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Author Topic: Where failed print head complaints come from  (Read 9045 times)
Scott Martin
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« on: April 28, 2012, 10:51:53 AM »
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I'd venture to guess that at least 95% of the complaints of failed print heads are due to under-usage. These printers (all large format brands) like to be used and clog up when left idle for months at a time. I'm seeing original heads from 6 year old iPF5000s going strong in print shops that use their printers daily. And shops that are burning out iPF heads from lots of use aren't complaining about replacements because they are making so much money off of them and the user-replaceable aspect is a good thing for them.

We need to scream this from the top of a mountain. These printers like to be used!! Make at least one 8x10 print every single week and leave them on 100% of the time. Vacuum pressure and ink movement needs to be maintained. If allowed to sit off for periods of time, all large format printers (HP, Canon and Epson) will clog and introduce unnecessary and costly expenses.

Those that aren't printing every week should consider outsourcing their printing or making it a habit to print at least one (but preferably several) 8x10s every single week.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2012, 11:18:30 AM »
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Scott, you've probably hit the nail on the head (not the print-head) here. But I have one question - the advice to leave the machine ON all the time. This is contrary to advice I've received from Epson to shut it down when not using it, because this creates a seal that protects the printhead from drying out.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
Mark D Segal
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« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2012, 11:42:49 AM »
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Scott, to amplify - looks like this is one of those "it depends" situations: Here is a direct quote from several published Epson bulletins:

<On and Off
This may seem like a basic thing, turning a printer on and off…How can that be a problem? It isn’t unless you turn it on and off from a power strip. Never do that. When you turn a printer off, it parks the heads in a very specific place. Shutting the printer down from a power strip may by pass the normal shut down procedure and the heads may not be parked properly. This can lead to the head drying out and becoming clogged. If you use your printer on a daily basis, just leave it on. This is not a waste of energy as the printer uses minimal power in stand-by mode. You should turn the printer off if it is not going to be used for a few days. However, your printer does work best when used regularly so it is recommended that you turn the printer on and make a small number of prints at least every seven to ten days.>
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
Ernst Dinkla
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« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2012, 11:47:07 AM »
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Those that aren't printing every week should consider outsourcing their printing or making it a habit to print at least one (but preferably several) 8x10s every single week.

If intermittent use is to be expected then take an HP Z. It may be slower, the carts are smaller but it copes best with that work load and the idle times.


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tmphoto
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« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2012, 04:23:51 PM »
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I'd venture to guess that at least 95% of the complaints of failed print heads are due to under-usage.
I don't agree, unless the x900 printers are badly designed. With older printer you could not print for weeks, months or even years and the clogs were fixable.

Here is a partial text from post 653 on the "Epson 7900 from the inside - out":
www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=61585.670#653

Quote
I can assure you that problems caused by little use can be fixed.
User neglect, take a look at this:
http://e7800.printermed.com/kv2v6403.htm
http://e7800.printermed.com/kv2v6455.htm
Got the above printer for $100 with empty cartridges because it was badly clogged.
Serviced the cleaning unit and cleaned the head externally. After that I was able to print a clean nozzle check just using the inks that were left in the lines.
http://e7800.printermed.com/kv2v6463.htm
The wiper blade above did not need replacement, it was in great shape after cleaning. Same with the other parts.

After that I cleaned all the printer parts, ran some cleaning fluid trough the head and lubricated - It's working like new.
http://e7800.printermed.com/kv2v6450.htm
http://e7800.printermed.com/kv2v6410.htm

The above printer was used continuously until the owner bought a new 7900 then set aside for several months.
So, lots of wet ink accumulated over a 3-4 years that the dried off (used a lot and then "neglected", really bad but fixable).

In the attached pic a 9800, similar experience. Behind a 9600 printer, under cover. This printer was stored away in like new condition for several years. It has been cleaned and printing fine now.

 
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Wayne Fox
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« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2012, 12:55:52 AM »
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Often overlooked or minimized is the dramatic affect humidity has on all of these printers. Most buying these printers don't think much about this, but if you really want to minimize clogs you might want to consider finding an autofill humidifier, hooking it up through a reverse osmosis water supply and making sure the humidity in the room stays at 45%. While many live in "humid" environments,  natural humidity gets sucked out of the air by both air conditioning and heating.  A few years ago I was a guest of HP's in Atlanta Georgia while evaluating the installation of an HP  Indigo digital press.  I was surprised to see several commercial humidifiers running through the facility ... I assumed Atlanta was plenty humid.

