Roland’s Take-Up Unit

Roland has had take-up units [TU] for their machines from the beginning. They were included on SolJets, but were often an expensive upgrade on other models. Many owners did not buy one. Starting with the VGs and now with SG3s, take-up units are now included on non-SolJet models. I often hear people say they have a TU and never use it. I respond, “That is because you were never shown how.” Customers that I show proper take-up procedures say the opposite – “How did I ever do without it?” Here I write in an attempt to educate more on the proper use of Roland’s Take-Up Units.

There are a few versions of the take-up units: TU, TU2, TU3, TU4 and now with the VG3 & SG3 – TU5. They fundamentally work the same with each newer version often adding a feature or two. If you have an older unit you may find it lacking some of the features that follow. As of now, I have not used the newest TU5, but from what I see the biggest difference is an adjustable right side core holder, and panel control – but shouldn’t effect what follows.

I will use the TU4 as the basis for this post. This unit can be distinguished by the STANDARD/TENSION third switch on the left. [The newer unit will only have one manual switch and has control support on the printer.]

Once this unit is plugged into the underside of the printer you will see at the bottom left of the control panel: <ROLL>. This shows the Take-Up [TU] unit is connected. The < & > refer to the left and right buttons on the control panel – and cycles through ROLL-TU-TU2. Be aware that these controls are not available when the media has already been loaded. If your panel screen reads [PRESS ENTER KEY TO SETUP] you will need to lift the pinch rollers so that the [SETUP SHEET] and <ROLL> shows.

Proper setup starts with the roll of media being loaded correctly. The media holder on the back of the printer should be positioned appropriately and use of the thumbscrews to lock the media keeps it from shifting side to side. The proper way of loading media is to pull media from the center to find a natural straight tracking. I often reach through from the front and hold the media on the edge giving some resistance – and pull from the center against that resistance. It may take some adjustment on the back to align the media to the grit rollers. Take your time and get it right. Marking the tubes with a black Sharpie in the back can make setting up different widths easier and repeatable.

In the front, a core is loaded on the TU by loosening the left threaded knob – slide away left core spool – load on the right spool and slide left spool onto core. Hand tight – but not too tight. If you use the TU setting it will guide you through by prefeeding about 34″ of media. The media goes over the “Dancer Bar” and is attached to the cardboard core. As with loading your print media you will pull from the center. In this case start with about 8″ of masking tape attached to the center of your print media and go over the dancer bar and attach to the core.

There are different approaches to attach to the TU core: Attach the media over the top of the core – with the middle setting switch set to REVERSE; Attach under the TU core with the direction set to FORWARD. REVERSE will counter roll the media so that it is print side in. FORWARD will roll print side out. Which way depends on personal preference and how individual laminators thread up.

Once the media is attached to the core – follow onscreen directions which will instruct you to tilt dancer bar forward against the media. Follow the panel screen until the screen shows the setup media width. I find that the media only needs attachment in the middle. Either cut some slants at the corner of the leading edge of the print media or monitor the take-up procedure until the media rolls onto itself and make sure the corners tuck under neatly.

At this point many users will complain about that 34″ of wasted material. If you have a well adjusted roll-to-roll laminator, the prefeed is useful for webbing up the laminator. Most users do not use the laminators this way – and the 34″ is just wasted material. In this case either just [ENTER-ENTER-ENTER] each step of the TU procedure and back up and base point. Print a bit and when it gets long enough attach to the TU core (over the dancer bar.) Stopping the print may case a noticeable line, but often you can do it while printing or the pause is not enough to show in the finished print.

What about TU2? The TU2 setting is for automating PRINT/CUT workflows. It keeps the TU from taking up the media until the job has printed & cut. When the cutting has finished – the media is backed up to the origin/basepoint and trips the dancer bar. Then the TU starts taking up the job. When it is done taking up – it resets origin and begins the next job. I suggest that you use the 34″ waste the first time to watch the procedure in action. After that you can try the [ENTER-ENTER-ENTER] approach. Realize that the procedure requires the proper tilting of the dancer bar to initiate the next job, so you may have to babysit the first job and manually tilt the dancer bar.

TU2 Details & Limitations: The TU2 procedure will print 13″ then the print will hit the floor. If the media hits the floor and pulls back into the machine – it will draw floor dirt back into the printer. The proper use of TU2 is really for jobs that are less than 13″ long. To take the most advantage of the TU2 process users will be well served to read up on CustomCut. This approach will allow the job to be set up as pages width” x 13″ with multiple pages. It is a match made in heaven.

The TENSION Setting: Switch three on the left hand side of the new units has a Tension setting. As far as I have been able to figure out is is used in the same way as the TU setting, but has a bit more aggressive take-up response on the dancer bar. It seems to take up less per switch action and so does more pulling per feed. The idea is that the material has a bit more tension than thee traditional setting. Please email me if you have more insight.

I hope this was a clear write up. If you have questions feel free to reach out to us for more details. We are here for our customers.