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Author Topic: Epson 7900 from the inside - out  (Read 262837 times)
JRSmit
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« Reply #1060 on: December 31, 2012, 04:16:54 AM »
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Eric, yes, I own a 4900. I wouldn't say I have my finger on the pulse of "X900" clogging issues, but I do have a very clear perception of how MY 4900 behaves, and it behaves pretty much as predicted: use it regularly and there are seldom clogs; leave it alone for weeks on-end (as I need to do periodically) and cleaning will be required - sometimes repeatedly using a routine Epson Pro-Graphics advised me about some years ago (running prints between cleanings) and it always - eventually - recovers every nozzle. A nuisance to be sure, but no disasters - yet. The fact that there is so little forum noise about the 4900 indicates that few people are likely to be having fatal issues with them. I wouldn't have a clue why it *seems* to have fewer fatalities than the 7900, but these are not identical machines apart from size. The 4900 is a much more recent model - there was a gap of several years between the 7900 and the 4900, and the head technology is not simply a smaller sized clone of the 7900 head. They changed some stuff, but exactly what I don't know and it wouldn't mean much to me, not being a printer technologist.
I too own a 4900 and only if i do not use it for weeks in a row and humidity get a bit low(<40%) here in the netherlands, i may experience some clogging, a cleaning sofar has solved it always. Pretty stable and constant in its printing regardless of the volume. A good machine.
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Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #1061 on: December 31, 2012, 06:23:45 AM »
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Eric,
 I just had a thought, STEAM as in cleaning oil and grease from engines.
   might it be possible that hot water under mild pressure (steam) from under the nozzle plate, could be enough to soften and break up the "dried" ink in the piezo channels, enough to allow it to be forced out of the nozzles by injecting mildly pressurized  distilled water from the damper side of the nozzles.?
Steam alone won't do it.  You will need some amount of organic solvent to assist.  There's a reason that Epson use both glycerol and some type of glycol in the ink mixture.  In their absence the pigment polymers would likely clump together making clogs much worse than they are.  Steam also could impact the integrity of the print head as well loosening any binder that Epson use.

Alan
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Eric Gulbransen
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« Reply #1062 on: December 31, 2012, 12:38:31 PM »
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I've got one terminally clogged printhead (but still structurally sound and virgin to any experimentation) soaking in Alan's formula now.  If it were soaking in Acetone I'd have taken it out after an hour.  But this mixture seems a lot less agressive, I'm tempted to let it soak for quite some time.  Maybe days.  What's your opinion Alan?

For what it's worth considering this HDR ink drying/hardening, I have to say I am amazed at how reluctant it is to do either.  I took apart our Oh Canada printhead, which we charged with ink when we first got it back from Canada many months ago (6?), and wet ink was still everywhere inside it - even though it was left all this time out in the open air.  It's remarkable.  Yesterday morning I smeared two drops of Cyan ink on a microscope slide which I completely forgot about.  Today I found that ink smear still completely wet.  Not even dry on the edges.  I brought up this never-drying-ink phenomenon with the genius the other night and rather typically he threw one possible answer back at me before I finished my sentence.  "Brownian Motion..."

Since I had no idea what he was talking about I looked it up.  For those of you who won't; Robert Brown, a biologist in the early 1800s, observed pollen grains moving endlessly in drops of water for no particular reason.  So he looked closer, under a microscope, way back in 1827, and as a result today we have something called "Browning Motion" - the presumably random movement of particles in a gas or liquid which is generated by their being crashed into by much smaller, faster moving molecules (or atoms) also in that gas or liquid. 