Setting a bowl of water near the printer won't do it.  If you are in a moderately dry environment (natural humidity floats at around 25% in my house), it takes several gallons of water each day to keep the room the printers are located in at 45%.  I worked with a company who specializes in systems for applications where critical humidity control is needed.  He modifies humidifiers with autofill float mechanisms, and adds controls to them to create very accurate humidity control. He convinced me to get a little larger unit (rated at 8 gallons/day) rather than a smaller one with the high end control.  The built in control on the humidifier was accurate enough for what I needed.

  I installed one a few weeks ago after fighting some issues with my new 4900. With this running, I have yet to clean a nozzle on either the 4900 or 9900.  No matter the brand of the printer, it something worth considering ... it will add substantial life to the heads for a Canon or HP, or save time and ink cleaning nozzles of the Epsons.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2012, 08:31:07 AM »
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You're right - the humidity of the room is an important variable. Epson is explicit about this in the Specifications section of the manual (4900 here): 20% to 80% RH. Print quality guarantee: 40% to 60%.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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kdphotography
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« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2012, 09:19:57 AM »
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+1.  Yup---Mark and Wayne are spot on.  A hygrometer is a relatively inexpensive purchase (about $12-25) to measure the humidity in your print area.  I keep one by my printers and a separate one where I store my rolls of media.  My target for rh is between 40%-60%.

My printers generally get used regularly, but I did have concerns for those times when I leave the studio for days/weeks at a time and the printer is not used.  I found a printer utility (with a tacky name) called Harvey Head Cleaner (HHC).  See, www.harveyheadcleaner.com  It prints a nozzle check on the dates/times that you schedule.  All I have to say is that it works as advertised.  A whopping $39.95---well-worth the investment.  I leave an inexpensive 10" roll of media loaded in the printer and a laptop left on.  The program will *wake up* the computer to print a nozzle check as scheduled.  This is a pretty simple means to keep a small amount of ink flowing through the print head and keep the capping station wet.  I emailed to check---and was told I could purchase a single license to run the HHC on all my printers (I use two separate computers for three printers).  Right now I use HHC scheduled daily to print a nozzle check on my 9800 K7 piezography printer which doesn't get exercised as much as the 9900.  And no, I don't have any connection with HHC.  Otherwise, since I'm usually in studio all the time, I do turn my printers off at the end of each day.  It seems to me that when you turn on your printer it goes through various system checks, and that's also part of printer maintenance imo.

Aside from regular common sense inspection and cleaning, (now including wiper replacement as recommended elsewhere here at LL) I use a small powerful hand vacuum (Dirt Devil Scorpion) which has an easy to use attachment to vacuum up paper/media dust/debris on the printer deck, holders, and on the edge of the media rolls every time I change media.  If you look carefully, there is a good amount of media dust/debris that collects around the paper feed area and on the media edges.  My thoughts are if you don't clean it, you know that murphy is directing that dust/debris to collect on the print head.  In general keeping the area around your printer clean and free from dust is a good idea.

ken
« Last Edit: April 29, 2012, 09:43:36 AM by kdphotography » Logged

Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2012, 10:14:43 AM »
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The chief problem with high humidity is mold formation.  If you have your printer in a dedicated room where you don't have a lot of fabric which can accumulate mold spores, maybe greater than 40% humidity is OK but I would worry about going much beyond that.  Commercial installations are a different matter since they usually don't have curtains, sofas, carpeting, etc. that one would find in a home.  I have my 3880 in the family room which is on the ground floor of my home and because the way the heating/AC is set up it has higher humidity than other rooms in the house.  I'm probably at 35-40% in the summer (and have to run a dehumidifier downstairs to keep it there) and about 25% in the winter when the heat is running.  We have a furnace humidifier and I know for experience that if it is too moist in the winter I get mold.

Alan
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Don Libby
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« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2012, 12:09:09 PM »
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Usage of large-format printers reminds me of the advise I received on the generator of a motor home we once owned.  In both cases the advice is use it as often as possible if nothing else just to exercise it.

I also feel that humidity or lack thereof can cause a major problem with the printers.

My first large printer was a 4000 which clogged constantly.  Until I added a humidifier to my studio.   The 4000 was replaced with a 9800 and never had a problem due in part to the humidly in the studio.  I recently replaced the 9800 with a 9900 and again no major problems or complaints. 

I keep the studio between 40-45% humidity and around 74 degrees.  I also live in the desert environment of the Southwest in Tucson AZ where summer temps can go upwards of 110 with humidity as low as 5%.

So in my case at least as long as I keep using the printer as it was intended (several times a week, sometimes per day) and keep the environment stable, my printer keeps chugging along.

