Troubleshooting Checklist: Blurred Print When Pad Printing?

Unsharp printing means blurred reproduction of lines or lettering.

Pad too softUse a harder pad.
Pad wrong shapeUse a different shape
Cliché etching inaccurateMake a new cliché.
Wrong type of screenTest a new cliché with a different screen.
Wrong type of clichéUse the suitable cliché type (e.g., steel in place of polymer).
Etching too deep.Etch a new cliché with less depth.
Ink too thickAdd more thinner.
Ink too thinReduce the amount of thinner.
Slow dryingUse a faster-drying thinner or cliché pause.

How to Prevent UV Curing from Damaging Print Heads

Xaar 1003 inkjet printhead

With proper care & maintenance, inkjet printheads can last a long time.

When it comes to UV inkjet printing, reflective, transparent or glossy substrates do not always ‘play nice’. These substrates can be anything from glass and crystal to simply any type of shiny media that causes UV light to bounce back into the print heads. The problem with UV light reflecting back into the print head is that it results in curing the inks within the nozzles and on the nozzle plate itself. This can cause serious (and costly) damage to the print head and therefore shorten the life of the head unnecessarily.

The following are some tips on how to prevent UV curing from damaging print heads:

  1. Eliminate the use of refractive materials when manufacturing fixtures or printer jigs. When designing a fixture, be sure it is a dark matte finish material, and covers any negative space between parts to block UV light from bouncing back to the print heads.
  2. Consider the angle and intensity of the UV lamps. You should always use the lowest amount of UV possible to gain full cure for your application.  If your machine was not supplied with UV light shims, contact the technical service department to inquire about this feature.
  3. Always print onto substrates that are ‘flat’ or parallel to the head array, and be sure the platen gap is no larger than 1.5mm. If you happen to be printing on a mirrored substrate that is flexible, be sure to attach it to a flat material first.
  4. Be proactive and check the health of your nozzles frequently. Perform an auto cleaning every other platen and to ensure that all nozzles are working, run nozzle checks every hour of production. If you notice that ink is curing either in the nozzles or on the face plate, flush the affected head with maintenance fluid.
  5. Always perform ink nozzle checks at the end of a shift. If any nozzles are missing, clean your print heads before powering down the printer.

Prematurely damaged print heads (due to UV light refraction and reflection) are expensive and unnecessary. Follow the tips above to avoid this issue and ensure proper care and functionality of your inkjet printer.  For more on flushing systems, check out our Pantheon Flush Rigs.

Unique Ink-Saver Ring

Have you ever run into the problem of producing a printed image with weak coverage on solid areas despite using the right amount of ink?  If you have then we have the solution for you.

Engineered Printing Solutions’ unique Ink-Saver Ring agitates the ink as the cup slides across the cliché, allowing the ink to evenly flow and mix over the print area. The patented Fan Blade design scoops and mixes the pigment as it passes through each chamber allowing the ink to spread evenly throughout the ink cup, providing even coverage over the entire image.

Ink Saver-Ring Figure 1 shows what normally happens to a printed image when the ink does not disperse evenly and tends to leave the sides unprinted. Solid areas can also be affected with weak print opacity.

­On the other hand, Figure 2 shows the difference when using the Ink-Saver Ring. The image prints evenly while using the same volume of ink – 25 grams in the cup.

Another issue for most decorators is the waste associated with bi-component inks.  When using the Ink-Saver Ring, less ink can be mixed and more ink can be used, resulting in less ink waste at the end of the day. Over time, this adds up to significant cost savings for any print shop.

The Ink-Saver Ring is available for all Engineered Printing Solutions’ cup sizes, as well as for other vendor’s closed cup systems.

For information about Engineered Printing Solutions’ standard pad printers, industrial ink jet, custom solutions, consumables and other auxiliary equipment, visit, email or call 1-800-272-7764.

Can Static Electricity Cause Problems in My Pad Printing Business?

We have all experienced the effect of static electricity in our lives. From rubbing a balloon on our sweater and sticking it on a wall, to receiving the zap from someone who’s shuffling their feet across carpeting, it is a very real force and can certainly affect your pad printing.

Like the electrical discharge after rubbing a balloon on your hair, static electricity can cause ink to discharge from the pad before it makes contact with the substrate. Static can build on the pad by its simple movement when relative humidity falls below 30%.

Printing problems manifest as spider hairs or spider webbing radiating from the artwork edges, or other loss of image resolution.

Possible causes of static in the work environment are atmosphere or materials.

Low humidity and temperature, especially in winter conditions (or in western states such as Nevada and Arizona suffer chronic static) combined with artificial heating, are the primary culprits of static-caused image resolution issues.

Here’s how to fight back:

  • Install a thermometer and hygrometer in close proximity to your equipment. Maintain optimum temperature and humidity levels based on their readings.
  • Increase the humidity level in the air to at least 40%.
  • Run inks a little thinner than normal.
  • Add anti-static paste to your ink.
  • Use an ionized air blower or nozzle directed at the part fixture.
  • Use pads with aluminum bases and electrically “ground” the pad base to the machine.
  • On wood base pads, “ground” the pad to the machine. This is done by inserting one end of electrical wire into the pad, near the base and the other end to the machine, making sure the wire is long enough to allow full pad cylinder extension.

Parts can become electrically charged in manufacture, packing, shipping and storage. Certain materials such as polycarbonates, acrylics and strenes are more prone to static buildup.

To prevent a static-caused electrical charge:

  • Do not allow parts to come within the effective range of static-generating equipment like electric motors, fans, etc.
  • Unpack parts and place in a metal container. Ground the container to allow dissipation of any static charges.
  • Use an ionized air blower or nozzle directed at the part fixture.
  • If the part fixture is metallic, this too can be grounded to help dissipate static charge.

What else can I do?
Our trained and experienced technicians can help with troubleshooting and recommend permanent resolutions to persistent static electricity problems. Call our guys at 1-800-272-7764 or use Live Chat from our Home page. We love the tough cases.