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Cleaning and Maintaining your Edible Printer

Cleaning and Maintaining your Edible Printer

Regular maintenance and cleaning of your edible printer should ensure it continues to run smoothly and the quality of your edible prints aren't compromised. By following this routine regularly, you can prevent time-consuming issues when you have an urgent order to get out! It's also important for the life of your edible printer and print head, so to get the most out of your products, we've put together this guide with advice on regular maintenance you should be carrying out and signs your edible printer needs a clean.

If you've just received your edible printer or are thinking of getting started, we recommend giving this a read and saving it somewhere to look back on. You're going to find it a useful tool to ensure you take good care of your new edible printer!

Why Does my Edible Printer Require Cleaning?

Edible printers need to be maintained on a regular basis due to the nature of the edible ink used. Edible ink contains ingredients that can crystallise over time or if the temperature is too cold. This crystallisation of edible ink can cause blockages in the print head and affect the quality and colours of your edible prints. With a good regular maintenance routine, the print head should rarely become blocked, but if this does occur there are a few cleaning steps you can take to resolve this to start producing high-quality edible prints once again!

How Often Should I Clean My Edible Printer?

One of our frequently asked questions, is how often should I be cleaning my edible printer? And the answer really depends on how often it’s being used. If it’s used frequently (ie. every week) then carrying out weekly maintenance is good practice for the best print results. If the printer is used infrequently we strongly suggest you remove the cartridges from the printer, insert them back into the orange cradles supplied with your refillable cartridges and undertake a full printhead clean using our Edible Printer Cleaning & Maintenance Kit and/or by removing and manually cleaning the print head (see instructions below) before storing your printer. This means next time you come to use it, all you need to do is re-insert your edible ink cartridges and away you go. Failure to do this and leaving the printer unused can cause the printhead to block.

Our Recommended Weekly Maintenance Routine

For your weekly maintenance routine we recommend the following :

  1. ROLLER CLEANING
  2. BOTTOM PLATE CLEANING (to eliminate roller lines)
  3. CLEANING THE PRINT HEAD
  4. TEST PRINT PAGE/NOZZLE CHECK PATTERN
  5. PRINT HEAD ALIGNMENT (if applicable)
  6. GENERAL CLEAN

How to Access the Maintenance Functions

Depending on the model of edible printer you have, you can access the maintenance functions either on the printer itself via the display screen by clicking the Set Up (tools) button and selecting Maintenance, or within the Printer Utility/Printer Driver Settings, which can be found within your device Settings (Mac OS)/Control Panel (Windows PC). Please make sure you have downloaded the latest driver for your edible printer model from the Canon website.

 

ROLLER CLEANING

For printers with a display screen (Canon TS705(a), TS5050/TS5051 or TS6350)  

  1. Remove paper from both feed trays and ensure your printer is turned on. 
  2. Click the Set Up (tools) button on the front of your printer and use the arrows select Maintenance, press OK and use the arrows again to select Roller Cleaning, press OK and use the arrows to select the paper source as ‘Rear Tray’ (but do not load any paper at this point), press OK and wait for the printer to perform the first roller clean.
  3. Once the rollers have stopped rotating, load 3 pieces of regular A4 paper into the rear feed tray (do not use edible papers for this) and press OK to perform another roller clean with the paper.

For other printers without a display screen (iX6850)

  1. Remove paper from both feed trays and ensure your printer is turned on
  2. Within the Printer Utility/Driver Settings, select Roller Cleaning from the Maintenance tab, press OK to ‘Execute Cleaning’.
  3. Once the rollers have stopped rotating, follow the instructions and load 3 pieces of regular A4 paper into the rear feed tray (do not use edible papers for this) and press OK to perform another roller clean with the paper.

Signs your Rollers Need Cleaning

Indications your rollers are in need of a clean are:

  • The edible paper sheets are not being recognised by the printer and feeding straight through.
  • Sheets are not feeding correctly leading to misaligned prints.
  • Sheets are getting jammed when fed into the printer.
  • There are lines/streaks on your edible prints or the edible ink is smudged.

