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Hints, Tips and Solutions (Do NOT post requests for help here) If you have any useful general hints and tips for vintage technology repair and restoration, please share them here. PLEASE DO NOT POST REQUESTS FOR HELP HERE!

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Old 19th Jul 2020, 11:12 am   #1
David G4EBT
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Default Epson Ink-Jet printhead blockage problem solved.

Printer problems often crop up on the forum, so I hope this post is sufficiently relevant to share with forum members.

I have an Epson Stylus SX535WD ink-jet colour printer which I bought new some years ago, which has worked fine until two weeks ago when it stopped printing black. A test pattern print confirmed that the print-head was blocked, so I ran the 'clean print head' utility several times with no success, not appreciating that if you run it more than three times, it makes matters worse, not better, as it simply floods the blocked head with yet more ink.

This blockage probably arose because lockdown has meant that I've done far less printing then before. Apart from my own printing, as secretary of a woodturning society for some years, ordinarily I do lots of printing of agendas, minutes, reports, budgets business plans, risks assessments, newsletters and correspondence - maybe 300 or so A4 pages per year. All that stopped at the beginning of March, since when I've done little printing, so I guess the print-head just dried up.

I'd bought this printer when my previous one - an HP, which had worked faultlessly for some years - stopped printing magenta and I couldn't cure the fault. I suspected that I wouldn't be the only person to have experienced this problems so I did a google search and found several helpful videos which explained how to hopefully clear the problem using a print-head cleaning kit. The kit consists of a 60 ml bottle of cleaning fluid, a silicone rubber tube, a 5ml syringe, some latex gloves, blotting paper and full instructions.

For the curious, the fluid is stated to consist of: Butaxypropan-2-o,Propa-1,2-diol, ammonia hydroxide, water, colour.

Ordinarily, at the end of printing a page the printhead unit with its four cartridges park in a locked position to the right of the printer and are only accessible when an ink cartridge runs out. Hence the first step is to get the printhead unit into a position which will allow the unit to slide freely along the carriage so the cartridge can be removed. To clean the blocked head, first, a piece of blotting paper or folded up kitchen roll is placed under the unit, the cartridge is removed, which reveals the ink nozzle on the print head for whichever cartridge is removed. It's recommended that the cartridge is wrapped in clingfilm until refitted to stop it drying out of leaking. The syringe is filled with two or three mls of fluid, the rubber tube is pushed onto the print-head nozzle and the fluid gently squeezed into the head.

After five to ten minutes, the print head unit is slid to one side so that the fluid soaked blotting paper can be discarded, and the process repeated. I went through the process a couple of times, but when I refitted the cartridge, the head still wouldn't print, so I decided to give the fluid a better chance of dissolving the blockage by applying another does of 3 mls of fluid and left it overnight. I was more than a little pleased when next morning, the problem had cleared. I've used the printer for more than a week since and have printed maybe 30 pages, which - touch wood - have been fine. I still have enough fluid left to clean the other three printheads, which hopefully won't be necessary.

Here's the video I saw that alerted me to how to cure blockages:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IszUNL7znds

The kits aren't expensive and are widely available for other makes of printers - HP, Kodak etc. This is the one that I used:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Epson-noz...72.m2749.l2649

Here are some other suppliers:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/i/29303067648...8ce586192d0521

I hope that might be of help to anyone else who experiences this problem.
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Old 19th Jul 2020, 1:27 pm   #2
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Default Re: Epson Ink-Jet printhead blockage problem solved.

I've used this method to resurrect a street find Epson (quite possibly the same kit) and it was successful. Printing a test page occasionally helps.
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Old 19th Jul 2020, 1:59 pm   #3
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Default Re: Epson Ink-Jet printhead blockage problem solved.

I may try one on a Brother A3 printer/scanner I bought second-hand but which failed to respond to the internal head-cleaning procedure. I currently use it merely for A3 scans, while doing any A3 printing on a separate printer.
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Old 19th Jul 2020, 8:05 pm   #4
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Default Re: Epson Ink-Jet printhead blockage problem solved.

Thanks for detailing that David and I'm pleased it has been a success. These are the kind of issues that plague many inkjets.

