Monthly Maintenance: Freejet 330-series

There are two maintenance tasks that should generally be performed on a monthly schedule: carriage bar cleaning & lubrication and resetting the waste ink pad counter.

Cleaning & lubricating the carriage bar

This video demonstrates and explains how to properly clean and lubricate the carriage bar.

Remember to use only a lint-free cloth or paper towel for the cleaning procedure, and only OmniPrint’s blue Freejet Grease for lubricating the carriage bar. Use of any other lubricant may damage the carriage, requiring that it be replaced. Damage due to improper maintenance is not covered by the warranty.

Resetting the waste ink pad counter

Resetting the waste ink pad counter is done 100% in software. The details on performing that aspect of the monthly maintenance are available here.

Installing Freejet DTF Environments

DTF printing comes with its own unique set of advantages – there’s a lot of reasons why a DTG printer operator might want to convert some of their print jobs or processes to DTF! Freejet printers are fully capable of printing vibrant, durable, and profitable transfers, and best of all, expanding your equipment to include film transfer printing is relatively easy, and only requires a few modifications to your software and workflow!

This guide will take you through the process of importing the latest DTF Environments for the Freejet 330TX or 330TX Plus into DirectRIP, so you can try out this new, exciting kind of printing for yourself!

Loading the DTF environments into DirectRIP

Download links for the Freejet 330TX and 330TX Plus DTF Environments (.kie files) are listed at the bottom of this article.
Make sure that the file that you download matches your printer model as the different inks in the 330TX and the 330TX Plus require different Environments. Using the incorrect environment can result in ink bleeding or poor adhesion.

In DirectRIP, next to your “Environment” drop-down box, there is an icon that looks like a globe with a wrench for ‘Manage Environment’.

Click this ‘Manage Environment’ icon.

The ‘Manage Environment’ window will open. Click the leftmost icon at the bottom of this window to open the ‘Import Environment Package’ window.

In the window that appears, navigate to where you saved the downloaded .kie file, select it, and click the ‘Open’ button.

You should arrive at this window:

Click the ‘Import Package’ icon. This will import the new environments and the ‘Import environment package’ window will automatically close.

Next, click the green checkmark on the ‘Manage Environment’ window to save the update and close the menu.

That’s it! The environments are now fully installed! You can now use them to print transfers!

The Freejet Ink Delivery System Explained

It’s important to have a basic understanding of how the ink delivery system works and the parts that are involved. Knowledge is power, and understanding the basics of how ink gets from the bottles to the print head empowers us to use deductive reasoning to quickly troubleshoot and resolve most ink flow issues.

Here’s a full list of the components of the ink delivery system:

  • Ink bottles (8)
  • Ink lines (8)
  • Ink tubes (8)
    • Ink clips (8)
  • Dampers (8)
    • Damper fixation nut (8)
    • O-rings (8)
  • Print head
  • Pump with capping station

Since we have eight ink channels (cyan, magenta, yellow, black, and four whites), there are eight of each part in the ink path until we get to the print head.

Let’s first define the purpose of each component, and then we’ll briefly go over how they all work together to get ink from the bottles and onto the garments when we print.

Component Functions

Ink bottles: The ink bottles provide a reservoir of ink for each channel. These are the beginning of the ink path for each of the eight ink channels. Each bottle has a metal fitting, through which an ink line will pass as it moves out of the bottle.

On the Freejet 330TX Plus model, there will be a second fitting on each white ink bottle. This is where white ink returns to the bottle when the circulation pumps are running. However, this white ink circulation circuit isn’t functionally part of the ink delivery system so won’t be detailed further here.
Freejet rear with bottles and ink lines

Ink lines: The translucent, plastic ink lines provide the majority (roughly 90%) of the path between the ink bottles and the print head. In combination, they’re an 8-lane ink expressway with no stops and no lane changes allowed.

One end of each ink line passes through a fitting on its ink bottle and extends down to about 1/4″ to 1/2″ from the bottom of the bottle. The other end of each ink line terminates inside the gantry, where it connects to an ink tube.

Ink tubes: The short (about 3″), softer plastic ink tubes are the “last mile” of the ink path, providing a flexible interconnection between the ink bottles and the dampers. If the ink lines are an ink expressway then the ink tubes are the off-ramp where the ink has almost reached its destination.