If you are experiencing any of the above issues with your edible prints, then it's time to give the rollers a clean!

BOTTOM PLATE CLEANING

For printers with a display screen

  1. Remove paper from both feed trays and ensure your printer is turned on. 
  2. Prepare two pieces of A4 paper into a concertina pattern as shown in the image below (Tip - you can apply a tiny amount of sanitising gel or Edible Printer Cleaning Solution across the peaks of the folds for a more thorough clean and to attract more ink from the roller teeth. (Do not apply so much that would cause the paper to tear or use thicker paper/card). 
  3. Place one piece of folded A4 paper into the cassette tray with the peaks facing upwards. Press OK to select A4 Paper.
  4. Click the Set Up (tools) button on the front of your printer and use the arrows to select Maintenance, press OK and use the arrows again to select BTM PLATE CLEANING, press OK and wait for the printer to perform the first bottom plate clean. The printer will eject and re-feed the paper several times, so make sure to wait until the paper has been fully ejected before removing. You may seem some ink on the peaks of the folded paper, indicating it has been removed from the rollers successfully.
  5. Remove the first piece of folded paper and load the second piece into the cassette tray with the peaks facing down (you may need to ensure it is flat enough to feed into the paper rollers). Repeat step 4.
  6. If there is a lot of ink on the paper peaks, you may need to print this a few times to fully clean the rollers.

Concertina Folded Paper

For other printers without a display screen (iX6850)

  1. Remove paper from both feed trays and ensure your printer is turned on.
  2. Fold two pieces of A4 paper in half lengthways and unfold. Place the first piece sideways in the rear feed tray with the peak facing the back of the printer (with or without sanitiser gel).
  3. Hold down the RESUME/CANCEL button on the printer (under the power button) and wait until the power light flashes 5 TIMES and immediately release to perform the bottom plate clean.
  4. Repeat with the second piece of paper, this time with the peak facing towards the front of the printer.
  5. If there is a lot of ink on the paper peaks, you may need to print this a few times to fully clean the rollers.

Alternative method for both printer types

Instead of/in addition to performing the above ‘Bottom Plate Cleaning’ cycles, another method is to wet a piece of corrugated card with our Edible Printer Cleaning Solution and carefully insert this between the bottom rollers. Gently push and pull this between the rollers to remove some of the ink from the pin wheels. This method is more effective at reducing roller marks on edible prints.

Signs Your Bottom Plate Needs Cleaning

An obvious sign that you need to clean the bottom plate and rollers is the classic ‘pin wheel marks’ that can sometimes be seen on edible prints. These tiny dotted lines are a result of excess ink being picked up by the pin wheel rollers and transferring to your prints. The more ink used on a print and the darker the colours, the more apparent these roller lines can be. It can sometimes be required to clean the rollers between prints if you are seeing the roller marks.

CLEANING THE PRINT HEAD

The most important part of the cleaning and maintenance routine for your edible printer to avoid running into issues and prolong the life of your edible printer is cleaning the print head. So if you're short on time and only have time to clean one thing - this is the one to choose! There are two ways to do this, depending on the time you have available and how blocked the printhead is. 

For general weekly maintenance you can use our Edible Printer Cleaning & Maintenance Kit (available for all of our edible printer models). This is the least time consuming option and the kit includes everything you need - cleaning fluid, cleaning cartridges and syringes to perform a weekly cleaning cycle of the print head (full instructions are provided with the kit).

A quick clean of the print head can also be done with your usual cartridges inserted, using the Maintenance tab, but as this uses edible ink it can be a costly option if doing regularly.

For a more thorough clean or when persistent blockages occur, you may need to remove the print head to clean manually under running hot water, you can also use our Edible Printer Cleaning Solution to flush the print head once removed using a syringe. We recommend performing a manual clean if the printer has not been used for a while or if a full maintenance cycle as described in this blog post does not improve print quality.

