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sadface

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DTG build blog
« on: January 28, 2015, 10:43:54 am »

I don't expect to be selling too many tees in the beginning so i wanted to print on demand. With that in mind the only option is a DTG. Since commercial direct to garment printers range from 3000$ (china imports) to 20k$ and, unless you print large quantities, rarely make ROI, i figured i would have to build one myself to make this project happen.
The core of my DTG will be a used epson r2400 i bought on ebay. The base will be made from MDF wood and serves as a drawer that slides below the printer. The bottom part of the printer will be cut out, so the tees will slide where usually the paper is during print.

I'm making this a blog, so others can learn from my progress and maybe build a dtg themselves. I have never done this before so i'm destined to screw things up :). I'm willing to learn and start over if need be. Ill be trying to post progress once a day.

I spent about 200€ on supplies so far.

Supplies:

-used r2400
-MDF wood
-drawer slides
-skateboard trucks, bearings and wheels
-bolts, nuts, screws
-aluminum profiles
-tools

... details later


« Last Edit: January 28, 2015, 11:19:57 am by sadface »
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sadface

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Re: DTG build blog
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2015, 09:53:53 pm »

Today i started working on the drawer. Made little progress since i had too much family stuff to do. The drawer base is in the image and i made a little scetch to illustrate where this is headed. Its not particularly interesting yet. It should get more interesting when things get more technical.


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sadface

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Re: DTG build blog
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2015, 08:35:34 pm »

ill be travelling over the weekend, next update on monday.
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sadface

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Re: DTG build blog
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2015, 09:44:24 pm »

i worked for a few hours on the drawer today and sadly don't have much to show for it. i came to the conclusion that my sawings before were not precise enough (i only own a small saw that you need to guide by hand). there was about 2mm difference in height on the side walls of the drawer, meaning the printer would not stand level. i feared that this would result in a distorted print result. to avoid that i had to use a grinder to get everything level. took about an hour to get it where i wanted it, followed by an hour of vacuum cleaning my flat as it produced a shitload of dust... :)

the second part of progress today was a bit more satisfying. i drilled the holes for the drawer slides and mounted them temporarily to see if it fits. worked.

my plan for tomorrow is to finish the drawer and get started on disassambling the printer.

conclusions of today:

-don't use a grinder indoors
-if you don't own the proper tools, get your wood cut at the hardware store




« Last Edit: February 02, 2015, 10:10:18 pm by sadface »
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sadface

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Re: DTG build blog
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2015, 01:35:41 pm »

I finished the drawer core and am looking into dismembering the printer. Its actually more complicated than i expected. Epson does provide a service manual where all technical aspects are documented, however only to licensed service providers. There is no official download for average joe. There are actually third parties who offer the service manual for about 10 bucks. Its not yet clear to me under what license and if its the official one. Its a weird, albeit not new, policy. Appearently epson is trying to prevent people from repairing their printers by themselves?
Anyway i will have access to said manual one way or another. I wrote them an email, maybe asking nicely will do the trick.

The drawer is nice and sturdy. Its so heavy that i'm already questioning if the paper feed motor (i'm calling it that for now), that usually drives the paper, will be able to handle the weight. I am currently using ebay 45kg drawer slides, which were relatively cheap. They don't run as smoothly as i hoped and as result i might need to replace them, or apply a better lubricant. I will also need to add the t shirt mount.

pics:

the top and front cover are made from scrap material as only the surface needs to be level. not pretty but i don't care.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2015, 03:54:33 pm by sadface »
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sadface

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Re: DTG build blog
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2015, 08:09:33 pm »

i got the service manual now, but have slight issues with the printer. it was standing here 2 weeks without printing and two of the nozzles are badly clogged. the automatic printhead cleaning couldn't free it up and i'll have to do a manual cleaning. i ordered cleaning liquid and tools and will hopefully be able to start with that on monday. the printhead might have to be taken out and soaked over night/a couple of days.

