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Author Topic: Controlling ink consumption ... 79/9900 printers  (Read 4565 times)
Wayne Fox
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« on: June 17, 2009, 04:00:07 PM »
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Sorry for the long post ... sort of a summar of my experiences.  If you want to get to the main point of my post, you can skip down to the bold subtitle.

There have been quite a few posts about the issues with 7900 printers and excessive nozzle clogs, resulting in very high consumption of ink to clear nozzles.  As a very satisfied owner of an Epson 11880 which has been virtually clog free, the 7900 has been a great disappointment in this regard.  While the print quality to me exceeds all other devices, the enormous amount of ink this printer has consumed makes it completely unusable.  To Epson's credit they have been very aggressive in trying to resolve this, including replacement of nearly every part in the printer multiple times, and finally at my insistence replacing the entire printer.  In addition, they have provided more than adequate ink to compensate so the only thing I have invested is the time I have spent trying to understand the issues and hopefully resolve them.

Unfortunately I am not alone in these issues, and some of these printers appear to have a serious flaw.  I have called a couple of people that have disabled the Auto Nozzle Check and believed this has solved their problems, but judging by the consumption of their waste cartridge, it has not.  The printer is still using far more ink to keep nozzles clear than it should.

As I mentioned, my comparison has been the 11880.  In the 18 months I have operated this machine, I use it very sporadically.  I often go weeks without printing anything at all, sometimes I print several days in a row.  I have accidently left the printer on a few times for several days, but most of the time it is off.  The Auto Ink Detect circuitry in this printer seems to be unreliable, and was switched off when I found the printer cleaning frequently despite perfect nozzle patterns.  Since disabling ANC, I have cleaned the 11880 less than 10 times, and it may even be less than  5.  I can only recall cleaning it a handful of times, and without ANC on, it doesn't clean on it's own.

I just received a replacement 7900.  While it is a little early to say (some users say their printers "settle" down after a while), I have already had to clean this printer 4 times in 8 days.  I am no longer calling these nozzle clogs, but nozzle failures, because they sometimes are not typical of other Epson printers clog problems I have had .  I have been logging every action, print, and nozzle check on this printer.  Each day after starting the printer I print a nozzle pattern, and each night I print one.  On two occasions a morning nozzle check showed multiple problems despite perfect nozzle checks the evening before.  This included massive amounts of failed nozzles in several colors (at least 40% or more).   I can't imagine how much ink on the head it would take to "clog" this badly- I never saw this even on my 9600/4800/4880 printers except perhaps when they were left off for very extended periods of time. Maybe ink is leaking out of the nozzles and drys while it sits idle.  Another thought is the ink delivery system is losing pressure and the nozzle isn't actually clogged .. there just isn't any ink there.  Some have speculated air in the lines which eventually settles out, but even power cleans which should have purged the lines failed to solve the problems.  There have been enough problems with these printers that I am assuming Epson is aware and aggressively trying to isolate the problem.

In reality there are two main issues.  One is the inaccuracy of the Auto Ink Detect system .. it seems nearly every user has disabled this feature because it just doesn't work ... it continues to trigger cleaning cycles despite nozzle checks that show no issues.  Once a cleaning cycle has started, ANC will be performed whether you have disabled it or not and if the AID (auto ink detect) unit is defective it will continue to clean a predetermined number of times until finally alerting you cleaning has failed and asks if you want to clean again.  Declining that option and printing a nozzle check has always confirmed the nozzles were all functioning.

I have had 4 head clog issues with this new printer. The first was after the initial fill ... a couple of nozzles in the PK channel didn't show up.  I had the machine clean just the one color pair, which seemed to work as expected, using @1ml of ink in the two colors.  Everything was great for 3 days.  On the 4th day a  morning nozzle check showed problems with 4 colors, including the green missing at least 30% in the middle.  I had the printer perform a single channel clean of the orange/green channel.  It took 25 minutes, and consumed at least 7% of every color of ink, a total of @80ml.  When completed all colors were clear.  Discouraging to say the least - that's about $30 worth of ink.

Now for the main point of my post...