Imagine if you will that this moving yellow dot represents one yellow pigment crystal suspended in our HDR ink, for three days of no printing, between the walls of a piezo chamber:



I don't know this for a fact.  I am not a chemist.  But something about this ink has it behaving very differently than most fluids I have interacted with.  Perhaps the genius was on to something, could be Epson's pigment ink engineers have incorporated this mad science of Browning Motion into their ink design.  I hope so anyway..
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Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #1063 on: December 31, 2012, 05:06:25 PM »
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Eric, I don't have any good suggestions on the soaking time.  Clearly the solution will be much gentler than acetone.  I'm not surprised about the drying speed of ink drops on a non-absorbable surface.  I imagine that the drops are quite viscous (I should have saved one of my used cartridges to do a test; I'll see if I've got one in my printer that's about to run out and do so).  Unfortunately, Epson treats the inks like the Big Mac secret sauce, we really don't know all the components with any degree of precision.  Certainly when one prints, the drops are quite small and the paper needs about 24 hours or so to full dry so that the out gassing is eliminated when framed.
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nairb
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« Reply #1064 on: December 31, 2012, 06:15:28 PM »
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I wonder if there is some heat or electrically activated compound in the ink that would stimulate it to dry faster?
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Oldfox
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« Reply #1065 on: January 01, 2013, 02:37:35 AM »
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To Alan:

Are you sure about not to use ammonia?

If you google 'epson clog ammonia' or 'epson clog' you will get several hits where ammonia or Windex (with ammonia) is suggested. Here is one:

"Depending upon which printer and ink you are using, the ammonia will be more or less important. With the pigmented inks it is relatively critical in dissolving the resins. In the dye inks it helps to control the pH of the cleaning fluid."

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Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #1066 on: January 01, 2013, 06:41:19 AM »
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I wonder if there is some heat or electrically activated compound in the ink that would stimulate it to dry faster?
Quite doubtful judging from what is published in the MSDS listings for the Epson inks.
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Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #1067 on: January 01, 2013, 06:59:04 AM »
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To Alan:

Are you sure about not to use ammonia?

If you google 'epson clog ammonia' or 'epson clog' you will get several hits where ammonia or Windex (with ammonia) is suggested. Here is one:

"Depending upon which printer and ink you are using, the ammonia will be more or less important. With the pigmented inks it is relatively critical in dissolving the resins. In the dye inks it helps to control the pH of the cleaning fluid."


What is the proposed mechanism of action regarding ammonia?  The resins are organic polymers and dilute ammonia should have relatively little if any impact on them.  The more critical factor would be the nature of the organic solvent that is used.  Most of the recipes I found use isopropyl alcohol (as I recommended earlier in this thread).  There is a somewhat dated manual by Arthur Entlich HERE that covers Epson printers.  He does recommend using very dilute ammonia in the cleaning mixture.  This cannot do much damage but again, I'm not clear what it's purpose is.

Alan
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kdphotography
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« Reply #1068 on: January 01, 2013, 10:08:47 AM »
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Truly great work Eric! 

I admire your tenacity and ability to really break things down (maybe the wrong word choice, but you do put things back together too).  It really reminds me of the old films we used to watch in grade school (do they still show these classics?) where they broke down the body's systems so that young fresh minds could learn.  Yup, that's right, Eric.  You're the modern day "Hemo the Magnificent!"   And whereas Leviticus declares that "For the life of the flesh is in the blood," here it becomes For the life of the printer is in the ink.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUb7vJAj6bM

I've found that regular use of my printers (9900 and 9890) or Harvey Head Cleaner doing automated nozzle checks in my absence; keeping a regular humidity sweet-spot; and basic maintenance on my printer (vacuuming rolls/media debris, clean/replace wiper blade, agitation of ink cartridges, etc.) described in the morass of this thread seems to be "best-practice" in keeping a happy printer.  I've had zero problems. (knock on wood).  I've kept a nice binder to organize on how to keep my Epson printer happy, including resources from Jon Cone and Americaninkjetsystems.  Yeah, and I bought an extended warranty just in case, which I'm hoping is the biggest waste of money!

While I appreciate the desire to find a "soaking solution"---wouldn't it simply be easier to use what is currently available as a cleaning solution? (I would use windex sparingly as I've heard that the ammonia isn't good for printer part innards).  It seems to me that Jon Cone offers an inkjet cleaning/flushing fluid specifically for this purpose:  http://shopping.netsuite.com/s.nl/c.362672/sc.18/category.31348/.f     as does American Ink Jet Systems:  http://www.americaninkjetsystems.com/symphonic_inkjet_cleaning_fluid.html    Btw, there's an interesting paragraph on the use of windex in that last link.

