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DTF Ink Thinner


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So this may be a really stupid question, but wondering if anyone has actual knowledge about this, not just speculation or superstition.

Is there anything that can be used to thin DTF ink?

To simplify the question, let's say the scenario is white ink that is over 6 mos old and threatening to clog nozzles as it is slowly thickening in the bottle, but still currently usable. 

A tiny proportion of purified water?

Has anyone tried anything either successfully or unsuccessfully, or know the facts?

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17 hours ago, johnson4 said:

Yea, This post confused me a bit too. 

Well, I understand the sentiment, but I'm not looking to risk my own printheads in self experimentation (I did enough experimenting with my own head as a teenager many decades ago).  It's a simple question if anyone does have the knowledge either as a chemist with DTF ink knowledge, or someone who has already done some experimentation, with good or bad results. 

Just looking to save a couple bucks on ink, or perhaps even save a printhead with the clog prevention of a tiny dilution of 6 mos old borderline ink.  I consume all kinds of stuff past the expiration date with a little common sense, should DTF ink be different? And milk is much cheaper.   

A safe way to rejuvenate 6.5mos ink to prevent clogging a printhead would be valuable information to many, and maybe even a business opportunity to a chemist.  johnson4,  I have a lot of respect for all your informative posts but I'm surprised you're not somewhat curious about this.  Maybe you consume all your ink under expiration.

Actually, I think the harder question than whether a little distilled water or a few drops of flush solution mixed in the ink would hurt the printhead would be how it might affect the quality of the transfer?  

Edited by TeedUp
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2 hours ago, TeedUp said:

Well, I understand the sentiment, but I'm not looking to risk my own printheads in self experimentation (I did enough experimenting with my own head as a teenager many decades ago).  It's a simple question if anyone does have the knowledge either as a chemist with DTF ink knowledge, or someone who has already done some experimentation, with good or bad results. 

Just looking to save a couple bucks on ink, or perhaps even save a printhead with the clog prevention of a tiny dilution of 6 mos old borderline ink.  I consume all kinds of stuff past the expiration date with a little common sense, should DTF ink be different? And milk is much cheaper.   

A safe way to rejuvenate 6.5mos ink to prevent clogging a printhead would be valuable information to many, and maybe even a business opportunity to a chemist.  johnson4,  I have a lot of respect for all your informative posts but I'm surprised you're not somewhat curious about this.  Maybe you consume all your ink under expiration.

Actually, I think the harder question than whether a little distilled water or a few drops of flush solution mixed in the ink would hurt the printhead would be how it might affect the quality of the transfer?  

As far as I know, it contains glycerol, water, and the pigment. Everything else is proprietary and unlisted. 
 

i have been curious and spent the last year looking into, testing and trying to replicate it. Dead end after dead end. I did come up with a badass cleaner that seems to rejuvenate all my head issues- could just be good luck though. So far I have saved two printheads that would otherwise be in the trash.  
 

but I know I am missing something on the ink ingredients and/or mixture.  
 

I’ve gotten the consistency right, jetting right, but my main downfall is getting it to absorb into the film pretreatment instead of being partially repelled or some other unsatisfactory result. I’ve gotten it really close, but it just isn’t right. I have my own reasons to make it. Unfortunately I’m not a chemist or have any experience other than the large amounts of research and testing I’ve done. I’ve tried reaching out to several places for my specific needs with no results. 
 

you have no idea how many posts I see requesting information like this with no real curiosity- just looking for an answer, honestly didn’t take it seriously as it would just come down to buying new ink in this scenario to me. 
 

i would like to know specifically as well, not to be cheap but rather to benefit my endeavors. 

Edited by johnson4
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So these are water based inks so you will use water as your solvent.  I don't know why ink would get thick in a sealed bottle stored properly in 6 months.  I have used reagents that are less stable from the 90's recently... our lab was shipped mis labeled bottles and I had to do something that didn't necessarily need standardized reagents... and they worked like they should.  Now I would never have used them for commerce and I didn't risk clogging a $XXX print head.  My degree path is not as a chemist and not as a biologist but it does involve working in the lab with both of those disciplines.   We have all the equipment to determine exactly what is in these inks but the lab frowns upon reverse engineering products... unless they want to reverse engineer something for use in the lab!

