Getting the best from your printer and keeping it in good working order

Epson Printers print-head clogging and other issues

We post this thread with the only objective of helping those experiencing problems with their Epson printers and dry ink / clogging issues (which I'm sure are many). Some customers are very very careful with Epson heads as far as doing as much as they can in trying to prevent ink from drying but still there comes problems.

Let me warn you by saying that there seem to be as many "theories" about the best method to clean heads as there are printer owners so I basically will mention or describe those which seem to be the most used and or that have actually worked for me.

Do's to prevent clogged print heads / dry ink: (in order of relevance)

1.- print as often as possible avoiding numerous days of idle time. Print both color with gloss optimizer on and also off and photo quality to use PK black. Print also text in black to use the MK black ink (or you can also use a matte finish profile)

2.- If you have nothing to print download color profile targets or similar patterns to make sure ALL colors are used during "preventive" printing. If you print photos everyday or every other day you may not need to purge the system using color target patterns.

3.- When turning OFF the printer (try to do this every night) use the ON/OFF button on the printer instead of let's say a power strip on/off switch. Turning your printer OFF from its power button allows for each ink line to be properly pressurized while also sealing the print heads against the resting pads (allowing them to stay moist).

If you detect the quality of your prints decreasing....

from the printer Utility program you have two ways of cleaning nozzles,

AUTO mode.. DO NOT EVER USE THIS METHOD AS IT WILL WASTE LITERALLY THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN INK AND MOST LIKELY WILL MAKE THE PROBLEM WORSE !!

RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO USE THIS METHOD.

The other method is using the Nozzle check which will print a pattern for each color and then, if you see they are not correct (one or several colors) will give you a chance to run a cleaning cycle. If that's the case then run 1 cleaning cycle and print the nozzle pattern again.

You should try this process NO MORE than 3 times. DO NOT CLICK ON THE FINISH button until either you have done the cycle 3 times or the heads are clean, whichever occurs first. It seems this cleaning cycle "gets more powerful" each time you run through it AS LONG AS you have NOT opted to click on the FINISH button.

After 30 minutes to 1 hour, print color patterns and see if there is any improvement if not.... is time to do some other type of cleaning (or waste thousands of dollars using the printer's Utility program)

Best chemical solution that worked for me:
85% distilled water
10% Isopropyl alcohol
5% ammonia

First, press the INK button on the printer so as to position the cartridges' carriage in the 'replacement or service" position. UNPLUG the printer directly from the back or from the power outlet to turn it off. Now you should be able to move the cartridge carriage freely.

Place a paper towel along the foam pad .... basically in that space that exists between the printer and the ink carriage . You will have to fold the paper towel thin in order to allow the carriage to slide above it without touching it (otherwise it will drag the towel against the side of the printer when you move the cartridge carriage)

Pull either the individual color cartridge that is giving you a problem off the carriage as if you were going to replace it (or if you have a CIS you will need to pull all of them at once since all the cartridges are interconnected).

Once you pull off the cartridge you will be able to see the specific COLOR print head port at the base of the cartridge carriage (you will see some ink at the very tip of the printhead port).
SLIDE THE CARTRIDGE CARRIAGE MECHANISM UNTIL IS ABOVE THE PAPER TOWEL

Then get a 5 ml or 10ml plastic syringe and procure some plastic tubing (I found out that the standard size used for model airplane fuel lines works perfect... you need about 4" to 5" pieces ..preferably one per color you are trying to clean to avoid cross contamination).

Connect the tubing to the tip of the syringe (No needle) and fill up the syringe with the cleaning solution described above (about 1ml to 2ml). Press the syringe plunger until the tubing gets full of fluid but does not drip off (create back pressure by "pulling back the syringe plunger) this will minimize injecting air into the color port.

Connect the free end of the tubing to the color port you are working on making sure the tubing is tight and sealed around the port (make sure you slide the tubing down until is all the way to the bottom of the port).
SLOWLY inject the solution through the port ... all of it....

In order to make sure ALL the fluid is has gone through and that none will spill when pulling the hose off the color nozzle I disconnected the syringe, filled it up with air and reconnected. Then I pressed the plunger down while watching all the fluid going through BUT stopping before injecting air. Have a Q-tip ready to clean up just in case some fluid spills when pulling back the tubing off the port.

FOR THOSE USING A CIS:
TRY TO MAKE THE ABOVE EXPLAINED PROCESS A QUICK ONE SINCE THE OPEN PORTS MAY TEND TO DRY QUICKLY .. IF YOU WANT TO PREVENT THIS FROM HAPPENING YOU MAY CHOOSE TO PUT A DROP OR TWO OF THE CLEANING SOLUTION ON EACH OF THE PORTS YOU ARE NOT GOING TO BE WORKING ON BY USING THE SYRINGE PLUS A NEEDLE.

