What type of environment should your printer live in? Is canned air okay to use for cleaning? And how about that age-old question: is it better to leave your printer on or turn it off between each use? Find out on this episode of #AskBC.
- Benefits/risks of turning printers off
- What to do about a dusty environment
- Proper temperature and humidity levels
- Three years in storage: Will the printer work?
Listen in to learn about how to clean, maintain, and store your printer
- For more information about Ron you can visit Arditos.com
- Listeners featured in this episode include Darrell from O’Sullivan Images, Angela from Canvas for You, Pat from Pat O’Hara Photography, and Yvan Bedard from YvanBedardPhotoNature.com.
- For an example of the cleaning cartridges Ron mentions in the episode, click here.
- Love the show? Have some feedback for us? Leave us a review on iTunes.
Prefer to read over listen? Want to save this conversation for reference later? We transcribe all of our shows for these reasons! Download this episode’s transcription below:
Or, to view a web version of the transcript:
Announcer: You are listening to the #AskBC podcast. Your printmaking questions, answered by the experts!
Justin: In this episode we have a special guest – an expert in all things printer hardware-related. We talk about how to clean your printer, the ideal printing environment, and we address the age-old debate: whether to leave your printer on or to turn it off.
Justin: What’s up everybody, it’s your host Justin and this is episode 9 of the #AskBC podcast. Super pumped that we’re about to get in to double digits here, so this should be exciting.
We’ve invited back a special guest, an expert in the Epson printmaking field, his name’s Ron Ardito and he’s from Arditos.com.
Announcer 2: Darrell from O’Sullivan Images asks: I have an Epson Stylus Pro 7900 and I love it. I never turn it off even when I’m away for a week or more, should I be turning it off? If so, how often and why? [00:55]
Ron: Well, you know, that’s a question that a lot of people ask me during my days out there servicing. I prefer to turn a machine off. On the 7900s and that series of machines – the 99s and that model series – some people will leave them on continually. The machines do go into an energy saver mode where they pretty much, almost shut off, there’s still gonna be some heat generated.
And the reason I like to turn the machine off is because if you leave it on it’s always generating heat through the power supply on the main board and if the machine is inactive, it’s sitting there, the ink is drying because of the additional heat that is now inside the machine. I prefer to turn them off, but some people will run into a situation on a “99” or a “79” series where [01:40] if they turn it on and off continually, every time they’re going to use it, then the machine is going to run a head cleaning cycle and when it runs that head cleaning cycle, if the nozzles are in any way, shape, or form clogged, the machine will fail the nozzle check.
Eventually, you’ll run so many cleanings and you’ll waste so much ink and you will actually fill up the AID board with cleaning failures and your machine will go into an “1800 error,” and you need a service man to take care of that issue. [02:08]
If you leave the machine on, it’s not going to do that because the machine is not starting fresh and it’s not going to run a cleaning cycle. Of course, in the set up of the machine you have the ability to turn those features on and off, but still, even with them both off it will run a cleaning cycle.
Justin: Oh, good to know. So there’s no real benefit for leaving it on then. Does the head go into any kind of different position when it’s turned off, like on the capping station or anything that benefits specifically from turning it off? [02:37]
Ron: When the machine is not printing, the head is parked on the right side and it’s parked on the cap assembly, it is actually sealed from air. If you’ve got a good pump and the seals are good, air really cannot theoretically get to the print head and help the ink dry. If you have a warrant cap assembly and you do not get a good seal, it is very possible you’ll have more ink drying, and you could possibly run into issues with the nozzles.
Justin: And it parks there whether it’s on or off when it’s not printing, right? [03:04]
Ron: That is correct, yeah, it goes all the way over there. There’s little neoprene seals and they come up and they meet the bottom of the print head and there’s one seal for each two colors and that’s how you can do (on that particular unit) you can do color pairs cleaning.
Announcer 2: Angela from Canvas For You asks: What is the ideal environment that the printer should be in? I was told that heat would dry out the print heads. Is this true?
Ron: The approved environment for any of these ink jet printers is a temperature no lower than 60 degrees, no hotter than 80. Humidity – 40s ideal, no higher than 60, and then the reason for the humidity is not the mechanics of the machine or the mechanical aspects of the machine, but the paper. If the paper is stored in an environment where it’s very humid, the paper – like a sponge – will suck up the water. [03:50]
Once the water is in the paper, especially if it’s a matte type or a fine art paper, a rough surface paper, now you have more water in the paper and when you add water to ink you get dissolution, and when you have dissolution your colors are not going to be the same. Also, paper feeding is also affected by humid paper, you know, not that many people are using any feeding trays – you can’t use a cut-sheet tray with the large format machines, you can only single sheet feed them, so humidity is not really an issue, but if you’re using a 4900 – which is going to give you the ability to use a paper tray as well as a roll – you want the paper no higher than 50% in the humidity. [04:33]
Justin: Okay, perfect. And, you know, people ask sometimes: does it affect the ink? Like the heat or the humidity, will that affect the way the ink acts in the print head?
