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Author Topic: Keeping Epson x900 Series Printers Working Optimally  (Read 1970 times)
spacegoose
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« on: July 12, 2013, 10:53:01 AM »
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I am wondering if turning the printer on periodically, or every day, is enough to keep the inks flowing. If I don't print every day, I need to spend a good deal of time (and ink) power cleaning, etc. I have a second hand 4900 and have been pretty happy with it despite the hefty cost for ink.

Are there rules of thumb for keeping these printers running optimally?


 Grin
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2013, 12:46:01 PM »
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Are there rules of thumb for keeping these printers running optimally?


 Grin

Yes, as has been over and over and over again in these forum threads: MAKE REAL PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINTS WITH IT regularly - several prints every three days minimum. Keep it operating within the Epson recommended temperature and humidity range, and you should be OK. DO NOT rely on just keeping the printer on (a mistake - you want if OFF when not printing) or making periodic nozzle checks. These machines were designed to be used.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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shadowblade
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« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2013, 06:40:34 PM »
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Yes, as has been over and over and over again in these forum threads: MAKE REAL PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINTS WITH IT regularly - several prints every three days minimum. Keep it operating within the Epson recommended temperature and humidity range, and you should be OK. DO NOT rely on just keeping the printer on (a mistake - you want if OFF when not printing) or making periodic nozzle checks. These machines were designed to be used.

Even just a small, postcard-sized print, to save on ink and paper when you're not making 'real' prints?

What about when you're away for two months working (either on a landscape or travel shoot in a remote area, or in my other job as a travel/expedition medicine doctor, or on a trip which combines both)?

This is one of the main reasons I don't own a printer myself and outsource everything, including strange requests like printing on custom paper with custom inksets, printing thirty different test profiles using different inksets, putting various inks through printers they weren't designed for, etc. But I certainly wish I had one for the purposes of conducting experiments...
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Dan Berg
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« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2013, 06:53:33 PM »
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Even just a small, postcard-sized print, to save on ink and paper when you're not making 'real' prints?

What about when you're away for two months working (either on a landscape or travel shoot in a remote area, or in my other job as a travel/expedition medicine doctor, or on a trip which combines both)?

This is one of the main reasons I don't own a printer myself and outsource everything, including strange requests like printing on custom paper with custom inksets, printing thirty different test profiles using different inksets, putting various inks through printers they weren't designed for, etc. But I certainly wish I had one for the purposes of conducting experiments...


Perfect candidate for the Epson 3880!
Just plain works all the time. Months with no activity and no clogs.
Hate to see you miss out on the craft of printing it is that addicting.
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shadowblade
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« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2013, 07:12:52 PM »
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Perfect candidate for the Epson 3880!
Just plain works all the time. Months with no activity and no clogs.
Hate to see you miss out on the craft of printing it is that addicting.


I've looked into that. Only thing is, the only things I have printed at 17" wide or smaller are test charts, and most of the concepts I'd like to test use more than nine heads. Would the Epson 4900 (17" wide, but using the Ultrachrome HDR inkset with 11 available heads) also work? Possibly even a factory second, or one with a damaged box, that comes with no warranty, since I'd be likely to run non-standard inks through it, modify it for thicker papers, install heating elements, and do other warranty-voiding things to it anyway. It'd be mostly for proof-of-concept experiments, that could then be translated to larger Epson printers, as well as Roland printers using Epson print heads (one of the many reasons I'd really like to make HP Vivera pigment inks work on Epson heads).

Also, why is it that the 3880 doesn't clog, but the larger printers, which use exactly the same print head technology (albeit with bigger heads) do?

If I just wanted a regular print made for a client, using standard papers and inksets, it's easier just to outsource that to someone who has multiple printers working and multiple papers in stock at anyone time, and can also spray, and possibly mount or frame, the print at the same time.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2013, 07:14:43 PM by shadowblade » Logged
Mark D Segal
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« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2013, 07:26:17 PM »
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I've looked into that. Only thing is, the only things I have printed at 17" wide or smaller are test charts, and most of the concepts I'd like to test use more than nine heads. Would the Epson 4900 (17" wide, but using the Ultrachrome HDR inkset with 11 available heads) also work? ..............

Also, why is it that the 3880 doesn't clog, but the larger printers, which use exactly the same print head technology (albeit with bigger heads) do?