Don
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Ryan Grayley
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« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2012, 02:01:34 PM »
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If intermittent use is to be expected then take an HP Z. It may be slower, the carts are smaller but it copes best with that work load and the idle times.

Yes, I agree. I have had a Z3200 44" for over three years and I have never left it switched on when not in use. It has only been used for the very occasional canvas print as I have been using an Epson x900 for most of my printing. In fact until a few days ago, my Z3200 hadn't been used at all for about a year. Every few months or so I have been running a nozzle test pattern and the only channel that has clogged in the last year of non-use has been matte black. I haven't been able to clear with cleaning cycles so I routinely wip out the print head, give it a good old rub with lint free cloth (PEC wipes) and stick it back in. This clears the clogs 100% every time. I was going to sell this printer but it prints canvases perfectly without any flapping around having to make adjustments for incorrect canvas dimensions as with the Epson x900. I just wish HP could bring out a refined model that deals with some of the weaknesses of the Z3200.
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Ryan Grayley BA IEng MIET ARPS
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kdphotography
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« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2012, 02:57:20 PM »
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....it prints canvases perfectly without any flapping around having to make adjustments for incorrect canvas dimensions as with the Epson x900. ....

As an aside, Ryan, I used to have to make adjustments when printing canvas with my 9800 (add 1.25% only on length), but no longer need to make any adjustments whatsoever when printing canvas (BC Lyve) with the Epson 9900.  Whatever size/dimension I print canvas on, comes out spot-on (or within 1/64th of an inch last I measured----and certainly within spec when stretching cloth!) with the Epson 9900.  Printing on canvas can present a "feed adjustment" issue, and designating the right printer media, printer settings, and profiles resolves this issue on the 9900.  Well---let's put it this way:  there isn't an issue with BC Lyve canvas printing on an Epson 9900 with the right profile and printer settings.   Grin

ken
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Ryan Grayley
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« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2012, 04:14:25 PM »
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As an aside, Ryan, I used to have to make adjustments when printing canvas with my 9800 (add 1.25% only on length), but no longer need to make any adjustments whatsoever when printing canvas (BC Lyve) with the Epson 9900.  Whatever size/dimension I print canvas on, comes out spot-on (or within 1/64th of an inch last I measured----and certainly within spec when stretching cloth!) with the Epson 9900.  Printing on canvas can present a "feed adjustment" issue, and designating the right printer media, printer settings, and profiles resolves this issue on the 9900.  Well---let's put it this way:  there isn't an issue with BC Lyve canvas printing on an Epson 9900 with the right profile and printer settings.

I guess I must be unlucky. Despite trying every known method, BC Lyve "feed adjustment" inaccuracy is so bad on my Epson 9900 that I gave up and I have switched back to using my Z3200 for canvas printing.
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Ryan Grayley BA IEng MIET ARPS
RGB Arts Ltd, London, UK
Damir
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« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2012, 04:50:35 PM »
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I just wish HP could bring out a refined model that deals with some of the weaknesses of the Z3200.

What are the weaknesses of Z3200 in your opinion?
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Ryan Grayley
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« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2012, 05:46:58 PM »
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What are the weaknesses of Z3200 in your opinion?

In my opinion (but others milage will of course vary) some pros and cons of the Z3200 are as follows:

1. Ink stability is poor as I found out to my embarrassment with a discerning customer. It is essential to regularly calibrate with the built in spectro and not ignore the prompts to do so. It isn't difficult to do and only requires a few moments of time to load an A4 sheet of the offending media and leave the rest to the printer. (I am preaching to myself as I ignored the prompts to my cost).

2. Under a loupe I have noticed that with PhotoRag Ultrasmooth Z3200 dot patterns are sometimes visible. Ok, I realise this is dot peeping but for the same image on the same paper, my Epson x900s have had no observable dot patterns even with a loupe.

3. Print speed is relatively slow.

2. Paper loading especially roll is a PITA.

5. Star wheel patterns were supposed to be fixed on the Z3200 but on every thicker semi-gloss/pearl type papers I have tried they are still evident although admittedly very feint. Thinner papers such as Ilford Gallerie Pearl seem ok.

There are things to like about the HP though.