Again things went good for a couple of days until I came in on Monday.  8 colors had missing nozzles, including 4 with 20% or more missing.  Rather than simply run the standard cleaning cycle, I decided to try to discover if cleaning in service mode used ANC. There are a great variety of cleaning options in service mode, including 4 different levels of cleaning for either the entire head or for individual channels.  I had the machine perform a CL1 (the least aggressive clean) on just the PK/LK channel.  When it was complete, those colors were clear on a nozzle check, the other colors remained unchanged.  The printer did not perform the ANC and try and clean the remaining colors like it does when using the normal clean.  In addition, it used only @1 to 1.5ml of ink per color.  I went back into service mode and formed a CL1 on the entire head.  Afterwards the entire head was clear, and consumed only @10-15ml of ink.  

If your ANC circuitry is working well this may be all of the ink that is consumed as well, although it appears to me the normal mode cleans are more aggressive than the CL1 from the service mode.

Whatever the underlying problem with the printer is, it appears it does not need aggressive cleaning to restore nozzles, and if you bypass the ANC system using service menu cleans, you may be able to reduce ink consumption down to at least a somewhat tolerable level.  While I do not like having to clean the printer when starting it up most of the time, at least now I can now do so using far less ink.

I'm not sure of Epson's policies regarding starting the printer in service mode by an end user, and I know there are things in there that you can do that might mess up the printer.  I have been asked to do it by Epson on numerous occasions so I'm very familiar with how to do it, but I am uncomfortable posting the method in case it some how invalidates warranties or the like.  I would encourage all of those who get frequent clogs on these printers to contact service and tell them you would like to use the less aggressive and ANC free service mode cleans to save ink.

Again, if you think turning off ANC has eliminated your problem, I would recommend you look at your maintenance tank life.  My new 7900 is already at 60%, my previous printer as at 40% of it's 2nd tank, and my 18 month old 11880 is still at 40% of it's first one.
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jjlphoto
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« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2009, 05:19:43 PM »
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Wayne- sorry to hear of the issues. I have read about many. I wonder if Epson is seriously concerned that many people on the fence will now opt for the Canon iPF6100 now that all these problems appear to be biting so many users?
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Thanks, John Luke

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deanb2010
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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2009, 09:59:00 PM »
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I have had my 7900 since March 30.  Pretty much everything that Wayne mentions happened to mine through the first 30 days.  I'd have huge gaps in the nozzle checks. One time before I shut the auto check off, the cleaning cycles were going nuts so I just shut the printer off. (Probably not a good idea).  Restarted the printer and the nozzle check was fine, so after that I turned the auto check off. I believe the big gaps are the result of something other than "traditional" nozzle clogs, but I'm not sure what that would be.  Through April the big gaps were fewer and farther between.  The last big miss was on the 12th of May when the yellow almost completely disappeared, but a head pair cleaning (such as it is -- see other posts on that) fixed it.  On the 23rd of May I had a light black (1 nozzle) and light magenta (4 nozzles) clog.  A head pair cleaning fixed those, and since then the nozzle check has been perfect every time at start up.  (I use the printer every 3rd or 4th day usually).  After the initial ink load my maintenance take was at 55%. On the 26th of April it got as low as 41% and it now stands at 48%.

I've kept every nozzle check I've done on this printer (with notes) so I have the history and I have only replaced two of the original small cartridges even after printing a lot of large & small prints. I believe Epson should put the service level cleaning capability at the regular menu level and I think most people could then solve their issues mostly on their own. It does appear that the printer has a "break in" period where the ink lines, heads, and pads have to get settled in.  This is obviously counter intuitive for most new products but ... it has worked for me so far.  It prints beautifully and has actually helped make sales that I would not have gotten with my old 7600 (which I hated - by the way - because of clogging issues).

Let's keep petitioning Epson to improve the head cleaning process and the menu selections for such. If I could clean the heads like can be done with the service menu selections, I would give the printer 5 stars. As it sits, only 4 stars.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2009, 10:00:43 PM by deanb2010 » Logged
mikev1
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2009, 11:27:43 PM »
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Wayne great post.  I've been experiencing way too many clogs and cleanings now on my 9900.  It is starting to become a profitability issue.  Though I don't think I've had the same level of problems as you.

