The number one problem associated with edible image printing is colors that are not printing as expected on your edible icing sheet. This can be due to an empty edible ink cartridge, a defective edible printer or edible ink cartridge, or most commonly, a clogged printhead in your printer. If you are experiencing edible image quality problems it is important to narrow down the problem so you can address it. There are a number of steps that can be taken to find the cause and we will walk you through those in this blog post.
Recognizing when problems occur
Common symptoms are washed-out colors or colors that appear to be "missing something" such as green areas printing as blue, or purple areas are printing as red. Because green is made up of yellow and blue, green can print as blue if the yellow is not printing properly. The same holds true for purple which contains blue and red: if the blue is not printing then purple will appear red. In some cases, the entire color will be missing and you will just see blank paper where a color should be. There are many different possibilities, but the key point is if the color doesn't look right, it is time to find out why.
Diagnosing the printing problem
To diagnose your printing problem, follow these steps:
- Verify that all cartridges are full of edible ink and are being recognized in the edible printer (all cartridge lights are on). Also check that the tab covering the air vent has been removed from each edible ink cartridge. If no problems are found proceed to the next step.
- Find your edible printer's Properties window and click on the Maintenance Tab.
- Load a sheet of typing paper into your edible printer, click on the Nozzle Check button and choose Print Check Pattern.
- Compare the resulting printed Check Pattern with the left side of the example shown on your computer's screen. If they look basically the same, then your problem is likely not related to the edible cartridges, printhead or edible printer (keep in mind that edible ink will not print as vibrantly as what is shown on the screen). In these cases, the problem may be related to the image itself or the way it was scanned or digitized.
- By examining the Check Pattern, you can quickly determine which edible ink color is not performing. If there are any missing or streaked elements compared to the left side of the example on your screen, then this most likely means you are experiencing clogging of this portion of the printhead. Less frequently, you could have a defective edible cartridge, but this is not common.
Correcting the problem
If you determine that the problem is likely related to printhead clogging, take the following steps in order:
- Click on the Cleaning button in the lower right-hand corner of the Check Pattern window and choose Regular Cleaning (NEVER USE DEEP CLEANING!). Run this function 2x (you will know when it is finished because the power light on your printer will stop blinking) and then print another Check Pattern. If it looks like there are improvements from the original pattern, you are making progress and should continue to run the Regular Cleaning and re-checking. If the Check Pattern does not continue to improve, more aggressive methods are necessary so continue to Step 2.
- Remove the edible ink cartridges from the edible printer, raise the bar holding the edible printer's printhead in place and remove the printhead.
- Flush the entire printhead under hot water directing the stream into the chambers where the edible cartridges reside and then turning it over and direct the water onto the nozzle plate on the bottom where the edible ink shoots out when printing. Repeat this over and over (20 minutes or more) until you see no signs of color from either the chambers or the nozzle plate.
- Shake the printhead dry and then use a paper towel or rag to pat dry all surfaces except for the nozzle plate which is very delicate. Make absolutely sure the electrical contacts on the rear of the printhead are bone dry before replacing the printhead.
- Once the printhead is dry, reinstall it into the edible printer along with the edible ink cartridges and print a very colorful photo or run the Regular Cleaning to re-prime the printhead and then print the Check Pattern again to see if the problem is solved. If it is still not completely right, but is improving, you may want to repeat the flushing process.
- If no progress is made and you have the time, you can soak the printhead overnight in hot water and then re-flush.
- Although not officially recommended, some customers have had success soaking their printhead overnight in 91% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, and then re-flushing. Be aware that alcohol is flammable so care must be taken if you decide to try this.
- If you have completed all of the recommended procedures and the Check Pattern verifies that the printhead is hopelessly clogged (or has failed electronically), then you will need to order a replacement printhead from our website at www.sweetart.com/accessories or call our Customer Service Department at 1-888-254-5445 x1.
We are here to help
We have an instruction sheet on our website that provides more detail on the maintenance process for your edible image printer. To download these instructions, see the Support Information link at the bottom of our Home Page at www.sweetart.com. We are also happy to answer any questions you may have and can be reached by email at www.sweetart.com/contact-us/ or by phone at 1-888-254-5445 x2.