Tips to help you get the best out of your digital printer

Using a quality printer surely contributes to the overall success of any printing job. Nevertheless, more factors contribute to achieving a quality end result. In order to get the best out of your printer, we brought together some useful digital printing tips.

  • Invest in quality materials. Labour will inevitably make up the bulk of production cost. Choosing the best possible materials for a job will improve quality and enhance productivity while minimising wastage.
  • Beware of media deformation. Most materials are liable to shrinkage and deformation when printed on with solvent inks. The higher the quality of the material, the less susceptible it is to this process.
  • Handle your media with care. Print media needs to be acclimatised to the production environment at least 12 hours before use. Store your media upright or on prongs to avoid pressure marks on the face film, keep it dust free and always use lint free gloves.
    To be absolutely sure there are no fingerprints or other grease marks on the material that might influence the quality of the print, a quick cleaning before printing works well.
  • Store solvent ink at room temperature. Store ink at around 21°C, away from fire and flammable material. Please consult your local environmental services department for advice on disposal of excess inks and ink waste.
  • Check the ink expiry date. Solvent ink has a limited shelf life and will deteriorate when the expiry date has run out. For optimal print quality, check the ink cartridge case for the expiry date.
  • Use the right profile. A correct ICC media profile and regular re-calibration of your printer are essential to ensure optimal and consistent print quality.
  • Calibrate your printer. Calibration of your printer is essential for consistent quality printing. Calibration – also referred to as density adjustment or linearisation – takes into account changes in the environment, media, ink and status of print heads. Calibration should be performed using either a densitometer or spectrophotometer.
  • Perform daily maintenance. Solvent inkjet printers require regular cleaning and maintenance and down-time should be restricted. Please refer to your printer’s manual or equipment supplier for the daily maintenance routines.
    If the printer needs to be switched off for longer periods, please follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and procedures carefully to prevent permanent damage to the print heads or other components.
  • Allow enough dry time. Even though solvent ink is touch-dry within minutes, it is strongly advised to allow the material to be cured between 24 and 72 hours before proceeding to the next production stage. Solvents must be allowed to evaporate fully from the media before lamination, contour cutting or application. Please refer to the manufacturers’ datasheets for exact details.
  • Laminate. Laminate is recommended for applications where prints are exposed to intensive mechanical stress or abrasion, including fleet and floor graphics.
  • Ventilate the production area. When working in an environment already laden with solvent fumes, the curing process will take longer. Air extraction will also help in optimising the production process by stabilising the environment, with improved quality as a direct result.
  • Create a healthy and pleasant working environment. Effective air purification or ventilation is recommended for all types of solvent printers in order to create a healthy and pleasant working environment.
  • Ensure a stable environment. Solvent inkjet printers are sensitive to changes in the environment, including temperature and humidity. For consistent print quality it is recommended to keep your printer in a controlled environment as per the manufacturer’s guidelines.

If you consider these factors when working on a job, you should be able to achieve the best possible results from your printing equipment.