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Author Topic: Epson 7900 from the inside - out  (Read 262396 times)
DougStocks
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« Reply #1080 on: January 01, 2013, 09:05:59 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?

   How about adding a little agitation? There may be a membrane of hardened ink at the face of each of these channels/tunnels you have described -with more fluid ink behind.
  Also- we shake our carts before installation, presumably because of some settling or separation of ink components.

{Edit} Sorry davidh202, didn't see your post- just previous. I did not mean to glomm off your post. 
« Last Edit: January 01, 2013, 09:24:53 PM by DougStocks » Logged
Eric Gulbransen
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« Reply #1081 on: January 02, 2013, 12:24:34 AM »
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Very good question David.  I have them here by my side and am eying them up with great anticipation (question).  It's just they came to me from HAL with quite a loose set of instructions.  Something like "The red one, maybe only use that for an hour or two.  Epson won't tell us what it is, does, or how dangerous it is to use it.  They only say use it as a last resort/short time.."  Apparently the clear one is far less potent or dangerous. 

Those directions never did leave me feeling very comfortable.  Apparently not everyone who works on these machines has had their microscopic internals in their sites quite as routinely as all of us have by now.  I intend to test a sacrificed channel with this mystery solution this week.  Good of you to have not forgotten.

For what it's worth this terminally clogged green channel head that I have been soaking, seems to be showing signs of life (or at least movement).  I have a rubber blower (I suppose we all do) for freeing dust from lenses here.  The rubber ball on this one is pretty thin, pretty gentle.  I have been using this as a gentle fluid pressure source.  Via clear tubing I have fastened this blower to the nipple on the clogged green channel daily, since it's been soaking.  Day one applying gentle pressure produced not a trace of a drop of liquid exiting the nozzle openings in the printhead face.  Day two nothing either.  But tonight I am seeing a difference.  By the way I tested the pressure tolerances of this technique on a deadhead channel before I applied the technique to a hopeful head.  Apparently they take quite a bit of pressure before the piezoboard succumbs to the pressure.  This makes sense actually, if you've ever watched your machine go through a cleaning cycle with it's covers taken off.  You should see how aggressively ink gets sucked through the face of your printhead during a cleaning.  I filmed it actually, as well as some other interesting things which I will share in time.  Time will tell if I am being too aggressive or not.  At this point as gentle as I am being I think we are far from doing damage.  I may throw this head back in the 9900 this week, for a test.  Fingers crossed there is ANY difference, other than it giving us fatal error messages.  That would simply be annoying..
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Eric Gulbransen
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« Reply #1082 on: January 02, 2013, 12:36:45 AM »
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  How about adding a little agitation? There may be a membrane of hardened ink at the face of each of these channels/tunnels you have described -with more fluid ink behind.

Thanks Doug.  I have added some movement, slight shaking, but nothing very aggressive yet.  This initial soaking I am seeing as more of a test.  My hope is that the new nozzle pattern will show differences.  Any improvement at all would be a VERY welcome result.  Even one nozzle firing that wasn't firing before would be a huge success.  I do have lots of nozzle patterns saved from this very head, in fact only minutes before it came out.  Green consistently showed the same broken results, so any differences will be obvious.

On the subject of "shaking" one scientist friend of mine brought up ultrasonic cleaning.  Oh hell here we go again was my first thought - that's what they did in Canada.  But it's interesting, after extremely thorough examination of the Oh Canada head the only damage that I find seems more fluid pressure related than vibration related.  I could be wrong though.  Either way it'll be easy to test this technique (minus the Canadian power flush routines), on a damaged head if we ever find the need to get a lot more aggressive than we are being now.
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DougStocks
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« Reply #1083 on: January 02, 2013, 01:16:08 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 in between 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..
...

