Thursday, 26 June 2008

Is humidity the key to avoiding nozzle clogging on my Epson 4800?

Recent experience has told me that 40% humidity is the bottom end of acceptable to keep my 4800 running relatively nozzle clog free - I try to keep my 4800 at 50%, along with a routine of printing a little often - see this posting for details.

I recently had to go away without leaving the computer on for 10 days so I could not use my normal regimen – so what happened?

Because I could not follow my tried and almost trusted regimen of printing a little often along with keeping the humidity at around 50% I had to come up with an alternative to try to keep my printer clog free.

I puddle soaked the print head to make sure that the print head in its capping station was humid/wet; I added a pot of water inside the printer cover to the usual wet sponge in the paper tray and really wrapped up the printer in its cover, including wrapping it under the paper tray, and turned off the printer.

When I came back the humidity inside the machine was reading 72% (according to the max/min function on the weather station I use, 73% was the maximum that it reached in the 10 days I was away), with 73% in the paper tray - the room reading was around 50%.

When I turned on the printer it ran an auto cleaning cycle (I have called this an "auto something or other" before, but this time I watched the print head move around and the following nozzle check showed that it had used 9.6ml of ink since I turned it off, so I am pretty certain that it is auto cleaning, despite this function being turned off via the LCD panel...). This would normally cause a whole ink channel or two, or three, or four… to drop out, but the following nozzle check was perfect and I then ran a batch of 30 A4 prints without a hitch.

During this the fan inside the printer reduced the humidity to 43% so I put the water pot back inside the print cover to raise the humidity to 50% again as quickly as possible... leaving myself a note to remind me to take the pot out before turning on my computer or Harvey Head Cleaner would initiate a nozzle check automatically with nasty and expensive results.

Strangely the printer also ran an auto clean before the auto nozzle check first thing the following morning – why? The printer had been recently used the nozzle check was perfect etc. Luckily the following nozzle check was also perfect.

Anyone who has looked at the rest of my blog postings will see that I have had lots of problems with nozzle clogging on my 4800 and this episode just makes me think even more that humidity is the key, along with a really all enveloping cover and printing a little and often.


Tshirt Man said...

We are using our 4800 with special ink supplied by the manufacturer of our art application. It runs like molasses and clogs frequently. We are thinking of enclosing the printer in a plexiglass case with room on the side for a humidity tray. A rubber seal will allow cables to keep the seal respectable. A specially placed vent can draw air from inside or out. Any comments or ideas?

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