Author Topic: New (to me) wax CTS  (Read 599 times)

Offline Atownsend

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New (to me) wax CTS
« on: April 07, 2021, 09:09:08 PM »
Long time no post, been busy running ultra marathons during covid times, but that’s another story. Anyways, I picked up a Douthitt unit which is about 4 yrs old from a guy in AZ who decided to go laser. Got a pretty sick deal IMO. I suspect more and more of these will be entering the market as more folks make that switch. Doing my own install with a little bit of phone help with Dave from Saati, who has been pretty awesome. Got the harlequin / xitron / navigator rip setup, which looks pretty dope once I figure it out. Setting up the workflows doesn’t seem to be very intuitive coming from a Mac perspective, but it’s just the standard learning curve I suppose. Haven’t used a windows machine in 10-15 yrs FML.

Got a few q’s for those more experienced. Pretty good with machines, but my experience level with CTS is pretty much zero, other than the past 4 days of DIY install with a bit of phone coaching.


1) this machine was setup for a ROQ. It looks like the blocks are 100% opposite of where I think they should be. Thinking I can machine this drum to relocate the blocks. Not having seen the M&R version, am I wrong / missing something? Anyone have pics of their unit setup for M&R? Was also thinking I could keep the blocks exactly where they are, and just flip the images if the rip allows it. Could just buy the right setup... but why not just drill / countersink some new slots?

2) we print a ton of pockets and gang screens. possible to do gang screens / nesting through the RIP, or do we need to set up templates in AI and place each one and save as a new art file for output? Alternatively I suppose we could have the operator just flip the screen and hit print (prob easiest).

3) we run roller frames, which now has me reevaluating everything in the screen dept. we use plastic mesh protectors rather than tape, which has been great up until now. They protrude a bit on the backside and the last thing I want is headstrikes. Removing them only takes a few seconds, but it’s going to add up. If we go much further than 2-3 mm I see a wood grain pattern on the jets test. How far away is too far before quality suffers? What’s your standard setting for printhead height from the screen. Would really like to keep the mesh protectors on the rollers while imaging. Who else is running rollers and CTS these days? Seems like a lot have moved back to statics? Is this why?


4) I’m chasing down a low vacuum leak. About to replace the quick connector that I think is the culprit (P1). I just don’t trust commonly used push to connect fittings.  Where is the most common place for vac leaks to happen? Vacuum pump kicks on every couple mins. What is the norm for that pump to click on / off. Thinking it can’t be great if it’s switching on / off too often.

5) how the hell do I do a exposure test without vacuum? Tape my step wedge direct to the screen? That can’t be right... also what tools are you guys using for linearization? My test print looked super tight right out of the gate. But I might have to geek out here soon. Is the X rite worth it or can I pickup any rando transmission/ reflective densintometer on eBay and have it calibrate for me. I wanna be a dot snob but don’t exactly wanna drop 5k for the gear.

I’m sure I’ll have more Qs as all of this unfolds, but so far this looks like a super beefy industrial grade machine. Was easily able to realign the head (got a little jostled during shipping) and was able to troubleshoot a couple other issues with basic temp / pressure data from the computer. Have a lot to learn, but this thing is super fascinating. Still not 100% sold on the productivity gains since we already had a super tight film system going on (Alan’s setup) but we are short on space and getting rid of this vac frame and two epson 7600’s here would be sick! Only time will tell I suppose. Appreciate the help / feeesback!

-Aaron


Offline Rockers

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Re: New (to me) wax CTS
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2021, 03:18:54 AM »
We got an Exile Spyder II wax printer.
We use Roller Frames but without the frame protectors. Good distances between
printhead and mesh is 2mm. The pump, not sure about the Douhitt units but on our Spyder the normal interval is between 30-40 seconds.
Questions what do you want tis use the X rite for. You can`t change the ink density anyway at least not on the Exile units.

Offline 1964GN

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Re: New (to me) wax CTS
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2021, 05:35:10 AM »
1) The rip should be set up to flip the image upside down. When imaging the top of the image will be at the bottom of the screen.

2) You set up a new template for every image and just flip the screen and hit print. If you can get the math correct you could use one template with two images I suppose.

3) Can't help. We run all statics. You shouldn't have any issues with rollers provided there is nothing sticking out that would cause a head strike.

4) The vacuum pump does run every so often. That's normal.

