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FAQ – Wide and Grand Format Media

Wide and Grand Format Media

The probable cause of tigerstripes, rivering, meandering, arching or zebrastripes

Below some thoughts on how the defect is generated and how to prevent it.

  • When a dyesub paper is printed small droplets of ink hit the paper
  • The coating on the paper is absorbing a big part of the watery fluid phase of the ink
  • The absorbed fluid is passed on to the fibres in the paper supporting the coating
  • This mechanism leaves us with a print side that is moist with a printed image, and a paper support that carries the rest of the moisture extracted from the ink
  • Usually the printed paper is heated by the drying capacity installed on the printer
  • This causes a major part of the moisture to evaporate from the printed surface
  • So usually the top of the printed paper is dry to the touch when wound up, with nobody taking notice of the fact that the paper itself still carries a considerable amount of moisture
  • It is exactly that moisture that is causing the problems with tigerstripes
  • The paper is put onto the calendar, and during the sublimation the paper is heated
  • This heating is causing the dyestuff to sublimate from the surface into the substrate
  • The water in the paper support of the coating changes into steam as a result of the heating
  • It is important to understand that the high transfer yield coating is capable to absorb water, but is practically impervious to vapors like sublimated dye or water
  • The steam is therefore trapped between the metal surface of the calendar cylinder and the coating
  • It will try to find a way out, and doing so it will lift the paper from the cylinder surface
  • At the places where the paper is lifted, no energy is available to sublimate the dyestuff, resulting in lighter parts in the transferred image
  • The "escape pattern" of the steam typically looks like the striping of a zebra or tiger

One remark: The stripes can also occur when the printed paper is transferred onto textile that is very close (because it is coated on one side or it is a sandwich with a non permeable foil). In that case, the vapors from dyestuff and moisture also have to find a way out. When that is the situation it is even more necessary to work with thoroughly dry paper (see also point 6.)

With the above in mind, the things you can do to prevent striping are:

  1. Apply as little ink as possible onto the paper. This also makes sense looking at costs, so creating a suitable profile will be profitable in more than one way
  2. Make the paper as dry as possible, not only on the printed side, but also (maybe even more important) the non printed side. Use the installed drying capacity
  3. Sometimes it helps to work with maximum fabric and felt tension on the calender
  4. Reverse calendering where the fabric is on the calendar cylinder and the printed paper on the outside is sometimes helpful
  5. If no drying capacity is available leaving the printed roll for a longer time on the shelf might help
  6. In extreme cases ( transferring onto substrates that are nearly nonporous) customers place a printed roll in a box and blow air through the box, actually drying the rolls for 4 - 24 hours
  7. It might be an idea to dry the printed paper on the transfer calendar, feeding it at a high speed and a lower temperature than transfer conditions. 

Paper cockling happens when too much water is absorbed in the paper. The water causes the paper to form wrinkles, waves or row(s) of hump back bridges. If extensive enough, it can cause the print head to touch it or even rip it apart. Paper cockling is one of the highest reported causes of waste and lost revenue in dye sublimation transfer printing today!

Below some thoughts on how this might be happening.

  • When a dyesub paper is printed small droplets of ink hit the paper
  • The coating on the paper is absorbing a big part of the watery fluid phase of the ink
  • The absorbed fluid is passed on to the fibres in the paper supporting the coating
  • Laying too much ink down will cause the fibres of the paper supporting the coating to become saturated. This will cause the paper to cockle under the heavy moisture load.

Here are things you can do to prevent or resolve this issue:

  1. Apply as little ink as possible onto the paper. This also makes sense looking at costs, so creating a suitable profile will be profitable in more ways than one
  2. Make the paper as dry as possible before printing, not only on the printed side, but also (maybe even more important) the non printed side. Use the installed drying capacity
  3. If no drying capacity is available leaving the printed roll for a longer time on the shelf might help
  4. In extreme cases (transferring onto substrates that are nearly non-porous), customers place a printed roll in a box and blew air through the box, actually drying the rolls for 4 - 24 hours
  5. It might be an idea to dry the printed paper on the transfer calendar, feeding it at a high speed and a lower temperature than transfer conditions.
  6. You might need to change to a heavier dye sublimation transfer paper.

The probable cause of this is related to ink lay down, paper moisture and environmental working conditions

Several issues maybe be happening to not allow the ink to thoroughly dry before transfer.

  • Make sure your drying system is working correctly. Sometimes, it may be necessary to add another heat source depending on your operating environment
  • A warn transfer calendar can cause drying issues
  • Too much humidity in your operating environment may cause the ink and paper to be too moist, causing multiple issues
  • You may be laying down too much ink. Specifically, Jetcol papers require substantially less ink lay down to perform the same as other papers. Adjusting the ink level under a "total" ink option in your RIP may not be enough
  • This mechanism leaves us with a print side that is moist with a printed image, and a paper support that carries the rest of the moisture extracted from the ink
  • Usually the printed paper is heated by the drying capacity installed on the printer
  • This causes a major part of the moisture to evaporate from the printed surface

With the above in mind, the things you can do to prevent or resolve this issue are:

  1. Apply as little ink as possible onto the paper. This also makes sense looking at costs, so creating a suitable profile will be profitable in more than one way
  2. Try adjusting your individual CMYK ink levels as opposed to just using the "total" ink option on your RIP
  3. Replace your transfer calendar

There are several manufacturers of disperse dye sublimation inks. They all work on any piezo based printers such as Epson, Mimaki, Mutoh and Roland.

