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Author Topic: Epson 7900 from the inside - out  (Read 319047 times)
ChrisMax
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« Reply #960 on: November 29, 2012, 04:49:31 PM »
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Just happened upon this topic while surfing the net had to register and post.  I got an Epson 4800 from a friend that wasn't working for $130.  Same problem as your 7900 the head was clogged.  I downloaded the service manual, the adjustment program and did a lot of research.  The one bad decision I made was to spend $200 on cartridges filled with 'Print Head Clog Buster'.  Those carts sat in the printer for three weeks and did nothing to unclog the head but maybe they did clean the tubes and everything else.  I replaced all the dampers ($71), cleaned the capping station, reset the waste tank with a chip re-setter and put a whole roll of toilet paper minus the cardboard roll in it, got all new ink carts and of course replaced the print head ($499 from Epson online the cheapest one I saw was $750).  I didn't follow the steps in the Epson Service Manual to replace the print head because it was an unduly complicated procedure requiring special tools (they really want those service call charges!).  Oh I saw some tiny air bubbles in one or two of the ink lines so disconnected them at the damper sucked the bubbles out with a syringe.  The printer is now printing beautifully.  My friend hadn't used the printer in two years and when he turned it on the print head was done.  His junk is my treasure. 

I thought about what might have happened to your 7900 since it was working in Pa but not after being delivered.  My conclusion based on all I have read is that the humidity may have played a role in drying out the print head during transport.  Inside that humidity may have been well above 50% but once in the truck in late Fall the outside humidity could have fallen very low due to the dry cold air.

Bottom line is that very rarely can a printer head be saved once it is severely clogged!  Maintenance is the key to happiness with these expensive printers!
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enduser
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« Reply #961 on: November 29, 2012, 06:35:09 PM »
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Here and there in this thread are comments on the remote nature of the manufacturer from their consumers.  This isn't unusual for a multinational like Epson and Canon.  I remember years ago reading about the design team at HP who were based in Spain.  I even saw the email addresses of a couple of the development engineers of the design Jet series.  So it can be different.

It's a lot harder with Asian countries because of the cultural differences.  The local distributor I talk to tells me he asks Canon here (In Australia) to reduce their ink prices because almost no users of ipf printers buy here.  They buy overseas at half the price.  The Canon guys tell him that all over the world where Canon are, a non-local is at the top.  This gentleman, when asked if prices can be adjusted down just says no! No discussion or argument allowed.

So it might take someone with current colloquial Japanese language skills to make contact with the manufacturers through their Japanese entry points to get a discussion going.
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Eric Gulbransen
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« Reply #962 on: November 29, 2012, 08:16:21 PM »
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sfblue, I believe the pk and mk channel are the same channel.  What changes from ink to ink is an element of the damper unit, which is right behind the head on the same carriage.  This is why we waste such little ink swapping between the two - only the ink from the dampers to the face of the head gets flushed - it's just inches, whereas with older models the ink change happens back at the carts, so the whole line gets flushed.  Far as your other question, google is your friend.

ChrisMax - funny I brought two 4800s back from the dead myself.  Both lost in piles of dust for years.  It is definitely a different world now with these X900s, unfortunately..

enduser, I appreciate what you are saying.  Sometimes it's not what you know, but who.. 

Things broke between me and this great girl one day.  Forever I tried to fix it, to get her back.  I called, spent money, wrote poems, worked out, talked and talked - until finally one day I realized "If she she really wanted this it wouldn't be so hard".   I think of that lesson now.  Not saying Epson doesn't want us happy, of course they do.  Just maybe it doesn't have to be this hard.  Maybe there's a more effective way to reach them, to catalyze their interest.  Finding this way should be at the forefront of our plan B - "The clog prevention initiative".  Unfortunately I've got the focus of a laser beam, and right now my laser is diligently focused on our plan A - "The clog demolishing initiative".  Trust me this thread is about to go where no man has gone before.  If I am able to realize half of what I have in mind over the next two weeks, this journey will have only just begun. 
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whitedogphotos
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« Reply #963 on: November 30, 2012, 03:32:06 PM »
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 Regarding an email/complaint to "Rand" I received a nice reply from someone else who stated :We regret that your Epson Stylus Pro 7900 printer failed. However, Epson does offer Extended Service Agreements for the products because we understand that repair costs for high end electronics outside of the warranty can be costly at times.

