Printing On Wood, With An Inkjet

As a little experiment in desktop printing, because you can make a desk out of wood, [BlueFlower] modified a standard inkjet printer to print on wood. This is not an electronics mod by any means; this is still a printer that’s plugged into a USB port, does all the fancy printer firmware stuff, tells you to refill the yellow ink cartridge when you only want to print black, and all the other things that inkjet printer firmware will do. This is a mechanical mod. By taking apart the belts and rails and mounting them to a new frame, [BlueFlower] was able to open up the printer so a moving bed holding a board could be moved through the mechanics.

While the printer itself looks a little janky, you can’t argue with results. The prints look good, and should hold up well with a bit of finish. There’s a height adjustment for different thicknesses of stock, and if you’re exceptionally clever, you might be able to put a six-foot-long board through this thing. You can check out a video of this direct to wood printer in action below.

18 thoughts on “Printing On Wood, With An Inkjet

  1. “and if you’re exceptionally clever, you might be able to put a six-foot-long board through this thing”

    Most printers will accept double A4 for panoramic prints. That gives you almost two feet of board. Others will allow you to specify arbitrary lengths of paper from a roll as your paper size, and actually come with attachments for such rolls.

    The rest is just modifying the setup to a conveyor type feed for the board, or using longer rails.

    If you don’t want to modify your printer, there’s a way to transfer paper prints from printers that use pigment inks onto wood by coating the wood with PVA glue that hardens clear and then pressing the print onto it while it’s still wet. After curing the glue, you wet the paper and carefully scrub the paper off. Finish with spray-on acrylic or more of the same PVA glue.

    1. There are heat curable inks that can be printed through an inkjet printer. Most commonly modified into a DTG (Direct To Garment) printer are Epson printers.

      To prepare the garment, typically there’s some kind of spray on coating that keeps the ink from bleeding into the fibers and making a blurry mess.

      Print then lay a piece of silicone parchment paper over the print. Use a heat press to cure the ink. The silicone parchment paper may be re-used a few times if no ink transferred to it.

      Commercial DTG printers often have a way to apply the prep coating with the print head so it’s not on areas where no ink is printed. There are some that can lay down an opaque white ink first for printing color onto dark garments.

      ISTR special software and/or modified firmware for some inkjet printers with 4 or more ink tanks to replace the additional colors or blacks with the prep solution and opaque white.

      If you do a lot of DTG printing a CIS (Continuous Ink System) is a good modification toy a DTG modded printer.

      For major sporting events, customized garment companies near the event use DTG. They make up two designs, one for each team being the winner. They hope that by the point when they must start printing to have garments at the venue for sale, the likely winner is a foregone conclusion so they can just print one design.

      If it’s a close game they’ll start printing both designs to hedge their bets, then quit the loser’s design when who is going to win becomes obvious. Obviously that doesn’t work if there’s a tie down to the last seconds.

      Before DTG and before ‘just in time’ screen printing, a garment customizer would have to make up large runs of both designs. The venue or the teams or their organization would have to pay for all the runs of both designs. The cost of the unsellable half of the production run would be recouped by grossly inflating the retail price of the winner’s stuff.

      If a company isn’t using DTG they’ll have two or more automated multistation screen printing machines set up with the two different designs. With criteria similar to how they do with DTG, at some point the have to start one or both machines. If it looks like a real blowout they’ll swap screens on the loser’s machine to produce more of the winner’s design. Then if the would-be loser pulls off a sudden come from behind win – there may be no souvenir shirts for their fans to buy at the venue.

      What happens to all the “Dewey Defeats Truman” garments? They get sold off cheap to companies that resell them in places like rural Africa. Pick any closely contested sporting event in recent history and you may be able to find photos of people on the other side of Earth wearing shirts proclaiming the loser as being the big winner.

  2. So little detail on the actual build, this barely warrants an article imo. Even a couple of paragraphs explaining the basics of the mood would help. Solo much of is like this, teasers with no meat on the bone. I got quite excited about the retro LED displays featured the other day… But no pcb layout, no circuit diagram. If you’re going to share (or feature at least), at least include more than the basics seed of an idea, prerelease.

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