i'm pretty angry with myself, since these issues are not news to me and yet i was too lazy to do a print. this is not going to happen to me ever again. ....looking on the bright side its a good drill. since you lose any kind of warranty its essential that you can repair your printer yourself.

if the printhead is behond fixing, ill have to get another printer.

conclusion:

-do a print every other day to prevent clogging.
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sadface

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Re: DTG build blog
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2015, 06:39:57 pm »

it occured to me that i will not need all 8 nozzles working in the printhead. the r2400 was specially designed for black and white printing and uses 2 black cartridges. i will likely use 5-6 nozzles. cymk and white, maybe 1-2 colors twice.

i still want to do a full cleaning of the head. while i'm waiting for the cleaning supplies i took the printers housing off. quite a simple process, i just followed the step by step instructions in the service manual.
the naked printer looks mighty complicated and i'm not yet sure how to proceed from here. i took a lot of images and will be labelling every cable etc before i disconnect anything.
i plan to do some reading up on the technical details via manual and google. it will likely take a few hours before i'll understand everything and then ill hopefully get an idea on how to proceed :)

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sadface

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Re: DTG build blog
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2015, 10:26:15 pm »

i did a lot of reading and looked at some videos of dtgs and i have a vague idea now on how to proceed. sadly there are no complete guides. i continued with the printer and will be stripping it down to the chassis. to take the housing off you can basically follow the service manual, from there on out you can go freestyle or just read up on every piece in the manual. in the end only the printhead and directly related parts will be on the chassis.


i took the covers off. i think the order was: sides, front, back and later bottom (its in the manual). the paper feed will come later. to take the back out you need to disconnect the cables from the mainboard. mark your cables.
before i took the back part out i worked on the control panel (on/off button etc), that is located on the front right side. there is a sensor that tells the printer when the CD-R tray is open (to print on CD/DVD). there are a couple sensors that tell the printer various things, this one is the only one that can be removed and won't have to be tricked later. at least thats what i think at the moment.

i cut the connector cable to the sensor and soldered the stripped wires together
 

shrink tube on the connector cable.i actually put the printer back together to test if that worked. it did.


mainboard on rear right side


marked and drawing.


after you take the back part out you can remove the bottom housing. the waste ink pads are placed there so make sure to wear gloves and have some paper towels ready. don't get any ink in your eyes. before you lift the chassis from the bottom, disconnect the two silicon tubes that go from the print head to the waste ink pad. front right side.

i cut one of the fingers of one glove and put them on the tubes going to the printhead to prevent them from drying out.


cleaned bottom housing



after that i took the paper feed off. several smaller parts have been taken out after that. i don't remember exactly in which order. current status.





« Last Edit: February 11, 2015, 10:31:28 pm by sadface »
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sadface

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Re: DTG build blog
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2015, 08:15:20 pm »

i made good progress the last couple of days and i have a pretty good picture in my head on how everything is going to come together. i have been a bit lazy with posting updates, sorry.

it's a bit too much for one post so i will spread what i have done so far over two posts, one today the other tomorrow. today i want to explain some stuff, since i think its essential to understand how exactly the printer works and what parts need to be reused even if they don't serve a function later. i am no expert and i hope what i'm writing is correct.

there are various sensors in the printer that give the printer information on how to behave (timing,height,postition):

removed:

- CD-R tray sensors. i cut the cable and soldered the wires together. the printer now thinks the tray is closed.

essential:

- ASF board sensor (not sure what else to call it) left side of the paper feed, tells the printer if there is a medium to print on.
- PF encoder sensor. my guess is it tells the printer how much the paper has moved by measuring the distance the drive rod has turned.
- PE sensor is right before the print bed, it tells the printer, if a medium was successfully loaded. its just a little lever that moves when a paper passes by. it also gives an error for example when a paper is jammed in the printer.
- printhead height adjustment sensors. idk what else to call it. e.g. when you want to change cartridges the printhead gets lifted from the parking bed and moved to a certain position. <- we will not remove these from the chassis and just let them where they are.
- sensors on, below the printhead <- the printhead will remain untouched for the dtg mod


old image when the paper feed was still mounted. its falsely labelled. it should be called ASF board. the sensor is on the board.