5) We tried taping it to the screen and it kinda works, but really doesn't. This method works https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_9_-CZKMgg
Once you get into the groove you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner. The work flow is so much better than film, by a long shot. If you have issues call Mark at Douthitt. He doesn't care where you bought the machine and will go the extra mile for you.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2021, 05:40:10 AM by 1964GN »

Offline Atownsend

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Re: New (to me) wax CTS
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2021, 09:58:21 AM »
We got an Exile Spyder II wax printer.
We use Roller Frames but without the frame protectors. Good distances between
printhead and mesh is 2mm. The pump, not sure about the Douhitt units but on our Spyder the normal interval is between 30-40 seconds.
Questions what do you want tis use the X rite for. You can`t change the ink density anyway at least not on the Exile units.

I was thinking i might want to linearize output on the actual garment to plug in a curve. Although it looks like factory settings are going to blow our film out of the water by far. I was previously calibrating the curve by eye in accurip. Thx for the info on the pump, def makes me feel better about the on / off action.

1) The rip should be set up to flip the image upside down. When imaging the top of the image will be at the bottom of the screen.

2) You set up a new template for every image and just flip the screen and hit print. If you can get the math correct you could use one template with two images I suppose.

3) Can't help. We run all statics. You shouldn't have any issues with rollers provided there is nothing sticking out that would cause a head strike.

4) The vacuum pump does run every so often. That's normal.

5) We tried taping it to the screen and it kinda works, but really doesn't. This method works https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_9_-CZKMgg
Once you get into the groove you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner. The work flow is so much better than film, by a long shot. If you have issues call Mark at Douthitt. He doesn't care where you bought the machine and will go the extra mile for you.


Thanks for this! I went ahead and scheduled a remote training session with Mark. Looking forward to getting this up and running sooner rather than later, and while I could probably figure a lot of this out via trial / error also i'm antsy to get this machine into production!


Offline Dottonedan

Re: New (to me) wax CTS
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2021, 12:40:21 PM »
We got an Exile Spyder II wax printer.
We use Roller Frames but without the frame protectors. Good distances between
printhead and mesh is 2mm. The pump, not sure about the Douhitt units but on our Spyder the normal interval is between 30-40 seconds.
Questions what do you want tis use the X rite for. You can`t change the ink density anyway at least not on the Exile units.


You probably can’t or won’t want to change the ink “density” resolution on the Douthit either.  It runs at 6 pass. When you have a fixed “pass setting”you want to use the same ink density on that as well. You do get some small variances in density based on the additional (newer) settings with going from high speed or low speed, Bi Directional or Uni Directional but all at 6 pass.


You can however, use the Xrite Denitomitor to know and adjust for the gain in the RIP curves.  When he reads what the gets on press, he can counter that by editing the curves data results on screen. Taking a (50% area to a 46% output) for example. That will give him the 50T on press that he is looking for.  The Douthit curve settings I hear are very good from the install, but there should be some adjustments or special tweaking (at your shop) base don your shop and ow you print. Each is different. So what comes with the Douthit from factory, is very good, but not dialed in. Same for any other imaging device.


This is why I’m not fond of the idea of shops using autos sep programs that “do the halftones for you” in the file or program before going to the output device. They cannot be adjusted at this point for dot gain (taking in account for your output device).
RIPS adjust “grey data”.  The Bitmap separations with halftones built in, take the greyscale sep and convert to a 1 bit bitmap before going to the imaging device. So when it does got to a rip, there is not grey data to adjust. Cuves mean nothing for those who have a DTS and also use an auto sep program that creates halftones for you.  It’s a bad idea really.


This is similar to trying to avoid spending money on a RIP for film printers and they create their halftones via bitmapping before going to film. (Not the greatest results) if you are particular and want to be accurate. When you send a file (a sep) that has already been bitmapped, then there is nothing that a real RIP and do to account for (output device) gain on the actual screen. What you put in, is what you get out + some. This always leave th dot gina control you (the separator) up front dying the separation process...and is random or arbitrary for each job. That means “more work” or more adjustments in isolated areas to control gain if they are thinking about that at all. More thinking up front during the sep process.
Artist & Sim Process separator, Co owner of The Shirt Board, Past M&R Digital tech installer for I-Image machines. Over 28 yrs in the apparel industry. Apparel sales, http://www.designsbydottone.com  e-mail [email protected] 615-821-7850

Offline ericheartsu

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Re: New (to me) wax CTS
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2021, 02:00:34 PM »
one of our biggest learning curves in printing sim process, is exactly what Dan described. Once we began to understand linerization, and how our dot output effected our prints, it was a huge game changer.

