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[DIY DTG] Epson Pro 4000 DTG - DIY tips anybody

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Old May 20th, 2013 May 20, 2013 7:04:29 AM -   #1 (permalink)
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Default Epson Pro 4000 DTG - DIY tips anybody

Hello, I have just purchased a Pro 4000 cheaply enough to risk building a solid DTG for my business. I want it to look professional and be capable of being moved if necessary so I'm building a 6ft steel chassis, welded and powder coated. A neighboring business is a steel fabrication specialist, so while I'll probably weld it myself (because I like tinkering), I'll have them powder-coat it.

Kit-Bag Goodies:- I have a fair few interesting bits and bobs knocking around my workshop. ie: a dead Epson 1400 which I took to bits just to get the experience of dismantling it and scavenging motors, sensors etc. I also have motors from a dead laser printer and I have a dead vinyl cutter which has another nice looking set of motors and belts etc.

I'm planning to run a straightforward rail-caddy system with round-grove nylon wheels set at an angle so the caddy has no sideways play whatsoever. want to run white ink and I don't want any registration problems with mechanical slack.

Thinking about the drive system, I thought I'll try and perhaps relocate the existing motor drive bar and top roller setup to under the platen where it will grip a gripper-belt which I can make out of conveyor-belt rubber available from a local manufacturer, or I could make the belt with a few layers of black textured automotive stone protect (love that stuff!). I'm kind of hoping the drive motor in the 4000 will be strong enough to operate the caddy without having to resort to complications like servos.

Hoping to run my prints in landscape mode as the 4000's 17" throat is plenty deep enough for my work, but this way I'll get unlimited width which is useful for very large garments. I also want to make a second attachment that will enable two t t shirts to be loaded and printed with up to 7.5 inch deep graphics simultaneously. Should be possible and straightforward.

I reckon I'll use one of the spare motors from the laser printer to power a scissor jack height adjustment mechanism and I'll probably just install a simple Height-Ok indicator light operated from a micro-touch switch.

Things I'm scared of:- Never done something like this before! Worried about the PE sensor. Worried about the head-light sensor. Not sure if I will be able to simply push back the caddy for a multi-layer (colours on white) print run while the belt is engaged with the motors... surely that would generate a small current that the motor control board would not like. Don't really want to mess around with a automatic return motor system with all the associated switches and presumably independent power supply/controller. Mind you, I have a few of those, so maybe... Software RIP, very worried about that. White ink clogs and cleaning frequencies, very worried about that too.. Finally time.. I want to do this in a very short time. my business is seasonal and I would like it operational in a commercially viable time-frame. This is not a hobby/fun project..

Any tips would be welcome.

Thanks!
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Old May 30th, 2013 May 30, 2013 12:07:40 PM -   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Epson Pro 4000 DTG - DIY tips anybody

I have no tips but I do have encouragement for you. I too just picked up a great working 4000 and was considering doing this as well. I don't have as many spare parts as you but maybe won't need them if I'm careful. Do you have a set of plans to work from?
 
Old May 30th, 2013 May 30, 2013 2:19:36 PM -   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Epson Pro 4000 DTG - DIY tips anybody

Quote:
Originally Posted by catldavis
.....Do you have a set of plans to work from?
I have designed the hardware using CAD and have now done most of the metal work.

It's going to be powder coated tomorrow so that's the easy part done. I have taken pictures and will at some point post them to a section in my website. Looks like I can only post links to photos on this forum. Anyway, the plans and photos might be useful to other people who can weld and do basic metalwork.

The printer itself has been sitting in my office for a week now. I took the covers off and its just sat their while I digest what I am looking at. I've taken loads of photos and marked the positions of various gears so I can dismantle them and re-assemble remotely accurately. I have also noticed the machine has a ton of sensors and far greater capability than I had in mind, which is great, makes it an easier project actually.

I have a field service manual which shows how to disassemble and replace all the parts in the machine. Very useful as I have taken a few looks through it to familiarize myself with what needs to be moved and what does what.

Anyway, thanks for your encouragement. I'm on the case!
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Old May 30th, 2013 May 30, 2013 2:38:33 PM -   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Epson Pro 4000 DTG - DIY tips anybody

If I brought an epson 4000, would you be able to convert it for me? How much?
 