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2 hours ago, johnson4 said:

I did come up with a badass cleaner that seems to rejuvenate all my head issues- could just be good luck though. So far I have saved two printheads that would otherwise be in the trash.  
 

 

Please let us know what is in your cleaner!  Capping solutions and cleaning solutions for carts is what I am looking into now.  I have picked up windex with ammonia and ammonia to have on hand.  I keep 91% ISA on hand for other uses so I always have that.  

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4 hours ago, kcinnick said:

So these are water based inks so you will use water as your solvent.  I don't know why ink would get thick in a sealed bottle stored properly in 6 months.  I have used reagents that are less stable from the 90's recently... our lab was shipped mis labeled bottles and I had to do something that didn't necessarily need standardized reagents... and they worked like they should.  Now I would never have used them for commerce and I didn't risk clogging a $XXX print head.  My degree path is not as a chemist and not as a biologist but it does involve working in the lab with both of those disciplines.   We have all the equipment to determine exactly what is in these inks but the lab frowns upon reverse engineering products... unless they want to reverse engineer something for use in the lab!

That's ironic isn't it? lol. 

 

I've considered sending it off to have it tested, but the cost is not worth the benefit to me honestly. There is something in there that isn't water, almost like alcohol but isnt, but whatever that is air dries quickly pulling out the water and leaves behind the glycerol. That is the part I'm missing. Too much water and the stuff won't work at all on the sheets, too thick and the printer cannot jet it properly. I'm stuck in the middle of that scenario without really locking myself in a room and don't come out until I have an answer- which I honestly haven't had the time to do.

 

Whatever it is is non-toxic, I've tested around with quite a few things, ratios and mixes, While I've gotten it pretty close- not close enough to work perfectly. 

 

The main ingredient here is the glycerol, it gets everywhere in the exhaust and it's the part the powder sticks to, The part that doesn't evaporate until heated. 

 

This is also the stuff that is left behind with an improperly cured transfer and tons of people claim to be moisture absorbing into the finished transfers. So they throw those humidity packs in their products and all that jazz for no reason. 

 

I think in order for me to fully understand it, I need to know what is in the pre-treatment the PET film is coated with. Knowing that, I could then potentially be able to help point at the things that react with it. I know whatever it is, isn't capable of pulling out THAT much water from the ink. I've tried it, thoroughly. The best results I had was less than 30 percent water, ideally a bit less. Whatever it was, was thin like alcohol, evaporated quickly pulling water with it. In my opinion. 

 

I know with DTG, It was mainly salt( not table salt) in the pre-treatment I used.  I made my own pretreatment there for bit, and it worked just the same. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, kcinnick said:

Please let us know what is in your cleaner!  Capping solutions and cleaning solutions for carts is what I am looking into now.  I have picked up windex with ammonia and ammonia to have on hand.  I keep 91% ISA on hand for other uses so I always have that.  

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4 hours ago, kcinnick said:

Please let us know what is in your cleaner!  Capping solutions and cleaning solutions for carts is what I am looking into now.  I have picked up windex with ammonia and ammonia to have on hand.  I keep 91% ISA on hand for other uses so I always have that.  

Windex is honestly a waste, I tried that about 6 years ago, I might as well have just used water. It never helped, actually made it worse usually. Windex is made to dry quickly, you don't want that. You want the opposite of that, a humectant really. Alcohol doesn't work well either because of the same, at least not with water based inks. With Solvent inks or UV inks, OEM pigment inks, Alcohol works well. With water-based pigment inks, I've only seen it make it worse, or do nothing. 

 

Thats my experience with it anyway. 

 

Your cleaner should be able to almost " melt" dried ink. I use it all the time to remove dried up crud, melts it like butter. If all it does is the same thing as water and doesn't actually react to the ink in a way that is beneficial, not through speculation but through actual hands on testing- I'd just use water. 

Edited by johnson4
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18 hours ago, johnson4 said:

Windex is honestly a waste, I tried that about 6 years ago, I might as well have just used water. It never helped, actually made it worse usually. Windex is made to dry quickly, you don't want that. You want the opposite of that, a humectant really. Alcohol doesn't work well either because of the same, at least not with water based inks. With Solvent inks or UV inks, OEM pigment inks, Alcohol works well. With water-based pigment inks, I've only seen it make it worse, or do nothing. 

