I'll answer each of these in the order you posted them. Forgive me if this is a long post as I am somewhat familiar with the machine and tend to be detailed. LOL
1. In this area things have changed since I have been around the machine. When the machine first came out in 1994, there were very few ink manufacturers who provided inks that work on the machine. Since then nearly every company makes an ink for the QMDI. In my experience no one ink covered everyjob, although you do want to choose an ink that will cover at least 90% of them. In the case of the Saphira brand inks we have tested them on the QMDI and found that one to work the best. While my opinion may be biased I can tell you I have watched many a sheet go through our equipment testing different ink and coating combinations here in our Print Media Center.
2. Build rich blacks when ever you can. Black on it's own does not print well on the QMDI in the case of large solids. This is due to the size of the ink train as well as the characteristics as to how the ink is applied to the blanket in the case of the QMDI. Keep in mind that the ink is pulled out of a thermally etched well in the plate. It is not on top of the plate as you would find in the case of a conventional plate. As a result the ink splitting is somewhat different, causing a mottled effect when printing a solid on the QMDI or any machine of its type. This is what causes not only black to look not as smooth in a large solid but the other colors also.
3. Two factors cause the plate to collect ink in the non-image areas of a QMDI. Too much pressure from the blankets being over packed or paper dust and excess powder. The reason it is commonly seen on the first unit is because this is where your paper starts to bring contaminants in contact with the 1st blanket. Make sure you cut your paper with a sharp knife and if you are running paper through for a second pass make sure you run the powder as low as possible on the first pass.
4. It is recommend to periodically stir the powder in the jar. This is not unusual to happen in any powder system in which no agitators or vibrators are used. It has nothing to do with moisture, but to do with low frequency vibration caused by the press during a run. It packs the powder over time. Stir it in between press loads is the typical recomendation.
5. You can leave the ink in the fountain over night if the ink is the type to do so. Always close the keys when doing so. Personally, I prefer to clean the fountains every night and clean under the ink keys thoroughly to prevent build up on the protective underfoil.
6. Always scrap the ink, putting it back in the cans only opens you up for trash to stick to the plates.
7. I recommend to clean the blanket washers once per week under an 8 hour per day operating environment. This does not mean dumping out the fluid adding a new felt with fluid then sticking it in the press. I mean a full, tear the entire blanket washer down, clean every component including the tray until there is not a spec of ink left in it. If you do this they will work just fine.
8. Alcohol is the best means to wipe down a plate when pre-cleaning large solids before allowing the auto plate washer to come on.
9. Your morning maintenance is correct along with topping off the blanket washers and predampening the plate wash felts before your first burn in the morning.
10. I agree with all of your maintenance list.
11. I run the press at the fastest speed it is capable of producing work at. Typically this is in the 8,500 iph to 9,000 iph range. The machine was designed to run at 10,000.
12. On the first pass 40,000 impressions is not unusual provided the blankets are packed properly. On the second pass the 1st unit will generally start to show signs of wear around 20,000 impression depending on the amount of powder you ran on the 1st pass.
13. There are tons of them. Look through this forum from beginning to end and you don't find anything you are looking for post a question such as the only you already have.
Good luck with your machine!
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