Routine maintenance is required for most mechanical products. The other day I took my car to the dealer for routine maintenance. It was due for an oil change, a tire rotation, and a decent wash. This helps ensure the vehicle stays in tip top shape, remains safe, operates hassle free, and increases its product life.
Thermal printers are no different. Whether your company’s thermal label printing is mission critical or not, any company that operates thermal printers can benefit from a printer maintenance schedule. The schedule can be adjusted depending on usage. For some, a monthly maintenance is in order; for others it can be weekly or quarterly.
Routine Printer Maintenance Procedures
A simple printer maintenance schedule typically addresses or includes the following:
Clean the Thermal Print Head
Cleaning not only aids in print quality, but regular cleaning of the print head increases its life. It is important to use a non-abrasive cloth—and never use a razor or a screwdriver to remove debris from a print head. A bottle of isopropyl alcohol is really all that is required.
Clean the Label Path
Make sure the label path is clean and free from any adhesives, and dust. WD40 can be used to clean off adhesives, and a can of Duster, or other brand can be used to blow out any dust trapped behind the label sensor.
Clean the Ribbon Path
Any rollers in contact with the thermal transfer ribbon should be cleaned. This will prevent ribbon wax and carbon from building up on the rollers.
Print Head Pattern and Check
The printer can be placed into diagnostic mode to make sure all print head pixels are heating up. Test labels can be printed that shows the print quality across the entire print head. In some cases, print quality may be lighter along one label edge, or it may need to be darkened overall. Adjustments to the print head alignment and position can be made to improve or enhance printing.
Tighten any Loose Parts
Over time tension bars and other parts can loosen up. Keeping them tight will prevent further loosening and negate potential headaches.
Clean the Inside of the Printer
Over time dust can build up—dust from cores, or dust from label rolls that were slit in half—keeping the inside of the printer free from dust and debris negates build up and helps prevent sensor errors, and label misfeeds.
The main idea behind a thermal printer maintenance schedule is to reduce label printing issues before they arise. Keeping your printers clean and well maintained will result in less printing hassles, and will increase the life of your printers.