 

Thats my experience with it anyway. 

 

Your cleaner should be able to almost " melt" dried ink. I use it all the time to remove dried up crud, melts it like butter. If all it does is the same thing as water and doesn't actually react to the ink in a way that is beneficial, not through speculation but through actual hands on testing- I'd just use water. 

Wait, so you use just water for cleaning?  I know people use water for capping but I thought everyone was using some sort of sort of cleaning solution for cleaning lines and running in cleaning carts.  I know water cleans up these wet inks very easily.   Seems the most common solutions used are diluted windex with ammonia and diluted ammonia sometimes with an alcohol or detergent added but honestly I have no idea what is best.  

As far as the "salt" they are using calcium salts in DTG.  What did you try?  I think it might be as simple as calcium carbonate but I have never messed with DTG.  I MIGHT play with it after I get DTF rolling, I didn't realize you could convert an epson printer for DTG.

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1 hour ago, kcinnick said:

Wait, so you use just water for cleaning?  I know people use water for capping but I thought everyone was using some sort of sort of cleaning solution for cleaning lines and running in cleaning carts.  I know water cleans up these wet inks very easily.   Seems the most common solutions used are diluted windex with ammonia and diluted ammonia sometimes with an alcohol or detergent added but honestly I have no idea what is best.  

As far as the "salt" they are using calcium salts in DTG.  What did you try?  I think it might be as simple as calcium carbonate but I have never messed with DTG.  I MIGHT play with it after I get DTF rolling, I didn't realize you could convert an epson printer for DTG.

That is what this website was for actually, DIY DTG from epson printers. 

 

No I just meant I would rather use water instead of Windex or alcohol. from real world use, they sucked for me. I actually do flush with water though, I only use cleaner to clean things like the capping station or to sit in the lines then flush out with water. 

 

I honestly don't remember what " salt" it was, After it worked I decided not to keep using it just in-case. I mainly did it out of curiosity. 

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1 hour ago, johnson4 said:

That is what this website was for actually, DIY DTG from epson printers. 

 

No I just meant I would rather use water instead of Windex or alcohol. from real world use, they sucked for me. I actually do flush with water though, I only use cleaner to clean things like the capping station or to sit in the lines then flush out with water. 

 

I honestly don't remember what " salt" it was, After it worked I decided not to keep using it just in-case. I mainly did it out of curiosity. 

I realize this forum is for DTG conversions now, I just never discovered it before I found out about realistic DTF printing.

SO the question I still have is what are you using for a cleaner besides water!  I do have to say using water as a daily clean up to keep things fresh does sound appealing.  There are tons of things in the lab that get cleaned with nothing but water because soap is bad for them.  

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1 hour ago, kcinnick said:

I realize this forum is for DTG conversions now, I just never discovered it before I found out about realistic DTF printing.

SO the question I still have is what are you using for a cleaner besides water!  I do have to say using water as a daily clean up to keep things fresh does sound appealing.  There are tons of things in the lab that get cleaned with nothing but water because soap is bad for them.  

 I've been using the cleaner for quite a while though with great results. Honestly, I don't really share what's in it. 

It took me quite awhile to find something that worked which derived from how poorly most "cleaners" worked for me. about 2 years of just random testing. 

I've been thinking about selling it actually, but I think about a lot of things. I still consider myself as " testing" it. 

It does contain water, but not much of it. Not a drop of anything Windex related components, alcohol or any other household cleaner. It only helps with water based inks, It's not a universal cleaner. 

 

I don't have many secrets, but the few I do I worked hard for and spent good money on so I keep them close.  I'm sure you'll find something out of necessity, maybe even better than what I make. 

 

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Theoretically ammonia, alcohols and ethers should all dissolve the inks used in DTF, what I don't want to do is mess up a print head with something that doesn't agree with it.  I am sure I will find something.

 

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3 hours ago, kcinnick said:

Theoretically ammonia, alcohols and ethers should all dissolve the inks used in DTF, what I don't want to do is mess up a print head with something that doesn't agree with it.  I am sure I will find something.

 

Yea, alcohols didn’t work for me. Ethers will mess up the head. I didn’t try ammmonia. 
 

when you have a head already messed up- that’s the best time to try. 