Once the cleaning process is complete, put all the cartridges back in place. Move the cartridge carriage to its "rest" position) all the way to the right. Remove the paper towel. Re-connect the printer (plug in).



How To Prevent UV Curing From Damaging Print Heads

When it comes to UV inkjet printing, reflective, transparent or glossy substrates do not always ‘play nice’. These substrates can be anything from glass and crystal to simply any type of shiny media that causes UV light to bounce back into the print heads. The problem with UV light reflecting back into the print head is that it results in curing the inks within the nozzles and on the nozzle plate itself. This can cause serious (and costly) damage to the print head and therefore shorten the life of the head unnecessarily.

The following are some tips on how to prevent UV curing from damaging print heads:

1. Eliminate the use of refractive materials when manufacturing fixtures or printer jigs. When designing a fixture, be sure it is a dark matte finish material, and covers any negative space between parts to block UV light from bouncing back to the print heads.

2. Consider the angle and intensity of the UV lamps. You should always use the lowest amount of UV possible to gain full cure for your application. If your machine was not supplied with UV light shims, contact the technical service department to inquire about this feature.

3. Always print onto substrates that are ‘flat’ or parallel to the head array, and be sure the platen gap is no larger than 1.5mm. If you happen to be printing on a mirrored substrate that is flexible, be sure to attach it to a flat material first.

4. Be proactive and check the health of your nozzles frequently. Perform an auto cleaning every other platen and to ensure that all nozzles are working, run nozzle checks every hour of production. If you notice that ink is curing either in the nozzles or on the face plate, flush the affected head with maintenance fluid.

5. Always perform ink nozzle checks at the end of a shift. If any nozzles are missing, clean your print heads before powering down the printer.

Prematurely damaged print heads (due to UV light refraction and reflection) are expensive and unnecessary. Follow the tips above to avoid this issue and ensure proper care and functionality of your inkjet printer.

let the printer re-set itself and run one or two Nozzle check / cleaning cycle as explained in the beginning....

Well done, problem solved.



Getting the best from your printer and keeping it in good working order

We often get asked; ‘Why has my printer stopped printing, I barely even use it’ the answer to that is in the question itself. A printer that is barely used or not used very often will at some point block up and stop printing.

An inkjet printer uses liquid ink to print, when it is left unused for a period of time the ink in the cartridges and the printing head will dry and begin to block. The dried ink will block the printing head or jets and thus stop the printer from printing correctly.

Using a printer little and often is the best way to help prevent this. Her at Ink Express we spend all day working with printers whether it is printing our orders, testing new cartridges, repairing printers or generally tatting around with them.

We find that a printer that is regularly used performs at its best, in our experience we recommend using your printer to print at least once every two weeks. Print something, print anything… that small amount of ink you use will no doubt be a lot less than the ink you would waste cleaning the printing heads trying to unclog your printer.

Doing a small full colour print every two weeks will keep the printing head moist and the jets free from clogged or dried ink. Printing a nozzle check pattern or a test print will also suffice as this will fire all the printing nozzles and ensure they stay in good working order.

Our top tips for keeping your printer working well are-

1)      Try to print something in full colour once every two weeks; printing something in colour will ensure the printing heads stay clean and free of blockages.

2)      Turn your printer off and turn it on once a week, turning it on will cause to perform a small clean on start up this keeps the printing heads moist and clear of blockages.

3)      Perform a nozzle check pattern before starting a large print run, that way you can check the printer is working well before starting a print run and potentially wasting paper.

My printer is blocked and will not print correctly what should I do?

If your printer is already blocked and the printing heads are not working correctly all is not lost. Different printers have different printing heads and cartridges. Epson and Canon tend to have a separate printing head, the cartridges are merely tanks that hold the ink and the printer head is kept within the printer.

If you have a Canon or Epson printer which is blocked our Nozzle Rocket cleaning solution will in most cases fix the issue. Our Nozzle Rocket cleaning agent will break down the dried ink, leave to soak for 12 hours and fit a new ink cartridge set and you should be back printing in no time.

If you have a Hewlett Packard printer in most cases the printing head is in-built on the cartridge. So if you purchase a new ink cartridge in turn you get a new printing head and so the printer should return to full working order.

Another option to try with a Hewlett Packard printer is to soak the printing head on the bottom of the cartridge in hot water, filtered or de-ionised water is best for this, just boil in the kettle allow to cool a little before putting in a shallow dish with the cartridge. Allow to soak for an hour before removing and thoroughly drying the ink cartridge.