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Discussion, tips, pictures, reviews and peer to peer support for those do it yourselfers who are working on building their own DTG machine.



[DIY DTG] printheads, inks, presses bla bla ...

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Old September 19th, 2014 Sep 19, 2014 12:42:20 AM -   #1 (permalink)
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Default printheads, inks, presses bla bla ...

hi all, i have yet to mod any printer, but i have curious questions about so many stuffs

1) based on firebird ink. i can see that there is C M Y K + white. how about this dupont ink ? is it the same CMYKW? where would 1 buy this to sample some? (as in dupont, firebird is everywhere on the web). is there a diluted variant if you wanna try less "poppy" color inks? and this must be the 1000th time asked --> whats the diff in eco ink? no unhealthy solvent fumes?

2) epson 1800 is 6 heads, CMYKWW setup? would there be cases where theres a 6th special ink color?

3) would anyone use a epson 1300 type with only 4 heads? (as in CMYK for white tees and then CMYW for black tees? i have not seen K/W color swaps, im guessing this is wrong/terribad method)

4) i read in anajet web that they use ricoh print head (stainless steel!). has anyone tried to grab a ricoh printer to DIY it?

5) has anyone tried to mod the PE switch into like a emergency stop switch (or just a toggle), would it work as such? ie : stop! theres a lizard !

6) post print, does it make sense for the ink to sink in a minute or 2 then heat press it? or there is no difference? or there must be a physical force contact to promote ink-fibre sticking, as in the ink when it sputters onto the fibre, it requires a "punch" to stick. for any ink, do you really need to press it? what if you use IR lamps and there is no mechanical/physical contact? the ink does not seep/stick into fibres well?

my apologies, LOL so many curious questions

edit : 7) would it make sense, if the white ink background where needed as base on black tees, goes over a IR heat phase before it goes to a 2nd pass color print? or w/o the physical pressing, it would make the print vunerable to wash outs...

8) with so much posts about heads clogging on bad ink, would it be better off to print on diluted (or less pigment concentrated) inks? or it is a matter of a daily "run/clean" cycle to keep it flowing smooth?

Last edited by 3roomlab; September 19th, 2014 at 01:04 AM..
 
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Old September 19th, 2014 Sep 19, 2014 2:13:55 AM -   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: printheads, inks, presses bla bla ...

I don't have much DIY experience, but I do try to keep up on things, so I will answer as best I can, and hopefully someone more knowledgeable than myself will both chime in and correct me if I'm wrong, or provide more direct experience.

1. Dupont's inks have been the ink standard/manufacturer since DTG's inception, especially in the DIY scene. That being said, in this world there are always new breakthroughs, DTG itself being one of them in the printing world. Firebird's DTG inks are only about a year old I think now, seem to recall hearing/reading about them at last years SGIA. What threads I did follow on the subject, there was a bit of a learning curve to it, and you would also need to switch to their pretreat for better results and the like, I don't recall most switches being positive, but sometimes these things need time, and a year isn't much time, so they may fix the problems with their revisions. Dupont may also decide to take note and keep pace is another possibility.

2. In the DIY setup, usually not. With the solvent/large printing format it is common to have a metallic, or possibly LC/LM, or even an O/G setup to provide different color ranges. The main problem with DTG is there's a lot of white ink that gets used to underbase, it will require at least 4x the quantity of regular ink that you would use, that is why there are usually 2 to 4 lines for white specifically, to speed up the laydown of the white.

3. Most people don't like line flushing, once you put an ink in, you usually want to stay with it. Also the white ink usually behaves quite a bit differently with its different chemical nature, for example, you will have a lot more buildup in the lines and printhead. So it's not just a matter of pumping the new ink through, you'd want to flush entirely with a solution. I don't believe many RIPs are geared towards the non-use of Key/black, so you will most likely have to rig your own setup of sorts to cover that.

4. I don't know about this one personally, the majority of printers used the Epson DX4 or DX5 printhead that I recall, but don't know Anajet's specifics.

5. Not sure what the PE is, but if I was building my own DTG, I would probably rewire an external power switch to easily accessible reach and use that as my emergency stop.

6. Normally you just press after printing, air drying may work, but why slow down your process even more. I may be wrong in my philosophy, but I always rationalized it as "it's a water based ink, and we need to remove the water from it so it binds, that's why we press it and that's also why steam comes out!" If my philosophy is correct, I don't know if IR lamps would heat the water up to evaporate it. I know Plastisol ink can be air dried, and might affect its feel, that's a different beast though.

7. Generally the process for printing with an underbase is: Prepress for moisture if you're that picky or your climate calls for it->Pretreat->Press->Print->Press. The Print process will usually be 1+ underbase passes of white, then a direct print of color overtop of the white. If you are envisioning removing the shirt from its platen at all in the print process, you will never get it to line back up properly, I have tried this trying to correct print errors, and the like before and I think the closest I got was about 1/32nd of an inch off, it was still noticeable, and this was with using tape and all kinds of garbage to try to save the shirt, so good luck doing it on a regular basis.