  1. Ensure you are wearing gloves to avoid staining your hands when handling edible ink cartridges and the print head. We stock food-safe, vinyl gloves in various sizes for use with your edible printer.
  2. With the printer switched on, open the printer lid and wait for the cartridge carriage to move to the middle and then disconnect from the mains power. This will prevent the carriage from moving back out of position.
  3. Remove edible ink cartridges and place into their orange holders.
  4. Carefully remove the print head and run under hot water, switching from top to bottom, for a few minutes until the water runs clean (see videos below for more detail).
  5. Place on a paper towel to air dry or use the paper towel to pat the print head dry.
  6. Carefully reinsert the print head back into your printer. Ensuring they are topped up, put your edible ink cartridges back into place in the corresponding coloured spaces and close the lid before turning the printer back on. 
  7. Print a Nozzle Check Pattern and perform a print head realignment if required.

Please see the following link to Youtube videos showing how to remove the print head for cleaning:-

  • For Canon PIXMA TS705/TS5050-51 Edible Printers:

 

  • For Canon PIXMA iX6850/iP7250 Edible Printers: 

 

Signs Your Print Head Needs Cleaning

There are a number of issues that can arise that can be put down to a blocked print head, so we usually recommended to try this as part of your general troubleshooting. However, the most common signs that your print head needs cleaning are:

  • Faded bands/lines on your prints.
  • Faded or missing colours on your edible prints.
  • Images or text is faded or blurred, even though the quality on screen is fine.
  • There are ink smudges or marks on the prints.
  • A nozzle check pattern indicates a clean is required (see below).

The best way to check if the print head needs cleaning or if a blockage still persists is to print a nozzle check pattern as described below.

TEST PRINT PAGE/ NOZZLE CHECK PATTERN

A nozzle check pattern can be performed on your edible printer by selecting the option in the maintenance functions on the display screen on your printer (TS705(a)/TS5050-51 or TS6350), by holding down the resume button until the Power light flashes TWICE and immediately releasing (iX6850) or via the printer driver settings on your device (all edible printers). An example of what a nozzle check pattern should look like is shown below. The magnified examples labelled A display a ‘good’ nozzle check pattern indicating the print head is clean and blockage free. The examples labelled B or one of the colours being missing entirely indicates the print head may be blocked. In the case of the faded colour sections, this can also be a result of blocked cartridges, the cartridge needs replacing or that the edible ink of the corresponding colour is running low.

Example of a Nozzle Check Pattern which can be printed from an Edible Printer.

We recommend printing a Nozzle Check Pattern before carrying out maintenance, at the point of noticing a print quality issue and after cleaning/maintenance, so these can be compared.

If you have tried all steps in this guide and your Nozzle Check Pattern still indicates issues, you may need to purchase a replacement print head. The example labelled E above, shows how many prints your printer has done in its lifetime. practicing good printer maintenance and regular cleaning with our recommended Edible Printer Cleaning & Maintenance Kit will maximise the lifespan of your print head.

PRINT HEAD ALIGNMENT

If you have removed your print head for cleaning or notice your prints are not lining up with your paper or your edible images/text appears blurred, despite performing the above cleaning steps and the on-screen image being of a good quality, you may need to perform a print head alignment. This requires A4 paper to be placed into the feed tray and can be selected on the Maintenance functions or within the printer driver settings. You will need to have regular A4 paper loaded into the rear feed tray to carry out an alignment.

GENERAL CLEAN

We also recommend a general clean of your printer to avoid dust building up inside and exasperating any problems arising due to a blocked print head. With your edible printer switched OFF and unplugged from the mains, you can use a slightly dampened clean cloth to wipe down the OUTSIDE of the printer. You can also open the printer lid and carefully wipe away any dust inside the printer using a lint-free cloth. If your edible printer is located in your kitchen where it may be subject to increased dust/flour etc. we recommend you give it a quick wipe down inside and out at the end of each day.  

It is also important to ensure your cartridge chips are kept clean to ensure they are recognised by your edible printer when inserted. Make sure to wipe the chips with a cloth and our Edible Printer Cleaning Solution regularly to prolong the life of your cartridges.