Should you decide to purchase another Epson printer, there are rebates available on various Pro Graphics printers at:
http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/jsp/Pro/Promotions.do?BV_UseBVCookie=yes#t_printerpromosup

Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.

Thank you,


Colleen W.

So, if I had purchased the 11-1200$ warranty I would still be out of warranty as well as the money for the warranty. If these are devices that cannot last past the warranty, the real cost is hidden. If they must be used as daily production printers to keep them working, then that should be disclosed. If there is maintenance that should be done that should be disclosed, not hidden in a secret manual. I was very happy with the print quality and I got a lot of good prints in the last 3+ years.Those prints just cost way more than expected in the way of wasted ink/paper/printer than I thought based on my experience with a 2200,4000,3800 i had in the past. Sorry just ranting now-not too helpful to the project at hand.
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chaddro
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« Reply #964 on: November 30, 2012, 03:52:25 PM »
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Ya know, a common cause for a clogged printer in the older series 4000/78/9800 series printer was a clogged or failing DAMPER...

The dampers in the 9900 have a much smaller filter screen in them and one damper hadles two colors... I'm wondering if damper failure isn't a cause for some of these so called clogs. On a site that discusses Rolands (with Epson heads) they recommend replacing the dampers annually!!!

A common recommendation when you had a channel drop out on a 7800/9800 was to replace the damper... really make me wonder

-chadd
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sfblue
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« Reply #965 on: November 30, 2012, 04:45:41 PM »
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Chadd,

Do you think changing out the dampers after the fact will help a clog?  Or is it something that needs to be done regularly to prevent clogs, but once you have one, there's nothing you can do?

I am still learning my printer anatomy, but I found another interesting LuLa thread about dampers here:
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=53578.5;wap2
I'm trying to learn what is the best probability bet-- if it's worth it at this point to try to change out the damper.

White Dog, I empathize and I think many people do. You would think Epson would care about longtime customers but I think it's probably a combination of just being such a large company as well as having a dominant spot in the market and not caring too much about losing a few customers here and there.  Also, I wonder if they worry that offering a discount of some sort on print heads or repair would be tantamount to admitting there is a problem.  Separately, I also think they should communicate maintenance to customers if that helps prevent the fatal print head problems (replace dampers, wiper blades, agitate inks, print every x days, create a holiday mode, etc)  Regardless, the end result is the same and a lot of us have big paperweights.  I just want to print.   
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chaddro
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« Reply #966 on: November 30, 2012, 09:13:19 PM »
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heya sfblue,

on the 9900's? I don't know. Eric can chime in here... he's has hands on experience with dampers. My point was that in the earlier printers a dropped channel most certainly meant a failed damper and easily fixed with a damper replacement. Experienced people doing it in 20 minutes (if memory serves me).

what causes a damper to fail? not sure. but if the filter screen becomes clogged, there is no way for ink to make it's way to the print head.

also... the suggestion above that the pump-cap could not be sucking hard enough (that's what is does, sucks gobs of ink into the waste tank) is also enlightening.

I also wonder if the pressurization system in the 9900's couldn't also have a partial failure... either not pressurizing the failed channel, or not providing ENOUGH pressure so that ink makes it to the head at the needed rate.

There is no pump-cap on the older printers.

I had this analogy in mind ... the old printers could generate LOTS of ink pressure. HAD to in order to charge the ink lines. Kind of like the sump pump in your basement... able to really move some water.

The new 9900's are more akin to your aquarium pump since they depend on the pump cap to do all the sucking.

Gee wiz, here's a thought. What if the pump cap isn't capping your head properly and all the so called sucking action isn't doing anything?

Now, Eric can chime in again on how to do this (it's not that hard). But if you took your rights side cover off and watched what happens under the covers, so to speak, you'd know if you were getting any action at all.

I know this myself from when MY pump cap was replaced (along with the AID board, and MAIN board - apparently, just a a preventative measure). It was enlightening to see all that ink get sucked out of the head.

Oh, and one other thing. One of the laws of fluid dynamics is that a fluid will always flow into the path of least resistance. The 9900 DON'T fire the nozzles in standard cleaning so if you HAVE A REAL CLOG, there is a chance that all that sucked ink is just coming out of the unclogged nozzles.

