Each Squink inkjet cartridge requires some simple maintenance in order to operate at peak efficiency. We want to share a couple of tips that we know will guarantee fewer clogged nozzles and the finest quality traces and definition.
Here's a little cheat sheet that covers the basic rules.
|Type||Storage Orientation||Temperature||Special Note||Cleaning Solution|
|Insulating Ink (Blue)||Nozzles down||20 - 25 C||Keep in a cool, dark place at average humidity||Isopropyl Alcoho|
|Standard Ink (Yellow)||Nozzles down||20 - 25 C||||Deionized Water|
|Advanced Ink (Red)||Nozzles down||1 -4 C||||Deionized Water|
Preparing for a Print
Before you print anything, take these steps. Inkjet nozzles are delicate and need care from the very beginning if you are to reliably inkjet BotFactory's Conductive Inks and Insulating Ink.
Keep in mind that this applies only to Standard and Advanced Inks, and NOT Insulating Ink. Insulating Inks tend to flow the best, and don't play well with water and IPA. Simply wiping and priming (see below) are effective measures for ensuring good printing (if clogging occurs).
Remove from Storage and Clean
Remove the Blue tape and put aside (Tape is made of a special plastic that won't leave adhesive or mark the nozzles). Take your syringe of Deionized water provided with each machine and turn your cartridge upside down
Apply Drop to Nozzles
(Conductive inks only)
Take out the provided syringe with Deionized water, turn your cartridge upside down and apply a small amount to the nozzles. Leave the water to flow into the chamber, so to properly dissolve anything inside.
Print Test Patterns
At the Align Page, print test patterns like this to see which nozzles are clogged. If there are problems, repeat these steps or rely on further steps like Shaking and Priming in the final sections.
Wiping something relatively delicate like your Squink Conductive or Insulating Ink cartridges is to be done with a little bit of care. First, use only dry wipes with the Insulating Ink Cartridge - you can use wipes dampened with deionized water for Conductive Ink Cartridges. Secondly, try to use any lint-free napkins or wipes - we use the KimTech brand of 'Delicate Task Wipes' found here. Thirdly, don't apply too much pressure - simply wipe but don't scratch or buff them!
Inserting each cartridge is rather like replacing many desktop paper printers.
To ensure that the cartridge is properly inserted into each holder and connected to the pins, there are two pegs on each cartridge with corresponding holes on the printhead
Pull Down to Remove, Not Up
Use the tab on the top part on the cartridge to remove it properly, using the pegs as a point of rotation.
After-Print Care and Storage
Putting your Cartridge to bed
After each print, there are a few techniques that we find help prevent problems with printing. After finishing a print, it is recommended that both Advanced and Standard Inks must be wiped, treated with a drop of water (like above), taped and stored. Again, do not use water on the Insulating Ink Cartridge - you can use a plain paper napkin/kleenex to wipe it. However, each must be stored differently to provide optimal results.
Store your cartridge in a fridge at 4 celsius, with the nozzles facing DOWN.
Store your cartridge in a fridge at 4 celsius, with the nozzles facing on the SIDE.
Store Insulating Ink in a dry place at Room temperature. No need to use a fridge, or orient it in any particular way.
Still Can't Print?
If you're still having trouble, take a look at a set of Troubleshooting tricks below.
If you still are unable to print anything with your Squink PCB Printer after trying all of these tricks, email BotFactory's support team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While it may take some time (upwards of 30 minutes if it is badly clogged), it provides the best results with minimum opportunity to damage the nozzles. If you don't see any change, and the deionized water doesn't flow into the nozzles (like the photo describes) then move onto the next two options.
Assessing the Situation
Are they really clogged, or are you low on ink?
So if drop-cleaning isn't working, it might be not because your nozzles are clogged, but other reasons. Think about the prints themselves. What happens when you print test patterns, or your print? Is the pattern fading? It might be because you are running low on ink. Alternatively, there may be a clog (in the form of an air-bubble, also called an 'air-dam) that may be preventing flow. If you still have ink, then this sounds like a clog within the cartridge and can be resolved.
Declog by "Shaking"
We say shake the cartridge, but we really mean 'whip the cartrige downwards and stop it suddenly', like one 'shakes' a Ketchup bottle. This way, the ink will break thru the 'air-dam' and flow properly. One should have a wipe applied to the nozzles, so that the ink goes somewhere. Don't shake it like it's a aerosol can. This picture here explains it best.
What You Should See....
Once you tried that, you should see some ink on your wipe. It may take a few tries but something should come out. If not, try printing a test pattern to see if there is any improvements.