I never understood why CTS manufacturers don't think 2 or three steps down the line. Linerization, and Reg board calibration should be part of EVERY CTS install process.
Night Owls Print Shop
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Offline Dottonedan

Re: New (to me) wax CTS
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2021, 02:45:56 PM »
one of our biggest learning curves in printing sim process, is exactly what Dan described. Once we began to understand linerization, and how our dot output effected our prints, it was a huge game changer.

I never understood why CTS manufacturers don't think 2 or three steps down the line. Linerization, and Reg board calibration should be part of EVERY CTS install process.


For the linerization, it’s due to two reasons.


1, The manufacture would have to have their staff trained in art/output subjects and be competent in training you in that as well. Many are not. It’s a bit for a tech guy to chew on who knows how to install a machine and train on basic operation, but it’s another thing to understand files and dot gain and compensation.


2, It’s a moving target. It’s why Epson does not provide you with a RIP and curves for dot gain to output film. They don’t know your shop and how you will use it.


3, Two different shops will prefer different results. It’s fruitless to put effort into a rip curve (with proper linearization) that you may or may not even use at all at your shop or may not like at all (if you do know about do gain control). One shop may prints 230’s and 305 mesh and 55-65lpi while another shop may use 40lpi and 110 mesh on most of their prints.  A curve for 40lpi should be different than a curve for 65lpi. A curve for 6 pass high speed, should be different than a curve for 18 pass, low speed uni directional printing. A lot to consider and a lot for a TECH to consider (and be trained in) when installing. I’ll bet that a large portion of print shops out there do not consider dot gain in the factoring (at all). I’ve seen many.


I’ve installed many of machines and applied my own best curves (geared towards that specific machine) that I think are good to use. I’m what one might call an expert in that specific area. Thus the name Dot-Tone-Dan.
We test it, they LOVE the results and then I leave, and that shop may make tweaks to it of their own. I encourage that. Another factor is that they use someone else’s that they highly respect, and toss mine out. LOL.  Like some have gone in and used Danny’s from Denver Print house when he had his I-Image. Probably because they see his prints and like what they see, and think (if it’s good enough for him), so that’s what I want to use. Thats great. No blood out of my nose. But what they neglect to understand, is that HIS was a MULTI head, more likely a 3 head machine...and he is running at one print mode. Maybe it’s (high speed bi directional) and at 12 pass...while X shop is running at something different...and has only ONE print head. So, the NEED is different. But hey, what do I know. ;)   Thus, everybody’s shop is different.
Artist & Sim Process separator, Co owner of The Shirt Board, Past M&R Digital tech installer for I-Image machines. Over 28 yrs in the apparel industry. Apparel sales, http://www.designsbydottone.com  e-mail [email protected] 615-821-7850

Offline ZooCity

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Re: New (to me) wax CTS
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2021, 03:08:50 PM »
I never understood why CTS manufacturers don't think 2 or three steps down the line. Linerization, and Reg board calibration should be part of EVERY CTS install process.

FWIW, we breifly had a 900ppi Spyder II and that's exactly what the Exile team did upon install.  Additionally, the team scrutinized the little "tails" on the wax droplets and dialed in the way the head made it's passes.  I agree that this should be done every time and probably tuned up once in a while.

Linearization hits a wall w. 600dpi where you run out of pixels to work with essentially, and this is not machine specific, just math, but you can still tune up the middle ranges to taste.

Offline Dottonedan

Re: New (to me) wax CTS
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2021, 03:37:46 PM »
I never understood why CTS manufacturers don't think 2 or three steps down the line. Linerization, and Reg board calibration should be part of EVERY CTS install process.

FWIW, we breifly had a 900ppi Spyder II and that's exactly what the Exile team did upon install.  Additionally, the team scrutinized the little "tails" on the wax droplets and dialed in the way the head made it's passes.  I agree that this should be done every time and probably tuned up once in a while.

Linearization hits a wall w. 600dpi where you run out of pixels to work with essentially, and this is not machine specific, just math, but you can still tune up the middle ranges to taste.




NICE, that they would be able to do that!