This may also explain why once you have a dropped nozzle, they don't self clear with use like the older printers could, and why you can do a nozzle check, make a print big 40x60 and again check the nozzle to find missing nozzles... the old printers didn't do that. Once they had a good nozzle check, you could print confidently and not worry about dropped nozzle. Not my 9890. It can drop nozzles even after doing a big print.

Most pointedly to me is when I switch between Pk and MK (or back). I almost always have lost the entire channel until I do a paired cleaning.

Sorry for all the 'sucking'  ... been watch old episodes of Buffy :p

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Eric Gulbransen
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« Reply #967 on: December 01, 2012, 11:13:18 AM »
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Last night I got our first real glimpses, under a microscope, of exactly what so many of us (me included) have been theorizing about since our first experiences with X900 printhead clogs.  I also ordered a camera mount for this microscope, which won't arrive here for a few more days yet.  Until that time unfortunately I can't share the images which blanketed my mind as I fell asleep last night.  But I can share this; I can see nozzle openings, and into nozzle openings, but not yet the piezoelectric makeup of an actual X900 nozzle.  I can tell you that comparing the size of the gaping scratches that a crusty wiper blade leaves behind it on our printhead's face, to the ever so delicate size of our nozzle holes which are also on our printhead's face, is more than alarming.  Imagining what our crusty muck covered wiper blade looked like when I took it out, while ever so slowly combing my way over our old printhead's face microscopically, made my kidneys growl. 

Yes, this is science.  And yes, this is seriously complicated stuff we are theorizing about.  But I have to share my last night's post-exploration gut impressions.  This could very well be a LOT less complicated than we realize.  If a picture says a thousand words then picture this next time you think your wiper blade "may need replacing" - an overgrown crooked one eyed hairy cyclops using a coal shovel to clean your mom's reading glasses. 

Honestly, these nozzles are tiny.  One tiny piece of lint stretches across twenty of them.  I thought this in the beginning and I think it again now - this could be our worst problem.  It could also explain why clogs occur more over time, more after cleanings sometimes, more regardless of new ink or old or how many prints on your machine.  Maybe what we should be counting is cleanings rather than prints..



As for the damper theory considering sfblue, could be but I'm not so sure.  To me a clogged damper would knock out a whole channel, or parts of a channel inconsistently.  It would cause drop-outs mid print as well.  sfblue reports neither of those.  His clogs seem to be specific to particular nozzles, which aims me at his head.

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sfblue
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« Reply #968 on: December 01, 2012, 01:29:35 PM »
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Interesting!  I can't wait to read more about this, Eric.  In the mean time, I was going to change the damper assembly as I found the part on ebay for $120 and it seemed like not that big of a deal.   I was also suspecting it because I had read this:  "the most common damper problem is a pinhole that allows minute amounts of air to seep into the ink line, resulting in a bad nozzle check that can be temporarily alleviated with cleanings but will return shortly after."   However, upon reading more, it sounds like if this were the issue, the positioning of the dropped nozzles on the test print would still move around which is not the case for me.  So, I'm back to the print head.

Btw, if anyone cares, looks like Epson extended their rebates for December.  I'm leaning towards the new Canon 24 inch ipf6400.  Adorama is out of stock but has them for effectively $1800 post rebates (no sales tax for me and free delivery).  Given what I've been reading, it seems like it is worth a try despite always having been an Epson person.

Also . . . Eric, love the pic of the nozzles; that must have been taken directly from the Epson manual!
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Eric Gulbransen
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« Reply #969 on: December 02, 2012, 05:25:44 PM »
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Sorry guys the USPS let us down yesterday.  Microscope "camera mount" was marked as "out for delivery" yesterday but it never arrived here.  I want to share with you here what me and my genius saw yesterday.  I will in time I promise.  What did happen yesterday is very interesting..

This 9900 I picked up from Edward The Juggler, in August of this year.  I drove to Colorado to meet him in-between race weekends.  Once I got the machine back here my focus went straight back to work and racing.  The first time I even plugged this machine into a wall socket was yesterday morning.  So naturally I figured it's printhead would be wiped out dead.  Edward did a lot of work, made a lot of phone calls, and wasted a TON of ink performing every cleaning cycle these X900s have.  Nothing he did, or that Epson recommended, cleared his green channel clogs.  But every other channel was fine.  Now here it is three whole months later and after a week long journey in the back of my van (no air conditioning) through the Mojave Desert (read; hotter than hell - 110degrees, dryer than hell - less than 40% humidity, and dustier than the Peanuts Character "Pig Pen") and then three months of not only neglect but total disrespect (never even powered up), and now you too might expect this head to fire only blanks once we ran a nozzle pattern.  Well you'd be wrong..

