Saturday, 2 February 2008

Epson 4800 inkjet printer nozzle clogs

A bit of history - before I bought the Epson 4800...

A few years ago I decided that the best way to take better photos and to enjoy it more was to print more. At the time I had a Canon S9000 A3+ printer and I worked out that one reason that I didn’t print very much was the sheer pain of constantly putting in new cartridges (it was a 6 colour printer), as I always seemed to be running out as their capacity was pretty small – of course there was also the cost of it all.


To overcome both problems I bought a continuous ink system (CIS) to use with Lyson dye inks and Monaco EZcolor to create my own profiles cheaply as the Lyson inks were quite different from the Canon ones. The experience was not great – I had constant nozzle clogs due to various forms of back pressure and once spilt a significant amount in ink on my office carpet while trying to sort things out. After six months of trying I decided to get a new printer – not only because of the CIS debacle, but also because some print fade tests I had been running showed that the dye ink prints were fading significantly in 6 months so pigment ink seemed the way to go; I also wanted to print panoramas longer than the Canon permitted.

Having had trouble finding suppliers for the Canon printer and help with sorting out problems with it I decided to play it safe and go with an Epson as most photographers seemed to use them. I looked at the K3 ink set 2400 and 4800 printers – the 2400 would have produced the quality I was looking for, but with even more ink carts than the Canon I was not looking forward to the constant ink cart changes and certainly was not thinking of trying a CIS again. I also hankered after printing even larger than A3+. The 4800 was much more expensive, but produced A2, would work with 17” roll stock and while having 8 ink carts there was an option of 220ml carts (versus the around 13ml for the 2400). Effectively the 4800 came with a CIS built in along with pro quality reliability and engineering. I cleared space in my office to take it by selling two printers (I used to have an Epson 1160 dedicated to B&W printing, but either of the Epsons would happily produce beautiful B&W prints).

In March 2006 I bit the bullet and bought the 4800 and print quality wise I am extremely happy with it. Early on I decided that since most people wanted gloss prints I would not do any printing on matt paper, thus avoiding that frustration of converting between the gloss and matt ink set-up which causes so much lost ink in the changeover.

For some time I happily printed with few nozzle blocks, but they started creeping in. In fact it was usually the whole colour missing rather than just the odd individual nozzle blocking.

Naively I thought that the auto nozzle check option was the way to go, but searching the web soon told me that that would probably make things worse. Since that was my experience I stopped doing them and stuck to using simple nozzle pattern check prints and cleaning cycles – which used up anywhere between 5 and 14ml of ink a time (the nozzle check each time conveniently told me how much it had used each cleaning cycle just to rub some salt into the wounds).

About 6 months ago I learnt that I was not alone – I found the Yahoo Epson 4000/4800 forum and discovered that nozzle clogging was a real problem for quite a few owners. Unfortunately there does not seem to be a simple solution, but printing something every day seemed to be the best bet along with quite a lot of magic. This I have been trying to do; gradually refining my practices but often not being able to print from one week to the next because of the day job.

Recently I have been able to print every day - I have just had 5 days with absolutely no problems - then yesterday I printed a nozzle check first thing (as I have learnt I have do to spot problems early). The dreaded "auto something or other" (which sounds like head cleaning before the print – I have learnt to dread hearing this as it often leads to problems) happened and sure enough a couple of colour blocks were missing. I did a head clean - another block went missing. I then did another one with no improvement. I then printed a test chart as recommended rather than just do another clean, another clean which did nothing and then ran out of time to do the job I needed to.

I have tried practically everything I can, most of the ideas gleaned from the Yahoo Epson 4000/4800 forum. I have tried Harvey Head Cleaner, but for some reason it will not work on my system (Windows XP SP2) and MIS autoprint, but it only prints seven colour blocks and required me to change the way I set up my computer. I put a wet sponge inside the lid when not in use to try to keep the humidity up (some people think dry air causes the problem although my house is not particularly dry, I live in central
England not Arizona). Despite all this and several days without a problem I routinely wake up the next day and it has stopped working again. The culprit often, but not always, seems to be the "auto something or other" that happens routinely whether I want it to or not.

I have used the puddle method with distilled water or fixyourownprinter fluid when it gets bad, but I can't see why I should need it in normal circumstances. I also regularly swab the wiper blade to clear off ink build ups.

The only thing I can think of is that some of the cartridges are getting quite low (but the printer is not flagging them as low yet) and it tends to be these nozzles that are prone to stop working. I regularly take them out and shake them, but cannot see what else I can to other than to throw them away with lots unused ink in them, which would be an expensive hobby.

As far as I can see I am dong everything I can to keep my printer healthy and am getting really fed up with it – so I decided to start this blog to share my experiences.

Read more...

5 comments:

Stephen said...

Hello,
I was just browsing around and noticed you say Harvey Head Cleaner was never able to work for you. I work for Orange Marley (the company who makes Harvey) and would like to help you get Harvey up and running. I'm unsure what we may have tried in the past, but the software has been through quite a few revisions and I'm willing to bet we can get it running. Feel free to contact me at srepsold (at) gmail.com (no spaces). Thanks!

Churchill Photographer said...

Stephen

Thanks - I have tired Harvey Head Cleaner again and it seems to work OK now.

Thanks for the update.

Amelia Davis said...

Woah! I’m really loving the stuff of this blog. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s challenging to get that “perfect balance” between user friendliness and visual appearance. I must say you have done a amazing job with this. Excellent Blog!

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Amelia Davis said...

Really inspiring stuff!!! This post is fantastic, and equally fantastic is this conversation thread. This information regarding printers and different category of printers & its machinary is so inspiring! Awesome Work. Keep it Up!

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Amelia Davis said...

Really inspiring stuff!!! This post is fantastic, and equally fantastic is this conversation thread. This information regarding printers and different category of printers & its machinary is so inspiring! Awesome Work. Keep it Up!

photo printing | photo printer | heat press | heat press machine | heat transfer machine | tshirt transfer | mug printing | tshirt printing | photo paper | uv ink | sublimation | dye inks | pigment inks | dye base ink | pigmented ink | ink refill | refilling | sublimation ink manufacturer | sublimation ink supplier | pigment ink supplier | compatible cartridge | buy ink | buy cartridge | canvas printing .