Old May 31st, 2013 May 31, 2013 5:44:56 AM -   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Epson Pro 4000 DTG - DIY tips anybody

Quote:
Originally Posted by valleyboy_1
If I brought an epson 4000, would you be able to convert it for me? How much?
Sorry but I didn't have in mind selling these things or running a conversion service... at the moment anyway.

You need to consult an expert or try doing it yourself. That's all I'm doing,,, if this machine works and my little unique innovations prove useful, I'll have a better print-shop that's all.
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Old June 2nd, 2013 Jun 2, 2013 3:01:45 AM -   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Epson Pro 4000 DTG - DIY tips anybody

Well.... Yesterday (Saturday) I took the day off to tinker with this thing. Its all well and good snatching a couple hours after work to cut and weld up the metalwork but as its all powder-coated now I was keen to see whats what with the printer itself.

Stripping the 4000 wasn't too bad, didn't snap-out too many bits! Remarkable how many sensors there are in this thing, just about everywhere you can think of there's a sensor. That's going to be interesting later, keeping them all happy. I reckon I understand most of their functionality/reason for existence though, which is a start.

I presented the stripped down printed to the metalwork and... well I think I've changed my mind on the design. I sat there looking at it for a while and overnight decided the carriage system I designed will not be versatile enough for my liking. Loading the the carriage would be too close to the printer, due to the allowances I had designed for the motor location underneath. Would soon irritate me. Looked fine on the computer and mathematically it's a sound arrangement, but the physical reality of it,,,, nah... not for me in work mode!

So. The carriage is coming out and I've just ordered some rollers. Will make it a conveyor system. I half had it in mind when I designed the main-frame so its no big deal to change it at this point. Surprising how expensive conveyor rollers are! I found a cheaper way to get hold of them so the 1st set 10 (which may or may not be enough) I have ordered in the form of two heavy duty five-roller-stands. The kind of stands that are used in a wood or metalwork shop for rolling stock into a saw. I found some on special offer for GBP £27 including shipping. Works out less than half the price of buying conveyor rollers and the frames will already be powdercoated with the rollars fitted. Nice, neat, properly level and spaced. They'll do the job lovely with just a few cuts and creative bonding into my frame. Don't want to weld and ruin my lovely powdercoat!

Today Sunday I reckon I'll take a little look at where I'm going to relocate the SP4000 motherboard and power supply box. I'm hoping to mount it vertically where the sheet feeder was and perhaps get away with not having to replace/extend all the ribbon cables and sensor wires. Looks like I should be able to do that without too much drama.

Oh yes,,, one of the reasons why this epson 4000 was on sale in the first place was because it had started streaking a little bit and the print shop who owned it had already written it down in their accounts and didn't want to spend money on an engineer. Also it has an 040 error (waste ink tank full). The streaking I solved yesterday, it was just a rogue bit of ink which had built up on the side of the printhead. The 040 error, I bought an engineers disc off ebay for 6 quid that resets the waste ink chip. I also know there is a combination of buttons that lets the epson reset the chip as well.

So,,, we'll see what week 2 of this project brings.
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Old June 5th, 2013 Jun 5, 2013 7:45:40 AM -   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Epson Pro 4000 DTG - DIY tips anybody

try to do as same german13 setup i did the 4000 not lonag ago and still working great never had i problem i am not saying dnt try ur ideas just saying eep it simple it will easier for u to work it get the clue book r1900 it sould give u so much information about dtg printer setup
 
Old June 6th, 2013 Jun 6, 2013 2:36:50 AM -   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Epson Pro 4000 DTG - DIY tips anybody

Everyone always talks about the "clue book" but no one seems to be able to produce it? To the best of my knowledge, it was available for a period of time but has long since disappeared from this and every forum.

Thank you and keep the updates coming customtshirts.
 