Happy New Year to Eric the Magnificent!  I look forward to learning and more adventures into our printers at the microscopic level!   Cheesy

ken
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Blue moon
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« Reply #1069 on: January 01, 2013, 10:19:13 AM »
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Happy New Year Everybody
Thanks to Erics determination and exploratory skills we are now beginning to focus on beating existing hardnened clogs...
Ammonia windex and isopropyl are now starting to be discussed more freely and if i may interject a note of caution here for anybody with "live " machines....
Yes ammonia has kind ph properties which will be in harmony with your inks ph properties....but...but...it will dry out your printer if not followed up very quickly with a lubricant...you can also destoy your printer if you get the dose too strong...you could even mix ammonia with isopropyl in a coctail...there is alcohol in isopropyl  and again you are drying out your piezo unit unless you quickly lubricate...windex is where the idea started for mixing ammonia and isopropyl....be careful with a piezo printer that is in use...has anybody used Simply Green which is a detergent...i have it but will leave it down the line until i have tried other options first..Piezo heads will not take to the same cleaning regime as other less sensitive printer heads will withstand.
I have used Epsons own recommended cleaning fluid which i am certain is a stronger dose of glycol and a weaker dose of glycerol and water of course...useless....(for me ..others could do better )..i have done many power cleans with it and my own guess is that Epson use it when changing inks or just a general service.it has not removed my two single blocked nozzles despite very intensive power cleans..
I have used Inkjetmall cleaning fluid  (Piezo Flush )which i would say is about as effective as Epsons cleaning fluid...very very good for putting machines into cold storage and not much else....(for me personally...others may be luckier )I am now mixing Piezo Flush with Epson cleaning flush and no major improvement....i have to admit though that my problem of two blocked nozzles may be just mechanical failure and not clogged or air blocked ink....
I tried to get American Inkjet Systems 007 cleaning fluid but they dont ship into Europe for some peculiar reason....has anyone tried it and was there a result with clogs....
My two blocked nozzles may be collapsed piezo jets which no cleaning solution will be able to fix....as i mentioned they could also be as a result of air bubbles and i intend to use a very gentle dose of the hair dryer on the ink pipe (magenta ) as it heads towards its damper......a desperate effort i agree...
After that i replace the cleaning solutions in the magenta cleaning cartridge with the heavier gear in the following order
Some advice on a better way from you guys and girls
Hair Dryer on magenta line into damper and a power flush for good measure..
Ammonium/isopropyl mixed
Simply Green
Chainsaw
Sledge Hammer
Hello Canon Goodbye Epson...
Ps why do Epson Products not have a product rating system that new potential customers could refer to before taking the plunge to buy Epson......a rating system would give all existing customers a chance to communicate their satisfaction to the most important people as far as Epson is concerned.....NEW POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS
So many companies today have feedback sites so that the full picture can be seen..
Having followed this thread now i would not at all be convinced of the wisdom of trusting a company that has made no effort to come out in the open and help to solve what is a real problem for many committed Epson customers
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Blue moon
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« Reply #1070 on: January 01, 2013, 10:49:55 AM »
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What is the proposed mechanism of action regarding ammonia?  The resins are organic polymers and dilute ammonia should have relatively little if any impact on them.  The more critical factor would be the nature of the organic solvent that is used.  Most of the recipes I found use isopropyl alcohol (as I recommended earlier in this thread).  There is a somewhat dated manual by Arthur Entlich HERE that covers Epson printers.  He does recommend using very dilute ammonia in the cleaning mixture.  This cannot do much damage but again, I'm not clear what it's purpose is.

