Brother GT-381 GT-361 Maintenance Overview


There are several maintenance procedures that must be performed on a daily, weekly, or prompted basis to help keep your printer performing properly. Some of these procedures are required for the printers with white ink (GT-361, GT-381). High production volume may alter the frequency of some maintenance procedures. This guide will list the maintenance items that must be performed. Please see the individual guide for each specific maintenance procedure for step by step instructions. It is recommended that the humidity level in the work area be kept at a minimum of 45% and not to exceed 85% to avoid nozzle misfires. When any maintenance is performed with the lid open, protective gloves should be worn.


White Ink

The white ink contains titanium dioxide which helps provide vibrancy. This will separate after being stationary for more than eighteen hours. Dull prints will result if the ink is not agitated before use. Remove the white ink cartridges and gently shake them side to side and tip end over end to agitate the ink cartridges for 45 seconds.

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If the printer has not printed with white ink within the last eighteen hours, the Daily White Maintenance must be performed. You must agitate the ink cartridges first.

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If it has printed with white ink within the last eighteen hours, you can perform the White Agitation procedure instead. This will move the ink carriage back and forth to agitate the ink in the head and tubes. Be sure that the ink cartridges have been agitated before printing.

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After performing the daily maintenance on the white ink, a nozzle check print should be performed on the white nozzles (use a transparent sheet), and the CMYK nozzles (use a letter size piece of paper). It is better to learn if nozzles are missing on a test print than on a garment and possibly losing the product. Place the sheet on the right front edge of the platen (closest to the panel) and set the platen height to level "A". You may have to tape the paper edge if the paper is curled.

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If there are several missing nozzles you should perform a head cleaning on the problem head. If only one or two nozzles are missing, those nozzles will likely resume as the printing process flows ink through the head. White heads can print when several nozzles are missing since four white heads print over the same sport with a GT-381 and two white heads print with a GT-361.

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Select Head Cleaning from the main menu and press "OK". Select "Normal leaning" if only several nozzles are missing and "Powerful Cleaning" if multiple nozzles are missing; press "OK". Use the arrow keys to select the color or white head number to be cleaned. Repeat the "Nozzle Check" after the head cleaning to check the cleaning results.

Weekly Maintenance

White ink requires weekly maintenance. The CMYK ink does not require weekly maintenance. If you have a high volume of printing, the maintenance parts exchange may be performed on a weekly basis instead of waiting for prompting by the display. The maintenance parts exchange will be explained later in this document.

The white ink tubes require a weekly cleaning. The LCD Display will prompt you when the tube cleaning should be performed. When this prompt appears, it is not necessary to drop everything and perform the tube cleaning. The prompt will appear seven days after the completion of the previous white tube cleaning. It is recommended that the tube cleaning be performed at the beginning of the week so the white ink can be loaded immediately after the tube cleaning.

Prepare the Maintenance Cartridge and Bottle. Fill the bottle completely with Maintenance Solution. Select the "Maintenance" menu and press "OK". The "White Tube Cleaning" feature will be highlighted; press "OK". Select "All Whites" for usual maintenance. This will activate the retrieval solenoid for four minutes, which allows air into the white ink tubes so the white ink will drain back into the white ink cartridges.

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Once the retrieval solenoid closes after the 240 second countdown, you will be prompted to insert the maintenance cartridge in the W1 ink bay. After doing so, press "OK". You will be prompted to close the "Air Cap" on the front of the Maintenance Cartridge; close the air opening with the cap and press "OK". The panel will display a countdown of 34 seconds. When it is completed, you will be prompted to remove the cap and press "OK" when you have done so; the display countdown will display 640 seconds (although it will take closer to twelve minutes). When the countdown is complete, you will be prompted to insert a "Filter Cartridge" into the W1 ink bay. Remove the Maintenance Cartridge and insert the Filter Cartridge and press "OK"; the display will countdown for 122 seconds. Upon completion, you will be prompted to insert the Maintenance Cartridge into the W1 ink bay. Remove the Filter Cartridge and insert the Maintenance Cartridge; press "OK". You will be prompted to close the Air cap; do so and press "OK"; the countdown will show 94 seconds. Upon completion you will be prompted to perform the same process on W2. Repeat this process for all of your white ink tubes.