The 4900 head is the same as that on a 7900 and 9900. So if you wanted to test concepts on a 4900 that would be portable to the other x900s, this would probably work for you.

The head in a 3880 and the head in a 4900 are very different from each other. They are both piezo-electric print heads but their characteristics differ a lot. For one thing, the 4900 has twice the nozzle density. Other aspects of the ink delivery systems are not the same between these two models. I don't know why the 3800/3880 printers clog less than the 4900, (could relate to differing formulation of some of the inks and much smaller nozzles in a 4900), but from my experience and that of many others, this is indeed the case.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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shadowblade
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« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2013, 08:11:56 PM »
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The 4900 head is the same as that on a 7900 and 9900. So if you wanted to test concepts on a 4900 that would be portable to the other x900s, this would probably work for you.

The head in a 3880 and the head in a 4900 are very different from each other. They are both piezo-electric print heads but their characteristics differ a lot. For one thing, the 4900 has twice the nozzle density. Other aspects of the ink delivery systems are not the same between these two models. I don't know why the 3800/3880 printers clog less than the 4900, (could relate to differing formulation of some of the inks and much smaller nozzles in a 4900), but from my experience and that of many others, this is indeed the case.

Fair enough.

I'm actually looking at a number of second-hand Roland printers (SC-540, SC-500) - they also use Epson print heads (with twelve heads in the printer), have inbuilt pre-heaters, and can be had for less than $9500. You can keep them on for months, and they run their own cleaning/maintenance from time to time in order to keep the heads working and unclogged.
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maphew
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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2013, 12:19:02 PM »
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Even just a small, postcard-sized print, to save on ink and paper when you're not making 'real' prints?

Would someone in the know please comment on this sub-question?  How much ink or paper real estate needs to be laid down or covered every X days to keep these guys running happily?

thanks :)

-matt
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hugowolf
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« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2013, 09:35:57 PM »
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Would someone in the know please comment on this sub-question?  How much ink or paper real estate needs to be laid down or covered every X days to keep these guys running happily?

That greatly depends on the environment. During the summer months here in Virginia, I still do nozzle checks daily, but they are always clear. In the winter, when I really stuggle to keep the humidity up to 40%, I have the occassional single nozzle clog once in a while. I can print every day in the winter and still have the occassional clog (including days with many, many square feet of printing). I can go for several days without printing in the summmer, and never have a clog.

Brian A
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Dan Sroka
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« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2013, 01:01:47 PM »
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How much ink or paper real estate needs to be laid down or covered every X days to keep these guys running happily?

I doubt anyone can really answer this. But my rule of thumb is if it starts clogging, start printing more. Like Hugo mentioned, this can vary from season to season. I know that in the winter, when humidity is low and dust is high, I have to be diligent about printing a lot more frequently

But my general advice is: if you buy one of these printers, don't try to save money on ink and paper. Use it, use a lot of it! Yes, they may feel expensive, but compared to making prints in the old days (setting up and maintaining a darkroom), it's peanuts. Trying to save on paper and ink is like buying a racecar and only driving it around the block on weekends. Or fully renovating your kitchen, but only using your microwave.

And Epson forums are full of advice on how to "save ink" by by turning off the auto nozzle checks, or substituting "clean color pairs" for full head cleanings. Take all that with a grain of salt. I'd bet that a lot of complaints about clogged heads come from attempts to save some money on ink. Keep the nozzle checks on, or make sure you do your own regularly. And when you get a clog, go ahead and let your printer clean itself. You can use the "clean color pairs" option is fine once and a while, don't let it replace a good all-heads cleaning.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2013, 01:19:45 PM by Dan Sroka » Logged
davidh202
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« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2013, 09:58:08 PM »
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I doubt anyone can really answer this. But my rule of thumb is if it starts clogging, start printing more. Like Hugo mentioned, this can vary from season to season. I know that in the winter, when humidity is low and dust is high, I have to be diligent about printing a lot more frequently

But my general advice is: if you buy one of these printers, don't try to save money on ink and paper. Use it, use a lot of it! Yes, they may feel expensive, but compared to making prints in the old days (setting up and maintaining a darkroom), it's peanuts. Trying to save on paper and ink is like buying a racecar and only driving it around the block on weekends. Or fully renovating your kitchen, but only using your microwave.

