by Mike Springan, Product Manager/Techincal Trainer, MUTOH AMERICA
The idea of maintaining any product or piece of equipment you purchase to keep it working at its best is not a new concept. There are many articles and blogs dedicated to the best practices to maintain your wide format printer, easily found by simply googling “printer maintenance”. Most of these articles will compare your printer maintenance to maintenance you regularly perform on your car, and rightfully so. Both are significant purchases that you want to keep working at their best and, probably more important, at their most reliable state. Let’s face facts here, there is not much difference in getting in your car in the morning only to find the battery is dead and the car won’t start and arriving at your shop to find you print head is clogged and the printer won’t print.
Here are a few ideas that you can easily implement into your maintenance routine to help keep your printer in tip-top shape and the profits flowing!
It is very easy to compare the most basic maintenance routines of your printer to that of your car or truck. Most people will wash their cars from time to time, change the oil and filter, wash windows, vacuum the interior, etc. etc. Your printer will operate at its best and most reliable state when you spend just a minimal amount of time cleaning it. It’s always best to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions for proper cleaning procedures.
The best way to make sure that when you arrive at your shop in the morning and print your first nozzle check with all nozzles firing 100 percent is to keep your capping station and print head clean and free of drying ink and debris. I call this daily maintenance. Some manufacturers will specify daily, weekly, monthly, etc. This maintenance routine should be done daily. It takes about 2 minutes at the end of a hard day of printing and will save you a lot of money and downtime in the future. You can never clean too much!
Make sure you keep your print bed and platen area clean. Ink and ink overspray gets everywhere and there is really no way of preventing it. All you can do is clean up any ink spills immediately and give the whole printer a good wipe down on a weekly basis.
Some printers have built-in automatic cleaning cycles to prevent nozzles from clogging and to keep all nozzles primed and ready to go. These cleanings are there to help maintain the reliability of the printer when you are not there. Make sure you set your timers appropriately for the ink type you are using.
The working space and environment the printer is in is just as important as keeping the printer clean.
Most manufacturers will recommend a temperature and humidity range optimal for your printer. For the most part, this boils down to approx. 75˚F and 50% humidity. Keeping your printer in a space that can maintain these optimal ranges will not only ensure the printer functions properly but will also help in making sure your medias are not too saturated (too much humidity) which can cause cockling and head strikes, or too dry (too low humidity) which can cause static that affects accurate dot placement or possible damage to electronic components.
One thing that is often overlooked is what other equipment is around your printer. Do you do a lot of woodwork or metal work in the same room or space as your printer? The dust, dirt, and debris created from these other pieces of equipment will easily be attracted to fans, vents, or filters on your printer. It won’t be long before your printer is filthy and may be damaged. (See “A Clean Printer Is a Happy Printer”)
Once more, this compares directly with maintaining your vehicle.
Like a car, printers are mechanical devices with many moving parts that wear out over time. Changing parts on a preventative basis means extended reliability i.e. change your oil, tires, battery etc.
Manufactures will have a list of periodical replacement parts. The idea here is to replace parts before they fail. A printer manufacturer will have guidelines on what parts may need to be greased or lubricated on a periodic basis or replaced after so many hours of operation.
If you follow these three tips you are sure to keep your printer operating consistently day in and day out.
Just like taking care of your car, proper upkeep can prevent a host of problems in the future.
Just remember to save the larger problems and repairs for your friendly neighborhood, certified service technicians. You won’t want to make things worse.
Why not take advantage of the features of MUTOH printers? They are loaded with easy to use maintenance options as well as options to keep going even when issues do come up. MUTOH has the best reputation in service, repair, and training with experts on staff with years of industry experience. Visit our website to see all the advantages of a MUTOH. www.mutoh.com