Cleaning liquid-ink printers before resuming production

The thumbnail version:

  • Liquid-ink printers have been idle for periods during the recurring pandemic lockdowns
  • These printers are designed to be in continuous production
  • Idle printers must be cleaned manually before resuming production

The full version:

Okay, so don’t let him anywhere near your printer . . . but you get the message—clean your machine

With increasing talk of easing restrictions on businesses as more and more people are vaccinated against COVID-19, this is a good time to repeat the important points in an article by Bryan Ballreich writing for Sign Media Canada last year. What he wrote then applies in equal measure now.

Ballreich wrote that: “Liquid-ink printing devices are designed to be in continuous production . .  . ” which obviously gives rise to a problem in times of idleness, such as during a pandemic lock-down. The article provides a lot of helpful instruction for dealing with the problems resulting from idleness under the following 5 headings:

  1. Empty the waste tank
  2. Check and agitate the ink cartridges
  3. Perform a manual maintenance cleaning process
  4. Test the printheads and clean as needed
  5. Print several known test images and review results

And here is an important excerpt that answers the question: Why is manual maintenance cleaning for inactive machines essential before any regular cleaning or operation?

“Before one starts the cleaning process on a device that has been idle for some time, it is important to understand that failure to run a manual maintenance cleaning can cause accumulated ink to ‘gum up’ on may parts , including printheads, wiper, and cap tops. This buildup, which occurs naturally, even during automated sleep mode cleanings, cannot be corrected without manually cleaning these deposits off the parts. If one skips this step before resuming normal printing operation, dried ink can get pushed into the printheads, causing potential damage and part failure.”