Separation Mode and Print Quality Diagnostics


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Step by Step...

Separation Diagnostics…

Easy as 4, 2, 1!





Need to Diagnose Print Quality Issues? Try Separation Mode!


I talked with an operator, recently…and he wanted me to help him understand how to diagnose his print quality problems more efficiently.

We started with the concept of “4, 2, 1”

Is the problem in 4 colors? If so, what cylinder(s) and/or print unit(s) handle ALL FOUR COLORS of the print job in the SAME LOCATION:

- PIP cylinder for Series I engines

- Blanket cylinder for Series I and II engines

- Impression cylinder for Series I, II and III engines


Is the problem in 2 colors? If so, what cylinder(s) and/or print unit(s) handle ONLY TWO COLORS per side?

- PIP cylinder for Series II and III engines

- Blanket cylinder for Series III engines


Is the problem in ONLY 1 color? If so, what cylinder(s) and/or print unit(s) handle ONLY ONE COLOR?

- Binary Ink Development Units (BIDs) for Series II and III engines


This brought up SEPARATION MODE!!!

What if you need to look at the output in JUST cyan? Or, magenta, etc.?

Engage Separation Mode, and PRINT! The job will print all colors on single sheets!

You can then diagnose the color(s) causing the problem – very easily!


Note: Separation Mode CANNOT print in duplex mode.

The job must be converted to SIMPLEX MODE before printing.


Step 1a – Open the Bypasses Menu (3XX0/5X00):

1. Find it under “Diagnostics>Bypasses

2. Technician Mode is not necessary for Separation Mode.


Step 1b – Enter the Separation Diagnostics Menu (7X00):

1. Find it under “Main Menu>Problem Handling>Separation Diagnostics

2. Technician Mode is not necessary for Separation Diagnostics.


Step 2a – Engage Separation Mode (3XX0/5X00):

1. Click Separate colors

a. seperate colors.png


Step 2b – Engage Separation Diagnostics (7X00):

1. Click “print each color separation separately:”

a. step 2.png


Step 3 – Analyze the prints – single color issue(s) should be obvious!

1. If the issue is in one of the ink units (BIDs) you will see it clearly on the print of that color!

a. Remove and clean it, or replace it, if necessary! DONE!


Step 4 – What if There’s Still a Problem?

1. If you don’t see any issue with the separations, or the defects “don’t make sense,” and the print job still has a problem, look at the 4,2,1 scenario, again:

a. The issue IS likely in two colors, but the defect and the image data don’t line up, or aren’t’ obvious.

b. Go back to the 4,2,1 option:

i. Scenario 1 – the defect is somewhat easy to see. For example, a GREEN background that covers much of the job has a fairly obvious print defect. YELLOW and CYAN are on the same side of the PIP, so the defect is “doubled.” (ie – it shows up in both colors, and is easy see).

ii. Scenario 2 – the defect is more difficult to see, or even “invisible.” A RED background is made up of YELLOW and MAGENTA, which are on opposite sides of the PIP and BLANKET. The darker color may not have the defect, and may be enough to mask the side that does have the defect.

c. Change the rotation order of the inks (instead of YMCK, print YCMK, or similar). The defect is now on the opposite side of the image data, and the job can print successfully!

d. If this isn’t possible, change the affected consumable.


Step 5 – PRINT!





For more information, please feel free to contact me:

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Tim Stefl

Solution Architect, Northeast - HP Indigo & Highspeed Inkjet, Americas - Hewlett-Packard Company

165 Dascomb Road - Andover, MA USA 01810

Office: 978-304-0829 / Cell: 781-820-4507 /



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