How to print during these HOT days and what to buy to cope with it.
Starting today, Sunday 17th July 2022 we are entering the hotter weeks of our lovely British summer. As I sit outside with a coffee and my iPad writing this blog post at 8:00am it is already 24c. Great for leisure time but not so great for printing time. This year it looks like it is going to be unusually hot and you may want to take some precautions to avoid any issues with your DTF printer. I have a few tips for you below and a few things to look out for long term.
Humidity - what does it control?
The good news is, DTF inks are very forgiving but they still need a stable environment in order to work correctly. Try to keep your environment stable, when the temperature is anything above 22c and humidity below 45rh things can quickly go wrong, in this environment the ink waiting to be jetted can suffer a change in surface tension meaning it will not jet correctly leaving pigment in the nozzle exit hole. This will cause deflection and eventually clog that nozzle meaning a long soak to clear it out or worse a permanent clog.
Be kind to your capping station - it looks after your print heads
Your suction cups can suffer from ink collecting on the rubber seals and the wiper blade can get covered in congealed ink much quicker in high temperatures, clean these regularly, the dirtier they are the more ink will be attracted to stick to them. Carefully place a few drops of the Resolute Premium multipurpose cleaning/capping solution in the CMYK and White suction cups. This will help keep the pipes open and stop ink from adhering to the inside surface of the pipes when printing, if you don’t do this it can restrict ink flow through the pumps and reduce the strength of the clean when performed. Keep your capping station and adjacent areas especially clean during hotter periods to avoid issues with drag banding.
Drag banding - is a symptom that looks like normal banding but is caused by ink dangling down and dragging across cross the wet printed surface, when cleaned off it resembles a piece of rubber cotton and causes way more print issues than you would imagine if left unattended.
Air Conditioning - Yes or No?
Built in air conditioning with an external compressor/condenser controls humidity better than a stand alone condensing unit. Keeping the air temperature down is good practise but you may need a humidifier to keep your humidity up. The best humidifiers are the ones that create a visible vapour, keep them under or close to the capping station area but make sure they are not blowing directly into the printer as this could cause water to condense and cause an electrical short.
Film Pre-Heat plates
Turning your film pre and post heat plates down will help to keep the temperature down inside your printer. In hot weather the pre heat is not so important and knocking 5c off these will help to avoid overheating inside your carriage chamber.
Take Temporary Measures
Whilst its great to have good weather, these temperatures are unusually high and will for sure catch some people out. Try to print early in the morning, I very often used to start printing at 4:00am when I was a litho printer many years ago, our exclusive Trade Print Service will do the same this week and any other days where we know issues will be caused. Start early, finish early and enjoy the late afternoon sunshine 🌞 If your conditions are to far out from the norm you will be wasting your time and consumables trying produce quality printed films.
Best DTF Inks to use?
There are lots of buzz words around what DTF inks and Films to use, the bare bones fact is, experience, resources and deep pockets generate the best inks on the market. Inks developed in hotter countries will have been tested in harsh environments making them more stable than a product made and tested locally. OEKO-TEX certification does not come easy and it does not come cheap, inks with this certification have been heavily tested and researched to make sure the components are high quality and sourced with sustainability in mind. Being made in China no longer carries the worries of poor quality or availability it used to. Many phones, tablets and high end PC’s are made in China along with many brands you would not associate with Chinese manufacture. Yes, there are some very nasty cheap DTF inks for sale in the UK, some from China and others produced more locally. You don’t tend to find a full ink set that has OEKO-TEX certification will be bad or change from batch to batch, use this as your bench mark and you will be getting value for money but also using a product that has the backup of a major brand name and the $ to put things right if they go wrong. All three of the DTF inks Resolute sell have full OEKO-TEXT certification as do all our films and adhesive powders. KODAK products are made in China at their plant located in Xiamen Island, this is where I witnessed DTF for the first time over four years ago whilst working on a project directly with Kodak. The Resolute Premium brand is a combination of high quality products from different suppliers offering the best possible quality at a preferred price, all are fully OEKO-TEX certified products. It is Resolutes buying power that allows us to offer exclusive purchases like the latest “BUY 3 get 1 FREE” on our Hot Peel Films. We use discounts offered to Resolute and pass them on to our loyal customers, our offers are very often unbeatable for such high quality products and are not always advertised on social media.
A phone call from Resolute out of the blue generally means we have something you will want to hear.
I hope these tips will help over the next few days and long term, applying common sense is your best policy in these high temperatures. Don’t expect your printer to ignore the high temperatures just because you choose to!
Happy Printing guys.