ink colors with print resolutions up to 1,200 dpi, combined with HP Double Swath technology with three pairs of HP 789 Designjet Printheads and the HP Optical Media Advance Sensor for saleable output up to 246 square feet per hour.

The printheads have a simple snap-out, snap-in design for easy replacement. A built-in automatic printhead service station and automatic nozzle testing system, plus large 775 mil ink cartridges, eliminate the need for daily maintenance and ensure long periods of uninterrupted production. Used HP 789 Designjet Printheads and HP 780 Latex Ink Cartridges may be returned and recycled through HP’s free and convenient Planet Partners Program.

For more information about the HP L25500, and to find the right printer for your business and its applications, contact a LexJet customer specialist at 800-453-9538.

Maintenance Tips for Solvent Inkjet Printers

Solvent Inkjet Printer MaintenanceWhile solvent printers are much like aqueous printers, in most cases they require a little more manual maintenance. Also, there are no solvent printers that use thermal printheads; they all use piezo-electric printheads.

Since piezo-electric printheads are not designed to be replaced regularly, they must be well maintained.  Most piezo-electric aqueous printers are designed to maintain themselves, and are therefore designed so that the user cannot gain access to the printheads.

Solvent printers are a different animal in the sense that most require weekly and sometimes daily maintenance to the printheads themselves. This is primarily due to the fact that the solvent inks tend to dry out much sooner on the bottom of the printhead than aqueous inks do.

Regular Maintenance
Regular maintenance refers to the maintenance required on a daily or weekly basis to keep the printer running optimally. The first and most important thing to keep in mind is the shape of the shop and whether or not it’s ship-shape.

Because the printhead array on an aqueous printer tends to be densely packed, losing a nozzle or two does not usually affect print quality to the same degree it does with solvent and UV-curable printers. If you lose a nozzle on a solvent or UV-curable printer, you really notice it.

Solvent ink in particular evaporates quickly, which can then dry and clog the nozzles. Moreover, dust and other contaminates tend to migrate toward leftover ink on the printheads (dust gravitates toward liquid), creating another potential clogging hazard.

That’s why one of the most important maintenance items is to operate the printer in a clean environment. As far as it’s possible, printers should be segregated from other finishing and production areas. Cutting, trimming, and routing create airborne particulates that are looking for an opening to clog.

An air scrubber or HEPA filter, like the Predator 600 Portable Air Scrubber, has proven to be a cost-effective and efficient way to help remove potentially harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from the air, and the pungent smell associated with them. It will also help keep dust and other contaminates to a minimum.

Moreover, an air scrubber aids in the drying process by providing and maintaining regular air circulation. Oftentimes, failure in the field can be traced to prints that weren’t thoroughly dried before they were finished, shipped, and installed.

While every printer is different, these procedures typically include the following routines…

Cleaning the Printhead
When a printhead is clogged, the printer typically comes equipped with a cleaning sequence that it runs to clear the clog. This sequence consists of purging air from the printhead while simultaneously wiping the printhead with a rubber wiper blade.

In most cases this clears all clogged nozzles, although sometimes it takes several cycles. In some cases, normal cleaning cycles just aren’t enough to clear all clogs, especially if the clog is due to ink that has completely covered the nozzle. In this case, you may need to manually clean the printhead.

The proper procedure for manually cleaning printheads varies by printer model, but usually consists of wiping the bottom of the printheads with a wipe soaked in cleaning solution to minimize nozzle clogs. The cleaning solution varies from printer to printer, but usually consists of the manufacturer’s flushing solution, or a solution similar to the inks used in the printer, just without the pigment.

Some printer manufacturers recommend using lint-free cleaning wipes to wipe the bottom of the printhead, while others prefer a cleaning swab. You should never deviate from the using the cleaning solution and wipe recommended by the printer manufacturer as doing so may cause permanent damage to the printheads as well as void your warranty.

Cleaning the Wiper Blade
Inkjet Printer Wiper BladeThe wiper blade is responsible for wiping the bottom of the printhead during a cleaning cycle in order to remove any excess ink or debris from the bottom of the printhead to reduce nozzle clogs. Throughout the day, most printers run multiple cleaning cycles in order to provide optimal print quality.

Most printer manufacturers recommend cleaning the wiper blade every morning with a lint free cloth or lint free swab. This will reduce the probability of debris getting wiped into the nozzles of the printhead during cleaning cycles.    

Replace the Capper
Printer Capper Wiper MaintenancePeriodically, the printer’s capper or capping station needs to be replaced. The capper is a moist pad that the printhead rests on top of when it’s not printing to ensure that the printhead does not dry out. Over time, the capper will consume too much ink and need to be replaced. Your printer manufacturer should sell replacement cappers, and only cappers approved by the printer manufacturer should be used on your printer.

Replace the Damper
The damper is an ink reservoir that exists between the ink cartridge and the printhead. The damper also has a filter that reduces the amount of contaminants that will enter the printhead. Over time, the damper’s filter can clog and will eventually need to be replaced.

Replacement dampers are typically sold by printer manufacturers as well as printer resellers. You should steer clear of third-party dampers as they may void your warranty and damage your printhead.

Heat vs. Quality
Unlike aqueous printers, solvent printers rely upon heat to aid in the ink curing process. Since every media is different, you must find different combinations of heat and pass count for each given media. If creating a profile for a new media, try starting with a high heat setting. If the media tends to wave, buckle or warp, reduce the heater settings on the printer.

If you find a heat setting that works well for your media, but the ink tends to collect on a certain area of the print media, try increasing the pass count. While increasing the pass count will slow down your print speed, some media demand that you have a relatively high pass count for maximum ink absorption.