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Sublimation Trouble Shooting (transfers)

Occasionally problems occur when printing or burning transfers. Your laser printer will intermittently produce a bad print, for no apparent reason. Accept that fact and move on. The following offers solutions and prevention of possible repeating problems.


My cartridge worked fine. Now the image I burn looks like a ghost image.

If you use your printer for both regular & sublimation printing, did you forget to switch cartridges when you finished a regular printing job? 350 degrees will force even regular toner to transfer a very faint image to a metal or fabric.


My cartridge worked fine. Now the transfer looks way too dark and trashy.

Did you increase the print density setting to use your printer for document printing and forget to decrease it, when you put the sublimation cartridge in?


I am trying to print a solid, filled logo about 8 square inches. it looks bad. Why?

It is worthwhile to examine this potential difficulty in detail because it is a limitation in technology, rather than a problem with the cartridge, that causes it.

Sublimation toner goes on the drum much heavier than regular toner (that is why you must use a low print density). In general terms, this happens because the laser light puts a positive charge on the drum, to attract the toner. The heavier the print it is trying to copy the heavier the charge. Even the best, heavy duty, long life drum available (which is what we use) will only accept so much of a "charge". At some point it will "max" out and not do a good job. You could compare it to a magnet. No matter how strong the magnet is, it will only pick up so many iron filings. Reduce the size of the logo until you get an acceptable print.


I get occasional light areas near the bottom corners of borders I am trying to print.

Sometimes, thick sublimated borders are more difficult for your printer to produce than fairly heavy logos. Keep in mind the preceding difficulty and answer and add this fact. Unlike the charge put on a drum for text (which is done randomly and uses the entire drum, over a period of time) a long vertical line will "wrap" around the drum several times: in the same place. Also, a thick border will often use more toner than the text of a message. Keeping borders no thicker than 4 pt. will usually eliminate the problem. If you want to beef-up the look of a boarder, try using a double line. For example, you can create a very nice, double line 8-pt. border effect. Create a 4-pt. line, a 2-pt. space and then a 2-pt. interior line. Use 6-pt. for smaller plates. It looks elegant and gives no problems.


When I burn a metal plate the letters look "runny"

This problem is nearly always cause by too much time and temperature. Reduce one of them. The polymer coating on the metal is getting too hot, melting, and then spreading.


I sometimes get shadows on my transfers

This is most often caused by moisture in the paper and is usually only an intermittent problem. If you don't leave your laser printer on, all the time, turn it on first thing in the morning. The slight heat buildup in the printer itself is usually enough to eliminate the moisture. This problem can be managed by storing the bulk of your paper in your best temperature controlled room. Too high a print density can also cause a frequent problem. It is also possible an incorrect or inconsistent temperature in your printer fuser rod can cause this problem.
The last solution we can offer seems to work with enough printers to make it worth trying: Just simply open the lid of the printer (where you insert the catridge) for three seconds and then close it. Print three transfers and see if the problem doesn't start self-correcting.


Sometimes, when I burn a plate, some letters look like they have "exploded"

This is usually caused by excess moisture in the paper. Steam from that moisture can't go up when you pull the heat press head down, so it explodes sideways and takes part of the toner with it. Storing paper in a temperature-controlled room, until you load it in your tray, will help. If you are having a lot of problems and have already printed a lot of transfers for the job, try this: Keeping the heat press up, just lay the transfer on the bottom platen for about 5 seconds to dry. Then take it off, align your plate and start your burn.


I see a consistent light "streak" going across my transfer

This is most commonly seen when a drum has been damaged by over exposure to light (see Light Kills, on our "Helpful Hints" page) and you are trying to print heavy lines, like thick borders, and big logos. It will show up as a light band going left to right, across the paper. You may be able to manage the problem. Try changing the page orientation from portrait to landscape. This may place a logo in a position where the drum is not damaged. In the case of borders, try to make the longest lines run left to right and reduce the thickness of the borders if you can. If this doesn't work, there is still a good chance the sublimation cartridge can be used to print just lighter common text. The charge a drum needs to pick up toner for heavy print is much lighter for normal text.


I get intermittent specks and spots on plates I burn

Dust and dirt most often cause this problem. Frequently cleaning the printer will help manage the problem. Remember, even the paper going through the printer creates dust.


Sublimation Cartridge Care

The best care you can give your sublimation cartridge is to protect it from humidity, dust and especially light. If you drop or even bump your cartridge sharply an excess of toner may come out on your drum. It is not a good idea to try and wipe the drum. It is better to print blank pages, until you no longer see anything on the paper, to clear the drum.


In Conclusion

While we always stand ready to serve (we have even spent many dollars helping solve customer problems that had nothing to do with our cartridges), the wise professional understands that sublimation is part art and part science. Problems of science can be solved. Problems of art must be managed.

We ourselves have burned 100 plates (we do a lot of testing) and had 90 of them look terrific and 10 look like junk! Using the same cartridge and printer we have also made 200 transfers and had each one perfect. We ourselves didn't know why there was a difference, except maybe Gremlins.

We do know that if dust, dirt, temperature and humidity are controlled and even minimal equipment maintenance performed, you will have a lot less aggravation.

 

 

 

 

 

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