   These speedbumps could be filters, I came across this> "Inks for all types of ink jet printing are carefully filtered during manufacturing to eliminate any particulates which might clog the narrow channels and nozzles. Additional filters are located in the ink jet printers themselves in the fluid manifolds upstream of the narrow channels. Ink jet printing inks are commonly water-based, and contain either dyes (colored molecules) or pigments (colored crystalline materials). Design of ink jet printing inks is deceptively complex. For example, the ink should dry very rapidly when it lands on the paper, but it should not dry in the nozzle. A number of different additives are typically required in each ink, proper balance, to achieve the right mix of properties for high image quality and robust operation."
  8 paragraphs down this page>   http://www.imaging.org/ist/resources/tutorials/inkjet_printer.cfm
« Last Edit: January 02, 2013, 01:19:17 AM by DougStocks » Logged
Eric Gulbransen
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« Reply #1084 on: January 02, 2013, 10:14:32 AM »
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Could it be the filters mentioned here are in the dampers, which are located at the very end of the ink lines, just before ink enters the head?  Seems that would make more sense to me since any filtered particles stopped by the "speedbumps" would then build up and clog the ink flow making it impossible for ink to reach the nozzles.  By the way this is the second image that I have seen in two days which pictures piezoelectric printhead nozzles looking nothing at all like the nozzles in our X900 printheads.  You've seen the pictures under the microscope yourself, I'm sure you agree.  I have another printhead here.  I have no idea what printher it is from or where it came from quite frankly.  Maybe Justing in SF gave it to me when he donated the 9800 head for exploration.  Anyway I'll take that head apart and compare the difference in piezoelectric nozzles.  I expect a huge difference.

By the way I ordered the X-100 Alan.  Lots of screening questions.  One in particular they asked me to describe my lab - "race bike, trophies, weights, two printers, a vacuum heat press and two microscopes."  ...I'll probably get denied   Smiley
« Last Edit: January 02, 2013, 10:32:06 AM by Eric Gulbransen » Logged

Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #1085 on: January 02, 2013, 12:10:01 PM »
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By the way I ordered the X-100 Alan.  Lots of screening questions.  One in particular they asked me to describe my lab - "race bike, trophies, weights, two printers, a vacuum heat press and two microscopes."  ...I'll probably get denied   Smiley
It's not a hazardous substance so I think they should ship to you.  Probably you should have put down 'photographic printer researcher!'
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enduser
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« Reply #1086 on: January 02, 2013, 04:19:31 PM »
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Probably stating the obvious here, but, what about using Epson dye ink as a possible cleaning agent?
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Blue moon
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« Reply #1087 on: January 02, 2013, 05:48:13 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.
I am not doubting that Dawn did save some poor unfortunate birds and even one saved makes it worthwhile...on the subject of solutions....I promised to let you know the result of checking up on a new solvent used in stem cell research projects  to separate the silk produced by the humble silkworm from the glue used by that same worm to make a strong cocoon from its own  silk...seemingly,the process is 100% successfull in bringing the silk back to its original best condition and could do no harm to a printer if it doesntn harm silk...but the scientist involved said it was too complicated a process to be used as a solvent for printer use..its being targeted for medical research only..
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hugowolf
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« Reply #1088 on: January 02, 2013, 06:21:31 PM »
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... 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.
The problem I have with ‘Holiday Mode’ software is that a roll of paper has to be loaded continuously during the period, and this is something that Epson has always envied against. Do the heads not fully park when paper is loaded ready to go?
Brian A
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davidh202
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« Reply #1089 on: January 02, 2013, 07:29:23 PM »
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Eric
Just had another brainstorm...

Vinegar as a solvent?
heat up some ink on a slide to bake it dry, and then see what happens when you apply Vinegar
It works to dissolve calcium and hard water deposits in my coffee maker!

David 
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Eric Gulbransen
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« Reply #1090 on: January 02, 2013, 08:00:46 PM »
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It's not a hazardous substance so I think they should ship to you.  Probably you should have put down 'photographic printer researcher!'

I'm getting the cold shoulder from Sigma Aldrich on the X-100 order.  It seems automated though, they're asking for documentation confirming this is a business, and they refuse to ship to a residential address.  I'll head underground and work this out another way tomorrow.
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Larry Heath
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« Reply #1091 on: January 02, 2013, 10:48:30 PM »
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go here for Triton x-100

http://www.sciencelab.com/page/S/PVAR/SLT2452  this one is $117 for 500 ml

All though I am guessing here, Kodak PhotoFlow 200 is likely effectively the same type of surfactant at a tenth the cost. It's $8 or so and you can get it from amazon.

Later Larry
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Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #1092 on: January 03, 2013, 06:51:57 AM »
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Eric
Just had another brainstorm...

Vinegar as a solvent?
heat up some ink on a slide to bake it dry, and then see what happens when you apply Vinegar
It works to dissolve calcium and hard water deposits in my coffee maker!

