Gary’s Guide – Print Quality
Each month our Print Room manager Gary shares our wide format printing best practices, helpful hints and tips to help you get the most out of your printer!
This week he discusses Print Quality.
One of the most common questions I get asked is “why is the printer not printing as well as it used to?” or “it is not printing as well after changing materials – is the material faulty?”
Usually these issues are easily rectified and can be improved with a few simple adjustments.
If you notice that your prints are “pooling” or are experiencing similar issues that could be caused by temperature settings slightly changing, then these can really help the situation.
The majority of printers have 3 heaters with 3 different temperature settings
- Pre heater – normal temperature range is usually 35-40 degrees (this is to warm up the material prior to printing)
- Print heater – normal temperature range is usually 30-35 degrees (this is to keep the material at optimum temperature for printing)
- Post/After heater – normal temperature range is usually 45-50 degrees (this is to dry the ink after printing so can be higher than the other heaters)
Ensuring your printer is set to the right temperature for the media and environmental conditions will ensure that the ink adheres to the media the best that it can.
These are the most common settings that affect print quality and usually have the most impact on a print job when changed.
- Profiles – most built-in software profiles are extremely good and print very well on a wide range of materials (e.g. Mimaki GVPC, Roland Generic Vinyl) but sometimes you may have to choose a profile that is more suited to a certain type of material.
These can be downloaded and added to your printer software quite easily and there are a lot of material manufacturers out there that have specific profiles for their materials, available on their websites.
A simple change of profile can have a dramatic affect on how a printer performs on different materials.
- Print Settings – again changing these can really have a positive affect on how the printer performs.
The most common of these settings are quality (resolution) and pass rate. Changing either or both for higher settings will really make a difference to your prints but remember that a higher resolution setting will put more ink down on your material and so you may need to adjust your heater settings to compensate.
A setting that is often overlooked when it comes to better print quality, but is very important as this setting fine tunes the printer and the way it fires the ink dots, is the bi-directional settings.
If you notice your prints are “grainy, blurred or mottled” more often than not it is an issue that can be improved by re-tuning your bi-directional settings.
- Bi-directional or uni-directional – most printers print as the head is moving across the bed and back again this is why we need to tune the settings from time to time to make sure the ink dots fire in the correct location and match up perfectly.
Uni-direction only fires the ink dots on the first journey not on the return journey and so drastically improves print quality at a cost of slowing down the print time.
- Adjusting bi-directional settings – these can be found in the printer’s menu and is an electronic printer alignment performed by the operator.
Not all printers call it bi-directional, Mimaki printers call it Drop Position Correct while the newer Roland printers call it Media Gap Adjustment but it all means the same.
To adjust these settings is quite a simple process just run the test prints from the adjustment menu and work through each section finding the point where the test print lines up as close to each other as possible (you want them to be seamless), then put this value into the corresponding section in the adjustment menu.
Trying all or some of these adjustments will help to improve print quality or solve some potential day to day issues that you might be experiencing and get you back to printing great quality jobs that your customers will love.