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Author Topic: Epson 7900 from the inside - out  (Read 350734 times)
Eric Gulbransen
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« Reply #1040 on: December 29, 2012, 02:54:52 PM »
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Ammonia won't do anything if the clog is an organic molecule such as an ink particle.  You need to have an organic solvent.  In the old days we made stylus cleaning solution with isopropyl alcohol, water and a drop of dishwasher detergent.  It might be interesting for Eric to mix up a solution of 10-20% isopropyl alcohol (aka rubbing alcohol) and add a drop of Dawn to it (if it's good enough to clean oil soaked birds it should be good enough for an Epson print head) and see how this works.  It's pretty much the recipe that Windex uses but with more alcohol in it.

I will try this tonight Alan.  This is exactly what I had hoped for..
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DougMorgan
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« Reply #1041 on: December 29, 2012, 07:14:15 PM »
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Happy holidays all:

I don't know if this was discussed elsewhere but I'm rather pissed to discover that the 9900 initiated an ink recharge when I replaced the cleaning unit.   It seems to have averaged about 60 mils PER COLOR or 600 mls total down the drain.   Another 200+ dollars in wasted ink on top of two for the cleaning unit itself.   Happy new year from freaking Epson.

There was no warning that this was going to occur and nothing about it in either service manual.   It seemed like the printer was going to do yet another unasked for cleaning but instead drained a large portion of ink from each color when it came up in regular mode.

The service manual specifies the sequence to use to check the AID function but it did not work exactly as shown.   Note that the AID check function produced blanks for the Mode 1 line on the LCD the first time I set it for 2.2 stop and then NG (Not Good I assume) for 2.8.   After setting it back to 2.2 the Mode 1 line still showed blanks rather than "OK".  Firing the printer up the next day (after the ink purge and reloading the most current firmware) the AID check function now shows "OK" and all is well.

I don't know what triggered the ink purge but the printer also seemed to have reset all the settings including reverting to the initial firmware version.   I must have triggered a complete reset while looking for a way to set the cleaning unit counter without servprog.exe.    Beware that there was no indication that any of this was going to occur.

Doug

Edited to reflect new information....




« Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 03:20:29 PM by DougMorgan » Logged
snsandrze
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« Reply #1042 on: December 30, 2012, 01:06:39 AM »
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Mark,
I appreciate your advice on 3880 vs. 4900. I have been debating this very issue for a while with the hopes that Epson will offer a rebate on the 4900 that I couldn't pass up. I'm still leaning towards the 4900 armed with the knowledge that it will require regular use and diligent maintenance (thanks to the enlightenment I've received from this epic thread). I have enrolled my cat in a printing 101 course, in my absence she will be able to output print jobs to keep the 4900 nice and lubricated! A little catnip and a furry toy and she'll do just about anything!

Eric,
I'm in the construction industry as well and I like to keep it simple. Things have to make sense before I can move on. I'm anxiously waiting to see if the cleaning solution is the answer without causing catastrophic damage to the head.

Steve
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Eric Gulbransen
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« Reply #1043 on: December 30, 2012, 02:06:08 PM »
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...mix up a solution of 10-20% isopropyl alcohol (aka rubbing alcohol) and add a drop of Dawn to it (if it's good enough to clean oil soaked birds it should be good enough for an Epson print head) and see how this works...

Alan I am looking to mix/test your solution now.  I have come up with a new system of flushing the printhead which will take far longer, but will be far safer for all parts considered.  Please if you will, give me an idea of percentages when you say "a drop" of Dawn.  Is this for a shot-glass sized portion of solution, or a gallon?  And when you say 10-20% of isoproply alcohol, what's the rest of the solution made of - Distilled water I assume?


I have tested again and no, we cannot use Acetone to clean these X900 heads.  I have confirmed that it indeed does compromise the bond of the glue used to secure the channel units to the printhead framework.  Interestingly enough it's not the bond of the glue to the channel (metal) that seems broken down - it's the bond of the glue to the (plastic) printhead framework that gets broken down.  Before soaking in Acetone it is very difficult to remove a channel unit from the framework.  Once removed, equal amounts of glue residue are left on both the metal channel surface, and the plastic printhead framework surface.  Upon close examination it is plain to see that the glue itself is what breaks when the parts are forced away from one another, before soaking, because equal amounts of glue residue are left on both surfaces.  In fact in no places at all are either bonded surface even visible - glue residue completely covers both surfaces.  But after soaking in Acetone, it's the bond to the printhead that breaks when the parts are forced away from one another - which is plain to see because almost no glue residue is left on the printhead framework surface.   This is obviously bad, but what is worse is the hidden bond between the tin roof and the piezoboard.  This is also compromised, as the tin roof is also easier to remove after soaking.   ...so Acetone is out.

I am happy with this discovery because quite honestly once you explore all the tiny fragile intricacies of these piezoboards you are left with a very high level of respect for their vulnerabilities.  While the Devil on my shoulder was anxious to watch Acetone melt away dried ink into nothingness from the chamber walls of a piezonozzle, the Angle on my other shoulder incessantly clashed pots and pans of despair in my other ear.  I expected these results, so I feel far better about using your milder solution for far longer amounts of time.
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Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #1044 on: December 30, 2012, 02:18:40 PM »
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Alan I am looking to mix/test your solution now.  I have come up with a new system of flushing the printhead which will take far longer, but will be far safer for all parts considered.  Please if you will, give me an idea of percentages when you say "a drop" of Dawn.  Is this for a shot-glass sized portion of solution, or a gallon?  And when you say 10-20% of isoproply alcohol, what's the rest of the solution made of - Distilled water I assume?
Distilled water is best as you won't have to worry about any residual salts in tap water.  I think if you mix up two cups of the isopropyl alcohol/water mixture and add one drop of Dawn to that you will have a good working solution.

Alan
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Eric Gulbransen
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« Reply #1045 on: December 30, 2012, 02:21:36 PM »
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on it, thanks Alan
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davidh202
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« Reply #1046 on: December 30, 2012, 05:42:19 PM »
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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.?

BTW,From your pics and description, I have a suspicion the "speed bumps" are ink flow restrictors (governers) controlling the final flow to the nozzles.  
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Eric Gulbransen
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« Reply #1047 on: December 31, 2012, 12:08:27 AM »
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I like your thinking David.  Heat, pressure, chemicals, even ultrasonic vibrations - there has got to be a way...

Here's the thing though - we face some tough challenges when you consider that clogged up ink is typically a LOT larger than the hole we need it to exit the head through.  Forcing the dried ink free with pressure is an attractive idea, albeit dangerous considering how fragile the piezo chamber walls are.  Backwards would be my direction of choice to force hardened ink through but regardless, we need to break it up before we can force it anywhere.  Right now it's land-locked inbetween the speedbumps and the nozzle openings.  

Here's a few illustrations I made to show a piezo channel unit from a perspective that I can't photograph.  They go in order - no ink, filled with ink, hardened ink stuck inside the chamber walls.  These illustrations are not based on theories.  I've seen all this crap up close and personal, hardened ink included..







« Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 12:33:45 AM by Eric Gulbransen » Logged

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« Reply #1048 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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« Reply #1049 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 #1050 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 #1051 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 #1052 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 #1053 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 #1054 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 #1055 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 #1056 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 #1057 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 #1058 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 #1059 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

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