Tag Archives: neoflex
We are so excited about our new platen designs for the Neoflex DTG printer that we just couldn’t wait to share! Our goal is to design a platen that is easier to use than the stock OEM version, while also allowing for greater flexibility while printing. Built from rigid, durable materials, our new platen design allows us to load shirts more like a traditional screen printing press (sliding the shirt over the board, rather than laying it on top) which helps avoid issues related to buttons, zippers, seams, etc which often give us trouble with the current “lay and hoop” setup.
These pictures show an early prototype version, which uses a triple prong setup for increased rigidity; we are currently testing two and three prong versions, as well as various raw materials to determine the most ideal setup for long term use.
The final product will feature replaceable top plates in various sizes and shapes, allowing for ultimate flexibility when printing on non-standard garments or various print locations (such as sleeves, pockets, cap sleeve girly tees, hoodies, etc). By reusing the brackets and base plate and simply replacing the top plates, it will be much more affordable to purchase a wide array of plates for all the different situations you might find yourself in.
The final product may vary somewhat from the early version shown here, but rest assured we are making modifications and tweaks that will ultimately lead to a very robust platen system that will increase efficiency and reduce potential misprints! Stay tuned for more info.
In the world of DTG printing, nothing is quite as important as performing the necessary regular maintenance to keep your equipment operating like new. Without proper maintenance, it doesn’t matter if you are using the correct print settings, it doesn’t matter if you have selected the proper garments for DTG printing and it certainly doesn’t matter what the relative humidity level is – if you neglect your machine, you will find out soon enough how important a few minutes a day can actually be.
Due to the relatively viscous nature of most DTG inks (read: ALL DTG inks), combined with the heavy particles used to achieve a desirable opacity in the white ink (often TiO2 – Titanium Dioxide particles), residue can quickly build up in certain areas of your machine that will eventually begin to restrict ink flow – this could easily manifest itself in dropped nozzles, ineffective cleaning cycles and eventually damaged components (such as print heads, plastic gears, etc).
Follow these easy steps every day to ensure that your Neoflex DTG printer continues to runs smoothly:
- Shake the White Ink – The heavy TiO2 particles in the white ink will quickly separate, sinking to the bottom of the cartridges, bottles, ink lines, print head, dampers and anywhere else the ink sits for an extended period of time. This process will occur over the course of several hours, although you probably won’t notice much of a difference unless you walk away for 8-12 hours (depending on your altitude, relative humidity, temperature, etc); the easiest way to combat this is to take out each of your white ink cartridges every morning before you start printing, gently shaking them for approximately 10-15 seconds (don’t think of shaking a can of spray paint – it should be more of a mild rocking motion, as you do not want to introduce large air bubbles into the ink supply). If you have a supply of ink on the shelves, it is probably a good idea to shake that as well; as long as you keep the ink from completely separating you should have far fewer issues down the road. Remember to always keep it agitated! If you are printing continuously the ink will not always have time to settle, meaning you won’t necessarily need to shake the cartridges as frequently – however we all need to go home and sleep from time to time, so unless you are running your production operation 24/7 you should become very comfortable with this step (relax, it doesn’t get any easier).
- Clean the Seal on the Capping Station – When the capping station makes contact with the print head, the thin rubber gasket around the edge of the capping station allows for a perfect seal – a pump beneath the capping station then begins to draw air downward, pulling ink through the system and thus cleaning the print head, inks lines, etc. During the course of normal printing and cleaning cycles, small ink droplets begin to gather and dry around the rubber gasket; if these small amounts of ink are left unchecked, they can quickly build up and prevent a decent seal from forming. Without a proper seal forming between the print head and the capping station, all the cleaning cycles in the world aren’t going to make a bit of difference because air will be entering from the sides and no ink will be drawn through the print head / ink lines. To prevent this from happening, use a recommended cleaning solution and cleaning swab to thoroughly remove any visible ink buildup – this can generally be purchased wherever you buy your ink from, although many people use original formula Windex mixed with distilled water to save a few bucks; check with your manufacturer to find out what they recommend.
- Clean the Wiper Blade – The wiper blade is not always visible right away – you will need to move some things around to gain access to it, then you can use the same cleaning solution / cleaning swab combo from before to remove any ink buildup that has gathered on the wiper blade (this small rubber blade wipes ink from the surface of the print head after each cleaning cycle, so it can show a buildup relatively quickly). NOTE: Take a quick look at your wiper blade each morning to make sure it is still crisp and straight; if the blade is starting to look ragged, it won’t effectively remove ink from the print head surface – you can replace this part for only a couple of bucks, so it is recommended to keep an extra one on hand at all times.
- Clean Area Around Capping / Spitting Station – During the normal printing process, it is easy for ink droplets to slowly build up around the various components on your machine; this could cause various moving components (the wiper blade, the capping station itself, assorted plastic gears, etc) to become blocked, which could result in strange grinding sounds coming from your machine or even parts breaking. Using your cleaning solution and cleaning swabs, try to remove any visible ink buildup around the capping station / spitting station area – while you’re at it, give the entire inside of your machine a quick visual inspection, and make sure you catch any potential problems early. Every once in awhile, it is a good idea to pull the side cover off of your Neoflex in order to give the plastic gears and the encoder wheel a good cleaning, as well (although you certainly don’t need to do this every day).
- Purge Settled Ink From Dampers / Lines – After you have cleaned the various components responsible for subsequently cleaning your machine, you are ready to address any ink that might have settled in your print head, dampers and ink lines while you were away from your printer; although you should have already agitated the ink in the cartridges, remember there is still plenty of ink in the system that has been sitting. Tragically, there is little we can do at this point to reclaim and properly agitate that ink – your best bet is to run a simple cleaning cycle through the machine itself (all the internal components should be nice and fresh at this point, so a simple clean should be effective to prime the print head), then print a morning test cycle before you begin production. A basic test print cycle at the beginning of each day may take up a few bucks in ink, but the white is probably not as vibrant as you want it yet so its not like that ink was going on any shirts for clients, anyways. If you use your own company logo for your morning test prints, you can begin to stockpile “freebie” shirts for your family and friends (they won’t even notice that the white ink isn’t as perfect as you want it to be, and you are minimizing waste).
That’s it! As long as your test print cycle looks good (no dropped nozzles, the white has brightened up by the end of the cycle, etc) you are ready to load up customer shirts and start making money! The entire daily maintenance process should take no more than 5-15 minutes, depending on your experience and proficiency level; in fact, it will probably take you less time to do your scheduled daily maintenance than it took you to read this article! As you repeat the above steps over and over, it should become second nature to you and you will eventually be able to do it in your sleep (not recommended). In addition to the steps listed here, there are deeper levels of cleanings that can be done in the event your machine starts giving you real problems, and there are additional maintenance steps that should be performed on a monthly basis or less frequently – we will cover more of these options in future posts.