The Ink Tube connects the ink line to the damper.

The larger end of the ink tube tightly slips around the ink line, while the small end is attached to the damper with an o-ring and copper-colored nut.

Ink clips and ink tubes

Ink clips: The purpose of the ink clips is to crimp the ink tubes and shut off ink flow when desired (such as when the printer is idle.)

Dampers: Dampers provide the final “Quality Assurance” for ink with their mesh filter, which serves to trap bubbles and any dried ink or foreign material that doesn’t belong in the ink supply. (Better to replace a clogged damper than to have to replace a clogged print head.)

Damper fixation nuts & O-rings: These two parts complete the air-tight, mechanical connection between the ink tube and the damper. The o-ring goes around the smaller end of the ink tube and presses against the inside of the fixation nut to ensure an air-tight connection when the nut is attached to the damper.

The dampers and their associated o-rings and fixation nuts are the last components in the printing ink path before the print head.

Print head: The print head is where it all comes together — literally. All eight of the ink channels feed into the eight posts on top of the print head, to which the dampers directly connect.

Print head, top with damper posts

Print head top, with damper posts.

The purpose of the print head is, of course, to deliver the ink to the garment that we’re printing onto through the over 1,400 tiny nozzles of the print head plate, on the bottom of the print head.

All of the components listed above except the print head itself are completely passive while the printing. That is, they are simply a conduit for the ink to travel through.

Pump with capping station: Ink doesn’t actually flow through the pump when we’re printing, but it’s included here because it is instrumental for priming and for running head cleans before or between print jobs.

The purpose of the pump, with regards to ink delivery, is to pull ink through the print head nozzles when priming and running head cleans, but not when printing.

Ink Flow Dynamics

When printing, ink is jetted out of the print head nozzles by micro-piezo electronics within the print head. This creates pulses that push drops of ink out of nozzles as the carriage moves back & forth. This happens very quickly and very precisely in order to produce high-quality prints at high resolution.

You may wonder, if it’s only the print head that actively does anything to make ink flow while printing, what causes the ink to flow into the print head while printing? Essentially, it is gravity — but more specifically, the ink delivery system is a type of siphon. As the print head expels drops of ink, the siphon effect causes more ink to be drawn into the print head from the bottles, through the ink lines, tubes, and dampers.

In order for ink to flow properly through a siphon system, every component and connection in the system must be air-tight. So while this isn’t a troubleshooting guide, if one of your ink channels starts dropping out while printing after getting a perfect nozzle check, you may want to verify the following:

  • Ink bottles filled to their proper level
  • No air gaps in the visible sections of the ink line
  • No air gaps in the ink tubes
  • All ink clips open (yes, we all forget that occasionally)
  • Ink tubes round (not collapsed from repeated clipping at the same location)

Contact tech support for more in-depth troubleshooting if you’re experiencing unresolved ink flow issues.

Alternative Platens

Your FreeJet printer package includes one Standard Adult platen, providing printing surface dimensions of 12.5” x 18”. The Standard Adult platen meets the needs of the vast majority of t-shirt print jobs. However, as your clientele and business expand, you may want to extend your offerings for different sizes and types of garments.

Let’s take a look at the types of platens available from OmniPrint to help you address other types of printing.

NOTE: All of OmniPrint’s platens are available for purchase through your OmniPrint sales rep and directly from our online store.

Threadable Adult & Youth Platens

The Threadable Adult platen is the same size as the Standard Adult platen and is very helpful when printing on both sides of a garment, by isolating the front of a garment from the back – for example, to create a full back print on a t-shirt with a pocket on the front, or on a polo shirt with buttons on the front.

OmniPrint Threadable Adult Platen

If a threadable platen is not used in such cases, we’re creating the risk of getting a head strike due to the raised areas. Even if we do set the height appropriately for the highest spot on the garment (where it is lifted a bit by the pocket, seams, or buttons on the front), then our print will not be quite as sharp as it could be, due to the print head being a bit further away from the main body of the garment.

Threadable platens are the solution to this type of otherwise risky situation. OmniPrint offers threadable platens in both the Adult and Youth sizes.

Alternative Sizes and Shapes

When expanding product offerings to include options for much smaller and larger sizes, or to create custom prints on select areas, we want to take advantage of some other types of platens. Using the proper platen size helps greatly to ensure that we’re always creating a perfectly flat print surface by avoiding the presence of seams, stitching, etc., which creates the risk of head strikes or head rubs if printing smaller garments on a platen designed for adult shirts.

