Day to Day use.
If using the printer on a daily basis, you will only need to clean the white print heads. All models of Apache, excluding the GH4545, have a white only clean function. This should be used after agitating the white ink pouches.
The daily maintenance for the Apache’s is
1. Agitate the white ink pouches by shaking them vigorously for 10 seconds. It is advised to use a paper towel to avoid drips. Check the colour and Varnish pouches to see how much ink is left.
2. Do a white only clean on the print heads.
3. Perform a nozzle check. Preferably onto acetate in order to check the White and varnish print heads.
4.If nozzle check is good, proceed to printing.
5. If nozzle check is not satisfactory, please see Servicing.
When the printer is finished for the day, the cleaning system will need wiping. The capping rubbers and wiper blade will need wiping down with a swab and UV flush.
The print bed on all Apache’s are Teflon coated. While the ink will stick to the bed, the ink will chip off easily using a plastic scraper. If only a very thin layer of ink is printed on the bed, use a paper towel with UV flush soaked into it. Lay the paper towel over the ink and leave for 5 minutes. The ink will soften and lift off.
The Ink pouches should be checked as part of the daily maintenance procedure. There is no electronic signal to tell when the ink is low. A good technique is to roll the pouches up like toothpaste tubes, then you have an easy visual reference to see when they are running low.
It will not damage the print head to run out of ink, however as it is a closed ink system, when the pouch is empty the remaining ink in the dampers will not jet properly. So you will jeopardize the print you are doing if it runs out. The ink pouches are easily installed and can be swapped over mid print by simply pressing the Pause button on the control panel.
The short answer is it will depend on usage. The ink pouches are available only in 200ml and will last for more prints the less ink is used.
The ink is used in cleaning the print heads, therefore more cleans will use more ink. A clean is recommended after more than 3 days of no usage, so the more the printer is left for this period, the more ink is used for cleaning. The RYPC has an ink calculator feature to calculate ink usage for individual RIP’d images, but It is advised to add 10% of the ink usage on to each print to cover print head cleans and ink flashes.
Not to your skin, but looking directly at the UV light frequently and for long periods may damage your eyes. It is recommended if you have to look underneath the print head carriage while printing then you should use UV filter goggles or glasses.
The printer uses only minimal colour ink to make up an image due to the colour profiling, however the white is used to create a white under base because the colour ink is transparent. Depending on the substrate printed on, the amount of white can be substantially more than the colour.
If the printer is left idle for some time, 3 weeks or more, then there will be a need to use UV flush.
Move the head carriage out over the print bed, and use a swab dabbed in UV flush and gently rest the swab against the reflective print head plate for 10 seconds for each channel, then do a head clean. The UV flush will break down any light blockages in the print head.
If there is blockages in the ink lines, then these can be again cleaned with UV flush using a couple of syringes, or the ink lines can even b e replaced easily.
In terms of the dampers, there is a good chance that the white ink dampers will have separated. This will cause issues when trying to clean the print heads and printing. It would be advised to replace these dampers.
It depends on usage, but with proper maintenance, under heavy use for example you would want it done every 6 months. Heavy use is defined as more than 8 hours a day 5 days a week. Under light usage, a few hours a day for example, the serviceable parts can last beyond 12 months.
Every 12 months is a good reference point as the mechanisms can be cleaned and lubricated if need be.
This depends on different factors. The print head is a consumable part that does eventually wear out, and the length of time it lasts will depend on the conditions the printer is run in, how frequently it is used and which heads are used predominantly.
For an example an Apache printing onto mostly coloured substrates 8 hours a day, 5 days a week or more, may see some signs of wear in the white print heads after 7-8 months. However an Apache running a few jobs a day for a few days a week may not see any signs of wear in the colour print heads for years.
Anything that comes into contact with the ink is a consumable part. These parts will wear over time and will need replacing:
1.Ink Dampers- These hold the supply of ink for the print head, and also stop the ink from draining through the system.
2.Print head pipes- These silicone pipes are very hear wearing and would last for years. Once the seal they create deteriorates, air is let into the print head which causes issues.
3.Print heads- The print heads are limited to 30 billion actuations per nozzle, so the lifespan depends on usage
4.Capping rubbers- The cleaning caps are what creates the seal around the print head plates and stops the print heads from drying out. They are also used to clean the print heads with the aid of a pump. The cleaner they are kept, the longer they will last.
5.Wiper blade- This rubber blade will wipe the excess ink off the print head plates after a head clean. Like the rubber caps the cleaner it is kept, the longer it will last.
Check the Printer has a Power supply by turning on either the Fan or the UV lamps. If they switch on then the Apache has power.
Check the Printer is connected to a powered PC via USB.
Make sure the PC is not in sleep mode.
Check the RYPC driver program is running.
Check USB symbol in bottom right hand corner of RYPC is not crossed out.
Check the Printer has initialised with the RYPC on your PC.
Check the Exit Cap button has been pressed.
Ensure the Capping mechanism is lowered by looking for the red capping sensor light below the caps.
Ensure the plastic encoder strip behind the carriage is clean and sitting within the carriage sensor.
The waste ink bottle should last roughly a couple of months before needing emptying. However it is advised to check it every week to avoid forgetting to empty it.