David 
It won't work as it's a polar solvent (basically just dilute acetic acid) and won't have any effect on the pigment polymers which are organic in nature.  Hard water deposits are minerals which is why vinegar works on them (same with calcium residues).  I'm sure muratic acid would work on the Epson print head but it would probably also dissolve everything else of importance. Grin
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Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #1093 on: January 03, 2013, 07:06:45 AM »
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go here for Triton x-100

http://www.sciencelab.com/page/S/PVAR/SLT2452  this one is $117 for 500 ml

All though I am guessing here, Kodak PhotoFlow 200 is likely effectively the same type of surfactant at a tenth the cost. It's $8 or so and you can get it from amazon.

Later Larry
500 ml will last three or four lifetimes!  I just looked at the MSDS Photo-Flo 200 and it just might work.  It's mostly water with propylene glycol (which may be one of the glycols in the Epson ink) and a detergent similar to Triton X-100 (actually it is Triton X-114).  The detergent level is 5-10% which might be OK for this purpose.  The nice thing is that the stuff is readily available and reasonably priced (though not as cheap as a do it yourself mix).  I like the fact that propylene glycol is in it since this may be a little more compatible with Epson ink.  I would maybe start off with a 1:1 dilution with water, certainly the dilution that Kodak recommends for film won't do much of anything.

Alan
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Blue moon
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« Reply #1094 on: January 03, 2013, 07:28:20 AM »
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500 ml will last three or four lifetimes!  I just looked at the MSDS Photo-Flo 200 and it just might work.  It's mostly water with propylene glycol (which may be one of the glycols in the Epson ink) and a detergent similar to Triton X-100 (actually it is Triton X-114).  The detergent level is 5-10% which might be OK for this purpose.  The nice thing is that the stuff is readily available and reasonably priced (though not as cheap as a do it yourself mix).  I like the fact that propylene glycol is in it since this may be a little more compatible with Epson ink.  I would maybe start off with a 1:1 dilution with water, certainly the dilution that Kodak recommends for film won't do much of anything.

Alan
I have been using Epson inks and their recommended service cleaning solutions (glycols) in an agressive way (about 8 power cleans..ive lost count... in the last month...). the glycols not shifting my 3 clogs or any part thereof...finished that exercise....will now warm the liquids as they enter the head with hair dryer as a final jesture with glycols on their own...if  Photo Flow does the job for Eric my hunch is that the detergent Triton x-114 will be the key additional ingredient and not the glycol....its only a hunch....seems like a great product for the job....what would you think of leveraging with the detergent in view of my experience with the glycols alone ?
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Blue moon
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« Reply #1095 on: January 03, 2013, 07:32:23 AM »
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For got that its one composite product which does not allow variations in its make up...hopefully it does the trick as it is ..
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Larry Heath
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« Reply #1096 on: January 04, 2013, 02:45:09 AM »
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I wonder how effective a 1 to 1 or even neat Photo Flow might work as a puddle cleaning agent? As opposed to the more typical water or Windex Classic type cleaners? With the glycols it would likely have a better retention time around the print head as opposed to the others. How about say a 70/30 mix of Photo Flow and Windex?  I wonder if the addition of the polar cleaning agent in the form of the ammonium would help or hinder? Given that Windex has always worked for me in the past as an effective puddle cleaner.

I have a couple of old Pro 4000 ‘s that have been getting harder and harder to get and keep clean; I think next time I am going to try a puddle clean of Photo Flow instead of Classic Windex and see if that cleans better or quicker. Also I have some old carts around that I think I may repurpose and fill with a 1 to 1 of water and Photo Flow and do a few power cleanings and see what happens.

Anyway there is some more food for thought.

Later Larry
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Erik Ulstad
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« Reply #1097 on: January 04, 2013, 11:24:38 AM »
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Hello there-

I own an Epson 9600 and have two rough clogs.  I came across this forum a month or so ago and gained lucidity on my problem when I read about the wiper crud re-entering print head. Here is the current solution I am in the process of prototyping, for whatever it's worth:

I live in the mountains, in a dry climate. My humidity is about 20% daily, in the winter. I noticed the topic of a micro climate, which I am in the process of simulating. My office is very small, 10' x 10' so I'm trying a humidifier right now.

Here is what I'm looking at embracing for a solution.  It's a little robust, but what the hell.

