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  • 3101 - NCE mode print changes every day

    We picked up a used 3101 from a lab that closed down the street. The move went well but it was a very bumpy ride getting it to its current location.

    We have had a few different Arc net errors, but I think those are behind us. The machine works, but has had some quirky things come up.

    We do some prints with fine text on them so I have been making NCE mode test prints every day and they are all over the place - one day they will be perfect, the next the gray blocks will be really yellow, then a day later they might be red.

    If I re-initialize the paper type it usually snaps back to being pretty good, and that might last a day or two before it wanders off again.

    Different width papers of the same paper type are totally different (NCE mode test prints).

    I have had a 32 pro for 10+ years, there is no NCE mode on it, it is called black balance I believe. Either way, I think they are both fine adjustments on the laser position - is that right?

    Is there any known thing that would cause the NCE test prints to shift day to day? I can't imagine this is normal. The laser was refurbed a couple years ago. I have also put in a couple new AOM drivers (silver box) and swapped them around.

    It almost seems memory related; thus it is ok the day it gets re-initialized, but then after shutdown its like it looses its place and the next day it could be any where, and changes again the next day.

    For all NCE tests so far I have no correction in there - they are all zeroes.

    I've also reseated a bunch of boards on the back of the scanner, maybe something rattled loose when we moved it?

    Any ideas?

  • #2
    The NCE prints will vary depending upon the condition of emulsion print balance. So ideally do the emulsion change first before balancing the NCE print.
    There are so many things that will make the prints change, chemistry variations due to not replenishing properly, AOM's, Laser unit itself (not all repairers use quality parts which can cause fluctuation), poor condition of the calibration plate, Colorimeter unit, etc.
    Are the AOM's you changed known good ones? You may need to do initial setup again after changing them.

    I would also check the laser alignment in Extension → Maintenance → Various Adjustment → Printer Mechanical Adjustment → Exposure Position Adjustment
    You may need to increase the Exposure Output Setting values if any of the lines are too faint to see.

    The NCE mode basically lightens the exposure of the dark areas to stop bleed, it's always a compromise between good black lettering on a white background verses good white lettering on a black background.

    I find a good starting point for the NCE balance is -110 -110 -110 this tends to be good enough.


    • #3
      We do an emulsion balance before printing the NCE mode each time. I don't think it is chemical/calibration plate or colorimeter issue since it is every day and the emulsion changes are good/look good.

      I did check the laser alignment at the beginning, will try it again. I did have to increase the output as only cyan showed up.

      That is a huge correction! would not have thought that would be a good idea but I'll try it and see what happens.

      Would you expect that on a fresh re-initialization on a paper type that the NCE test print from multiple different widths of the same paper type would look the same? I would think that they would look the same. Assuming 0 0 0 corrections on them all.

      Great info, thank you.


      • #4
        Providing the paper types are identical, I would expect the NCE prints to match across different paper widths. They do seem to vary a bit between gloss and matt finishes.
        Check that there are no correction values in the paper setup for each magazine (Menu → Extension → Setup → Paper Setup) as this will cause balance differences.
        Also check that there are no balance corrections in the print channels.

        Try the correction and see if it works for you! This was on Kodak paper, so may be different for Fuji etc.

        When you do a weekly setup what does the graph look like? (A screen shot of it would be best)
        Also what are the last 18step value readings when you do an emulsion/ Daily setup?


        • #5
          No corrections in the NCE mode, and the corrections in the main paper setup match. between widths Prints from different width of the same type are not the same but closer than they were before swapping AOMs.

          Last step of a condition print is 210 214 204 on Fuji CA luster.

          Weekly is off to the right at the bottom but within spec I think.

          We replaced a red AOM driver a few days ago which made a huge difference on the emulsion test - very red - so we re-initialized and since then the fluctuation has not been very much - before it would be way off by the 3rd day. So far it seems like it is holding.

          Another weird thing is it asks for a weekly setup every day - Wednesday is the day it is supposed to do it and I did one tues - wed and thurs this week so far. I'm sure I skipped a few for a while but weird that it asks every day. To me this is sort of fishy along with the NCE changing every day - just seems like it looses some memory every day.

          Still hoping the red aom was the problem, will post more in a few days based on what the nce prints do.



          • #6
            The weekly setup graph and last 18 step values look good.

            Most colour shifting problems are related to the AOM drivers, it's just you will probably notice more on the NCE test print because the content of the print is designed to make colour changes show up more.

            The 24G type AOM driver is the most problematic with regard to colour shifting.
            24K & 24L seem to be the most stable throughout their life.

            I think there will always be a slight variation between different sizes as the paper emulsions are not identical, as they will always be from different batches.
            The machine only does a grey scale test which 99% of the time is good enough.
            To make them match identically it would need to read a series of colour patches to get the individual colour response for that paper. This would be too time consuming to do for every paper size!

