Did You Do Your Nozzle Check Today?
When you run wide- and grand-format inkjet printing equipment, it's imperative that you perform a nozzle check each morning. Oftentimes you may have to run one more frequently throughout the day depending upon the type of equipment and ink.
Why is a nozzle check so important?
Think of your nozzle check test print as a single gauge on your car that tells you if you should drive it or not. It's similar to that "check engine" light we all dread seeing when we start up our car.
When you print a nozzle check and see missing nozzles, that is like your check engine light blinking at you. When you look at the print and have no or just a couple missing nozzles, then you are good to go.
By running your nozzle check on a daily basis, you begin to know what it should look like. Over time, some nozzles may begin to drop out. You'll know that they are gone forever, never to return. If you are not performing the nozzle check daily, how will you know what's good or bad?
There is ideal and then there is reality.
I'm sure you are thinking, if there are missing nozzles then something is wrong regardless of when those nozzles dropped out. Technically you would be correct; but now let's talk about reality. Over time, printheads age, head strikes happen, and warranties expire.
Not every print shop can afford new heads on a moment's notice and not every print job requires 100 percent of the nozzles to always be firing. In fact, many modern printers have firmware that adjust for a certain percentage of missing nozzles by double firing others and/or adjusting the weave or interference patterns they produce to avoid banding.
Have you checked your nozzles today?
So, the question remains: Have you performed a nozzle check today? If not, your nozzles could be impacting both color and print quality without you even realizing it.
To learn more about maintaining your printer for good color management, check out: sgia.org/education/online-workshops.
Jim Raffel is a color management consultant who also serves as CEO of ColorCasters, LLC and ColorMetrix Technologies LLC. As a veteran of the printing industry and a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology’s acclaimed printing management program, in 1995 he formed ColorMetrix to bring an idea he had to make color measurement and evaluation easier by creating easy-to-use software solutions. Today as a certified G7 expert and color management professional, his consulting practice focuses on dye sublimation and flat-bed UV inkjet printing. This work keeps him on the road many weeks each year working with end users and manufacturers to improve their color management processes. He has also been authorized by SGIA to conduct their color management boot camps; in both open venues for anyone to attend and in closed venues for clients and their staff.