Ron: No, it doesn’t affect the ink. The ink is in no way, shape, or form affected. It’s the media the ink is working with, which is the paper.
Ron: So if the paper is humid, you’re not gonna get the output that you really would get if the conditions were ideal, because the paper has absorbed water in the environment and the air. [04:56]
Announcer 2: Pat from Pat O’Hara Photography asks: I have not used my Epson 7900 for almost three years. I will soon resume printing. The printer has been covered in a favorable environment, with the cartridges installed. How do you recommend I proceed?
Ron: First I’m gonna say good luck. [laughs] But when a machine has been sitting idle, regardless of how you stored it, there’s a very, very good chance that the print head is no longer going to be functional. [05:23]
You know, a week, a month, three months, that’s pushing it – three years? I’d be very, very surprised if you ran…you know, try running three or four power cleanings and see what happens. But it’d be my thought that you’ll end up putting a print head in that machine. If you end up putting a print head in it, it’s gonna be as good as new when the tech is done with it, but that’s probably what you’re looking at.
Justin: New print head.
Justin: Okay, so say I wanted to store a printer for this amount of time, is there an ideal way that’ll prevent print head failure? Or is that just gonna happen? [05:52]
Ron: No, there are storage fluids. Epson makes one, I think a lot of the third party ink providers make a cleaning storage fluid. You can put the – if you can get it into it – and this an added expense, you’d have to buy a set of cleaning cartridges, they call them cleaning cartridges, or funnel fill cartridges where you can put the cleaning solution or storage solution into the cartridges, you run a couple of power cleanings and now the solution is in the print head, it’s in pump, it’s in the ink lines.
So at this point, theoretically, you have a machine that you could put away and come back three years later and it might work. [06:26]
Ron: I don’t guarantee it, I’ve done it here where we’ve put storage fluid in machines only to find that when we went to use it again a year later it was not working. Conversely, I’ve had machines that have sat on the shelf for a year, believe it or not, say like a 3800, ran a couple power cleanings – the machine works.
So I would have to attribute that to a very good seal between the pump and the print head.
Justin: Ah, okay. The newer the printer, maybe? [06:55]
Ron: Yeah, there are variables that go along with this storing of the printers. But if you are gonna store it and you want at least a chance of it working when you come back to it, by all means put a storage fluid in the print head.
Announcer 2: Yvan from YvanBedardPhotoNature.com asks: Dust flies in the ambient air and goes into our printers. What is the most effective way to clean our printer? Humid cloth, soft brush, vacuum cleaner, air compressor?
Ron: It really is dependent on the model of the printer you’re dealing with. [07:25]
If you’re dealing with a 9880 ¬– that series, a 9800, 78, 7880 – I don’t recommend taking an air compressor or canned air and spraying it inside the machine. What ends up happening there, is the contaminants (the particles, the dust, all the stuff floating around in the air) end up all over the bearing races, the tracks that the carrier moves back and forth on and roller bearings. In fact, I just changed eight of them on a carrier.
What happens is, that makes the machine extremely noisy, I mean real noisy. And the only way to get around that is to then have to wipe the races, the bearing surfaces, clean them and it will still be noisy, but eventually the noise level will go away. [08:06]
On the newer machines, they don’t use bearings, they run on silver tubes. There’s two shafts: an upper and a lower. You can spray in that machine if you think you need to with canned air. Again, I don’t really recommend it, there’s really no reason to do that. If the machine is functioning, I tell people to use it until it stops functioning. Keep your hands out of the machine. There’s really no reason to do that. [08:29]
Justin: Yeah, so really if you expect there to be a lot of dust and debris flying around try to cover it. I mean, that would seem logical.
Ron: You can use it like, if you were in an environment, like a body shop for instance where they’re sanding, or a mill where there’s a lot of crap in the air (saw dust, things of that nature), and when the machines not functioning, yeah by all means take a sheet and throw it over it. You’re gonna stop a lot of that crap from going in it, and that’s even more reason not to have the machine on. Because when the machine is on, there’s sort of a static charge and it will suck the stuff in like a magnet. [08:57]
Justin: Alright guys, that’s it for today’s episode! If this is the first time you’ve caught #AskBC, I hope you enjoyed it and gained some value from listening. If you’ve been around for a while, thanks for coming back and taking the time to listen.
Either way, if you enjoyed the show, please head over to iTunes, search for the #AskBC podcast, and leave us a rating there with some feedback. This is super important to us and it’s how we figure out how to make the show even better for you guys.
For the show notes for this episode, you can head over to ask-bc.com/episode9. That’s ask-bc.com/episode9.
Thanks for all of your questions and being part of the conversation. I’ll send out a free Breathing Color t-shirt to each of you whose questions we chose to feature on today’s show. If you would like to ask a question for the show, visit ask-bc.com, and if we choose your question, we’ll mention your business name in the episode and we’ll send you a free Breathing Color t-shirt.
[Audio End 09:51]
Thanks for listening! For more free episodes of #AskBC, check out the full archive!