            With regard to the weekly setup asking every day, do you have more than one paper type setup? Because it will want to do a weekly setup for each paper type that is set up.
            Is the date and time staying correct? If not change CMOS battery on PC motherboard.

            One thing that people tend to do is an emulsion change on the setup paper when they should be doing a daily setup!
            The only time you do an emulsion change on the setup paper is if you get a different batch of paper, no other time!

            The machine can change colour throughout the day as the machine gets hotter etc,
            there is no harm in doing more than one daily setup during the day.

            The classic mistake people make is that see a colour cast on say the 5" Matt paper (as they happen to be printing B/W prints) they then do an emulsion change on the 5" Matt.
            They assumed the 5" Matt paper was the issue, when actually all the papers had a cast because the daily setup needed doing, not the emulsion change.
            If you do an emulsion change when the daily setup is out of balance, the emulsion change of that paper will shift to the opposite colour as soon as you do the daily setup.
            Lots of tail chasing ensues!

            My advice is if you haven't done a daily setup for a few hours, do one before doing an emulsion change, this will keep things much more stable.
            It's much easier than doing a paper emulsion change for every paper!


            • #7
              `do you have more than one paper type setup?`

              omg I am an idiot. Yes, but we are not using it, totally forgot about that.

              Date is fine.

              and yes, we are your classic case we do loads of emulsion changes cause we don't trust the daily setup. Never thought to do a daily in the middle of the day to see if it fixes another paper width. I may try that - but as a sort of pro lab it is more re-assuring to do the emulsion changes and know that particular paper is dialed in regardless of what has happened through out the day.

              I'll have to see if I can tell what type of AOM they are, some are aluminum and the latest ones we have gotten are steel - we get them from Kanuo on ebay.

              The NCE print was still pretty good on friday, most stable it has been, I may try to start correcting it now - as it is I have just left it at 0-0-0 just to track what it does.

              Thank you so much, amazing info and I have been doing this a long time.


              • #8
                No worries, it's easy to forget about a paper type setup that you no longer use. Just delete it if you no longer use it, set the magazine to ### and the paper type to Not in use.

                I seem to remember seeing a Noritsu TI that said the new steel type AOM's were not suitable for the QSS-3101, I can't remember exactly why, but it's something to bear in mind if you are still getting issues.

                What I suggest you try for next few days is to always do a daily setup before doing an emulsion change. After doing that for following days just do daily setup's, I think you will find the machine will be much more stable doing things this way.

                Just do an emulsion change when you get a different batch of paper.


                • #9
                  interesting about the steel aoms. I'll watch out for that. I think all of the ones in the 3101 are steel now.

                  We are doing daily setup each day, we just do emulsion changes on the other widths. I may rethink that but for some reason in production I think it gets flaky if you don't balance them all the time.


                  • #10
                    update on this, we seem to have narrowed it down to the way it reads/corrects daily setups and emulsion changes.

                    Everyday we do a daily setup on 10" and then do an nce test print. No corrections in the nce table usually, we are just doing this to get a feel for what is happening.

                    We then do emulsion changes on the other papers and do nce prints on them too. The different papers' nce prints all shift differently.

                    After a full re-initialization the nce test prints are almost always good. After a few days they start to go bad. Every few days it seems to come back to normal for a day or two and then drifts off again.

                    One day the daily setup said there was a greater than 3 point correction needed. We said ok, and then the nce print was really bad. We redid the daily setup and emulsion changes and eventually the nce print is perfect (with no nce correction).

                    It doesn't seem to like the last few bars on the setup print - the black ones, the readings seem to be spreading, so that the red one is usually 20 points lower than the green one. You can't visually see this - it looks black. We read it on a densitometer and got more or less the same thing. All of the other shades of gray are totally neutral, only the last couple dark ones start to spread out.

                    So it seems like when it reads this it tries to fix it but can't and whatever correction it makes is too drastic for the nce print. Lately if the first nce print is bad we have been re-balancing and after the second balance the nce print is usually good - all with no correctin in the nce table. This goes on to happen on every paper width - yeah, stop doing the emulsion changes unless the emulsion changed - I get that, but for the moment I like doing this as it is helping to point out what the actual problem is.

                    Any ideas what would result in a low value in only the red values and only in the darkest patches? I may swap aoms and see if that shifts it. I did remove all the aluminum aoms and went back to the old steel ones. I'd like to get some new steel ones but haven't seen them - seems like all the new ones are aluminum.

                    I feel like we are getting there, and it is a lot better to be able to reproduce what is happening to an extent and eventually be able to get it to balance better.


                    • #11
                      From your description I would be running daily paper control strips to check the chemistry is staying online.
                      Have you checked the replenisher pumps are outputting correctly?
                      Are the rep rates correct?

                      You need to eliminate a chemistry issue before anything doing anything else.