I agree 100%
Quote
[size=78%]Linearization hits a wall w. 600dpi where you run out of pixels to work with essentially, and this is not machine specific, just math, but you can still tune up the middle ranges to taste.[/size]
  But it hits a wall at 900 also. For wax, it hits a wall differently. It’s wax. So, it doesn’t get that much better at 900 then it does 600. There is not that much difference apart.  In fact, I think for this reason, the 1-10% at 600, 900 or 1200dpi makes no better impact in those areas of the 1-10%. They are all very similar, but I would expect that you would start to see a better dot as you go into lower ranges of 1200dpi coming when comparing a 600dpi wax dot.  They are “different” than wet ink 600dpi. For sure.  The wet ink doesn't form the 1-10% dots well at all due to the math like you said. But the wax, forms a dot that you can use or (burn in a screen) and it’s fatter than the mesh thread) and therefore holds...and looks good and prints on press, but the key factor is, It’s not accurate down in that range. it’s not a “perfect dot”, it’s not “round”or even elliptical. The 1% is not a 1% and the 10% only begins to get accurate using a densitometer.  So, One can use a densitometer on the wax machines at install. But that does not mean that the results you are getting in the 1-10-% range are literally correct. They are just “working” and that is all you need really.  I think where a 900 and 1200dpi holds better is in the mid tone ranges more accurately.

You see, The wax at 600dpi (uses the exact same math) same file as wet ink. The wet ink can reproduce that ugly 1-10% more precisely than wax. But most feel the wax is better.  It’s only better “looking” because it’s fatter, blobbier and held well in the screen when exposing. But that’s because the 1% is more like a 3- 5%. and it’s a blob because the WAX consistency is just more viscus than wet ink to hold the shape properly. When it hits the screen, it’s not really “forming” that ugly 600dpi area correctly.   It blobbing.  This is why I have said that “technically speaking” the wet ink is literally more accurate than wax. But only for that reason. It can reproduce that ugly 600dpi cross hair dot shape of the 1-10% area better then wax can. It just doesn’t look good. LOL.

Artist & Sim Process separator, Co owner of The Shirt Board, Past M&R Digital tech installer for I-Image machines. Over 28 yrs in the apparel industry. Apparel sales, http://www.designsbydottone.com  e-mail [email protected] 615-821-7850

Offline ZooCity

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Re: New (to me) wax CTS
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2021, 04:41:14 PM »
Dan I just meant you get 300 more pixels to work with per inch going from 600 to 900.  I personally feel 1200 is a good minimum that allows good control of linearization.

Offline Atownsend

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Re: New (to me) wax CTS
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2021, 06:15:51 PM »
Good stuff y’all. So I really only need a reflective Densitometer to linearize the wax jet since we would be reading (reflecting) off the printed shirt correct? thinking that the X Rite 404 should prob do the trick. It’s an older model, but if it works it works right? https://www.amazon.com/X-rite-404-Reflection-Densitometer-Excellent/dp/B00G337H54






Offline Dottonedan

Re: New (to me) wax CTS
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2021, 06:23:37 PM »
Dan I just meant you get 300 more pixels to work with per inch going from 600 to 900.  I personally feel 1200 is a good minimum that allows good control of linearization.


Indeed. Agreed.  When I get one this summer, I am pushing for either an LTS or the 1200dpi Exile lll.  Unless, it happens to be that a used I-Image STEll comes up really cheap with 2-3 heads. The owner doesn’t like to buy used tho, so who knows, I might go for the LTS that exposes two at a time. Thats what I’d prefer.
Artist & Sim Process separator, Co owner of The Shirt Board, Past M&R Digital tech installer for I-Image machines. Over 28 yrs in the apparel industry. Apparel sales, http://www.designsbydottone.com  e-mail [email protected] 615-821-7850

Offline Dottonedan

Re: New (to me) wax CTS
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2021, 06:30:12 PM »
Good stuff y’all. So I really only need a reflective Densitometer to linearize the wax jet since we would be reading (reflecting) off the printed shirt correct? thinking that the X Rite 404 should prob do the trick. It’s an older model, but if it works it works right? https://www.amazon.com/X-rite-404-Reflection-Densitometer-Excellent/dp/B00G337H54


If it were me, I’d get one that can do both.
What I’ve done, is to take a clean sheet of film and tape that down onto a screen (acts like a emulsioned screen), and then Print the halftone test on that.  Take the readings, off of the film, using the transmissive and then adjust there in the rip to linierize. Now, you will know what we are getting from the machine itsel (for sure).  Front here, use the reflective densitometer and take multiple readings. It will be difficult to get readings from the printed tee shirt. You will need to do at least three readings (per area) and average them together to come up with a general gain number.  Then from there, you cut back in the RIP to compensate for the gain you get on press.