Two channels, LLK and VLM were both 100% clear on the first test print.  All other channels took only one pairs cleanings to wake back up, with the exception of CY which took three to fire 100% clear.  However the green channel, which was the reason Edward the juggler contacted me about his machine in the first place, never did come clear - just like he said.  In fact in the box of extra parts that Edward left me with in the desert there was one nozzle pattern printed.  When I compared his last pattern with our best pattern, there was no difference.   WTF?  After all that abuse NOT ONE MORE UNCLEARABLE CLOG??   How can that be?

If you think that is bad, how about this - once me and the genius removed this 9900's printhead the first thing we did was take it over to our trusty new stereo microscope to examine every nozzle face of the green channel.  For sure we expected, even hoped to see piles of dried ink particles caked inside the openings of the nozzles.  Nothing doing though.  There is no discernible difference between the outside face of this X900's clear green nozzles when compared to it's clogged green nozzles.  For sure that is a blow to my inspiration.  My hope was this was a surface problem.  Apparently it is not.  If these are indeed "clogs", they are inside the head.  Could be they are deep inside, could be they are just inside - either way they are not visible from our Lunar Module.  

I say Lunar Module because combing your way over the face of our X900s printheads under 180X magnification is quite a lot like being in space ( I imagine).  You see things unimaginable.  Take for instance the very common paranoia about printhead strikes (paper striking the printhead during prints).  Well let me tell you, the printhead that came with our printer (the 7900 that this thread was originally based on) must have experienced multiple head strikes.  The steel framework that protects the printhead's actual face is so scratched up you might think some kid dragged it behind his bicycle.  This is both alarming and comforting.  I have another head here from an older model Epson which does not have any framework protecting it.  For sure if this old head endured half of what our protected head did, it would have been damaged.  So with the bad news comes good news too.  Our heads are well protected from strikes (and the strong possibility of heavy matte paper making contact with it's delicate surface).  You will understand more when I am able to share images from our explorations through the Epson Piezo Galaxy.

...more to come
« Last Edit: December 03, 2012, 12:50:06 AM by Eric Gulbransen » Logged

Eric Gulbransen
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« Reply #970 on: December 03, 2012, 01:11:59 AM »
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Oh my God.  It's 11pm December 2nd, 2012.  I just dove straight through one of the holes that I used to think was the outer-face of a nozzle, but I now understand was simply a hole in the very thin gold foil face of an X900 printhead.  Forget the plumbing metaphors, our heads work nothing like the pipes under your sink.  What I expected might be pipes, or possibly tiny portholes surrounded with some type of piezoelectrical particles ready to flex once charged, is actually something wholly different.  Instead what I explored my way through is more like an incredibly tiny city filled with honey comb-like structures with beautifully intricate mazes of hysterically tiny gold colored wires, circuit boards, channels, membranes, silicone suspended wire hubs, and ink filled tunnels going places hard to even figure.  

You know those messages on side view mirrors - "objects are closer than they appear"?  Well so are the answers to our X900 mysteries...  

If all goes well we'll have images to share tomorrow night.  This is fascinating
« Last Edit: December 03, 2012, 01:14:13 AM by Eric Gulbransen » Logged

Eric Gulbransen
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« Reply #971 on: December 04, 2012, 01:54:25 AM »
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This is your X900 printhead:






This is your X900 printhead on drugs:





This is your X900 printhead after someone on drugs took it apart:





These are NOT your piezoelectric nozzles:





These are:





You've already seen this but take another look - the blueish segment in the center is a "channel":





Before you think a channel looks cool check it out upside down:













This is the steel cage that protects your head from strikes:






There's a lot more to all this which I will share tomorrow.  You can't fix something until you understand it.  I am not even close to understanding this tiny world of martian electronics.  Hell I can't even trace the path of our ink yet, but I will.

Quick question - who else is in shock right now about what our nozzles look like? 


WTF?