Perform a Printer Nozzle check on clean white paper to see if all colour channels and nozzles are printing. If you are printing onto a coloured substrate and using white, print a nozzle check onto acetate. If there are gaps in the nozzles, perform a head clean and check again.
If using white and all nozzles are printing as they should, consider printing a denser white. To do this you can either increase the ink percentage or increase the resolution and pass rate. A stronger white will strengthen the colours.
Check all ink pouches have ink in them and that they are connected.
Before performing a clean, make sure the wiper blade is clean. Afterwards check wiper blade for ink remains.
This is likely to be due to the height of the print bed. If you are printing in Bi directional mode the head height is crucial to ensure a sharp image. Check your substrate is flat and that the Auto height mode has been used.
The Apache UV series printers are a scanning Inkjet printer that will build up an image by scanning over the print substrate and laying down ink. While the print heads are scanning the ink will jet from the print heads one way and then the other way next. Left to Right and Right to Left. This is called Bi directional printing. The droplets are calibrated to fall in exactly the same place on both directions. This is based on the print head height maintaining the same distance from the substrate, so if your substrate is not flat, there will be differences in the positioning of the print.
If this is the case, then Uni directional printing can be used as this will only jet the print heads in one direction. This enables a much sharper image to be printed on surfaces that are not flat.
If this happens it can be for a few of reasons.
- The printer software is not connected to the printer properly. Please check the Printer driver program is running on you printer system. The USB symbol in the bottom right hand corner will tell you if it is connected.
- The RYPC, Printer Manager and RIP programs need to be running in Administrator mode. Before you run the program, right click on the icon and select Properties. Click on the Compatibility tab and tick the box that says Run as Administrator, and apply.
- Check the Printer program for an error code. A copy of the error code list can be downloaded on the site.
- Check the size of the image you are trying to print is not larger than your maximum print size. If not, then check if any offset has been applied.
- Check that you are able to print from a .prt/prn file. To do this you will need to change you printer target port in you RIP to print to file. Then choose an image and RIP to a desktop file. The .prt/prn file will be selectable to print in you RYPC.
- When printing, the RYPC will scan an image until it finds the data to print. If an image starts far down a large page, then this scan will take several seconds until it reaches the image and starts the print. This time can seem like the print has not worked.
There are some substrates that are difficult for the ink to adhere to because the surface tension is too high. Sometimes the problem is due to contamination. A product may have been handled often and has grease on the surface. Ensuring the product is clean by wiping down with an alcohol wipe or solution should work.
You can consider using a Primer for more troublesome substrates. For example a polished metal surface can be difficult to adhere to. A good metal primer can be applied first to a clean surface before printing to aid adhesion. There are Glass, Acrylic and Metal primers available.
Even though a UV print is dry to touch after printing, the photochemical process can take up to 24hrs to cure completely. This means an adhesion test should be carried out after 24hrs of cure time.
Your printed text should be readable down to 3pt text. If this is not the case then here are some tips to improve the definition.
- The best text will be printed in a Vector format, either Outlines or Text. Raster text is very difficult to print sharply. This is partly because when the RIP package interprets the raster image it will use all colour channels to make up black text. This means that even a little difference in the calibration of the colours can make text appear thicker. Usually vector text will be made of black only ink which will be much sharper.
- Sometimes your substrate will not be flat, so when using Bi directional printing a slight difference in the head height can make text appear thicker or even ghosting. Using Uni directional printing will eliminate this.
- Static electricity can affect ink jet print, especially if you are printing onto fibres or plastic. The static can affect the trajectory of the ink jet droplets and reduce the detail in your prints. Anti-static wipes or cleaners can be used to reduce or eliminate these problems.
When printing with inkjet printer, the droplet sizes are so small that they are quickly absorbed by most fibres. This means the colour will be sucked out of you print. To control this you can use the Apache UV Varnish ink to create a seal on the fibres to reduce the absorption. You can then increase the amount of white ink you are printing and you will achieve a denser white base in which to print your colour. It is also advisable to increase the amount of colour ink to strengthen the colour. All this should combine in a more vivid print when printing onto absorbent substrates.
When dealing with your image files, there are many different file formats. However most fall under one of the two categories of either Raster file or Vector file. A raster file will use coloured pixels to make up the image, so the higher the resolution the more detail the file can have. To replicate this detail in your prints will depend on the resolution you select from you RIP software. The higher the resolution the better the quality. However higher resolutions require higher pass rates which means slower prints.
Vector files are not resolution dependant as they are made of mathematical paths and shapes. Vector images can be scaled to whatever size you want, therefore are not dependant on resolution. Choosing the right resolution for your RIP is not so critical for Vector images so it is possible to run at a lower resolution and a quicker speed.
File types such as Pdf’s and Ai’s are capable of having both raster and vector elements so the decision is based on what is more important, detail and quality, or speed.
The Apache RIP software allows you to highlight parts of an image based on the lightness or darkness of the colours in the image. For example you can use the special colours i.e. White or varnish to print wore ink in light area and less in dark areas, or visa versa. This means images with high contrast can have very different levels of white or varnish printed. This can be used to make textures on prints.
To best utilise this effect, it is best to print using the highest resolution and pass rate. This will jet the most available amount of ink. Depending on how fine the detail is it could be beneficial to print in Uni directional mode so the differences in ink height is more defined.