Alan
Alan
Arthur Entlich would be the first man to admit that he has no experience of Epson large format printers and he cautions people to this effect...
It really is great that ammo/iso is compatible with most Epson inks.....but thats missing the core important point ,in my opinion anyway,that ammonia is acidic and is capable of doing damage to the Piezo unit itself..piezo unit and inks have to be assessed jointly and not one in isolation to the other.
Btw that  product for cleaning birds feathers (Dawn) ......turns out the advert was faked and some mild faked tar look alike was used on the birds instead ....there were concerns that an ad showing real live stressed birds covered in real tar would not be acceptable to protection of animals organisations (or ourselves possibly )and the tar had to be simulated ...
instead...the same could apply if the protection of printers organisations come after us ....we better be careful now...make sure you use fake ammonia ...
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Eric Gulbransen
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« Reply #1071 on: January 01, 2013, 01:26:24 PM »
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Happy New Year everybody.  Each year I look back and ask what's different now than then.  What's better.  And, of course, what's worse.  Jan 1 a year ago this 7900 was clogged and Epson was my go-to source for answers.  None helped.  After three calls google replaced them which brought me many different places, including here.  The rest is history.

Thank you everyone for contributing to this journey.  Hopefully it's been a "better" for us all in 2012 - that was, and will continue to be, the goal.


Now back to our regularly scheduled programming; Ken you're crazy.  And now I am too apparently - I watched that whole Hemo The Magnificent show.  Addicted now.  Thanks for that.  And thank you for the kind words as well.  

Let's start 2013 on a positive - MICRO ENVIRONMENT TEST RESULTS:



Our 7900 has spent exactly one week inside it's prototype micro-climate cover.  This cover is essentially a moisture barrier between the machine's environment and the environment of the room it occupies.  The 7900's micro-climate is kept humid by water evaporating from two cookie trays left on the floor below the machine, inside the cover which reaches all the way to the floor.  It's a rough looking prototype cover, some sections of the back don't even reach the floor, but it is apparently effective enough in it's compromised state to maintain what has averaged over the past week to be a 15% difference in humidity from the outside environment (room).  

What I had been seeing regularly during these cold winter times with the heat running so often is multiple clogs in multiple channels in just two days of non-printing.  The regularity of these clogs were consistent enough (one-two days idle) but the clogs themselves were rarely in the same nozzles.  I exaggerated the duration of time the machine set idle for this test in the hopes that any differences found would be more conclusive.  Typically I run nozzle patterns every two days when not printing.  And like I said, typically recently I would have random clogs, and groups of clogs, in almost all channels (most times all channels would have at least one clog, sometimes up to two channels would be clear).  Today, after seven days of no printing and no nozzle patterns with the 7900 inside it's micro-environment the whole time, the nozzle pattern shows all channels 100% clear, minus two small clogs - one in Yellow, the other in Orange.  

I am very happy to report this, as this sheds some light on the second goal we all have here:  One is clearing clogs, the other is avoiding clogs.  To all who have chimed in repeatedly since day one about humidity playing one of the most important roles in clog prevention, you were right, and thank you.  I would like to add to this point a comment HAL has dropped on me repeatedly, about a regular client of his who has consistent problems with his printer - cat hair (which also applies to dust and dirt and lint and whatever else that can cause problems for your printer).  Could be this micro-environment prototype cover could help our printers on multiple levels.  At the very least I think it's time I make prototype II, which might actually reach the floor all the way around this time...   moron
« Last Edit: January 01, 2013, 02:08:25 PM by Eric Gulbransen » Logged

Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #1072 on: January 01, 2013, 01:40:04 PM »
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Alan
Arthur Entlich would be the first man to admit that he has no experience of Epson large format printers and he cautions people to this effect...
It really is great that ammo/iso is compatible with most Epson inks.....but thats missing the core important point ,in my opinion anyway,that ammonia is acidic and is capable of doing damage to the Piezo unit itself..piezo unit and inks have to be assessed jointly and not one in isolation to the other.
Btw that  product for cleaning birds feathers (Dawn) ......turns out the advert was faked and some mild faked tar look alike was used on the birds instead ....there were concerns that an ad showing real live stressed birds covered in real tar would not be acceptable to protection of animals organisations (or ourselves possibly )and the tar had to be simulated ...
instead...the same could apply if the protection of printers organisations come after us ....we better be careful now...make sure you use fake ammonia ...
Ammonia is basic and not acidic.  It's likely that because of earlier work with Windex, ammonia is added to mixtures.  Dawn was used in cleaning birds who were coated in oil during the recent Gulf oil spill.  Back in 1969 when I was an undergraduate at UC Santa Barbara we had an oil platform blow out in the channel and lots of birds got coated in oil.  We used mild dishwasher detergent to bathe them and clean them up (this was before Dawn was a product and I cannot remember the brand that we used).  It worked well and saved a lot of birds.

I think these cleaning solutions are only to be used as a last ditch effort when all else has failed.  It may be that they do cause damage to the printer head but the experiments to date all involve damaged heads.  The issue is striking the correct balance in composition so you can break up the clog.  It's clearly possible to add some glycerol to the mixture which would reduce the polarity of the cleaning mixture and make it a little more gentle.
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Eric Gulbransen
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« Reply #1073 on: January 01, 2013, 03:28:19 PM »
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Adding fuel to the "It's not what you know, but who" fire, I can (as well) indeed confirm that "Dawn" was used to clean oil from animals affected by the BP Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.  The retraction you might have picked up on considering the subject of saving wildlife in the Gulf with Dawn, Blue moon, and any potential manipulation of it's perception, could be related to the epic subject of BP's liabilities surrounding the disaster.  Apparently there was quite an effort put toward guarding some of it's more gruesome realities.  Dawn did in fact play an effective role in saving the animals, that were saved.  The problem was the related question, exactly how many animals did die?  In fact, quite unfortunately, more died than were saved - but not necessarily due to the animals succumbing to the volatility (vaporization) of the cleaning agents reacting with the oil on the animals, but instead from the many hours of exposure the animals experienced pre-rescue.  And then there was the stress, coupled with the fact that some animals just got trapped again.  The horror..

This off-the-subject tangent of bird feathers did prompt me to make a few calls this morning.  Quite ironically these conversations about wildlife morphed us straight back onto the original subject of fluids to be used on our printhead cleaning quest.  Dawn's use with the oil soaked birds was more to help rinse the oil away than it was to break it down.  To "Un-stick" it.  In theory then, soaking our printheads in a pure solution of Dawn might do nothing at all for our cause.  We need something to break the dried ink down, first, which I assume is where the isopropyl alcohol comes in.  The most fascinating element to come from the Gulf of Mexico conversations, relating to our printhead disasters, is the introduction to some new (for me) knowledge about oil degredation.  If Dawn falls under the "un-sticking and carrying" category of cleaners, then we need to explore the "Degredation" category of cleaners, which we are.

Apparently there do exist today "environmentally safe" cleaners which degrade oil all the way down to an atomic level.  These cleaners are biodegradable.  Here is a quote from one product called "Kill the Spill":

The safety aspects of the product is its non-petroleum, non-corrosive, non-toxic, non-flammable, and contains no VOCs. Environmentally its attributes are in it being water based, leaves no residue, contains no chlorinated solvents or phosphates.



This tiny biscuit of information was offered to me more as a carrot than as an answer.  Some teach more by aiming I guess.  But I am not a chemist, by the time I decipher this riddle we'll all be in retirement homes.  Any help understanding if any of this can apply to our printhead cleaning quest, from our resident chemist, would be duly appreciated  Smiley
« Last Edit: January 01, 2013, 03:35:59 PM by Eric Gulbransen » Logged

Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #1074 on: January 01, 2013, 04:13:40 PM »
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Back in the good old days (really old days now) when I was still working as a bench scientist I did a lot of work with biological membranes.  One of the detergents that we used was Triton X-100, a very gentle detergent that allowed one to extract interesting biological proteins from the membranes without destroying them.  It might be a good thing to test in the mixture as well.  It won't have any of the coloring or perfume additives that Dawn has.  The Wikipedia citation even says it was used in formulations for record cleaning along with isopropyl alcohol.  A 100 ml bottle ought to last a very long time since you would only be adding a small amount to create a cleaning solution.  It's stable indefinitely as far as I know.
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #1075 on: January 01, 2013, 04:28:24 PM »
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I have been following this thread throughout (as an owner of a 7900).
Fascinating post Alan.
I suppose that its action would depend on the chemistry of the pigment inks themselves.
It certainly would not harm the piezo-electric elements in the head.