There seem to be two opportunities for solutions.  One is the wiper blade, the other is clog prevention.  I feel that if you can completely bypass the wiper blade you are setting yourself up for success. I also feel that if you can keep something moving through the print head while the print head is not in use (perhaps dial in the cleaning solution that has been mentioned here before) then you are creating a situation where there is a low probability for a clog to form inside the nozzle.

My attempt is going to look like this:

1) remove the wiper blade and replace this "action" or "concept" by using, and disposing of after use, chamois cloth.  By design, a wiper blade doesnt seem to come close to the "solution" of cleaning the excess ink off the print head after a head clean.  Paper towels were never designed specifically for this job, but have assumed the role (clear flaw here is paper bits or dust left engrained in print head). On the other hand, chamois cloth is much more expensive, but worth it for this stage of the solution process, as a means. Chamois cloth is designed to clean fine surfaces and cutting up the cloth into smaller pieces,  and giving the print head a careful "shoe shine" is what I have in mind.  

2) remove the clog itself. This seems to be the million dollar question in some ways. Ill share a little concept that has been on my bandwidth and see what surfaces.  

I make kombucha and bottle it in wine bottles.  Instead of using a proper cork, I use "tasting corks" which have a cap on the top of them to assist in removing the cork. A few times I've gone to uncork the wine bottle to drink my kombucha and have encountered the cork "stuck". A few times, without thinking, I applied a forceful twist and ripped the cap off the cork. Not a huge deal, I get a wine opener and open the bottle. In not wanting to waste my tasting corks, I took a look at the bottle and realized that I had been storing these bottles as they would sit on a table.  In doing so there is no moisture on the cork itself, and the cork dries out (you wine drinkers will know that wine bottles that have real corks, not plastic corks, are stored at an angle so the wine touches the cork) . I then started to tip the bottles upside down for as little as 15-30 seconds and wet the cork before opening the bottle.  I got good results.  

Here is where the clog comes into play.

I removed my print head and cleaned it with a solution I found online.  This was the first time I went this far down the rabbit hole with repair. I got improved results but the stubborn clogs still persist. I've since removed the the dampers from the ink lines a couple times and the dampers from the print head a couple times. In doing so, I realized this wasn't that hard to do.  A little messy occasionally but put on rubber gloves and get some q-tips soaked in windex for cleanup.

What I'm looking at doing (to get the stubborn clogs removed) is apply motion (slight pressure) on both ends of the clog, at different times but in close duration.  This is a bit of a lofty goal but from all the posts out there with nozzle clogs, it needs to be.  15 seconds of light pressure from the end where the ink line inserts, 5 seconds of pressure from the other side.  I am not sure if the nozzle is a "one way" flow as previously touched on in this thread.  Even if it is, the flow coming back into the print head would be far less than what is flowing out, per traditional travel of ink. I'm going to begin not using any pressure at all, just puddling, then move on to slight pressure if need be.

 The visual in my mind is this...when a wine cork is in a bottle there are small spaces in between the cork and the glass where liquid can touch. When my liquid (kombucha) touches this area, I get the desired result of the cork releasing.  Now picture this (this is what is in my mind). Instead of visualizing a "piezeo tube" I picture a set of Chinese finger cuffs (for some reason this came to mind when I was thinking about the flexibility of the piezeo nozzle).  The finger cuffs have a cork stuck in the middle.  Now picture liquid accessing each side of the cork. So that means that the finger cuffs are flexible in a small way and likely allow a bit of an improved space (between the cork and "glass" or cork and finger cuff) for the liquid to access each time liquid is applied to either side of the cork. And it's a very, very small improved space but likely gradually improved each time liquid hits it, even if in tiny amounts. The rate and duration of liquid coming in contact with both sides of the clog is what will allow the clog to dissipate. Yes, this may mean that a print head will need to be connected to a setup like this for a couple weeks (months) perhaps, but our boy Eric has been after it for close to a year. In hindsight 2 weeks is nothing.  I've been trouble shooting for two months and am front row and center with "necessity is the mother of invention."

