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Save Money and Time With Regular Maintenance

Everyone wants and needs to save money in their printing operation, so how often can you afford to waste time, materials, labor and have costly repairs on your printing equipment?

Most important to remember; Maintenance Pays, It does not cost!

The point is, you all have a lot of money tied up in equipment and if any of the printers are not working, it is costing you more than money, so it is important to make sure your printers are working properly and producing to keep making money.

Follow your published preventative maintenance guidelines, charts or check lists provided! Every one of the major printer manufacturers has published preventative maintenance guidelines, charts or check lists that you can use to keep your printer performing.

Training your staff on how to maintain these printers is very important and will pay good dividends to your company by keeping waste down, saving labor, reducing costs of repairs. Not training your staff on how to maintain equipment will just result in your increased costs of operation, outside break-fix repairs and many other associated costs of defective production. This issue also results eventually into customer complaints and lost business.

Let’s look at a few examples of how much it costs to repair or replace wide format ink jet printers that have not been properly maintained.

Aqueous 44”-64” Break Fix on site diagnosis & replacement of pump cap station, damper and 10 channel print head with labor can run from $2,800 up to $3,500.

Replacing your pump cap station after 2-3 years and with periodic cleaning is much less, around $250 in parts and labor is already on site. Plus, you get to clean out the fuzz and lint from a dirty printer, as it should be done.

Replacement of a dead 44” printer is around $4,000 or on a 64” printer is around $9,000.

In this case the solution for most Aqueous Printers is pretty simple and very easy to implement, thus, cheap insurance to do all the things correctly to keep these simple systems clean with these 4 common tips...

  • Exercise your printer on a regular basis and run production and ink through the system!
  • Aqueous ink jet printers like 35-45% humidity, use a humidor or humidified print room area!
  • Keep lint, paper dust,room dust and foreign material out of your printer, vacume the beast!
  • Every so often, inspect the pump cap cleaning station and clean regularly, change cap station!
  • After a couple of years, expect that you should change out printer capping cleaning station and any wear parts as needed. Failure to do so, will kill a print head for sure.

Simple cleaning tools:

Pink, Swabs, Lint Free, Syringe, etc. These can be found in the Reference appendix on several articles written for Preventative Maintenance in trade publications over the years.

As your printer cost increases, so does the need for maintenance and the cost of repairs. $20K-$30K-$50K printers need more attention to periodic maintenance & upkeep. Grand Format Printers run from $250k up to $750k. Depending upon the model and type of head, these heads if clogged or ruined run from $2,500 up to $7,500 to replace.

On the larger, Grand Format flatbeds, 2.5 meter, 3.2 meter and 5 meter printers, the heads can run up and over $10,000 each and you might have up to 24 heads or more on the jet plate area on the gantry! This is really where it pays to invest in proper training in the care and upkeep of the printer, print heads and the fluid ink delivery systems. Often in shops with many of these larger units, they will invest in an ultrasonic head cleaning unit that each head is periodically rotated through and cleaned. This all applies to any flatbed or large hybrid.

Don’t wait until the problem is evident and damage is done, get on top of this prior to these situations to be in front of any issues. This is especially important with systems running the gummy white inks. White ink can be a real print head killer if left unchecked and not properly maintained.

Filters for Large Format & Grand Format

When it comes to most any type of ink, changing primary and final filters is a must and should be done as often as needed. Filters are cheap compared to dead heads!

Areas of the wide format ink jet printer systems that need paid attention to; Fluid ink delivery systems, tanks, pumps, filters, lines and most importantly ... the PRINTHEADS!

Don’t forget the white ink recirculating systems! That is why everyone has cleaning solutions, wipes, swabs, flushing solutions, ultrasonic cleaning units and trained staff to stay on top of these maintenance intensive & costly grand format print heads.

Most any part of the Print Head Gantry System (print heads and cleaning station). Fluid tanks, pumps, filters and capillary delivery tubes (plumbing 101). Don’t forget, that you also have other systems in this operation other than fluid dynamics; Paper handling, feed, suction, filters and printer mechanics to handle X-Y-Z axis. All electronics from input power to every board, computers and controllersAny proprietary systems involved.

Where do you get the Proper Training for your operators?

The Best of All Worlds; OJT - On the Job Training & the benefits of having an in house tech that knows the history of the printers and is operating them frequently or performing preventative maintenance on a routine basis. Manufacturer Sponsored technical training to supplement the in house tech, very good! Everybody wins in this type of relationship.

Moral of the story

Preventative maintenance Pays, It does not cost ! It also nurtures value in your employees and they have a vested interest in seeing that everything is properly operating. Preventative Maintenance on Wide Format Printers Can SAVE $$$.

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