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Wide-Format Dye-Sub Printer Maintenance

Get a basic rundown of wide-format dye sublimation printer maintenance

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Everyone wants a dye-sublimation printer that performs every day and is reliable. By performing basic preventative maintenance routines on your wide-format dye-sub printers, you can both prolong the life of your printer investment and ensure its day to day quality performance.

Most owners/operators of wide-format dye-sub inkjet printers can perform this routine housekeeping on their own. Be sure to check with your vendor to see what preventative maintenance training resources are available to you when you buy the printer. These simple preventative steps will save you big bucks on expensive break-fix repairs in the long run.

Keep your dye-sub printer in a clean area, free from lint, dust, and any dirt. Cover it when not in use, and vacuum the inside of the print cabinet area gently as often as needed.

Exercise your inkjet printer daily. Even a simple nozzle check will keep it in shape. It is cheaper to print a basic color chart, test pattern, or any nozzle pattern than fixing a clogged head.

dirty print head dye-sublimation
Dirty print head (Image courtesy Dennis Haley)

Dye-sublimation inkjet printers operate best in a humidity of 35-45%. This is why they are usually located in their own clean, humidified room to maintain consistent conditions. Along with a room humidifier, you can place a humidor sponge inside your printer at rest.

dye-sublimation printer
New wiper (Image courtesy Dennis Haley)

Periodic cleaning and inspection of the overall ink delivery system is a must.  Check these components frequently, as they are what keep your printer in top-operating condition.  More information on cleaning the wipers, capping station, and the flushing system can be found in more detail here.

Training is one of the most important aspects of buying a wide-format dye-sublimation printer from each vendor and your local reseller or systems integrator. They should be available to assist you with proper installation, as well as any basic procedures and training resources to enable you to become self-sufficient in the day to day operation of dye-sub printers.

Ultimately, it is your responsibility as the owner of any digital printing or finishing equipment to learn how to best operate and maintain that equipment and keep it in top condition. If you don’t know how to best run and maintain the equipment, you are setting yourself up for a tough time keeping it operational.

Dye-sub printer manufacturers will have detailed instructions and published procedures on preventative maintenance and technical repair guides. There are now plenty of good YouTube videos, blogs, and other public forums that detail how to best maintain digital printing equipment. A lot of the simple components, such as print heads and wiper blades, are available on the open market and can be simple to replace on most modern wide-format dye-sub inkjet printers.

By properly maintaining your printer and learning how to protect your investment, you can gain many years of good use, produce high-quality products, and reduce your exposure to costly repairs.

Check out Part 2 of this series for information on capping stations, wiper blades, and ink delivery.

dennis halley digital2you

Dennis Halley

Dennis Halley is a printing industry veteran with a broad applications, training, and consulting background in various digital production printing/finishing technologies. Digital2You.cc is a branch of Photo-Imaging Consultants offering specialized dye-sublimation training on-site and in their Denver, CO Digital Technology & Learning Center.   They also provide the USAheatpress.com line of wide-format industrial rotary dye sublimation heat transfer presses nationwide.

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