The chart below displays the tube cleaning process.

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Once the white tube cleaning has been completed, the white ink should be loaded immediately afterewards. It is not recommended to leave the maintenance solution in the ink tubes and print heads for an extended time.

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Agitate the white ink cartridges before loading the white ink. From the Maintenance menu, select "Load white" and press "OK". Select "All Whites", assuming all tubes were cleaned, and press "OK". When the process is completed perform a white nozzle check test print to verify the nozzles fire. Perform head cleaning as needed to achieve acceptable nozzle firing.

Maintenance Parts Exchange

The prompt to "Exchange Maintenance Parts" will occur after eighty head cleanings (normal, powerful, or auto). Normally after this amount of cleanings, the wiper cartridges will be saturated to the point where the wiper can no longer be cleaned. When this happens, the nozzle plate will not be cleared and the nozzles may be blocked or the firing may be misdirected. When a maintenance kit is supplied in an ink cartridge box, it includes:

  • SB3018001 - Fan filter
  • SB2652001 - Felt for Carriage Rail
  • SB3004001 - Flushing plate sponge
  • SB3005001 - Flushing plate felt
  • SB3168001 - This contains gloves, wiper cleaner cartridge, small bottle of solution, and three swabs.

You can purchase the wiper cassette by itself; the part number is PN SB3101001.

Please contact PAS (Parts, Accessories and Supplies), at 877-850-7179, for all parts.

This kit is included in the 180cc Cyan ink cartridge - no other 180 ink cartridge contains the maintenance kit.

It is included in the two pack of white ink and in the 380cc ink cartridges of Cyan and Magenta inks.

When the prompt appears and you are ready to perform the maintenance, eject the platen and remove the platen from the tray. Press the platen button again so the tray moves into the machine. This will allow access to the underside of the print heads if you have to remove debris from the nozzle plates.

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From the Maintenance menu select "Maintenance Parts Exchange" and press "OK".

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The Plate will have to reset by moving out and then back into the machine. Press OK for this action to occur. The machine will loewr the cap rubbers and move the carriage to the center of the machine. You will be prompted to shut off the machine. Power off the machine, push upward on the center latch and opent he lid. If you need more clearance to the maintenance station area, you can move the carriage farther to the right side of the machine by pushing or pulling the vertical posts on the side of the carriage. Take care to only touch the side brackets of the carriage. The plastic gloves provided with the maintenance parts kit should be worn while performing this process.

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The two wiper cassetts (one for a GT-341), the fan filter, the flushing tray sponge and felt pads, and the carriage felt pads need to be replaced. The Wiper rubber blades and all of the cap rubbers should be cleaned. Please use the plastic gloves provided with the maintenance parts kit whenever you touch any items that are part of the maintenance station parts exchange to help avoid possible injury or skin irritation.

Wiper Cartridge Replacement

The wiper cartridge (cassette), can be removed by pulling outward on the tab to the right side of the cartridge. Lift upward and pull the left tab to release the cartridge. Be certain to wear gloves before touching the wiper cartridges. All machines have two cartridges seated in the White and CMYK positions. Remove one at a time so you have an example for replacement. After removing and inserting a cartridge several times, the replacement process will seem quite easy. Once you are comfortable replacing and inserting the wiper cartridge, remove the cartridge.

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Do not insert the new cartridges until the wipers and caps have been cleaned (instructions following), and the other maintenance parts have been replaced. The new wiper cartridge(s) come in a plastic bag; this will serve as a disposal container for all parts to be discarded.

Flushing Tray Felt/Sponge Replacement

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Lift the Flushing tray from the right side. Notice the left side has two tabs that allow it to hang onto the maintenance station. The tray has to be inserted into the same openings on the side of the maintenance station. The tray has to be inserted into the same openings on the side of the Maintenance Station once the felt and sponge have been replaced. If the tray contains excessive liquid, remove it with a cloth or flush it with water as allowed with community regulation.

