optimum printing

The levels of heat and humidity in the printing environment can have a negative impact on image quality. It’s important to always keep the levels stable and within the recommended guidelines of the printer manufacturer. It’s lucky for us that digital printers work best in the same environmental conditions preferred by people.

The optimum levels of temperature and relative humidity (rH) in a print environment is 68°F (20°C) at 50-60% rH. A thermometer can be used to measure the temperature and a hygrometer can be used to measure the relative humidity. A hygrometer is an instrument used for measuring the amount of humidity in the atmosphere (or print environment).

Prints produced in high rH printing environments take much longer to dry and exhibit poor ink adhesion. High relative humidity also increases the amount of dot gain, image bleed, and coating/image tack. Prints produced in lower rH printing environments will dry faster and will exhibit better ink adhesion. The prints will also have less dot gain, image bleed, and coating/image tack.

Temperature in the print environment can be controlled properly with a high-quality HVAC system. A programmable thermostat is recommended to keep the temperature stable within +/-  1°F. An evaporative humidifier can be used to increase the relative humidity in the print environment. A dehumidifier can be used to decrease the relative humidity in the print environment.

printer

You can fix most common print quality issues yourself before calling for technical support. The following information will help you troubleshoot the problem.

print quality issues

Print is Blurry or Smeared

• Make sure the media is acclimated to the printer environment for at least 48 hours.
• Check the Media Type setting. Make sure it is correct for the media you are using in the printer.
If the exact media type is not available in the printer driver, choose a media setting with a similar material type and thickness.
• Make sure the printable side is face-up when loaded in the printer. Also, make sure the media is compatible with your ink type.
• Check for an ink leak inside the printer. Clean up excess ink inside the printer using a soft, clean cloth.
• Clean the printheads. Use the printer’s Head Cleaning utility or manually clean the print heads.
Print has Smears on the Leading Edge
• If the edge of the media is curled in the direction of the printable side, flatten it or curl it toward the opposite side.
Also, try spooling out one or two feet of media past the platen. It will prevent the print heads from striking the curled edge.
• Check the Media Type setting. Make sure it is correct for the media you are using in the printer.
• Adjust the PLATEN GAP or HEAD HEIGHT to the proper distance for the loaded media.

Poor Ink Adhesion

All Printers

• Make sure the media is acclimated to the printer environment for at least 48 hours.
• Check the Media Type setting. Make sure it is correct for the media you are using in the printer.
If the exact media type is not available in the printer driver, choose a media setting with a similar material type and thickness.
If there is too much ink on the media, choose a media setting with a lower ink limit.
• If applicable to your printer, set the printer to the correct temperature for the media. Thicker media may require a higher temperature than thin media.
• Make sure the printable side is face-up when loaded in the printer.
• Set the printer to the correct speed for the media. Inkjet printers may require the number of passes to be increased or decrease for the media. Also, try to print in uni-direction mode.
• Older media (two years past the manufactured date) may be unprintable due to changes in its composition. Discard expired media and replace it with fresh product.

UV Printers

• Increase the intensity of the UV lamps.
• Increase the number passes for the media.
• Print in uni-direction mode.
• If there is too much ink on the media, choose a media setting with a lower ink limit.

Horizontal Banding

• Make sure the media is acclimated to the printer environment for at least 48 hours.
• Check the Media Type setting. Make sure it is correct for the media you are using in the printer.
If the exact media type is not available in the printer driver, choose a media setting with a similar material type and thickness.
• Make sure the printable side is face-up when loaded in the printer. Also, make sure the media is compatible with your ink type.
• Clean the print heads. Use the printer’s Head Cleaning utility or manually clean the print heads.
• Decrease the media compensation or feed rate for white banding. Increase the media compensation or feed rate for dark banding.
• Check the levels of the ink cartridges. Replace ink cartridges if they are low or empty.

Vertical Banding or Misalignment

• Make sure the media is acclimated to the printer environment for at least 48 hours.
• Check the Media Type setting. Make sure it is correct for the media you are using in the printer.
If the exact media type is not available in the printer driver, choose a media setting with a similar material type and thickness.
• Print in uni-direction mode.
• Adjust the PLATEN GAP or HEAD HEIGHT to the proper distance for the loaded media.
• Run the printer’s Print Head Alignment utility for the loaded media.

Print is Light or it Looks Faded

• Check that the ink cartridges have not exceeded their expiration date. The expiration date is on the cartridge label.
• Check the Media Type setting. Make sure it is correct for the media you are using in the printer.
If the exact media type is not available in the printer driver, choose a media setting with a similar material type and thickness.
• Clean the print heads. Use the printer’s Head Cleaning utility or manually clean the print heads.
• Check the levels of the ink cartridges. Replace ink cartridges if they are low or empty

paper curl

paper curl

PRODUCT CURL

Many specialty media products develop “roll set curl” from being wound onto cores.  Allowing the material to equilibrate to the printing environment for 24hrs before printing can help reduce the excessive curl and minimize the impact on media loading and printing.

Media exposed to high humidity will be more susceptible to curling when loaded on the printer. It’s best practice to keep the print environment at 50% relative humidity and the air temperature at 70˚F. Also, adjusting the platen heater to extreme temperatures may result in buckling of the loaded media. Best practice suggests heater settings between 40˚C – 45˚C.

There are two methods for properly loading media on a printer that reduce the risk of a head strike.

METHOD 1

Advance the edge of the media 6” past the platen when loading it to avoid head strikes. This method is good for media with a slight curl.

METHOD 2

Advance the edge of the media at least 12” past the platen when loading it. Secure the end of the media to the printer take up reel with masking tape. One piece of tape in the center, one piece on the left and one piece on the right. Adjust the take-up reel to a sufficient degree of tension (if applicable) before starting the printer. Check to make sure the tape does not break free after starting the printer. This method is best for media with a moderate curl.