Many printmakers that don’t know the printhead is a consumable part may confuse the signs of a failed printhead with standard ink clogs. Ron Ardito, New York City Epson technician, joins the show to clarify the differences between these two commonly confused issues. He also offers up a few small recommendations for lower-volume printmakers.
- Confusing a clog with printhead failure
- Recommending a printer for low-volume photographer.
- Out of black ink but status monitor says it’s half full – where did it go?
- The Epson 3880 selector unit
- Why you should turn auto nozzle checks off
- Much more!
Listen in to learn about ink clogs and printhead failure
- For more on Ron Ardito, check out his website.
- Listeners featured in this episode include Paul, Leland, Craig from CraigStocksArts.com, Larry, and John.
- We’ve packaged the links to all of Ron’s appearances on the show into a single PDF! Get it by texting “ARDITO” to 33444.
- Love the show? Have some feedback for us? Leave us a review on iTunes.
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Announcer 1: You are listening to the AskBC podcast – your printmaking questions, answered by the experts!
Justin: Hey guys, this is your host Justin, welcome to episode 25 of the AskBC podcast! Ron Ardito joins us again from Arditos.com answering some Epson printer-related questions. Today we’re gonna talk about ink clogging on an Epson 9900, printer recommendations for the low-volume user, and Epson’s auto-head cleaning option.
Announcer 2: Paul asks, “The head on my lightly used Epson 9900 irreversibly clogged. I travel frequently for two weeks at a time, so it’s impossible to run ink through it regularly. My options are to spend a ton of money to replace the head, or to replace the printer itself. My concern is that any large format printer will clog without regular use. Any suggestions?”
Ron: Well, I would need to know two things – the age of the machine, the printheads in these machines run less than about three years. I don’t know what kind of usage he’s put it through. The fact that he’s letting it sit two weeks, three weeks, on the 79 and the 99, isn’t really a factor.
He thinks the heads clogged – it’s not. What’s happened is it’s failed internally.
Justin: Right. So it’s probably an age thing instead of a use thing.
Ron: Yeah, because what happens is once you ink the head – whatever’s going wrong in there is going to go wrong with you using it or not using it.
I don’t know if there’s delamination occurring in there, but there’s some kind of interaction with the ink itself and the adhesives, Again this is my guess – the adhesives they use to hold it all together in the print head.
Justin: That’s interesting, I mean that seems like just a global misconception then, you know, the whole “ink clogging” versus like a print head actually failing.
Because you hear everybody talk about, “My Epson x900 is clogged.” Blah blah blah.
Ron: Now heads do clog. Heads will clog. But when you’re at the level of the 99 and the 79, this particular head – that’s not the issue.
Justin: Gotcha. That’s interesting.
Announcer 2: Leland asks, “I work for the Chilton Times Newspaper as a special assignment photographer. Without getting into the expensive high-end business printers, what would you recommend for a printer? At present, I have the Epson Artisan 725 and I’m due for a replacement. I use this along with another brand for more or less very good proof photos.”
Ron: 3880, 3880, 3880.
Justin: 3880’s the smaller one, yeah. I hear that one a lot. It’s just a workhorse.
Ron: Yeah it’s a great machine, you know, I have them in an application out in the real world where they use them, you know, over use them, and the machines hold up.
Justin: Yeah, it seems like a lot of photographers use it, and maybe people that aren’t printing to it every day, and I rarely hear problems with it failing, any print head failure, clogging.
Ron: Yeah they’re good. The only issues we’ve had with 3880s is the ink supply…the damper unit or the selector – whatever you want to call it – that allows the machine to switch from photo to matte that plugs into the printhead. They do fail, and what the result is you end up with black ink all of your page and your cartridges empty themselves out by themselves.
Justin: Right, yeah, I think we’ve talked about that in an earlier episode. That’s just a nightmare.
Ron: So I would recommend he bought a 3880.
Justin: What about the new P800? Have you seen much about that?
Ron: I do not know anything about it at this point.
Announcer 2: Craig with CraigStocksArts.com asks, “I have an Epson 3880 that keeps running out of photo black ink, even though the ink monitor shows there should be more than one half to three-quarter of ink remaining. When removing the ink cartridge, it’s obviously empty. After replacing the PK ink a couple of times, I switched to MK and don’t seem to have the problem at all with that other than the obvious printing capabilities I haven’t found any evidence of leaking ink in or around the printer. What do you suggest?”
Ron: That’s the selector unit. Tell him to stop putting ink in it, because what happens is once that selector goes bad, the valve is now stuck in the open position for either matte black or photo black, wherever he had it set, you know?
And as soon as the system pressurizes, because that’s an ink-pressurized system, the pressure forces the ink out of the cartridge into the pump unit, into the waste tank.
And even though the cartridge is gonna say it’s full – the chip thinks it’s full, but in reality it’s empty.
Justin: Right, so the selector unit…selector? That’s what you called it?
Ron: Yep, selector unit.
Justin: The end of this guy’s question says he hasn’t found any evidence of leaking around the printer, though?
Ron: He won’t, he won’t. It’s going right through the pump unit into the maintenance tank.
Justin: Are those user-serviceable on the 3880?
Ron: Yeah, yeah it just pulls out the front.
Justin: Oh okay, gotcha. So he’s probably replacing that thing quite often.
Ron: He probably doesn’t realize it, again, because the chip is not going to read the fact that it has extra ink cartridges in it.
Justin: Ah right, so that thing just starts overflowing at some point.
Ron: It might, yeah. You’ve got to be careful.
Justin: Interesting, okay. Well that’s pretty funny that that question came up right after talking about that.
Announcer 2: Larry asks, “On my Epson Pro 7890, I’ve been running a nozzle check before printing. Several times now this nozzle check has shown a perfect pattern with no lines missing, yet when I go to print, the auto nozzle check triggers a cleaning cycle. Is the auto nozzle check more sensitive than the printed one? And does it make sense to forgo the printed nozzle check, and just let the automatic one manage things?”
Ron: Turn off all automatic nozzle checks. Turn off the auto nozzle check -that’s what he’s got to do. He has it on, and you have like three choices: off, on, sometimes, basically, and you want it off entirely, because you want to be the one that determines if the machine needs a nozzle cleaning.
Justin: Right, use your eyes.
Ron: Because if you let the machine do it, it’ll do it up to five times before it fails if it does fail. Not only have you wasted a lot of time, you’ve wasted ink.
Justin: A lot of ink.
Justin: Okay. Turn it off, do a nozzle check, if everything looks fine, go ahead. If everything doesn’t look fine. Clean it. Simple.
Announcer 2: John asks, “I have a three year old Epson Stylus Pro 4900 that I used most days. Short of having the $2,000 rebuild, in which case I might as well buy a new one, what techniques do you have to clean chronically clogged heads. I have spent thousands on inks trying to keep them clean.”
Ron: There are none.
Justin: There are none. This is probably one of those things we talked about before where it’s probably an internal failure of the printhead, I assume?
Ron: That is correct.
Justin: Three year old, that’s just about right for failure.
Ron: Yep, exactly.
Justin: Got it. See? I learned! I learn things!
Ron: [laughs] Yeah, you’re learning!
Justin: Alright guys, that’s all the questions for today’s episode, and that wraps up episode 25 of the AskBC podcast.
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