And Epson forums are full of advice on how to "save ink" by by turning off the auto nozzle checks, or substituting "clean color pairs" for full head cleanings. Take all that with a grain of salt. I'd bet that a lot of complaints about clogged heads come from attempts to save some money on ink. Keep the nozzle checks on, or make sure you do your own regularly. And when you get a clog, go ahead and let your printer clean itself. You can use the "clean color pairs" option is fine once and a while, don't let it replace a good all-heads cleaning.

I will say  big Amen to that Dan!
I have said a number of times on the 'never ending thread' and a few of my own, that I believe these printers are self aware and don't like to be messed with. Attempts to save a couple of $ of ink are penny wise and pound foolish. Running in service mode,and trying to override the self aware features leads to trouble.
Oh I forgot... Reading the instruction manual helps a great deal!  There are a number of specific warnings that many have not taken heed of and then wonder why they have problems ;-)
David
« Last Edit: July 19, 2013, 10:04:53 PM by davidh202 » Logged
kdphotography
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« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2013, 09:02:44 AM »
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Agree with Dave and Dan.  Maybe a different way to look at it:  turning off all the warnings and avoiding cleanings to save a few bucks, which can go towards investing in a new head later!   Wink  No thanks!

My top suggestions:

1.  Monitor humidity with a hygrometer.  40-60% humidity is the target range. It doesn't matter if your hygrometer isn't accurate to the upteenth degree; just that it measures accurately and consistently where your 79/99** printer is in its happy place.  Heaters/AC can really challenge your printer's happy place.  Use a humidifier if needed.

2.  Print regularly, whatever that means.  This can vary a lot, and my sense is it depends on humidity and other factors where this happy place is.  I use HHC and print automated nozzle checks on at least one of my Epsons that isn't used as often---knock on wood, zero problems.

3.  Basic maintenance.  Check the wiper regularly and clean it with a lint free swab.  Replace wiper at least once per year.  Keep the printer area and printer deck clean. Dust frequently.  Vaccum the deck and paper/canvas roll ends from debris.

Nozzle checks and the rare nozzle pair clean are all I have needed to keep the heads clear.  If you have a more stubborn block, do no more than two consecutive cleanings (if needed) and then make a small print followed by a nozzle check.

ken
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maphew
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« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2013, 02:21:38 PM »
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Thanks Everyone.

On our 7900 auto-cleaning (periodic) is on, and the nozzle check print is perfect.

On the 9900 auto-cleaning is off, and the nozzle check print is spotty. Given your responses, that's understandable and to be expected. (FWIW last print was 4 days ago. No idea what the humidity is or has been. We almost always print on HP Coated paper (single weight matte); unlike most people here on LL we print maps, not photos or art.)

Turning auto-clean back on reminded me why we turned it off in the first place: never ending "auto-cleaning failed" messages. Answering "No" to the "retry?" prompt and printing another nozzle check yields perfect results, which accords with my memory of what happened with the last time around as well.
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maphew
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« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2013, 02:15:34 PM »
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Eric Gulbransen, my new personal hero after having read the first 36 of 72 pages in the epic "Epson 7900 from the inside - out", posted an image for printing every 3 or 4 days which purports to exercise the print heads and inks properly to keep from clogging.

I figured I would follow Eric's example and build a reformatted page (17" x 1.5") for roll feed, in order to minimize paper use. When looking at the RGB/CMYK values of that jpeg I see that Yellow is not 100% Yellow, and the same for all the swatches excepting pure black. Is that on purpose or should I alter my swatches to use 100% values for CMYK? and, assuming the latter, what CMYK values should I use for LC, G, LM, O, and LLK?

In other words, what are the CMYK values for each of the Epson Ultrachrome Inks?

I'm building the page in Inkscape, linking with "Epson Stylus Pro 9900_7900 Single-weight Matte Paper" profile, and exporting to PDF with the eventual aim of setting up a server scheduled task to fire 'print this pdf if printer not used within X hours'. I'm happy to share the results if any one is interested.
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maphew
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« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2013, 05:24:56 PM »
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Ahhh, I should have kept reading, @cybis is way ahead of me, with an image and batch file for QuadTone RIP ready to go: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=61585.msg567446#msg567446
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