Edited by johnson4
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This is a bit off topic but as we speak about cleaning, the best thing I found is Epson cleaning cartridge T736000. It is cheap (20-30$ per 700ml) and very effective. 

I use a syringe to get the cleaning solution out of the cartridge. I have unclogged DTF, DTG heads many times. My F2000 head was left idle for 3 months in very very dry place, it was badly clogged so I just partially soaked it in T736000 for couple days and it was like 'brand new' 🙂

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12 hours ago, xcore said:

This is a bit off topic but as we speak about cleaning, the best thing I found is Epson cleaning cartridge T736000. It is cheap (20-30$ per 700ml) and very effective. 

I use a syringe to get the cleaning solution out of the cartridge. I have unclogged DTF, DTG heads many times. My F2000 head was left idle for 3 months in very very dry place, it was badly clogged so I just partially soaked it in T736000 for couple days and it was like 'brand new' 🙂

That cartridge is water, glycerol, "organic compounds" and glycol ether.  

The organic compounds probably don't do jack, the glycerol and glycol ether are what cleans things up, well and the water.  You need lots of water to dilute glycerol, that stuff is pretty thick.  Lots of cleaners use glycerol, you can get it cheapest at tractor supply, it is one my list of things to pick up.  I don't see a good source for the ether they use, but that is probably only needed in really bad cases.  I plan to clean my printer if it is going to sit more than a day.

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4 hours ago, kcinnick said:

That cartridge is water, glycerol, "organic compounds" and glycol ether.  

The organic compounds probably don't do jack, the glycerol and glycol ether are what cleans things up, well and the water.  You need lots of water to dilute glycerol, that stuff is pretty thick.  Lots of cleaners use glycerol, you can get it cheapest at tractor supply, it is one my list of things to pick up.  I don't see a good source for the ether they use, but that is probably only needed in really bad cases.  I plan to clean my printer if it is going to sit more than a day.

Sounds like a solid plan. The ink is mainly water, glycol and pigment. I'll have to pick up some of the glycol ether, sounds like a nice solvent. 

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36 minutes ago, johnson4 said:

Sounds like a solid plan. The ink is mainly water, glycol and pigment. I'll have to pick up some of the glycol ether, sounds like a nice solvent. 

This is what is listed on the MSDS.

TRIETHYLENE GLYCOL MONOBUTYL ETHER

I think the glycerin/glycol is going to be enough for 99% of cleaning tasks.  I picked up a Pro 4880 today for less than the cost of a XP 15000 so I will get to try it out soon enough.  All colors print fine except black which has two white dots in the nozzle check.  The waste tank is "full" so I can't do much until my chip resetter gets here.  

 

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4 hours ago, kcinnick said:

This is what is listed on the MSDS.

TRIETHYLENE GLYCOL MONOBUTYL ETHER

I think the glycerin/glycol is going to be enough for 99% of cleaning tasks.  I picked up a Pro 4880 today for less than the cost of a XP 15000 so I will get to try it out soon enough.  All colors print fine except black which has two white dots in the nozzle check.  The waste tank is "full" so I can't do much until my chip resetter gets here.  

 

In my testing the plain ol' glycol didn't do anything after the ink was dried. Maybe it will work for you, keep us updated :)

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 3/28/2022 at 11:06 PM, kcinnick said:

This is what is listed on the MSDS.

TRIETHYLENE GLYCOL MONOBUTYL ETHER

I think the glycerin/glycol is going to be enough for 99% of cleaning tasks.  I picked up a Pro 4880 today for less than the cost of a XP 15000 so I will get to try it out soon enough.  All colors print fine except black which has two white dots in the nozzle check.  The waste tank is "full" so I can't do much until my chip resetter gets here.  

 

Any update on this? 

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TGBE is really expensive... My pro 4880 is down because either the automatic sheet feeder sensor or motor went out... I don't need the feeder but you know the printer won't run without every single part being operational.  My sensor and motor assembly arrive tomorrow.  My 4900 went down tonight because the light cyan cart chip won't read... and my 9900 won't run because the left waste tank won't read...  again, another part you don't need unless you are printing really wide AND borderless.  I HOPE the 4880 is printing tomorrow... but the nozzle checks came out fine after pooling with the Epson cleaner.  $19.95 delivered from Melco for 700ml is pretty cheap for a good cleaner.

 

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