Old June 6th, 2013 Jun 6, 2013 3:49:00 AM -   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Epson Pro 4000 DTG - DIY tips anybody

Quick update:- On Sunday I unraveled the ribbon and sensor cables to see what length was available and what easy choices I might have for relocating the power supply and motherboard box. Kindly Epson have been surprisingly generous! Once you get the tape off the sensor wires they unravel significantly. Only one I had to lengthen was the main paper-roller decoder pickup/sensor wire which attaches to the control board near the original location of the paper feed motor. Right now, due to the design change, I think I will be locating the motherboard and power supply box underneath the conveyor/rollers. There is just about enough cable to make this happen, although I might need to add a couple more inches to a couple sensor wires just so I can sensibly route the wires safely round the frame out of harms way. useful as this arrangement would give me room to mount a cooling fan for the power supply. I noticed this machine has air ducts which enable the main two media-suction fans to also cool the power supply so I'll have to replicate that, albeit with standard PC type cooling fans as opposed to the sort-of ducted-air style that were installed with this machine.

Bit of a disappointment with my cheap buy on rollers. The first supplier with the amazing price didn't actually have any so I cancelled with them and bought the units off Amazon. Arrived here an hour ago and I had a quick peak. Darn things don't have ball bearings in the rollers and rely instead on a spindle straight through the frame. Nasty. OK with motorcycle chain oil which I happen to have knocking around, but totally nasty horrible rollers! And I don't reckon they roll round accurately, looks like there's a bit of a wobble on them. Oh well. they will do for the machine-ends buts I have just got off the phone and ordered a batch of real rollers from a conveyor company which will hopefully get here tomorrow so I can play with them on the weekend. You know what they say... buy cheap - buy twice!!! But, saying that,,, I'll still use them all on this machine anyway as I have to make a 6 ft conveyor and was only half committed to the cheap ones.

I would like someone to point me in the direction of RIP software please that can run the SP4000 with CMYK plus 4 White. Prefer something CHEAP!!
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Old June 6th, 2013 Jun 6, 2013 4:23:14 AM -   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Epson Pro 4000 DTG - DIY tips anybody

Hi,
best of luck with your build, I am going to convert a epson 4800 which I just bought off ebay for £56.00 later in the year. With regard to your question regarding rip software, there are several that will be available to you.
The cheapest I have seen but not used is Acrorip available from China with dongle protection, its also called firerip and several other names but you will find it on Aliexpress for about £256.
EKrip is very good, you can request a demo version to check it out before you buy and costs approx £528.
A young lady on the forum pointed me to a program called Whiterip although I havent used it, she is very pleased with it and she is using it with a SP4000, its available as a trial from White Rip | WhiteRip but I have no idea on the price.
I hope this information is of use to you Regards Marty
 
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Old June 11th, 2013 Jun 11, 2013 4:26:52 AM -   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Epson Pro 4000 DTG - DIY tips anybody

Quick update. Didn't have much time to devote over the weekend, however... The correct spec conveyor rollers arrived, 11 in total and I managed to find a couple of lovely lengths of 4mm wall Aluminum 40mm-Angle. These rollers are sprung centers with hex end-shafts ideal for slot-style installation. I made the slots by first drilling the bottom-of-the-slot holes with a pillar drill and the appropriate spacer guides setup up. Then merely power saw sliced open the slots and rough ground with a grinder before fine filing by hand to finish.

I cut an L-slot for the first roller so it can be tension adjusted and also angle adjusted so the belt can be fine tune adjusted to run true. I also drilled the holes for the attachment to my previously made frame/chassis, however one on the rails I drill cut and filed fine slots instead so I can fine adjust and alignment against the other rail which would also correct a slew off the back roller if one occurs.

Attached the rails to the chassis and simply slotted in the rollers. Pleasingly the rollers are lovely in alignment with only a little bit of hand filing adjustment needed to make the lot run flat and smooth.

I decided to take the morning off today to work on this machine. One of the perks of being self-employed and having caught up with my print schedule anyway! I wanted to fit part of the drive mechanism, a fiddly thing because of an idea I have that solves any remaining doubt about belt drive systems... I'll explain.

