Wednesday, October 6, 2021

DTF-Direct To Film-Information

 Direct To Film

What is Direct To Film?  It's a newer type of heat transfer technology that allows home crafters to create full color heat transfers that don't require weeding, and can be heat applied to nearly any fabric and any color.  No special pre-treatment needed.  

For information on what it takes to get started, please refer to my previous post.

Today I'm going to share some tips and tricks on how to troubleshoot issues that are sure to come up and files you need to help get those inks flowing.  

Direct to film printers are just Epson 6 color or more printers that have been converted to be used as such.  Conversion consists of adding auto reset chip cartridges,(or chipless firmware) clearing the printhead of regular ink, installing cartridges with dtf ink, removing all but the two end sets of feeder wheels and having a level exit tray for the film to eject to.  Printers must have a compatible rip software, that tells the printer how to distribute the inks.  And although this all sounds pretty easy, there are sure to be a few hiccups along the way.  With the exception of the XP-15000, these printers are used and their conditions will vary.  I've have purchased all of my wide format printers from ebay.  Each printer was discribed as having a minor issue.  "Yellow won't print", "Doesn't feed paper", "Computer doesn't recognize printer" and so on.  Of these, only one needed a new printhead, and for the most part, these were easy to convert.  But you have to be willing to take a chance on the printer, and you can't be afraid to take it apart.  I have learned how to remove the printhead, and how to install an external waste bottle.  These are both things you need to be willing to do.  

In addition to the actual printer and supplies, there are a few utilities and print files you should have to troubleshoot and keep things printing smoothly.

Wic Reset Utility  This tool will help you identify errors, shows you the waste tank counter, does head cleanings, ink charges and nozzle check.  When the time comes to reset the waste tank, it can do that too for a small fee.  This is a must have.

Purge Files  CMYKW Cyan Magenta Yellow Black White

                     White Only

Purge files are good to help get ink flowing when you have just cleared a clog.  You want to avoid doing head cleanings, when possible.   Purge files are also a great way to keep the inks from drying out if you aren't printing everyday.  Keeping cleaning cartridges in when not in use is good, but purge files can help you spot a problem before it shuts you completely down.  

Maintenance is a must.  You must put in your cleaning cartridges and let them charge if your printer is going to be idle for even a few hours.  If you aren't printing everyday, then keep the cleaning carts in and have them do a charge everyday.  Then when you are ready to print, you won't have to fight clogs.  Shake your ink cartridges daily and keep them stored with the top down to keep ink from drying in the outlet.  If the ink carts aren't going to be used for a prolonged time, put tape over the outlet and store them in a zipper bag to prevent drying and settling of the inks.  Shake them often.  If you find that the inks look watery, then give them a good shake.  That's usually a sign that the inks are separating.  Then let them settle for a few minutes before putting them in your printer.

Film feeding problems are a common issue with a lot of these printers.  Make sure the paper feeding area is clean of dust, hair and debris.  Wipe the area down with a lint free cloth and some alcohol.  Be sure to clean the wheels.  Even with a clean paper feeding area, some printers will not take the film.  There are a few things you can try. 

1. Frosted or Kapton tape over the paper sensor.

2  Fold a sheet of paper in half, then put alcohol on half of that and feed it thru the printer.  The paper should not be wet, just damp.

3.  Sticker paper with 1/4 of the backing removed.  Feed it in with the sticky area at the top.  Make sure to feed it thru both front and back.  Do this 2-3 times both ways.

4.  Put several sheets of film in the feeding area.  You might try to place a stack of regular paper behind the film, or even some cardstock.

The film does have a special coating that allows the ink to adhere, and this will cause a buildup on the main feeder wheel.  Keep it clean with alcohol.

For information on how to convert a printer for dtf and maintain it, be sure to visit my YouTube Channel, Crafting On A Budget

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