Fan Filter

The fan filter collects the mist from the print head spray from the exhaust provided by the fan. The mist of ink is greater when the platen is lowered, thereby creating more space between the print heads and the print surface. The filter is contained in a bracket over the fan. The bracket is removed by reaching into the machine and pulling the release clip outward from the fan assembly.

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When the filter bracket is removed, pull the filter from the bracket and discard it. Insert the new filter with the "Corse" side inserted into the bracket. The air flow should enter the course side.

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Insert the fan bracket by inserting the right edge of the bracket over the two tabs on the front edge of the fan assembly. Push the bracket across the end of the assembly so the bracket latches onto the attachment on the inner edge.

Replace the Carriage Felts

The Carriage contains two brackets on the front edge that hold four felt pads onto Velcro inserts. These pads clean the front rail that the carriage rides upon as it travels during the print process. The carriage assembly has two wheels that ride along the front rail. The pads keep the rail clean to help allow the carriage move unrestricted. These pads should be replaced during the Maintenance Parts Exchange. Remove one bracket at a time so you can look at the other as an example for proper insertion. Remove the black thumbscrew and slide the bracket from the carriage assembly. Peal the old felt pads from the bracket and press the new pads onto the Velcro tape on the bracket. Be sure the pads are set straight on the bracket. Place the bracket back onto the carriage assembly so the pads rest on the front rail; look at the other bracket to confirm the correct alignment.

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Do not press too hard on the brackets and be sure not to overtighten the black thumbscrews. If the brackets are bent or over tightened, the carriage may be restricted from proper movement. If any error does occur (i.e. 6107, 6108), power off and remove the brackets. If the machine operates properly at this point, the brackets were likely bent so they press too hard against the rail and restricted carriage movement.

Clean the Wiper Blades

The wiper blades should be swabbed with a moistened swab (contained in the Maintenance Kit). The wiper cleans the underside of the print heads to allow the nozzles to fire properly. The wiper is cleaned by passing across the wiper cartridge. Once the cartridge is dirty or over saturated, the wiper edge can no longer be cleaned and therefore no longer clean the nozzle plates.
Apply solution to a swab and wipe across the front and backside of the wiper blade. Check the wiper edge for any tears or separation from the metal base. If any exists, the wiper sub-assembly must be replaced.

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Clean the Cap Rubbers

Once the wipers are clean, the cap rubbers must be cleaned with the swabs as well. The rims of the cap rubbers press against the bottom of the print heads, Nozzle Plates, to form a seal so air cannot dry the heads. If the rims of the caps have debris, dried or excessive ink, the ink will back away from the membrane and nozzles will misfire. If this continues over time, the head will dry and eventually become defective. Moisten a swab as done for the wiper blade cleaning, and swab the edges of the cap rubber. Use one side of a swab per cap so you do not contaminate one color to another. If one ink does transfer to another cap, clean each cap thoroughly. You want to avoid having one color ink make contact with the nozzle plate of a different print head. No damage will occur to a head if this happens, but color matching may not be correct on your prints until all ink contamination has been cleared.

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Once all of the caps have been cleaned, insert the new wiper cartridges. The wiper blades should be in the center, between the two sets of cap rubbers. If not, move them by hand so they are extended in the middle. It will be difficult to insert the new wiper cartridges if the wipers are set in the home (back) position.

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Now that all of the parts have been changed or cleaned, close the top cover and power on the printer. The printer will boot up as normal except it will drain each cap, one at a time, before it moves the carriage. Once the machine has completed the boot process you should print a nozzle check on the CMYK nozzles and the White nozzles (if applicable), to verify functionality. Perform head cleanings as needed.

Nozzle Cleaning (swabbing the nozzle plates), is not part of the normal maintenance process and should not be performed unless these usual maintenance steps fail to resolve missing nozzle issues. Please review specific guides for Nozzle Cleaning or consult Brother Technical Support.


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