8. With CMYK the ink clogging should be a lot less prevalent, a weekly cleaning may be required just to ensure everything remains in good operating order and to prevent clogging. White is an entirely different ink formula, daily cleaning is usually recommended on most inks, I will sometimes leave my brother go 3 days without cleaning, when I do, I usually have it clean the white head a few times, and also have it do some shakeups and the like (it has a "Agitation" where basically it moves the printhead back and forth for many minutes). The white formula tends to separate when idle, so usually there's some form of shaking, stirring, etc, that you should do on your cartridge as well. If your print is more gray than white, it is also usually a sign that your white has separated and is not mixed well and you should clean, shake, etc.
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Last edited by joeshaul; September 19th, 2014 at 02:55 AM.. Reason: revised #2 to specify lines instead of "heads" as most printer heads will usually share as Smalzstein mentioned
 
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Old September 19th, 2014 Sep 19, 2014 2:43:52 AM -   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: printheads, inks, presses bla bla ...

1. There are 3 major manufacturers of ink Dupont, Firebird and Resolute. I chose Firebird for durability, vividness and extreme washability. It requires a bit more maintance though.

2. Epson 1800 is ONE head 8 channels. Epson 1400/1500 is 6 channesl. You usualy put CMYK in the CMYK slots and white ink in every other free slot (more slots with white the printer will be faster)

3. Yes K/W swapping is a terrible method. Currently there are no Epson CMYK only printers that are sutible for DTG on the market (some discontinued ones are still around).

4. Ricoh DTG does not uses Ricohh desktop printers. They uses Ricoh technology that is designed for DTG/UV/Solvent flatbeds. To do this you must buy Ricoh developement kit (150 thausand) and some printheads (market price 2000 per head, 3 is minimum). SO as you see this is not aimed for DIYers but for serious manufactureres.

5. You can make every thing with it along with getting rid of eat all together. All depedns on your electronic/programming skills.

6. Other inks need a little pressure, Firebird don't can be cured in short IR drying tunnels.

7. No

8. It is not possible to dilute inks. It would not help clogging either. Clogging accurs because the pigment is metal and it seperates.
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Old September 19th, 2014 Sep 19, 2014 3:18:17 AM -   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: printheads, inks, presses bla bla ...

wooot thanks for the nice tips there.

well curious cat has more questions . im sorry to take up so much time ... i appreciate you guys filling in these curiosities of mine

a) when the print head goes into parking/cleaning, does it make sense to mod the wiper/park with a material that can be soaked with a solvent? and when parking the head for a number of days, will it make sense to mod the park position with a "wet" plug that keeps the head wet so that it doesnt dry? as much as i have seen inkstations youtube vids, it kinda dawn on me that keeping the head wet would eliminate clogs? but then it would beg the question wet with what? water? windex even?

b) and in terms of solvent/un-clogger i keep seeing windex being mentioned, but in real terms what is the solvent? water? alcohol? i read that jeff german used acid even haha ! hardcore !

c) when you say firebird has better durability, does it also mean when dried, the printed surface feels abit "cakey" or like a plastic sheet? lol ... im just being very curious. and the non-firebirds are more "flexible/rubbery" in dried feel? or they just dry out to nearly the original clothy fibre feel?

TBH, looking at pictures of anajet, it seems they have made internally a build in head cleaner, am i right to guess, anajet machines have to load a cleaning fluid as well?

in terms of ink agitation to keep the "liquid" well mixed, anybody tried to use micro motors (like the vibrator motor of mobile phones? but im guessing it could introduce air bubbles which is terrible) like a mini "stirrer" ? or the only way is to unclip the ink magazines and give it a good shake?

Last edited by 3roomlab; September 19th, 2014 at 03:29 AM..
 
Old September 19th, 2014 Sep 19, 2014 4:50:19 AM -   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: printheads, inks, presses bla bla ...

A. I don't know how well the head would survive constantly soaked, we do it in emergency type procedures, but for regular use it may cause excessive wear and tear and also contamination of your ink. I have no real research to back up the wear and tear part though, but I could see it happening since the printhead consists of a set of plates.

B. I believe Windex has both isopropyl as well as ammonia, I've always heard the ammonia based ones recommended. I think the ammonia kind of helps gas itself up the nozzles instead of laying dormant as well, but I'm no chemist. I have used used a windex soaked paper towel method to revive heavily clogged printheads in the past though with success.

C. Can't comment on Firebird specifically, generally durability means the inks ability to maintain both its clarity on the shirt and its vibrance. Mainly in reference to white inks, sometimes as they're washed the white will lose its vibrance darkening the image, also sometimes the dtg print will start to crack/look spotted/washed out. This doesn't exist so much without white ink, where your inks are just waterbased ink but you run into a different problem of without white ink/pretreat where fibrillation occurs which will make your print look kind of faded as the cotton fibers start to stand up, ink vibrance/color gamut can still be affected by ink manufacture in that scenario though, but durability I don't think changes too much.

As to agitation methods, sometimes there are ink shakers and stuff that people make, with my setup I just pull my two white carts rock it like a baby, put em back in, tell my printer to shake its lines and I'm good for the day. Don't forget, the more complex the machine gets, the more potential for failure it can have!
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