Ok, we are now completely confused regarding printers that can be used for edible printing, that is printing with edible inks on cake toppers or icing/frosting sheets and then using these on cakes in some form or another. Canon have discontinued supplying their printers with the rear paper feed facility, preferring instead to go with a front paper feed path that has to feed and bend media 180 degrees on itself through the printing path, which prevents heavy weight papers and media such as frosting sheets from being able to be printed on these new printers. They work well on rice paper sheets. Accordingly we need to find a printer that can now work in this application and that has rear feed in ordwf-3010dw_Printer_Resizeder to print on frosting sheets and other thicker edible printing media.
In Europe it appears to be accepted that only Canon printers can be used for edible printing owing to the Canon printers not clogging quite so much as Epson printers when using edible inks. This is the advice from our edible ink supplier and other companies who are supplying printers into this market sector. However in the USA and Asia, suppliers of edible inks and papers are supplying inks and media for use on Epson printers and some are claiming that HP printers can also be used. For now though we are going to ignore the HP possibility and explore the use of Epson printers in this application.
We had assumed incorrectly that the reason that a Canon could be used with edible ink and that an Epson could not be used, was owing to technical reasons, the differences in the print head technology employed by the two companies which was causing the clogging. Canon uses Bubble-Jet technology and Epson uses Piezo technology.
A brief explanation of each is that Bubble-Jet employs tiny resistors on the print-head that create heat which vapourises the ink to make a bubble. The expansion that makes the bubble, causes a droplet to form and eject from the print head. Piezo print-heads have a crystal located at the back of the ink reservoir of each nozzle. The crystal receives a tiny electric charge that causes it to vibrate. When the crystal vibrates inward, it forces a tiny amount of ink out of the print-head nozzle.
Having discussed this with several key suppliers globally, we have been advised of differing opinions on this. Based on the information that we have, we think that the reason for the Canon preference may be more simple and in fact lies with the fact that higher end Canon printers have removable print-heads that can be easily cleaned by removing from the printer by running under a tap if they get blocked. The Epson print-head can not be easily removed and therefore is more difficult to unblock.
(See our video’s on this)
So we have decided to apply what we have learnt in using printers in other specialist sectors, like dye sublimation printing and we are going to run a trial using an Epson WF-3010DW printer with edible inks and media, but also with a head cleaning procedure that will hopefully prevent head blockage. We will run this trial as a blog and we have asked Della Craven, who currently uses a couple of Canon MG5350 printers, to use the Epson, run the trial and compare its performance with the Canon’s, as well as run the blog on a daily/bi daily basis.
We had experienced issues with printers supplied into the dye sublimation market and after countless telephone calls with customers we believed that the answer was to employ a head cleaning procedure to overcome blockages. This has been very successful and eradicated all blockage problems in the printers that we supply. We had supplied a dye sublimation printer package to Della and in the course of conversation, she advised that she was having blocked print-head problems in her Canon printers used in edible printing. We gave Della the same procedures and advice that we gave to our dye sublimation customers and Della kindly advised us that her prints were much clearer and that the constant print-head blockages appeared to have been solved. We will leave it to Della to comment further on this.
To start the trial we have set up a WF-3010DW printer this morning at 10.00 fitted with our refillable cartridges and filled with the brand of edible ink that we supply. Several test prints have been carried out on normal paper, matte ctd paper, wafer/rice paper and frosting sheets. These were printed over 7/8 hours at 1 and 2 hour intervals and the printing was very good. The printer handled the frosting sheets from the rear tray with ease. We will leave for 3 hours and do a couple more prints and then clean the heads and leave until tomorrow.
It is planned that we will print a couple of times each day at longer intervening periods and that Della will take over the tests after Tuesday next week and run for a month. It is also planned that we will be making videos on how to best use the WF-3010DW with edible printable media and how to actually print and apply to finished cakes. This will also be done on Tuesday.