November '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 5 N O V E M B E R P R I N T W E A R || 85 wipe off the blades to maximize their life and performance. It's a good idea to have extra consum- ables like cleaner and wiper blades on hand. On average, rubber wiper blades need to be replaced every six months to a year, and felt once a year for optimum effectiveness. Most machines will tell you when this is necessary, but it may be re- quired sooner. At the beginning of the day, you should do a nozzle check. On some machines, this is a small test print that has a small dash representing each nozzle on the print head. If all the dashes show up, the print head is firing at 100 percent. If some dash- es are missing, try running the cleaning cycle to bring them back. You also should do a nozzle check whenever you switch to a different media. Testing is important with respect to cutting as well as printing. Different me- dia requires different levels of force so it is critical that the cutter settings are correct; you have to pay attention. This is particu- larly true in situations where you're used to dealing with, say, apparel media, and then switch over to decal materials, where not changing the settings can result in cutting right through the decal. Every time you put in a new media, you want to do a test cut. Even if you're doing only one type of work, the settings for var- ious media can vary greatly. T-shirt media, for example, can require anywhere from 70 to 120 grams of force, so you can't afford to get into the habit of thinking that you're always going to need the same degree of force for a particular type of media. Even if you've used the media before, you may have to use more force to cut it with an older blade than you would a newer one. All printer-cutters have a test-cut func- tion. It outputs two shapes—one inside the other—which you weed out after cutting to make sure you have the right amount of force. The last thing you want is to print an entire job and then not be able to weed it properly. STORAGE AND HANDLING Proper storage and handling of media also play a major role in printer-cutter success. Understanding the variables that can affect media performance, along with the effects of how it's stored and set up on the machine, can reduce maintenance issues and time, streamline workflow, and boost quality and productivity. Key considerations here include space, shop layout/workflow with respect to the pro- cess, and facilitating access to the correct media. Printer-cutter workflow is basically the same for signage or T-shirts. Although there are differences in terms of settings between the two types of applications, having the correct media at your finger- tips is a plus no matter what you're doing. Where and how you store your supplies is critical to workflow. In many shops, material racks are used for keeping roll media organized and accessible, without taking up a lot of space. Since most print- cut media is white and looks similar, it is common to label it with decals to safe- guard against mix-ups that can bring pro- duction to a halt. Many shops also use cabinets to store other supplies. In many cases, a cabinet is positioned next to the printer-cutter to provide ready access to two or three clean blades, an extra blade holder, and a cut- ting strip. If your machine doesn't have sheet-cut features, having a straight razor or blade handy can keep your workflow from shutting down. As with media, it is im- portant that drawers be properly labeled so items can be located as quickly as pos- sible. Your storage cabinet should also contain cleaning solutions and supplies. All of the above examples are just some of the basic guidelines to follow to get off on the right foot with your new print- er-cutter. There are plenty of other ways to improve and maintain upon your op- eration once you get going but sticking to the basics will help you get off and stay on the right foot. You may be surprised how much frustration and downtime can be avoided by controlling the environ- ment and simply keeping up with ma- chine cleaning and maintenance. DISPLAY ADVERTISING The Marketplace TO ADVERTISE CONTACT DIANE GILBERT AT 800-669-0424, EXT. 297 DGILBERT@NBM.COM

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