1. Even after 5 or so years, the HP still has a strong lead on light fastness according to Wilhelm.

2. Apart from my self inflicted ink stability embarrassment, my Z3200 has been 100% reliable.

3. Great black and white support. I used my Z3200 to produce the 100 or so large individual b&W giclee prints to the London exhibition of the 1960s photographer John 'Hoppy' Hopkins a few summers back with positive feedback. http://gallery.ideageneration.co.uk/blogs/52/view
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Ryan Grayley BA IEng MIET ARPS
RGB Arts Ltd, London, UK
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« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2012, 06:00:56 PM »
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Proof of the wisdom of leaving my Canon on is that because I sit next to it I hear what it does.  I always leave it on and after a while it goes into power saving mode, then every few hours (possibly once a day), it wakes itself up, has a look at its nozzles, agitates the ink and checks temperature and humidity.  After some sounds of activity it goes back in to power saving mode.   Power use in saving mode is 6w.

This obviously doesn't happen if turned off completely.

These checks show on the panel while they are running.
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Wayne Fox
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« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2012, 06:21:07 PM »
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The chief problem with high humidity is mold formation.  If you have your printer in a dedicated room where you don't have a lot of fabric which can accumulate mold spores, maybe greater than 40% humidity is OK but I would worry about going much beyond that.  Commercial installations are a different matter since they usually don't have curtains, sofas, carpeting, etc. that one would find in a home.  I have my 3880 in the family room which is on the ground floor of my home and because the way the heating/AC is set up it has higher humidity than other rooms in the house.  I'm probably at 35-40% in the summer (and have to run a dehumidifier downstairs to keep it there) and about 25% in the winter when the heat is running.  We have a furnace humidifier and I know for experience that if it is too moist in the winter I get mold.

Alan
A 3880 is a different story all together, and clogging of nozzles is very rare.  It really won't benefit nearly as much from some TLC as the larger printers.

As far as humidity, mold requires higher humidity levels than 40-45%, a level which is recommended for comfortable living by many sources.  Mold becomes problematic at 75% or higher, and the real issue is areas that are "wet".  That's why I use the RO water supply and change the wick in the humidifier every 3 months.   Having higher humidity levels in the winter can be an issue if you don't have good windows as it can condense on the glass, leading to wet areas that might get mold.   I've been running a humidifier in my bedroom at 45% for 5 years now, and have no issues with anything, including no problems around the windows (triple glazed) despite some pretty severe winter temperatures.



Proof of the wisdom of leaving my Canon on is that because I sit next to it I hear what it does. 

This is the recommended procedure for Canon and HP printers.  They frequently "spit" minuscule amounts of ink to maintain nozzle health and leaving them off will lead to clogged nozzles and shorter head life.  Epsons on the other hand do not do this, and if the printer is on the head is not sealed as well, allowing the ink around the head to dry out.  I turn mine off if I know I won't use it the next day, otherwise I leave it on.  It also goes into power saving mode, taking several seconds to "wake up" and get ready to load paper or print.

I also have an image I create which I use before and after every nozzle check, and I print out about once a week if I'm not using the printers.  I designed it specifically to make sure all colors get some ink, trying to get them balanced.  Still not perfect, but every color gets between .07 and 1.2 ml of ink when printing the page.  Here's a little thumbnail of it ...


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Don Libby
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« Reply #17 on: April 29, 2012, 11:18:57 PM »
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I guess I must be unlucky. Despite trying every known method, BC Lyve "feed adjustment" inaccuracy is so bad on my Epson 9900 that I gave up and I have switched back to using my Z3200 for canvas printing.

Odd - I started using Lyve the same time I upgraded to the 9900 and have not had a problem.
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Ernst Dinkla
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« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2012, 05:31:16 AM »
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In my opinion (but others milage will of course vary) some pros and cons of the Z3200 are as follows:

1. Ink stability is poor as I found out to my embarrassment with a discerning customer. It is essential to regularly calibrate with the built in spectro and not ignore the prompts to do so. It isn't difficult to do and only requires a few moments of time to load an A4 sheet of the offending media and leave the rest to the printer. (I am preaching to myself as I ignored the prompts to my cost).


There have not been that kind of surprises for me. On the Z3100 I have printed some art print with long intervals in between over 3 years at least and no complaints. I calibrate when I get a new batch of paper rolls but did not notice issues within paper batches. If there have been color differences it usually was a mistake by me in either profile choice or media preset. The Z3200 did not behave different either. Shake the carts from time to time, the extra hues like RGB are consumed much slower than the light greys for example.


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Met vriendelijke groet, Ernst

340+ paper white spectral plots:
http://www.pigment-print.com/spectralplots/spectrumviz_1.htm
update april 2012: Harman by Hahnemühle, Innova IFA45 and more
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Scott Martin
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« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2012, 09:42:48 AM »
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This may seem like a basic thing, turning a printer on and off…How can that be a problem?

Yes, that's a particularly good technique for Epsons in particular and was the saving grace for Epson 4000 users!
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