NOTE: It is important to manually set the height of your platen when setting up a print using any platen smaller than the Adult platen. This includes all platens listed below except for the XL Adult platen. Do not use the automatic height setting feature (‘Function’ + ‘Rear’) when using smaller platens.

Here’s a brief summary of these alternative platens and their dimensions.

PlatenDimensionsImage
Chest6″ x 6.5″OmniPrint Chest Platen
Toddler7.5″ x 10″OmniPrint Toddler Platen
Youth10.5″ x 13″OmniPrint Youth Platen
XL Adult12.625″ x 22.6″Extra Large Adult Platen
Sleeve4.25″ x 16.5″OmniPrint Sleeve Platen
Note: All platens have a 13.25″ x 17.312″ base for a perfect fit and alignment on your FreeJet’s platen table

Positioning the Platen

All platens are always positioned with the end of the platen where the top is flush with the base towards the front of the printer, or to the left when facing the FreeJet control pad. As always, make sure the platen’s base is pressed against the two alignment rails.

Setting Up a Print with Single Platens

The process for setting up a print in DirectRip using one of the above-listed platens is the same as for a Standard Adult platen with one caveat — the print alignment must always be set to Top Center in the Q-Rip window.

Remember that the dimensions of your graphic plus any top margin you may add must fit within the dimensions of the platen. For example, since the sleeve platen is 16.5″ long, if we want a 2″ top margin then the image height must be no longer than 14.5″.

Dual Platens

When doing a significant volume of smaller garment printing, we want to consider using a Dual Platen, so that we can print two items at the same time. As the name suggests, Dual Platens have two top pieces mounted onto a single base. Of course, this means there can be dual platens only for the sizes of platen tops which are no larger than half the size of the base.

OmniPrint offers dual platens in the Sleeve, Toddler, Youth, and Chest sizes.

OmniPrint Dual Toddler Platen

Setting Up a Print with Dual Platens

We need to use OmniPrint-provided .psd templates (Photoshop files) to duplicate and position (using guide layers) our existing artwork so the images will be perfectly aligned to print in the exact positions of the dual platen tops.

Example of a dual platen template.

In an actual Photoshop template, the above example is a layer that is turned off (so it won’t be printed) after the design images are positioned and before the file is exported for loading into the RIP software.

The Dual Platen template files, in Photoshop format, are available for download at the bottom of this article. The zip file contains templates for the dual sleeve, toddler, youth, and chest platens.

Zipper Hoodie Platen

Printing on zip-up hoodies presents a challenge due to the full-length front zipper and associated seams. The Zipper Hoodie platen takes a unique approach by providing a lowered channel in the center where the zipper of a hoodie can be positioned. This allows us to get a better quality print while reducing the risk of having a head strike on the zipper. It’s still very important to manually set the height very diligently to avoid head strikes and head rubs.

The Zipper Hoodie platen is oriented at a 90-degree angle compared to our other platens, so the hoodie is positioned as what we might consider sideways on the printer. To work with this arrangement, we need to make sure our artwork is also rotated 90-degrees.

OmniPrint’s Hoodie platen

Alternative Platens Summary

We offer a variety of platens to make sure you have the right tools available to print on a wide variety of garments. You can save yourself a lot of time and trouble by making sure you’re using the right tool for the job.

Beyond this support for various garment sizes, OmniPrint also offers platens for printing on hats, shoes, and facemasks.

Control Panel Quick Reference

Button Combinations & Extended Presses

FreeJet Control Panel

FunctionButton Action
Automatic Height Set‘Function’ + ‘Rear’
Undock print head carriage for maintenance
(Tap ‘Function’ to dock)
‘Function’ + ‘Up’
Run a head cleanPress ‘Feeding’ for 5 seconds
Enter Layer Setting mode
(Tap ‘Function’ to save setting and exit)
Press ‘Function’ for 5 seconds
Start priming pump
(Tap ‘Function’ to stop pump)
‘Power’ + ‘Down’
Move gantry to front Print Ready position
(Toggles between rear/home position and front)
‘Stand-by’
See page 4 of the User Manual for more details about control panel operations.