This will change with 45lpi, to about 65 and then another at say 80 lpi.
Artist & Sim Process separator, Co owner of The Shirt Board, Past M&R Digital tech installer for I-Image machines. Over 28 yrs in the apparel industry. Apparel sales, http://www.designsbydottone.com  e-mail [email protected] 615-821-7850

Offline Atownsend

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Re: New (to me) wax CTS
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2021, 07:08:06 PM »
Good stuff y’all. So I really only need a reflective Densitometer to linearize the wax jet since we would be reading (reflecting) off the printed shirt correct? thinking that the X Rite 404 should prob do the trick. It’s an older model, but if it works it works right? https://www.amazon.com/X-rite-404-Reflection-Densitometer-Excellent/dp/B00G337H54


If it were me, I’d get one that can do both.
What I’ve done, is to take a clean sheet of film and tape that down onto a screen (acts like a emulsioned screen), and then Print the halftone test on that.  Take the readings, off of the film, using the transmissive and then adjust there in the rip to linierize. Now, you will know what we are getting from the machine itsel (for sure).  Front here, use the reflective densitometer and take multiple readings. It will be difficult to get readings from the printed tee shirt. You will need to do at least three readings (per area) and average them together to come up with a general gain number.  Then from there, you cut back in the RIP to compensate for the gain you get on press.


This will change with 45lpi, to about 65 and then another at say 80 lpi.

Thanks Dan!! This all makes sense. Much appreciated. Going to keep searching the interwebs for a densitometer at a good price. Last time I checked xrite asks a mint for their new units. But a deal is bound to pop up.

On another note, I have the old head from this Douthitt unit. I was given an ultrasonic cleaner that supposedly hooks up to these wax heads (spectra) and you pump cleaning chems through in forward / reverse cycles to unclog the jets. Anyone ever use anything like this before to restore old heads? Previous owner said he bought it just in case, but never used it. If it works it looks like it could be a huge $$ saver. I’ve got the old head so I might just give it a shot to see what happens.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jbMPemQanr0

Offline Maxie

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Re: New (to me) wax CTS
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2021, 03:22:46 AM »
Aaron you must be good on the technical side.     I could never have installed my Douthitt without help from them.      I checked the market really well before buying.    I'm in Israel and my nearest service is in Detroit.     I heard good things about Douthitt's service and must say they are unbelievable, I am 7 hrs ahead and if a have a problem in the morning our time I send a what's up and I get replies from Mark in the middle of the night Detroit time.      I would reach out to them, this is a sophisticated machine that needs professional back up.
When I ordered the unit I flew to Detroit and learned how to operate and serice it, I also went to a week end seminar on the unit at Greg Kitsons shop.      Jason Vanick explained to us how to set up the linerizaton.     He printed a test image onto a good quality paper and them read the %'s with a reflection densitometer and made corrections.       I don't have a reflection densitometer so I dialed in his settings and they work well for me.     You can do your own testing but I think there are so many variables that will change your printed test.
1 I'm sure Douthitt will help you with the switch to M&R.
2 We also put two images on one screen, two pockets or front and back.    We just flip the screen, I don't think you'd be able to get good registration doing it in the computer.
3 We have statics, much cheaper.     We restrech in house.      We have about 300 frames and that's a big difference in price.     I suprised more people don't stretch in house.
4 Mark will know about the vacuum leak.
5 I tape the 21 step wedge on the screen, cover half the wedge with tape of put tape only on the ends.    Works well.
6 CTS is another world, I was told how much time it saves but didn't realize how much.     We do a lot of repeat orders and it's so easy, we just drag the ready graphics to the Xitron and off we go.
No filing system for films and I'd be happy not to see another Epson again.      (We still have one as a back up and for Sublimation).        I kept my exposure unit as a back up.   You could move it to a store.     I have not had to use mine in two years.   Forgot to mention, no pinholes.       I expose with a Saati lamp I built into a box without glass.
Welcome to the world of CTS.
Maxie Garb.
T Max Designs.
Silk Screen Printers
www.tmax.co.il