Tony Jay
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rodcones
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« Reply #1076 on: January 01, 2013, 06:05:25 PM »
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Phew! a few weeks and it'll be a year since the saga's start!

A sincere wish for a happier New Year printer-wise to Eric and any others tinged by the same troubles.   Smiley

I've had a thought that's maybe too much to wish for in terms of any industry lurkers/participants taking notice of and implementing.

Basically, with the usual mantra about avoiding clogs by printing more, it's a borrowing from other consumer devices that sit "off" but wake up and do things the user has set in a menu - think television video/disk recorders.

If people are happy to have devices sit on standby and wake up fully to operate when they're not at home, wouldn't it be great if your printer woke up and printed an image once or twice a day/night it wasn't used?

An image it kept in its own memory and didn't depend on having an external computer for operation.

All this would be history, maybe.

I've made another thread with the details but thought I'd just add onto this.
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Blue moon
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« Reply #1077 on: January 01, 2013, 06:12:03 PM »
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Ammonia is basic and not acidic.  
You are absolutely right ... As the ph of ammonia needs to be compatible with the Ph of ink... It would have to be on the basic rather than acidic side...the word i should have used was "caustic" to describe one of  ammomias properties ...as an example i wonder how ammonia (diluted ) would react on the silicone covers on the minute electrical cables that Eric found serving the piezo chambers ? Hopefully Eric will try that experiment.
Anyway i have every intention of going the amo/iso route myself followed by a wash of cleaning lubricant ...but after the safer routes first which i think you also agree is the way to go forward...thanks
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Eric Gulbransen
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« Reply #1078 on: January 01, 2013, 07:43:24 PM »
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It's a very good idea rodcones.  One we have affectionately named "Holiday Mode".  Basically a program, or firmwear update, that would fire all nozzles of all channels in appropriate sized blocks of color - set at a user specified maintenance schedule.  Dry climates, or times of the year you fire it more often, rainy seasons (for instance) you fire it less.  Apparently there is a way to do this now by using a program kdphotography has brought to attention a few times now - it's called Harvy Head cleaner.  Ken mentions this program a few posts up from this one actually.  It's pc based.  I believe Ken sets his version up to do exactly what you mention, via a local laptop.  For sure this would help.  It would be great if Epson created a firmwear update with this feature.  I brought it up with a tech on the phone about two months ago.  His response was disheartening, "There's a problem with X900s clogging...?"  this was followed by "you could email me about it, I'll forward it to my manager, then he can forward it to his boss.  If they decide it's a good idea, and enough people ask for it, they would then have to forward it to the right people at Epson Japan.  And then they would have to..."  That sounds like a long road filled with ifs and buts to me.  But it's definitely a great idea
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« Reply #1079 on: January 01, 2013, 08:48:38 PM »
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I just wanted to note that I have been destroying and emptying the ink remaining in used carts  for a few months now and putting them in glass vials by color, with thoughts of being able to use it for spotting purposes, as we did in the old B&W days with Spotone.

I noticed that the pigments in the ink do settle out and form a pigment sludge at the bottom of the vials I am storing the ink in.

  The rest of the mixture itself (the carrier), could easily be centrifuged out.
Could the carrier alone contain enough of of whatever substances keep the pigment suspended and from solidifying,  be used to soften or even dissolve the dried pigment?
 I used to be able to clean bad coatings of spray lacquer by additional spray over to dissolve the old layer.

Whatever happened to "Hal" and his cleaning solutions that were supposedly Epson repaks?
David
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