Why So Tense? Head Strike Prevention on a Wide Format Printer
Could a Head Strike Really Be Related to Proper Media Tension?
When the words “head strike” come to mind, probably the last thing anyone would think of is media tension but the reality is that it could very well be the cause of those head strikes. Throughout my years in the service department with Mutoh America Inc. www.mutoh.com I have encountered media tension problems time and time again with some of our customers who weren’t even aware that our printers have different media tension settings. Media tension can cause all kinds of unwanted occurrences when you are trying to get your jobs out the door so knowing your specific printer’s tension settings can play a huge part in getting successful and accurate prints out to your customers as well as cut back on that unwanted lost/waste material.
Each roll to roll ValueJet has some sort of media tension adjustment on them but not all of them are adjustable so it is important to reference your user manual for your specific machine so that you understand the different tension settings and how to engage or disengage them. Take the 1638X for example, this model is adjustable and there are 3 different tension settings that you can set on the machine. The first one is no tension at all. With the tension, bracket disengaged the roll will spin freely and have no resistance.
The second and third are with the tension bracket engaged. You can add 1kg or 4kg of tension to your material by setting your damper knob accordingly.
With all of these different settings available you can see that it is easy to possibly set your machine up with incorrect tension and not even know it’s happening.
Side Effects of Incorrect Tension Settings
What are the side effects of having incorrect tension settings?
- Media skewing
- Media buckling
- Head strikes
- Inconsistent job lengths
Keep in mind that almost all of the roll to roll ValueJet’s with adjustable tension have two separate roll holders so it is important to adjust both of them to the same setting and not just set one as that will cause uneven tension.
Uneven tension is one of the more common occurrences and can cause any of the above-listed side effects. So if you are experiencing any of them and your machine has adjustable tension then it might be a good idea to take a look at the back of your printer to see how your roll holders are set. Also, the phrase “more is not always better” applies to media tension as well. Sometimes too much tension can put excess strain on your machine and material which can cause head strikes, media buckling or your jobs to come out different lengths due to grit roller slippage. But this isn’t the case with all materials, some materials like a little tension and run better through the machine with a little drag behind it so you will have to test your machine and material to see what best suits your needs.
If you thought the roll holders were the only place where tension can be added then think again! Our optional HD take-up system has additional weights that can be added to them to either add or reduce the tension so it’s always best to check the user manual if you are unsure about all the different tension settings for your machine.
Load Media The Right Way on a ValueJet
No More Bad Tension – Just Good Tension
Media tension may not sound like it’s on the top of the list of how to make good prints but it is definitely an important subject and can certainly make the difference when trying to get the best output possible. So the next time you get a head strike don’t tense up, relax and check your media tension!