Tips and Tricks : Printing on Magnetic Media from Roland DG
Type of Magnetic Material:
Magnetic material comes in several different types as different ink types require different top coatings. A magnetic substrate with a vinyl topcoat is generally designed to work with solvent, eco-solvent and UV ink, while magnetic substrates with a paper topcoat work better with aqueous-based inks. It is important to choose the correct magnetic substrate for your system to ensure you get the best results.
Generally speaking the thickness of the magnetic substrate will be determined by the required application. Thicker magnetic material has a stronger magnetic adhesion between the substrate and the metal surface it is being applied to. Stronger adhesion is beneficial for applications such as like vehicle signage. Thinner magnetic material has the advantage of being lighter in weight making it easier to feed through the printer. The maximum material thickness for most printers is 1mm (39 mil). Be sure to check your printer manual for the recommended maximum thickness for your specific printer model. Material thickness will typically range between 0.5mm to 0.9mm with best printing success generally around 0.5mm (20 mil). A tip for printing magnetic material for vehicle signage is to round the corners before applying as this will help prevent it coming off when travelling at high speeds.
Best Machine Settings
As magnetic material is a semi-rigid substrate it is important to make some adjustments to your printer to ensure you get the best results and also to prevent any damage occurring to the printer itself. Start by adjusting the printer’s head height to the highest position as this will help prevent head strikes. Once you change the head height make sure you redo your bi-directional adjustments to suit this setting. You will also need to adjust the feed calibration as media feed is affected by the thickness and weight of a particular substrate. Depending on the material thickness you may also need to turn up the heater settings on the printer to make sure the ink dries sufficiently, and a good print result is achieved. Some magnetic material may require additional dry time during printing therefore is may be beneficial to print in uni-direction to ensure best results.
Some inkjet printers have metal platens (print bed). This can cause issues when the printer is feeding the material as the magnetic properties may cause it to adhere to the print bed. This can be minimised by covering the platen/bed with a piece of thin cardboard, which will help prevent the magnet from sticking or catching during the print process. Applying application tape to the bed can also help the material feed more smoothly.
Sheet or Roll
As rolls of magnetic material can be very heavy, it is sometimes preferable to use sheets cut down to the size required for the specific job. The goal is to ensure that the material feeds through the printer smoothly and without putting too much strain on the feed system. Check your printer manual for the maximum media weight limits for your printer model.
Avoid Leaving the Printer Unattended
It is recommended to monitor your printer when using magnetic material to ensure the material is feeding correctly and you are getting the results you need.