My idea is to take the print head out of the printer and connect latex tubing, the same size as the ink tubing, to the print head (7 tubes, 7 colors on the print head).  I then gently pump (I'm thinking breast pump) cleaning solution through the print head. And I do mean gently (I recall someone posting something about the metric used for pressure? A BAT perhaps? Long term we dial in the correct BAT that sends pressure but doesn't throttle the print head). On the other side, the clog itself needs to be in motion or closer to being in motion. So I then puddle cleaning solution on the top of the print head and access the areas I was referring to before (the space between the cork and glass) on the business end (the side of the print head that faces the paper) of the clog. Perhaps apply a bit (a tiny bit) of pressure somehow to this side as well.  Desired "action" is cleaning solution gaining access to the space in between the clog and the piezeo wall as often as possible, but not at the same time.

This concept isn't new at all.  Often times we get out the ol' syringe and plastic tubing and try to work it out that way.  I've found that rather challenging, mostly because the syringe doesn't move smoothly. In fact the one I have is quite jerky, which is dangerous to the print head if you should happen to "burst" fluid through the syringe. The other problem is the the tubing (female end) rarely matches the male end where the traditional ink tubing fits. The tubing is usually too small. How about a piece of latex tubing that fits snugly?

While this is a subtle attempt the long term solution would be a pump with an auxiliary set of nozzles attached to the print head that gently (like 3ml a day gently) pumps a cleaning solution through the print head while the printer isn't in use.

Cost:
The pump (I'm looking at using a breast pump because of the "gentle" pressure associated with such a device...it will be tested of course. Long term perhaps we stumble on the right brand name breast pump that offers the correct pressure). If we stumble on the right pump it's likely $50-$400.
The rubber latex tubing (3 bucks a foot?)
Tubing assembly (not exactly necessary but could be convenient)
7-way splitter for tubes coming off pump
Adaptor from pump to tubes
Towel on the back end of the print head to absorb the 3ml per day that comes out of the print head
(more costs associated with a device on the print end of the print head that could gently feed a solution down the "wrong way" of the print head....much more long term)

This would primarily be a tool of prevention but would also serve as a remedy if need be. I heard somewhere that an ounce of prevention is worth something valuable.

Eric, well played sir.  To all the other who have contributed to this point, thank you for being a part of this solution.  

I keep looking over at my copy of "The Cluetrain Manifesto" and smiling.

I'm not a handyman or a technician or a scientist or a even an amateur printer.  I'm a ski bum in Colorado who wants to print stuff.

Again, for what it's worth.

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« Reply #1098 on: January 04, 2013, 02:25:07 PM »
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Re: humidity

I used to live in NY and had to use these for my musical instruments during the winter:
http://www.dampits.com/
Wooden string instruments are really fragile- can't get them wet at all but low humidity over time causes problems. 

Rather than humidifying a whole room constantly, you might be able to make something similar, or use several of these dampits with a cover over the printer.  There are other companies that make similar products for instruments besides the damnpit. 

I know that it is a very different kind of situation in that with an instrument you have a closed case, but maybe some solution like this with a covered printer might help from a humidity standpoint?  Just a thought . .
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Eric Gulbransen
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« Reply #1099 on: January 05, 2013, 12:54:38 AM »
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SO CLOSE I CAN SMELL IT....


Last night I warmed Alan's original solution up and drew it back up through the head from the face - rearward, by gently sucking from a syringe separated from the head by about twenty inches of clear tube.  This way I figured negative air pressure would be a buffer if the solution needed more time to get through the head's internals.  For what it's worth warm solution pulls through the head easier than cold solution.  Someone tell me why, please, I need another headache right now.

After all channels got about 10ml of solution run through them I re-visited the Green channel on this particular head - which went terminal many moons ago.  I did a few runs on the green channel.  In the end I ran about 40ml of solution through it, gently.  Then I let the head, with solution still in it, sit tight until this evening when I installed it.  I didn't have my genius with me (cause he's got a girl now) so I put the 9900 back together solo.  I doubt I missed anything.  Machine started up fine, recognized everything fine, tried running a cleaning cycle, got through a lot of it, then flashed me an error message - 131B. 

I looked this code up, it means "They get too close now, tell them turn machine off - call service.."

Bastids

I'm shot right now, been powering through an illness that's trying to get the best of me all week.  This was my last goal for the week, testing the head.  This error code stole my wind.  It's second meaning is " Head driver (transmission gate) overheat error ".  I'm not sure because I have put no thought or effort into diagnostics yet.  Haven't even checked the service manual.  Least it didn't flash me "Fatal error/replace head."  ..who knows maybe that's next.

I swear I'm gonna beat this machine if I have to do it with my framing hammer.  Either way it's gonna get done.
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