By far this is the most often asked question when I am speaking with a customer.
First things first, however. There are three different types of ribbon for your consideration.
By “type of ribbon,” I mean what fabric was used.
Nylon, most probably the least expensive of the three has plusses and minuses.
Nylon takes more abuse but, does not hold as much ink as some others.
Cotton, also not the most expensive holds much more ink for a longer period. However, Cotton pulverizes much easier than Nylon.
Silk, the most expensive of the three holds together longer and is in the middle of the road as far as its ability to retain ink.
“Great, there are three types, which one do I need?”
There are a few different factors to consider.
Your average humidity. The moisture in ink will evaporate much faster in Arizona, than Florida, for example.
“Why do I care about how fast the moisture evaporates?”
The medium for the ink is the moisture. When the ribbon is dry, the quality of the print is diminished. Also, it is my contention that the moisture from the ink assist in lubricating the type section allowing it to wear much slower than pure metal on metal.
As the solenoid under the type section rises to strike the type section, it places the imprint on the document of the date, time and whatever other information you may have on your individual plates.
Each time it does this, it breaks the bonds in the fabric a little, which is the ribbons substrate or media which holds the actual ink.
During the ribbons life cycle, the spooling mechanism rolls the fabric back and forth as it nears the end. Several passes of the ribbon are possibly before the ribbon should be replaced.
I tell customers to make an imprint right after they change the ribbon. Take that example hang it by your machine somewhere.
Much like the brakes on your car, you have no idea that from the get go they are performing less efficiently until one day you hear the ubiquitous squeal from a metal warning indicator telling you to service your brakes. Each day they wear just a little bit more and stop just a little less efficiently.
Your ribbon from day one slowly loses ink, and before you know it, you are not able to clearly see the imprint.
“Why is this a problem, I want to get the most out of the ribbon I can!”
“No, no you don’t. Most of you are scanning or imaging your documents. That means that the original text must be legible. Since most scanners do not get 100% of the original “value” or the image darkness, the original needs to be as dark and definite as possible.” Secondly using a ribbon too long will cause pulverization of the substrate. If you have ever looked inside your Rapidprint or Widmer file date stamper and seen “gunk” in the wheels or plates. That is from ribbon fragments and paper dust bound together with ink as the glue.”
Do not try this at home!
Many of you have attempted to clean this yourself. Once you try this, quickly you will see the error in your way. Using an old toothbrush and alcohol should be an easy task! There is a reason that I do very little service in the field. One customer did this and told me of the experience. I did not mean to laugh but, the walls appeared as though an inkwell blew up. Her clothes, desk and anything within proximity was spotted with ink.
Never mind the mess that this process makes here is the real bugaboo. When cleaning the machine, you take the oils and other chemicals away which lubricate the wheels and mechanism.
I disassemble each machine after cleaning it replacing the worn parts, and then I replace the lubricants.
For these to function properly the tolerances are critical. Some have tried to replace parts by themselves to find they got into more than they bargained for.
If the machine full of gunk is left untreated, the mechanism will wear faster, and the imprint will not be clear but smeared as the letters like “O” will be filled in and appear as a large dot instead of an “o.” The same applies to the numbers 0 or 6 or 8 or 9 and any other letter than has a closed circle of some sort.
Since these machines can cost up to $1000 each, it is a super good idea to have them serviced occasionally.
Changing the ribbon when the print starts to get too light is also a good idea.
At TimeDok we sell and service these machine and have done so since 1995.
If you purchase a dozen or more ribbons from me at one time, I pick up the shipping.
In summary, Silk is the most robust ribbon for those of you who don’t like to change them as often as you should.
Cotton will render the best print image but will pulverize and needs to be changed when the print gets too light.
Nylon is less expensive than Silk and does hold up better than cotton but will not last as long as cotton or silk.
One of the other things I see too often is this. “The spooler is not working!”
Go here and check this out before you send me your machine
The other guys won’t tell you that…
While I actually want your business, I don’t want it under false pretense. Many times the ribbon was installed improperly, and it will not spool if it is.
Follow me on Linked In or check out my website at www.timedok.com.
“Is it feasible to use Timedok for my service as I am not in Texas?”
If you can get UPS to come to your location then yes. I currently have customers in all 50 states and in some of its territories.
Call or write for details. Many times a machine will just show up with no advanced warning from a new customer. That is ok too but, a heads up would be nice so I can get to know you a little and vice versa.