1. position where the PE sensor was mounted. remove it carefully, its fragile plastic. we will mount is later on the drawer.
2. printhead height adjustment sensors. leave them there.
3. the drive rod


this is where the drive rod was before. the PF encoder sensor was mounted on the left side of the rod. we will put that together on the drawer later.
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sadface

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Re: DTG build blog
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2015, 01:50:35 pm »

just fyi: i'm still tinkering on this. i have the printer reassambled and its working mostly. i still have some kinks to work out. i get the occasional paper jam error, slightly distorted prints and i have yet to clean the print head. the distortion (blurring & horizontal lines) might be due to the clogged nozzles or the platen not moving precisely, which itself can have many reasons (e.g. no good friction, encoder sensor not mounted corrently etc). i will also need to make some kind of housing.

while i enjoy working on this thing i didn't expect it would take me this long. once i have all the issues figured out i will post lots of images and explain it all.
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sadface

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Re: DTG build blog
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2015, 08:45:13 pm »

i got this thing working pretty well now. i'm currently making test prints on paper and i ordered cheap tee samples to start testing on that.
this is going to be a long post.

to pick it up from my last post this is where i made some cuts on the chassis. its in the way of the drawer, so it has to go. i used pliers to cut that since i didn't want to make any sparks by sawing. not very neat cuts, but its easier to work precisely with pliers. i was slightly afraid i would bend the chassis too much since i had to use a lot of force to cut the metal. luckily not and issue for me.


the next step was to turn the asf unit in this picture into a compact format.


i turned the asf unit into this. its basically the side walls with a 1cm wood piece in between and a shortened rod. i glued the two rod pieces together with hot glue. it took a couple of tries, because the rod needs to be able to rotate freely. it triggers a sensor on the asf board, so it can not be removed and needs to work.


the asf unit is now placed on the left side of the dtg on top of the mainboard.


after that i moved on to building the t shirt mount, which is basically a little table. the metal cage is made of aluminum and is height adjustable. this will allow me to print on mediums of all kinds of thickness. the table surface is A3 size mdf wood.


after that i moved on to putting everything together. i'm not really sure in what order i mounted everything. basically you reconnect every cable and then see where you can fix the parts to the mdf side walls in a way that they aren't in the way of the moving parts. in one case i had to extend the wires to make it work.

this is on the left side of the dtg: the pf encoder wheel, sensor and motor. the wires were extended. the sensor is glued down with hot glue for now.


right side: waste ink tank. its under the printhead, you need to drill a hole before you mount the chassis and put the two tubes thru and into the waste ink bottle. in my case its a hard plastic soft drink bottle.


top view of the printer, right side is the printhead, left side the mainboard.


control panel, front right.


mainboard and asf unit. blurred below is the spit tank. the print head needs another waste ink tank, that it can spit ink into during print. its a little plastic box with some cotton face cleaning pad to soak up the ink. its on the left side.


front view, drawer, table, drive rod and the contact plate between drawer and rod. the contact plate is height adjustable, so i could test different surfaces for the direct contact with the rod. initially i tried rubber, but that damaged the rod by leaving stains. now i have cork. the rod has a sand paper like coating and the cork does leave some dust on the rod that can be removed with a vacuum cleaner.


left side of the drawer is the pe sensor. it tells the printer when a medium is coming. the drawer has this little plastic profile that moved thru the light sensor and triggers it. works pretty well. had to tinker with that for days till it stopped giving me errors.


top view of the whole thing


and a video:
https://youtu.be/blSSHGNLpY0
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sadface