One issue that has been causing me problems is switching from MK to PK.  It seems to trigger a cleaning cycle every time even if I have ANC turned off.  I do most of my printing with the PK but occasionally do prints using the MK.  I usually have small print runs using the MK which has started me wondering if I printed more would the cleaning cycle not be triggered due to more ink being using and clearing up the print head?

It is to the point now that I cringe whenever an order comes in that requires MK.

Curious if you are seeing this?

Mike
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fjmcsu
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« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2009, 09:19:08 PM »
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I add my 2 cents worth only because the experience so far has been exasperating & similar to the previous posts. At this time I am ready to call service for the persistent nozzle clog on the PK/MK nozzle check. One smallest bar in the same place 2/3 down the pattern is either missing on occasion present or distorted. I have tried multiple cleanings to the point that I have already replaced my waste tank & 4 inks with the 350 ml installed after the originals ran out. I have printed despite the one missing bar & to tell the truth can't seem to see any problem with he prints. Mu worry is that at some point the clogging may be irreversible although it seems almost that way now. As others I only clean manually & when possible with paired nozzles also. I have used Epson 7500's, 7600 in the past & have not had any near this amount of ink wastage  & time spent trying to get clean nozzles. After the head cleaning I have NEVER yet had a successful cleaning according to the machine. I have had this ink eater for about 2 weeks now! At this point I am sorry I sold the 7600, as it never had near the issues. I still print Piezo inks on my clunky old 7500 & can't remember the last clog  &  I have not changed the waste tank in the 5- 6 years that I have had the machine! As other  state the image quality is wonderful but at what price?
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Anthony Howell
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« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2009, 11:50:59 PM »
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I had similar clogging problems until a month ago. Blew through the 150ml cartridges very fast. AID turned off, head cleaning every time the 9900 was turned on. Replaced one maintenance tank before the 150ml ink cartridges ran out. Service drove down from Albuquerque, 8 hour round trip. Nothing solved.

Then a month ago the temperature got hot, I turned on the swamp coolers and within 3 days my clogging problems disappeared. Not one clogged head since. The humidity didn't rise to Houston levels, maybe from 15% to 30% or 35%. I can't really say if it's break-in or humidity. Time will tell, next fall when the swappers get turned off and the humidity goes down again.   .....Question: is everybody here with clogging problems live in a dry climate like myself?

I am not a commercial shop, I print maybe every 3 or 5 days, often just a small proof print (my income for 2009 is presently close to non-existent). I am hoping the 9900 turns out like the 4800 where I can occasionally go 2 or 3 weeks without a clog. My 7600 couldn't go more than a week without clogs.

I must admit, the subtle browns and greens are far easier to achieve with the new HDR inks. Clogs or no clogs, I'll gladly keep the 9900 and the better/easier color results.

Anthony
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Brian Gilkes
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« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2009, 12:01:32 AM »
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Hopefully this one will settle down on a couple of months when the pads settle in , the bubbles in the line clear and firmware is , once more updated. I've had a 9900 for a couple of weeks. With a lot of work still going through a 9800 (almost no blockages).
So far my experience with the 9900 is similar to above. 8 sq m paper and half a maintenance tank full. Auto detection off. Nozzle checks all take approx. 12 minutes to clear even with only one nozzle blocked. This mornings print check showed multiple block in all channels. I have never experienced this on the 9800 with several Km of 44" paper. Weather here is quite cold, humidity 40-60%. Latest firmware. I'll keep you posted. I know 4 other users . One has same problems. The others - so far so good.To be fair it gives good print.
Brian
www.pharoseditions.com.au
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hilljf
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« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2009, 10:57:48 AM »
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Wayne,
     Thanks for the extensive post.   I have posted a number of times on this issue and feel that Epson way oversold the ink management features of this printer.   I have a 9900 and have had is since last November.   I have found like many that the ANC does not work and almost always reported a failed cleaning when a test print would print ok.   Clogs on my printer have settled down somewhat, but it is still annoying.  