.
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Blue moon
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« Reply #972 on: December 04, 2012, 06:01:57 AM »
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Eric
Simply amazing....be careful in there ! Well done for all of us...THANKS a thousand times over.........

It looks from the "printhead on drugs " shot that the steel casing on the outside of the head has been gouged or scratched into producing steel "finings" and if so can you find those finings lodged anywhere inside the head....i talked about importing dried resins back up into the mouth of the head before in this thread but never visualised that you could also have pieces of steel mixed into the soup as well..hard to imagine that this has not happened when i look at the clarity of your photographic work ! Do you agree ?
You did yourself describe your wiper blade apparatus as being involved in some "concrete" tangles with its blade cleaner earlier on in this thread and now we seem to be looking at some steel shifting about as well....
To repeat,I am very grateful to you for all your work which is bearing fruit now...
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Eric Gulbransen
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« Reply #973 on: December 04, 2012, 09:50:15 AM »
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Yes blue moon, amazing I agree.  The printhead on drugs photo is of the head that was on our 7900 when we first got it.  This head had clogs from the first nozzle check - on.  I do not know the history of this head, I only know what I was told - it had just under 1000 prints, some (?) of which were on canvas, and it rarely if ever clogged.  Interesting theory about the metal fragments.  I am assuming these scratches are from printing on canvas.

The microscope that I am using gets much closer than these photos show.  I am very limited by this $79 DLSR camera mount, which has at least two glass elements in it.  Very poor quality.  Zooming in gives horrid images.  These shots are about a mile from the surface of the moon.  I will try to do better.  Wish Zeiss made a dslr-to-microscope mount..
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Blue moon
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« Reply #974 on: December 04, 2012, 10:02:38 AM »
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[I will try to do better..
[/quote]

You have gone where no one else has ever been..........
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Eric Gulbransen
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« Reply #975 on: December 04, 2012, 08:09:52 PM »
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Are the deadhead 7900 printers worth anything as parts? I will not fix mine, but kind of feel funny about tossing it out as trash...

Interesting question whitedogphotos.  I can only give you my answer (late, as usual).  9900s and 7900s are basically the same machines, only the 9900s cost more.  Heads cost the same.  So buying a dead 9900 makes sense because someone could re-sell it once running.  At least I think someone could.  But buying a dead 7900 to repair/re-sell doesn't make sense.  Problem is even if someone can do the head replacement entirely themselves, the head is still $1,300 (two months ago it was $1,100 - but whatever..).  The problem THEN is, if the head is dead it may also be a good time to replace the pump and cap assy, plus the damper unit.  I haven't priced either in a while but now that person is looking at @ $1,700 with shipping?  So they spend the money and they do the work, but now they've got to charge the system with ink.  Maybe the guy who sold them the machine put five old 720 carts he bought off ebay in it from back when Carter was president, you just don't know.  Maybe he just doesn't print that much (which is why the head is dead in the first place) so all the ink in his machine is muck?  Either way the new owner/seller has to ask himself, does he really want to run bad ink through his "new machine"?  I don't think - so now he's buying new ink, a lot of which is destine for the sewer once he charges the lines.  So what are we up to now, maybe just over $2,000?  And while in the end you and I both know this guy now has a new machine, Epson doesn't, so no warranty comes with it.  And then the machine has to be shipped..  The list goes on and on.  Compared to special sales I've seen as low as $2,000, or regular everyday sales at $2,500 with free shipping and either a free one year warranty, or the option to buy into a 3 year warranty for just $300 more - holy buzz kill.  Buying broken 7900s to repair/re-sell is a pretty grim looking business to consider.  In fact even owning a 7900 out of warranty is a pretty grim looking proposition for some..

....which is exactly why I still contribute to this thread.  I know I am not the only one facing this inappropriate reality. 
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« Reply #976 on: December 04, 2012, 08:29:17 PM »
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.

HELP?

