Thursday, July 13, 2006

Epson 4000 - Clogged Nozzle Anxiety III

I still get regular hits from google from people who are searching for "Epson clogged nozzles" or "clearing clogs on Epson." So readers, there is a problem with Epson's Pro printers. I know that very few of you are interested in photographic printing or in the Epson 4000 printer but for those few who are searching, I'm posting my latest news. I've written about Clogged Nozzle Anxiety here and here.

I'm convinced that the problem isn't really clogged nozzles but instead is some engineering problem with the ink delivery system to the nozzles because as you try to clear a "clog" other inks will suddenly develop problems and randomly drop out or return only to drop out again. I've been using Epson printers for a few years and the printers I've had in the past didn't behave this way with clogged nozzles. Someone wrote me that they thought the problem was the UltraChrome Pigment inks and the piezo-electric technology of the nozzles. I don't agree. My 2200 printer uses the same UltraChrome Pigment inks and the same piezo-electric technology for the nozzles but I can leave it sitting for months, turn it on run one or two nozzles cleans if necessary and it is ready to print. No so with the big 4000 Pro printer.

I've been out of town and left my printer sitting for two months with a humidifier running to be sure that low humidity wasn't a problem. Still after two months of being shut down, I was expecting problems when I turned it on and I had them. First nozzle check was good except for some drops in yellow. I did an auto check and everything was dropping out except the matt black and photo black. I worked with it yesterday trying cleaning cycles and nozzle checks and it would almost correct then something else would drop out. I was using up a lot of ink.

On the Epson 4000 group, many people are used a "puddle clean" to get their printer "unclogged." I've said before that I'm not a printer tech and I didn't want to have to do that but I didn't seem to have another choice. I printed out all the messages on how to do a puddle clean. There isn't just one nice PDF document that goes step by step with pictures but instead there are numerous entries about how to do it and some of them seem contradictory.

This afternoon after reading all the messages and making some notes it was time to to start on it. But hoping for a miracle, I printed another nozzle check. No yellow and the light magenta and light black swatches were very spotty. Epson has recently posted a new firmware release and so before I started into the guts of the machine, I thought I might as well try the new firmware although Epson doesn't say it will fix clogging/ink delivery issues. Some other people had reported that they thought it had helped. It installed without a problem. I then ran an auto nozzle check. The first set of blocks had no yellow and very spotty light magenta and light black. Second set, yellow was okay but still a few spots in the light magenta and light black. Third set was perfect except for a few smudges of magenta in the yellow. But the auto check stopped at that point. I didn't have to do a puddle clean. Was it the firmware or the printer angel sitting on my shoulder? Don't know but I'm ready to print and I hope it will stay that way.

So for those of you looking for a solution to "clogged nozzles" download the June 26 firmware release. Oh, and pray for the printer angel to come sit on your shoulder.

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