3 Ways to Avoid Sublimation Printing Problems

By Jeff Butler | Published on June 4, 2024

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Inkjet sublimation printers have opened up a world of opportunity for entrepreneurs wanting to start up a low-cost, personalized product business, and for existing companies that want to add personalized gifts to their product offerings.

Even though printers are arguably the most important part of the sublimation process, they unfortunately go unchecked and unmaintained. In order to keep operations running smoothly and profits high, it is imperative that regular printer maintenance is performed to keep the quality of products at the highest possible caliber and avoid sublimation printing problems.

The following will prove valuable in helping you maintain your sublimation printer easily and thoroughly.

Taking Care of Your Sublimation Ink

Ink is a crucial factor in the sublimation process, so it is important to handle it with care.

Temperature is an essential factor for managing the ink, with most printers recommending conditions be kept between 59°F and 77°F. In addition, humidity should be maintained above 35% because dry air can dehydrate ink cartridges. To ensure the best results with your products, be sure to maintain a stable, low-humidity environment. High humidity can cause condensation or absorption of moisture by the paper and blank substrates, which can ruin the finished products.

Also, be sure to carefully monitor your printer's waste tank. When your printer completes a head cleaning, even automatic cleanings, the waste ink accumulates in the tank and eventually needs to be disposed of. Some sublimation printers have a removable tank that you dispose of entirely while others have a built-in tank that drains the waste into an external container. Whichever one your printer has, be sure to keep a watch on it and refer to your printer’s user manual for the best practices. A full waste tank will often trigger the printer to stop printing, so be sure to keep a spare on hand.

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Keep Your Sublimation Printer Powered On

To maintain the performance of your sublimation printer, it is important to keep the print heads clear. Printing regularly helps prevent clogs, but if you have extended periods of inactivity between print jobs, the ink may dry and cause blockages in the heads.

Sublimation printers like the Sawgrass SG500 and SG1000, have built-in systems that automatically perform maintenance checks to clean the print heads. However, these checks will only happen if the printer is turned on. Remember to leave your printer on in order to allow for these maintenance checks to be performed.

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Maintain a Clean Work Area

Cleanliness creates an environment that yields precision, so be sure to keep the area around your printer clean of dust and debris.

A cluttered and dusty workspace makes it harder to work efficiently and can ruin the quality of your images. Dust can also clog your print heads, damaging the cartridges' ability to deliver the ink to the paper.

If you use a sublimation printer that requires cartridges to be filled manually, make sure to do so in a controlled area so particles of debris do not enter the cartridge. Understanding and following the correct procedure to change your ink will help prevent air bubbles in the cartridge, which can have devastating effects on your prints.

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Preventative Maintenance is Always a Good Move

Though sublimation printers are relatively easy to maintain, the key is to head off possible issues before they occur. Keep the ink flowing, take care of your components, and keep your printer clean.

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