The potential for loss of feed-resolution due to a little bit of slack or elasticity or other movement in the conveyor system has been highlighted with at least one person on this forum reporting problems associated with belt-slack or stretch. My solution is simple. The SP 4000 has an unusual 9.5cm diameter sheet-feed roller that paper wraps round from the bottom tray. Obviously that's a significantly bigger dimension that my conveyor rollers, which is so convenient really. Anyway. I have shortened the shaft, fitted steel ball bearings (actually the wheels I bought for the discarded carriage), and have mounted in between two of the conveyor rollers almost directly below the print head so the top surface is flush with the top surfaces of the conveyor rollers. This means it will drive the conveyor from both the top and the bottom. More importantly, while the print-box or t shirt stand is under the print head, this roller will be transmitting drive directly from the motor effectively without any interference from potential slack in the conveyor itself. Take away the conveyor belt and this roller would still drive the carriage while under the print-head.

Next task will be to mount the original friction feed shaft with its encoder and belt-to-motor arrangement so that the conveyor underside will be sandwiched against the bottom of the big sheet roller I was just talking about. Obviously, the motor will have to run backwards so the conveyor-top side runs forward. There are no gearing issues with this arrangement as the motor gear with friction feed shaft will operate exactly as before, feeding media. The big roller and the conveyor will simply slave off at the correct speeds. Anyway, that's what I'll do when I next can invest in play-time.

Meanwhile I have made a base for the power-supply and motherboard box, test connected all the wires and sensors, had to extend one more wire but no big deal. I know I will have to make a fend-off shaft to stop the underside of the conveyor rubbing the motherboard-box, but that's not going to be a problem either,,, in fact its another nice way to stop conveyor bounce and flutter actually.

So... getting somewhere I think.
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Old June 13th, 2013 Jun 13, 2013 7:22:52 AM -   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Epson Pro 4000 DTG - DIY tips anybody

Well... Snatched a bit more time to put into this. Made the supporting plates and slot style adjusters for the feed roller and have installed that lot along with the drive motor and encoder reader. The plates are bits of 2mm sheet metal which I cut and bent into forms at my mate's workshop on his proper sheet metal bender. Drilled the holes and slots etc so everything can be slotted and screw-tensioned, positioned and adjusted easily. I spun up the motor using a safe 18 volt but-tired cordless drill battery, just to check if the motor belt coupled to the feed roller was aligned ok. belt stays on forward and backwards so that'll do me.

I decided today that I wouldn't make my own 3 meter conveyor belt after all. Only because I double checked the cost of the materials I would need to make it and then thought,, bahhh, I'll have one professionally made. The conveyor belt manufacturer is making and endless-loop belt out of 2.5 mm pvc multi-ply with a vulcanized seamless joint (no bump), 3 metres exactly. They say I should allow maximum of 30mm for tension stretch. I have 20 mm available at the moment which should be enough, but I still have to make a jockey bar reflector anyway for the underside avoidance of my power supply box. So it should all work out lovely actually. Installation of the endless loop will involve me removing just 5 screws to release the centre big feed roller, (pity, I had it all lined up lovely). All the conveyor rollers just drop into their slots anyway so no dramas there. Manufacturer reckons I'll have the belt on Tuesday next week. Nice fast turnaround!

So really, once the belt is on and tensioned, the whole thing can be re assembled and connected up within an hour or three. That'll complete most of the structural work. I still have the outer panel/enclosures to make for the bottom section to protect the feed roller encoder, motor and cables etc. I want them to look as smart as the rest of the machine, so I'll take my time and do something nice n tidy. I also have to make the first of a few t shirt boxes. Decided I'll make a series of them for different jobs if this whole thing works. Also will need to sort out guide wheels to make sure the carriage-boxes line up nice as they are fed under the head.

And then to the bit I aint looking forward to. Sensor-work. The SP4000 has a paper thickness sensor which will have to be fooled or permanently set. Looks like a hair trigger-sensitive thing! I also have heard there might be a problem with ambient light striking the optical sensor in the head. I would have thought that would be easily fooled by having a black leading and trailing edge on my t shirt boxes. Should enable it to detect page start ok. We'll see. If I get past all of that,, then I'll order the RIP software, empty cartridges and textile inks, pre-treat etc. Meanwhile I could get used to using it to print one-day wear white t shirts (like Stag/hen nights) just to use up the existing paper-pigment ink.

