Question: Does a printer have to be dedicated to Piezography inks or can it be switched back to ConeColor inks when it is necessary to print a batch of color images?
Generally, we recommend having separate printers designated for ConeColor and Piezography printing- this is to avoid color staining of your Piezography prints and also to avoid waste when switching inks.
If you are using a large format printer, you would need to remove color ink carts, install a set of carts filled with PiezoFlush and do three power clean cycles to purge color ink from the printer’s internal ink system, then install the Piezography carts and do three more power clean cycles to purge the flush fluid and get Piezography ink from carts to the print head~ using PiezoFlush between inks will eliminate color staining, which happens when color inks are not flushed before installing Piezography and would require another 1-2 power clean cycles to get rid of. Depending on how often you switched inks, it could be both time consuming and wasteful of your inks. Also, the print head life is calculated in number of ink drops that pass thru either in printing or cleaning, so if you were frequently flushing and switching inks the print head can wear out faster than with normal use.
If you are using a desktop model printer, it is much easier, though does still require cleaning for the best results. To do this, you would want three sets of refillable carts- one for ConeColor, one for PiezoFlush and one for Piezography. To switch between color and Piezography inks, remove the current set of carts and install the set of carts filled with PiezoFlush then do 1-2 cleaning cycles to flush ink from the print head’s micro channels. Remove the set of flush carts and use Q-tips to wipe ink off the points in the print head that pierce the bottom of the carts, then insert the other set of ink carts that you wish to use (gently shake before installing) and wait about 10 minutes for ink to settle and air rise, then do 1-2 cleaning cycles and print a nozzle check. Store the unused carts upright in a sealed plastic bag to keep them from drying out so they can be used again many times.
With all printers, we recommend regular maintenance to get the best quality output and longest life from your printer, regular maintenance includes cleaning the capping station and bottom of the print head. We have a YouTube video on desktop printer maintenance, which you can watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUysQFDH6u0
Dana Ceccarelli is both the Technical Support Manager at InkjetMall and Research Assistant for Product Development. In her spare time she is responsible for the maintenance of more than a dozen large format printers at Cone Editions Press (InkjetMall’s sister company). She also maintains the Piezography Online Printers at InkjetMall and is responsible for the online printmaking.