The below list represents some of the manufactures:

  • Manoukian
  • Sawgrass
  • J-teck
  • Sublim
  • Sensient Technologies

Please contact your printer manufacturer for additional support.

This is when ink bleeds through the garment during the transfer process and soils the calender transfer belt of the heat press. When this happens, the best way to prevent your heat press from becoming stained with ink is to use protection such as blotting tissue paper. Run with your transfer paper and fabric during the heat transfer process, it collects and prevents the ink from migrating or blowing through to your transfer belt.
RIP is short for Raster Imaging Process. This process "translates" the information being sent by the computer into a format that a printer can recognizes. That is, the RIP takes the digital information about fonts and graphics that describes the appearance of your file and translates it into an image composed of individual dots that the imaging device (such as your desktop printer or an imagesetter) can output. Since computers only "see" RGB (red, green, blue) and wide format printers work with CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black), this process needs to convert the format into CMYK so the printer can correctly print your image. The RIP comes in firmware, hardware, or software versions. Firmware RIP is built-in to the device, such as the PostScript RIP built-in to many desktop printers. The hardware RIP is a dedicated piece of hardware configured to process digital files. It often comes with specific types of devices, such as an imagesetter. The software RIP is an independent program that can work with many types of devices.

RIP is short for Raster Imaging Process. This process "translates" the information being sent by the computer into a file format that a printer can recognizes. Pre-press departments should have someone who is trained for trouble-shooting problem files. Most RIP errors/problems are traced back to their original file.

The following are suggestions for you to consider if you are having issues with your RIP:

  • Size Matters - RIP files tend to be big. Before you do anything, make sure your computer is fast enough and big enough to handle large files
  • RAM Memory - Make sure your computer has enough RAM. Your system should have enough RAM to perform the task. If not, it will use the hard drive as an alternative memory source. The constant swapping of data adds extra time to the process and can create possible file errors
  • Healthy Hard Drives - Have lots of hard disk space for these large files. Typically you should have 3-4 times the size of your RIP available on your drive. Keep your drive defragmented by using third party programs and run at least daily
  • Color Correct - To avoid color surprises and confusion, calibrate for accurate consistent color output. Every Media needs to be calibrated for the type of printer and ink used. Some Media come with basic ICC Profiles that need to be fine tuned to your specific situation
  • File Integrity - One of the most common problems is file codes too complex. Raster files tend to get huge as print sizes increase. Vector files can be enlarged endlessly and use Nodes to set line paths. Too many Nodes can cause PostScript problems. Auto-tracing set up with too high a level can create horrendous amounts of Nodes. Trying to clean any or all of these after the fact is difficult at best
  • Masks - Complexity problems can revolve around Masks. Masks are often used by designers in a hurry to hide unwanted details of the image instead of just deleting them. Unused junk is covered by this Mask. However, a RIP does not recognize Masks and having them will extend processing time
  • Color Issues - Most RIP's use the CMYK mode. Software also has color management features which should be turned off as they can conflict even with careful calibrating. Compression features can also cause problems for RIPs as they attempt to uncompress files while RIPing

All of these above issues are time consuming problems to fix after the fact and can cause weird and unpredictable results. Clean, concise basic file data is always the best way to start. Educating clients and staff about proper file set-up procedures can go a along way towards saving you time, frustration and energy.

Changing the amount of ink deposited on the paper is called linearization. If a printer uses linearization with our paper, it will help the dry time because they are limiting the amount of ink put down. However, they also need to create a profile for the paper. It is profiling that allows the customer to achieve the correct ink lay down and color balance they want.

The term profiling refers to the creation of an ICC (international color consortium) color printer file that is calibrated to your ink, paper, printer and RIP (raster imaging process) software.

To obtain consistent accurate colors from any dye sublimation ink, paper, printer and software, some form of color correction must be used. Basically, this ICC profile is a custom designed file that is created and loaded into your computer and used by major graphics programs like Corel and Photoshop during the printing of your image. It tells the printer how much ink lay down and in what amounts of CMYK ink in necessary to achieve the desired print quality.

Profiling is a major part of the entire process of printing what you see on your monitor to your substrate. Every time you change one component, ink, paper, printer or software, you will need to create a new ICC profile. It is not easy to profile and some combinations of paper, ink, printer and software can be rather difficult. For example, profiling water-based inks is much more difficult (tighter printing window) than solvent/oil based inks. Some companies providing you the sublimation paper or inks may have a basic ICC profile available for use but you still will need to make corrections for paper, printer and software. On a positive note, there are specific profiling companies that can help you if you are not sure about how to do this. Make no mistake about it, the creation of this ICC profile will make or break the printed image. Good rule of thumb is if the image is printed poorly and you think it is the paper, ink, printer or software, focus your initial troubleshooting on the ICC profile first and go from there.