Industrial worksites can be home to some truly challenging environmental conditions. Excessive heat, freezing temperatures, and high humidity are all commonly found in facilities that perform pharmaceutical packaging, food processing, beverage bottling, and consumer product manufacturing. For those who need to perform product coding, these conditions are especially tough to deal with. Not only can issues like extreme temperatures negatively impact code quality, but they can also cause lasting damage to marking hardware. This is especially true when it comes to dust ingression.
Dust and similar airborne particles can wreak havoc on marking equipment, particularly technologies that utilize printheads, such as continuous inkjet (CIJ) printers and thermal transfer overprinters (TTO). Dust-clogged printheads can cause coding mistakes and potentially lasting hardware damages.
Fortunately, there are many ways that companies can control dust presence as well as fortify their machines against airborne particle ingression. Here are some of the best ways to prevent dust problems from affecting your operation.
Before delving into specific strategies on how to control dust presence, let’s address the first problem at hand—how to fix your dust-clogged printhead. For this discussion, we will focus on two of the most common printheads used today, thermal transfer overprinter printheads and continuous inkjet piezoelectric printheads.
Here’s how to clean the dust out of a TTO printhead:
If you’re experiencing problems with a CIJ piezo printhead, the cleaning process is similar, but with some notable differences. Follow these steps to clear your printhead from dust buildup:
After you’ve removed the dust blockages from the printhead, to prevent clogs from reoccurring in the future, it’s important to take measures such as fortifying your printer against dust ingress or reducing the overall dust presence in your facility.
The simplest way to avoid a dust-clogged printhead is by simply using a printer built with ingress protection (IP). IP ratings apply to both solid particle ingress and liquid ingress. For complete protection against dust, you will want to buy a printer with an IP rating of 6, although printers with IP5 ratings will also be protected from any damage or code failure due to dust.
If you don’t want to buy a new printer model, you can also take a few measures to protect your current machine from dust ingress. Consider:
Once you’ve determined the necessary measures to protect your printer, you can turn your attention to worksite dust control.
Excessive workplace dust does more than just damage printing hardware. It can impair visibility, contribute to air pollution, and even damage the health of your employees. Fortunately, by implementing certain dust control methods in your facility, you can reduce dust presence and avoid these problems altogether.
The best method is to consult an HVAC expert or a company that specializes in site-specific particulate extraction. All facilities are unique, so it’s important to understand your site’s intricacies from an informed point of view. By consulting with an expert, you can:
With these steps, you can protect both your hardware and your employees, and as a result, improve productivity as well.
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