My verdict on the process so far. Not too bad. Glad I had a meccano set as a kid and have maintained a bad habit of taking stuff to bits ever since. I think you have to be prepared to trash your own ideas if it suddenly looks like its taking you in the wrong direction, even if that means wasting a little bit of time/money. It also pays to be open minded, patient, lucky and perhaps a bit crafty. I also think you have want to be as accurate as it is possible for you to be and yet build in adjustable contingencies that assume you wont be accurate enough despite all your efforts.
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Old June 14th, 2013 Jun 14, 2013 7:41:03 AM -   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Epson Pro 4000 DTG - DIY tips anybody

Quote:
Originally Posted by customtshirt
Well... Snatched a bit more time to put into this. Made the supporting plates and slot style adjusters for the feed roller and have installed that lot along with the drive motor and encoder reader. The plates are bits of 2mm sheet metal which I cut and bent into forms at my mate's workshop on his proper sheet metal bender. Drilled the holes and slots etc so everything can be slotted and screw-tensioned, positioned and adjusted easily. I spun up the motor using a safe 18 volt but-tired cordless drill battery, just to check if the motor belt coupled to the feed roller was aligned ok. belt stays on forward and backwards so that'll do me.

I decided today that I wouldn't make my own 3 meter conveyor belt after all. Only because I double checked the cost of the materials I would need to make it and then thought,, bahhh, I'll have one professionally made. The conveyor belt manufacturer is making and endless-loop belt out of 2.5 mm pvc multi-ply with a vulcanized seamless joint (no bump), 3 metres exactly. They say I should allow maximum of 30mm for tension stretch. I have 20 mm available at the moment which should be enough, but I still have to make a jockey bar reflector anyway for the underside avoidance of my power supply box. So it should all work out lovely actually. Installation of the endless loop will involve me removing just 5 screws to release the centre big feed roller, (pity, I had it all lined up lovely). All the conveyor rollers just drop into their slots anyway so no dramas there. Manufacturer reckons I'll have the belt on Tuesday next week. Nice fast turnaround!

So really, once the belt is on and tensioned, the whole thing can be re assembled and connected up within an hour or three. That'll complete most of the structural work. I still have the outer panel/enclosures to make for the bottom section to protect the feed roller encoder, motor and cables etc. I want them to look as smart as the rest of the machine, so I'll take my time and do something nice n tidy. I also have to make the first of a few t shirt boxes. Decided I'll make a series of them for different jobs if this whole thing works. Also will need to sort out guide wheels to make sure the carriage-boxes line up nice as they are fed under the head.

And then to the bit I aint looking forward to. Sensor-work. The SP4000 has a paper thickness sensor which will have to be fooled or permanently set. Looks like a hair trigger-sensitive thing! I also have heard there might be a problem with ambient light striking the optical sensor in the head. I would have thought that would be easily fooled by having a black leading and trailing edge on my t shirt boxes. Should enable it to detect page start ok. We'll see. If I get past all of that,, then I'll order the RIP software, empty cartridges and textile inks, pre-treat etc. Meanwhile I could get used to using it to print one-day wear white t shirts (like Stag/hen nights) just to use up the existing paper-pigment ink.

My verdict on the process so far. Not too bad. Glad I had a meccano set as a kid and have maintained a bad habit of taking stuff to bits ever since. I think you have to be prepared to trash your own ideas if it suddenly looks like its taking you in the wrong direction, even if that means wasting a little bit of time/money. It also pays to be open minded, patient, lucky and perhaps a bit crafty. I also think you have want to be as accurate as it is possible for you to be and yet build in adjustable contingencies that assume you wont be accurate enough despite all your efforts.

pics, pics, pics.....please make pics an upload them here!
 
Old June 14th, 2013 Jun 14, 2013 8:58:18 AM -   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Epson Pro 4000 DTG - DIY tips anybody

Quote:
Originally Posted by goto74
pics, pics, pics.....please make pics an upload them here!
okayyyy. Was kind of wanting to keep it to myself really. Anyway. I just made a quick collage which shows enough for the minute.
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Old June 14th, 2013 Jun 14, 2013 3:43:08 PM -   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Epson Pro 4000 DTG - DIY tips anybody

Thanks.....this part of t-shirt forums is made with reason to help other diy dtg builders.....
 






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