DTF Printing: Problems and Solutions
DTF technology is gaining popularity among our customers. They know that with a small investment, they can start printing on different surfaces. Can be used on cotton and polyester fabrics, but also on other objects like wood, mugs, or skateboards.
If you've switched to DTF printing or are interested, we want to help. We've collected the main problems with this technology to provide you with solutions. With these tips, you can repair it yourself and get your printer up and running again.
DTF printer parts
Before we get to the bottom of things, let's take a look at some parts of the printer you should know about.
Eco tank. The container in which the ink cartridges are located. It should be filled with at least one-third of the ink.
Waste ink tank. To prevent the waste pad from filling up, a waste ink tank, the liquid that cleans and maintains the print head, was added. This container must be emptied regularly to avoid any malfunctions.
Damper. These are the ink cartridges located above the printhead. They are connected to the eco tank by hoses.
Print head. It is the component that helps transfer the ink, so special care is required. We'll explain how to clean it and replace it if needed.
Capping station. This is where the print head sits and flushes waste ink. It keeps the head in good shape.
Wiper blades. Clean the rubber attachment of the head when it comes out of the cover station.
Now that you know the parts, let's go troubleshooting!
No color comes out
You may encounter this problem if this is the first time you have turned on the printer. Here is the workaround:
Initial ink charge: First, charge your DTF printer with ink. To do this, open the lid of each ink tank and fill it with the corresponding ink. Make sure to load it with the correct color, which is usually stated on the label. Keep all lids closed except the one you are filling or you may stain other colors. When full, turn on the printer and press the ink button for a few seconds. This will start the initial charge, which may take up to 20 minutes.
Shipping lock: Most likely, you have set the shipping lock to the locked position, which stops the ink supply from the ink tank to the printhead. So you may run out of ink when the ink runs out in the damper. Make sure to unlock the shipping lock before printing.
Does not print white ink or any color
This is the most common problem. Usually, this is caused by white ink settling, which is the main source of all problems. Here is the solution:
Tank agitation: Before performing any printing or maintenance operations, you should shake the tank to avoid settling. This is a simple but effective way to prevent many problems. Some current printers already include this feature.
Printhead cleaning: Before printing, run a simple printhead cleaning. If you usually use a printer, this should be enough. Go to printing preferences, utilities, and select printhead cleaning. Do a nozzle check to make sure all colors are outputting correctly.
Power clean: If you do not see improvement after cleaning your head, you should perform a power clean. This cleaning will empty the circuit and dampers. It will then refill them by releasing the pressure and unclogging the nozzles.
Shake or replace the damper: Shake the damper at least every 15 days. Turn on the printer, and when the print head is clear, unplug the power cord. Use the power strip when pulling to avoid damaging the connection. Bring the print head to the working position. Remove the screws from the cover and loosen each damper with the help of a flat-blade screwdriver. Shake them now to prevent settling. Make sure there is no air in it. If there is, you can suck it out with a syringe. If the dampers have a lot of deposits, you may need to replace them. Remove the hose and put it in the new hose. Reassemble everything.
Flushing: This involves flushing the cleaning solution through the nozzles of the printhead. There are two kinds of flushing, one is not to disassemble the head, and the other is to completely disassemble.
If after trying all of the above, there is still no ink showing up, the printhead should probably be replaced. As mentioned above, taking apart the printhead is not a daunting task. Just install the new one and your printer will work again. When replacing the printhead, we recommend doing the same for the damper.
Stains or soiled design on paper
Sometimes, when printing, you end up with ink smears on your printouts. It can also happen that the ink doesn't seem to stick to the transparencies, leaving a mess of mixed inks. Let's see how to fix it:
Print on the right side of the film: The clear film has more porous sections that allow the ink to stick. This is usually the matte side, but it can sometimes be difficult to identify the printable side. If you start printing and the inks are mixed, you are either using too much ink or you are printing on the wrong side. But don't worry. Just wipe the film with a cloth or some paper, flip it over and print.
Proper tray placement: Problems with the printhead rubbing against the design often come from a poorly placed output tray. If there is a bump or the front of the film trips, it lifts up and the head rubs against the design. Make sure the tray is in contact with the printer, but not blocking the output.
Dry ink on the head or wiper blade: DTF ink is a paste ink that can settle and cure. To keep the printhead clean, a wiper wipes the bottom of the printhead to remove any residue. The problem is that the wiper blades and capping station, as well as the head itself, end up with sticky residue on the edges that need cleaning. To do this, unlock the head, as we have already explained. With the help of a flat-blade screwdriver, push the wiper blade to the back of the printer. You will see it filled with dry ink. Clean it with tweezers and a cleaning stick dipped in the cleaning solution. Do the same on the capping station and you'll see solid ink on the edges as well. As for the head, we've explained how to clean it after removing the edges.
Film feeding problem
One of the most common problems is feeding film. Either because the printer couldn't catch it, or because it spits it out. One of the most effective solutions is to place a board or sheets in the paper holder to stiffen the film. This will help the printer to load the film correctly.
Dirt can also be a problem on the right-hand feed roller facing the front of the printer. To clean them, use kitchen paper soaked in alcohol. Hold it against the rollers and press the feed button. Roll to clean the lower roller.
Finally, if nothing works, put some masking tape on the back of the bottom corner of the clear film to keep it from slipping off when feeding.
The above describes in detail the common problems and solutions of direct-to-film printers. If you want to know more or want to buy DTF printers, please contact us.
FCOLOR is a professional custom inkjet printer manufacturer. We specialize in the production and sales of inkjet printer consumables and have nearly 10 years of experience in the inkjet industry. Fcolor brand products are loved and recognized by overseas customers. Products include DTF printers and inks, dye-based inks, pigment inks, sublimation inks, eco-solvent inks, film inks, ink cartridges, inkjet printers, PVC/ID cards, card printers, label printers; dye-sublimation/digital printing equipment and consumables; also provide customers with customized solutions.