Brother and its UK distributor MHM Direct GB have produced and distributed a quick guide to shutting down your Brother DTG printers for short period of time. Click on the PDF icon to download the file. A guide to longer shutdowns is available on request.

Sean Barker of AJS Embroidery Services has some extra advice to help DTG users care for their machines…

“All printing machines require a certain amount of daily/weekly maintenance – this promotes the ink flow to the print heads and maintenance stations, and helps reduce the likelihood of the ink drying in the system. It’s also a good idea is to keep a temperature and humidity gauge near the machine and make sure the machine’s working temperature is kept to within the manufacturer’s recommendations. You also need to take a quick look at the ink waste tank to make sure it is not too full.

Agitation  Both white and CMYK inks need to be agitated, but especially the white ink. The the first – and most common – step is to remove the ink pouch or cartridges and gently shake them from side to side. The recommended time varies, but as a starting point aim for three minutes per pouch; this is a longer time than usually recommended, but if the machines have been standing for an especially long period of time it will help the ink to blend well.

Once you have agitated the ink, the next step is to address the ink in the ink lines themselves. This can be dealt with simply by running a test print on the machine multiple times, or running the machine in maintenance carriage mode or agitation mode (depending on the machine model/type). This will move the ink lines internally and keep the ink moving around. The newer machines have an internal system that takes care of this automatically.

The next step, if not already done, is to carry out a test print. If a head clean is needed, do this, then re-run the test print with white and CMYK three times. Again, this is more than normal, but it will give the ink a chance to move around.

Quality check  After the ink and the test prints have been addressed, look at the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule and pay particular attention to the capping station and the underside of the print heads, cleaning with the specified cleaning swabs and fluids as recommended.

If you have a regular customer that orders a specific design from you, I would suggest that you run a few prints of their designs and check the quality and compare it to a stock item or sample you have; this will help the machine and make sure the ink is not wasted. Two or three garments should be enough. If you don’t have a regular design, consider printing a local charity or help group’s logo – again, this will help reduce the waste, and may lead to orders in the future.

The heat press equipment and dryers should be okay in hibernation, but if this lay-up time increases consider starting the machines and checking the temperatures with a digital thermometer.