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Re: DTG build blog
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2015, 08:49:11 am »

i will likely make some changes along the way, if anything major comes up i will revive this thread. to wrap this thread up for now i wanted to write a couple of thoughts and conclusions:

the drawer base could have been a lot smaller. i should have used shorter drawer slides, i used 70cm slides, 50-55cm could be enough. the whole unit could have been a lot shorter in height aswell. if you check my last post you will see the t-shirt table and the contact plate below the drawer. those were solutions to cover the disctances. if workspace is an issue you could go a lot smaller. you could also use thinner mdf wood.
another thing i would invest in would be be those flat flexible cables, or short ffc. those grey thin cables that pretty much connect everything are custom fit for the printers spacing and therefor very short. i arranged everything to make it work somehow, it would have been neater if you just replace some of them and get a bit more freedom to move parts around.
i might paint the whole unit to seal open surfaces and give it a bit better look.
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danielsparlon

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Re: DTG build blog
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2015, 09:13:10 pm »

Thank you for the informations, i hope there will be more update informations here maybe about how to control the dtg printer with microcontroller etc.
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Tosch110

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Re: DTG build blog
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2015, 12:59:02 am »

Cool  8)

sadface

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Re: DTG build blog
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2015, 01:31:44 pm »

just fyi. project is not dead. this is a hobby/side project and i'm just very busy with other projects that should be over mid next year.
i'm also revamping the printer. it will be full aluminum and the platen will run with a stepper motor, since the whole friction drive is not ideal. to do that i am tinkering with arduinos and i'm learning a tiny bit of coding. i also built an ikea box pre treatment machine, which ill show in another thread when the time comes.
project will also be renamed and will get proper branding. i just have so much to do and so little time, so no eta.
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buchanae

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Re: DTG build blog
« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2015, 08:49:05 am »

Really cool project and one of the few detailed journals of a DIY DTG project I've found. Thanks for putting in the effort.

I've just sent a message about buying an R2400, so if I get it I'll be making lots of use of the information here, and might request some guidance if you're available.
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sadface

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Re: DTG build blog
« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2015, 09:25:36 am »

hey!

happy to help. make sure to read the conclusions a couple of posts above, to avoid some kinks in your initial design. if you are familiar with a CAD program, go ahead and make plans! i went full freestyle and my machine is kinda ugly :). if i were to start over i would definately make better plans.

regarding the printer: the print heads do break, especially if you want to print white (you will also need special, expensive software for that). i have a spare r2400 sitting here to source for parts and i'm occasionally checking ebay etc for more cheap/broken ones. one is good enough to get you started of course.
dont get too hung up on the r2400. r3000, 1400, r1800, r1900 do look _very_ similar. if you can get a couple of those cheap, those are an option.

also make sure to check out NXT :)
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manast0001

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Re: DTG build blog
« Reply #17 on: March 19, 2016, 07:45:07 pm »

Hi, I  built myself also a DTG printer from an A4 Epson printer and i eventually succeed to overcome the PE sensor issue using a micro controller..  I have a video on youtube: Epson A4 PE sensor emulator for DIY DTG
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sadface

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Re: DTG build blog
« Reply #18 on: March 28, 2016, 03:49:16 pm »

sorry for the late reply, i don't regularly check here anymore.

thats interesting. what is that black and white tape? it looks like an encoder strip? what is it for?

i'm currently building my 2.0 dtg. i intend to emulate the pe signal with an arduino. its on my list, but further down the list of things to solve. my current priority is to get the transmission from dc motor to stepper motor perfect. i have working code that is a possibly too slow, as it is using the accelstepper library. i'm currently reading up on direct port manipulation.
i also dismembered my dtg to built a wooden prototype for my new one.

i intend to publish my code and rough built plans once the prototype is working. this project is likely not going to happen here, so this thread and sub board was moved to the 'old and inactive projects' section at my request. this thread seems quite popular for people from outside this forum, so i will post a link to a blog or a new home when the prototype plans are ready to be published.

i have email notifications on, so if you want to get in touch you need to write a private message. otherwise your questions will go unnoticed.
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OpenDTG

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Re: DTG build blog
« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2016, 05:12:17 pm »

Did you get your DTG 2.0 code figured out?

If not I can help. We've got an opensource arduino diy dtg code posted at OpenDTG.com
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