STORING YOUR EDIBLE PRINTER

If you're not using your edible printer at least weekly, we recommend cleaning and removing your cartridges every time you put your printer away. The most important thing is to ensure the print head is clean and completely free of edible ink when left standing, otherwise the ink can crystallise and cause blockages which reduces the quality of your edible prints. Over time, the print head can also become damaged if not cleaned and maintained regularly, leaving you having to replace the print head or the printer entirely. 

If you intend to leave your printer unused for a period of time, we recommend following the cleaning steps outlined above, paying particular attention to the print head clean. You can also remove the edible ink cartridges from your printer, wipe away any edible ink on or around the chip on the bottom of the cartridge using a lint-free cloth and our Edible Cleaning Solution and place them back into their orange cradles. Store the cartridges upright in a sealed container or a grip-seal bag to avoid them spilling or drying out. If using our recommended Edible Printer Cleaning & Maintenance Kit, you can leave the cleaning cartridges inside the printer during storage (as long as your printer is stored flat and upright) and run another quick print head cleaning cycle before use. You may also need to print a few nozzle check patterns on plain paper, to get the coloured edible ink flowing right through the print head again. 

Carrying out these steps will ensure you are ready to get started straight away when you come to needing your edible printer again and your prints will be as vibrant and clear as they were prior to storage.

Other Recommended Best Practices to Take Care of Your Edible Printer

As well as the above maintenance routine we recommend performing weekly (or as often as you can), the following tips will also ensure your edible printer runs as smoothly as possible:-

  • Always switch your edible printer off when not in use. When turning the printer back on it performs a very quick clean which will help prevent an ink build up. Also, when switching off fully at the mains will erase any error codes from the printer memory to prevent further disruptions in printing.
  • Print regularly (we recommend weekly) - this again stops the build up and crystallisation of edible ink. If you don't intend to use your edible printer this often, we recommend cleaning the printer fully and removing the edible ink cartridges before storing (see above) rather than running test prints to keep the ink flowing. Edible ink build up can occur even when left for a few days, so it's best practice to keep it clean between use.
  • Regular use of our Edible Printer Cleaning and Maintenance Kit ensures the printer is cleaned thoroughly with a recommended cleaning solution and will prolong the life of the print head. The cleaning cartridges can also be left inside the printer while left idle to prevent blockages.
  • Use our Edible Printer Cleaning Solution to clean up any spillages inside or around the printer. Simply apply to a clean, lint-free cloth and squeeze to remove the excess. Carefully wipe around the spilled areas to remove the ink residue. You can also use a cotton swab dipped into the solution to get into smaller spaces. This will ensure spilled ink is not transferred onto your icing sheets, ruining your edible images.
  • Always ensure to use high quality edible inks and edible papers. EPS Edible Inks have been specially formulated and double-filtered to ensure they are of the highest quality for your edible printer, reducing the risk of build-up and blockages and maximising the life of your print head. Using cheaper, lower quality edible ink from other brands can cause a build up of unfiltered particles, reducing the quality of the prints even further and causing damage to the print head.
  • If you use Refillable Edible Ink Cartridges, you need to make sure you regularly check the levels of your edible ink, particularly before you start printing. For best results, we recommend keeping your edible ink cartridges topped up to ¾'s full and not relying on the printers ink levels to ensure ink is running through the printer properly, increasing the quality of your edible prints.

We recommend you carry out this cleaning routine to prevent any issues occurring in the first place, but it's also good to follow if you have run into difficulties or need to resolve quality issues with your edible prints. Remember, adopting best practices from the beginning will save you time, money and stress in the long run!

We wish you the best of luck with your edible printing and should you need any other advice or support regarding your edible printer or our products our knowledgable and friendly team are here to help! Just get in touch by emailing our Support Team at support@edibleprintsupplies.co.uk or by giving us a call on 01254 825786.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok for more edible printing hints, tips and inspiration or check out our other blog posts.