Preparing Your Large Format Printer for a break

Preparing your printer for a break is an often overlooked part of maintenance. If you don’t take the right steps, your inks could dry up and the parts could misalign.

Should I set my printer in standby mode or should I turn it off during holidays?

Ink circulation systems, print heads and heating / cooling systems are all intended to work practically “non-stop”. When printers are left idle or turned off for a long time, they may suffer damage.

Under normal circumstances solvent and UV printers will work fine if it has not been used for up to a week but it is frequently recommended to set the printer in sleep / standby mode and there are a few steps to follow. A correct shutdown will be more certain to lead to a successful restart and avoid wasteful costs.

1/ Clean your Large Format Printer

Clean and maintain your printer at regular intervals, take the time to clean, tidy and prepare your printer.

2/ Check Major Failure Points

Print heads and ink circulation systems: The main culprit of breakdowns is stagnant ink. Print heads and cap tops can foul, potentially causing head nozzles to clog or deflect, or ink accumulating in the head can get messy droplets of ink on your print material.

Filters and fans: Most printers have fans and filters to keep them cool, especially UV printers on the lamp housings. Keep them clean and replace them if even remotely suspect. If you are in a dusty environment, check the filters often and replace, even more often than you think they may need.

Rails and Carriage: Wipe the printer’s carriage rail with a soft cloth and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to know which lubricant to use. A lot of carriage motion or Y-current errors disappear when the carriage is cleaned and oiled.

Inspect wiper for wear: Replace cleaning wipers when they are worn out or soaked in ink.

3/ Inspect the Ink System

Unless you’ve been advised to flush your printer, ensure your ink cartridges have enough ink to use to run through your shut down period. As long as there is enough ink in the printer it will clean itself and circulate the ink to keep it happy and healthy, it is also important to check the waste ink drainage and empty where required so it does not over flow.

In addition, you must ensure that the ink already installed has a shelf life that will exceed the duration of the shutdown. If not, consider replacing it before shutting down. This is because inks have been carefully developed to remain stable for a certain period, but not beyond. Remember that manufacturer and ink suppliers may not accept liability for inks that have passed this date and have caused damage.

If your large format printer uses white and metallic inks don’t forget to shake the cartridges at least once a week otherwise ink may settle out and coagulate.

4/ Enable Automatic Cleaning

Some devices may need manually printing a few meters of output every week to keep things flowing but – fortunately – most have automatic cleaning systems that work unattended. You could be advised to simply unplug and shut down. Switch your printer off in standby mode and let the system look after itself.

5/ Print Room

Extremes of temperature, dust and humidity can damage your equipment and consumables.

Too much humidity and your inks may not dry properly, and substrate may absorb humidity and cockle, causing printing issues and head strikes. Too little humidity and you may have static issues, which may lead to overspray or other printing problems, including data inaccuracies that will cause your printer to produce bad prints.

Generally, if you have to shut down for less than a week and you performed regular cleaning and maintenance, there is not much to worry about. But if for any reason your printer has to rest for a longer period and you cannot print at least a meter of output a week, we advise you follow the above to prepare your printer for the break.