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The print head is a very delicate and important portion of any thermal printer. Proper care must be taken with any portion of the printer, but it is especially important with this component. The goal of this document is to show you how to get the most mileage out of that critical component.
There are certain items on a thermal printer which are consumables. We traditionally think of consumables as Label or Ribbon, but there are also wear items which< need to be considered as consumables as well. Some of these items would be print heads and platens.
The print head is an item which comes in constant contact with a moving product; this of course being the labels, ribbon and platen roller (roller directly underneath the print head). The quality of the labels and ribbon as well as the proper maintenance and care will have a direct affect on the print heads life.
This is much like the tires on your car, if you don’t periodically rotate, balance and align them you’ll end up replacing them much quicker then someone who does the manufacturers recommended maintenance.
1. Cleaning of the print head.
It is recommended that you clean the print head and platen roller after every ribbon change for Thermal Transfer operation or after every media change for Direct Thermal operation. Make sure to only clean with either a SATO packaged cleaner or a non-abrasive, lint free cloth and Isopropyl Alcohol (90% of higher). Doing this regularly is the easiest way to get the most mileage out of the print head.
Monitor how dirty the cloth is that you just cleaned the print head with and make adjustments to the length between cleanings. Certain materials and environments may contribute to the residue build up and more cleanings may be required, or in combination with SATO Print Head Cleaning sheet.
Make sure to never touch the print head with your bare hands. The oils or other contaminants on your hands can have a negative affect on print head life.
You may use a brush and/or compressed air to clean any dust fibers that are in the media path or inside the printer. A can of approved compressed air should only be used. You would never use the compressed air from air assist hose(s) or compressors, as there are typically water vapors or other distillates that can cause issue with the longevity and operation of these components. If using compressed air, care should be taken not to spray directly onto the print head as thermal properties could cause damage to the protective coating on the print head elements