     Epson needs to put out a service notice on this issue.

     Based on all the experience we share, I suspect a couple of root causes.   1) I believe the ink pressurizing system is not maintaining the level of pressure in the ink lines such that ink stays where it should in the head.   Gaps are not clogs ofent times but probably more likely "ink not there".   2) the ANC design seems to be flawed, perhaps it is a firmware issue.   3) Espon should implement simple routines like the HP z3100 and z3200 printers do of spitting out a few drops of ink periodically on its own, just to keep the system ready to print.  4) Cleaning cycles are too agressive and waste too much ink.   They should do like Wayne suggests and bring a "light" cleaning option to the main menu choices.

     I love the prints from this printer, but the ink handling @#$% s.

John

p.s.  Epson are you listening?
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DeanChriss
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« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2009, 05:39:46 PM »
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My 7900 experience so far:

PK/MK Switching: I’ve only switched to and from PK/MK twice, but both times my 7900 has done a cleaning when I changed from PK to MK, but never when I changed from MK to PK.  ANC is turned off, and I typically print with PK.

I initially had the “nozzle failure” problems Wayne described, but things evolved differently. I got the printer in late December 2008. Except for one instance of it recurring, the problem stopped happening during the first week in February. Since then I experience what I’d call normal clogging. These clogs are in just one or two randomly placed nozzles and I’d guess they occur less than once per month. I think they are true clogs because under magnification I can sometimes see some misplaced dots of ink in the check pattern from the clogged nozzles. For a couple months I was printing almost every day, but sometimes not printing anything for a couple of days at a time. I’m not using it as much now. On two different occasions I was away and the printer sat powered off for 2 and 3 weeks respectively. Each time the nozzle check was perfect when I got home and turned the printer on. I’m still on the original maintenance tank (about 70% full). The original ink tanks have either expired or are sitting at a few percent, and I'm more than half way through the replacement LK ink tank. Ink levels wend down fast at first, but presently the printer seems very frugal with ink.

ANC: I have this turned off but initially had it turned on for a few weeks. As far as I know I’ve never had ANC initiate a cleaning when all of the nozzles were firing properly. I did have one ANC initiated cleaning that produced a “Cleaning Failed” message (not sure of the exact wording of the message), but when I printed a nozzle check pattern immediately after that it was missing some nozzles, so the cleaning really did fail. I'm tempted to turn the ANC on and see if my ink consumption increases, but printing the check patterns is easy enough that it's unlikely I'll bother.
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- Dean
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« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2009, 06:51:25 AM »
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I felt I had to write this so I don't mislead anyone with my post above. Perhaps I jinxed myself by writing it! After just under 5 months of good behavior my 7900 has had a relapse. I've had it powered off for about 2 weeks, which I've done before without issue. I'd been doing a lot of printing, for me anyway, and I was happy to get away from it for a while. Last night I turned the printer on and did a usual nozzle check and found all but one of the LC nozzles were missing from the pattern, perhaps 30% of the C nozzles were missing, and a couple of the LVM nozzles were missing. All other colors were 100% OK. I decided that instead of doing a "color pairs" cleaning like I usually do, I'd do a "normal cleaning" It seemed to take forever, depressurizing and then pressurizing the inks perhaps 3 or 4 times before producing a "cleaning failed" message and asking whether I wanted to retry. I said "no" and did another nozzle check. Sure enough, the cleaning really did fail (I've never had an issue with ANC) but the interesting thing is that a few LLK nozzles were now missing, and those were 100% good before I started the cleaning. The rest isn't really pertinent. I wanted to do a color pairs cleaning to get LLK back, but since the long cleaning had run the yellow (paired with LLK) down to 1% I couldn't. Since I forgot to order ink the last time I used the printer I've got to wait until a replacement set arrives. I haven't checked the amount of ink used for the cleaning last evening, but I can assure you that it was plenty. Only time will tell if this is a random happening or if my 7900 is back to behaving as it did during its first month of service. Regardless, I plan to give Epson tech support a call.
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- Dean
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