Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Death By Inkjet

While helping a customer of another reseller, I came upon something I’ve never seen before:  Death by Inkjet.

As you can see in this picture, ink is everywhere; on the printer, on the walls and on the label catch basin.  After selling and supporting hundreds of customers move to print on-demand color labels, I’ve not see this type of situation.  It reminded me of a scene from Dexter; needing a blood spatter expert.  I’m not a blood spatter expert, but here are my and the customer’s ideas on what created this scene.

According to the customer, “a label jams in the printer while using the rear feed.  After the label jammed, the printer would continue to spray ink. The jam in the printer was caused by the label separating; the liner from the facestock.”

As soon as I saw this picture, I knew to ask one more question; are you using an unwinder?  “Yes”, said the customer.  Continuing he said, “it seems we get this issue on the third label after setting overnight.  Once we get past this 3rd label, we don’t have any other problems during the day; except for dealing with ink everywhere.  To try to improve this problem, we moved recently the unwinder away from the printer.  Initially, the unwinder was about 3 inches from the printer, with a sharp turn up to the rear feed opening in the printer.  Now, we have the unwinder sitting about 1 foot from the printer.”

When I saw this picture, I told the customer that the “dancer bar” from the unwinder is applying a significant amount of pressure on the labels going into the printer.  Plus the dancer bar is pulling the label around a sharp radius corner similar to a label dispenser.  By pulling the label around this type of edge, the liner may be separating from the facestock.  As the liner is thinner, it must travel farther around the tight radius corner; thus it lifts and separates just like a label dispenser.  To learn more about how a label dispenser works, check out Wikipedia:

In addition, the labels going into the printer are taunt; with zero slack.  As the TM-C3400 uses a vacuum to hold the labels to the printhead, this inkjet printer does not have any type of compression rollers able to pull the media.  With all the tension, the label media “slips” causing the overprint seen on the label in the second picture above.  The bottom line; you can’t have the winders creating tension on the media going into these Epson label printers.  You might find this post on unwinders from some time ago of interest:

After a couple of days, the customer contacted me again; he said, “I believe I have determined the cause of the bump in our labels that thus, what is causing the label jams. The bump seems to occur at the rear feed where the label bends around the edge. This “bump” happens when the label is left in this position overnight.”  So the cause of the problem was NOT the bend around the unwinder roller; rather the bend at the rear feed on the back of the printer.

To properly use a winder (both unwinder and rewinder), you need to have a “loose loop” between the printer and the winder.  Here is how I have my unwinder set up: 

As soon as the dancer bar lifts, the electric motor feeds out more labels: 

Or this recent post on the new winding solution from Labelmate:

By setting the unwinder in this fashion, you prevent tension on the labels as they feed into the printer. Now, this customer has adjusted the tension on the unwinder.  I appreciate his willingness to not only problem solve, but to get me involved and send me pictures.

If you have blood spatter, call Dexter.  But if you get this or any other issue while printing color labels on demand, contact us.  We’ll help you to insure you don’t experience, Death by Inkjet!

Guy Mikel


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