My hope here, my inspiration actually, is to change the currently broken situation for every clog-riddled X900 user out there.  Chances are stacked against us.  I realize this.  But I have to admit a few key points keep my interest peaked - including one I will share here - why do they take the heads we clearly own, and paid for, after a head-swapping service (performed under warranty or not)?  If the answer to that question is they don't want their pieaoelectric printhead secrets shared, well I'm about to wake up next to a dead horse-head because my explorations here have only just begun.  and I'm crap at keeping secrets

Before anyone tosses their deadhead X900 in the bin, please consider donating it, or it's printhead, to science-fiction.  I have one X900 printhead which has been ultrasonically destroyed.  For experimentation purposes this head is useless.  For any purposes this head is useless.  I have one confirmed "unclear-ably clogged" X900 printhead here which I plan to very carefully experiment with, all the while keeping it in tact.  This head I intend to try my best to revive, it is my crash test dummy, so I cannot take it apart.  At this point what I do NOT have is a confirmed "unclear-ably clogged" X900 printhead, which I CAN take apart, so that I can identify the difference between a clear X900 piezoelectric nozzle, and a clogged one.  So far I have only explored functioning piezoelectric nozzles.  I need to see a clogged one.

So this is a shout-out for help.  Also an offer, if anyone wants to explore for yourself feel free to join me at the lab.








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« Reply #977 on: December 04, 2012, 09:30:02 PM »
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"well I'm about to wake up next to a dead horse-head . . . ."  ha!

First off, really interesting stuff and interesting images.
Second, even if I try to replace the printhead myself, I will give you the old printhead when it comes out of the machine.  You raise an interesting point:  why does Epson make people give the old printhead back after what amounts to a $3000 service including D1 labor.  One would think that in buying a new printhead from them, you would get to keep the old one.  I doubt it is to guard secrets about their printhead technology as Canon or HP could just yank one from a new printer.  The only thing that I can think of is maybe someone looks at them to learn about how printheads clog on average or (unlikely given how damaged yours looks to be under the microscope) maybe there is a way for Epson to refurbish some of them if not too damaged.

I think most of us are after an understanding of the printhead that might give us a shot of manually unclogging the printhead once it is removed from the machine.  But in viewing your photos, it seems like they are such fine and complex devices that this is a long shot.    But then again, I have so little understanding of how they work. 

Btw, I'm 98% decided to get a Canon.   I've had such a bias for years that epson was the only way.  Part of it is just habit, I guess.  But I've read enough about Canon print quality to be comfortable with trying out one of the new printers.  And the prices are pretty compelling right now and ultimately you vote with your dollars.  I still haven't decided about the DIY printhead repair on the 7900, but I think the Canon will get me back up and printing in the meantime.  Will let you know either way though on my 7900.

Unrelated, I have a question about the cut sheet paper feed path on the Canon 8400 vs the 6400 (or 8300 vs 6300), but I will ask in a new forum topic. 
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« Reply #978 on: December 04, 2012, 10:22:38 PM »
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 I doubt it is to guard secrets about their printhead technology as Canon or HP could just yank one from a new printer.  The only thing that I can think of is maybe someone looks at them to learn about how printheads clog on average or (unlikely given how damaged yours looks to be under the microscope) maybe there is a way for Epson to refurbish some of them if not too damaged.

Your correct anyone could buy a x900 and pull the head to reverse engineer it ... At Area 51

It is more likely that D1 needs to prove that they in fact replaced the head ,because they may get monitary compensation (a rebate), offsetting their parts purchase costs, by returning the bad one. A head for a head, so to speak.
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« Reply #979 on: December 05, 2012, 01:41:51 AM »
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thanks sfblue.  We all share a common hope then.  My train of thought is as follows:

1 - understand the head
2 - understand the ink
3 - understand what an unclearable clog actually is
4 - understand if it might be clearable
5 - clear it
6 - go someplace far away with my camera, and shoot


Never surrender, right?  That's our motto?  Tonight I said to hell with the $89 DSLR microscope mount.  I threw it in the sink, set my camera up on my tripod, facing straight down, mounted my 200mm micro and aimed it straight down the periscope, then went exploring.  These images are better.  You don't HAVE to love Nikon if you don't want to.  I'm just saying..


The view from space





These may look like nozzles but they are NOT lined up just under the nozzle openings in the face of your head





I tore away half of a channel face.  THIS is what's lined up just under the nozzle openings

FYI - that's the end of a small (1") paper clip in there for size reference



same image at 100%




Sorry my focus stacking skills are not yet honed.  At this crazy stupid magnification, fifteen shots up the face of the paper clip wasn't enough..
Count em, that's 12 nozzles Epson put inside the span of one tiny paper clip. 





that's tiny..

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