Something I have read somewhere (more than once I think) is that the genuine (and yes, mega expensive) inks are far far less prone to clogging/drying the print heads than third party offerings. Whether there is any truth in that I don't know... but when I got my latest printer (an Epson XP-452) I sort of decided to only use genuine inks and touch wood haven't had any issues. I print very little indeed at the moment, perhaps only three or four various sheets a month.

(an old wired printer, an Epson DX4050 has been the longest lasting of any and in fact I still have it. I used inks from Wilkos in that one for many years)

One thing I have done with the latest printer was to create a test print pattern of my own and occasionally run that.

Edit... the attached image looks washed out for some reason. I see the forum has changed the original PNG to a JPG and a lot of detail and clarity has been lost.
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Old 20th Jul 2020, 8:24 am   #5
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Default Re: Epson Ink-Jet printhead blockage problem solved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mooly View Post
Something I have read somewhere (more than once I think) is that the genuine (and yes, mega expensive) inks are far far less prone to clogging/drying the print heads than third party offerings. Whether there is any truth in that I don't know...
That's what I've observed. I've had a client who destroyed two HP PhotoSmart C6280s with non-original inks. They went on to kill a Canon....

Print quality issues in lasers can also often be traced to refilled toners - I've seen it several sites, sometimes obvious things like missing lines of one colour, but sometimes things like random little spots across the page. If a client has that kind of problem the first thing I check is whether they have genuine HP cartridges - every time so far they haven't!
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Old 20th Jul 2020, 9:29 am   #6
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Default Re: Epson Ink-Jet printhead blockage problem solved.

Although Arjol is correct about non original inks being more prone to clog I make the following observations.

Copy inks cost a fraction of the originals one of the reasons I have bought Epsom printers over the years is the availability of copy inks.

Original inks cost 2/3rds the purchase price of my Epson SX440W

I have been using it now for around 8 years and on average replace all the inks every 4 months or three times a year.

I buy my copy inks for around 6 a set (real ink for this printer is around 42 per set) they are fine for what I do.

My printer recently suffered the dreaded "paper out" fault after a jam (Grand children had dropped debris into the paper feed) and I was all set to replace it.

On learning how much the inks were for a new printer I took the time to repair my old one. It wasn't difficult the paper sensor was out of it's clips. The biggest problem was working out how to get it apart

The truth is that printers like this are almost given away, the income is in the ink.

I have over the years suffered dry ink and have wasted as much ink cleaning than printing but its still costs me a quarter as much to use copy inks. (and when you leave the printer unused for months or so when I am overseas I suspect original inks would also dry out).

It would make no sense for a company to use non OEM but for an individual well able to sort out any consequences it's saved me hundreds of pounds over the printers life so far.

Cheers

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Old 20th Jul 2020, 10:13 am   #7
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Default Re: Epson Ink-Jet printhead blockage problem solved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David G4EBT View Post

This blockage probably arose because lockdown has meant that I've done far less printing then before. Apart from my own printing, as secretary of a woodturning society for some years, ordinarily I do lots of printing of agendas, minutes, reports, budgets business plans, risks assessments, newsletters and correspondence - maybe 300 or so A4 pages per year. All that stopped at the beginning of March, since when I've done little printing, so I guess the print-head just dried up.

p
I've been there done it got the Tee shirt, got fed up with ink jet printers. I don't do much printing many times after a long period of inactivity the printer refused to work when I really needed it.

I invested in a Laser printer 3 in one, cost 250 with 100 cashback. The Toner cartridges are very expensive but I am reliably informed it is possible to buy the toner to refill the cartridge.

One thing I noticed when printing a large solid area of colour was the paper was flat, if I had used an Inkjet the paper would have been wet and wrinkled.
I don't want to turn this thread into Ink jet vs Laser printer, Just my experience.

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Old 20th Jul 2020, 10:37 am   #8
David G4EBT
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Default Re: Epson Ink-Jet printhead blockage problem solved.

My printer is an Epson Stylus SX535WD which I've had for nine years, during which I'd estimate that I've printed off well over 4,000 pages, and probably more, given that it's a copier too of course. During the first year of its life for warranty purposes I used genuine Epson inks (which costs more than throwing the printer away and buying another). Whilst it's often a truism with most products that 'you get what you pay for' I reverted to using compatible cartridges as I'd done with previous printers and saw no discernible difference in quality, albeit I'm not interested in printing photos, so maybe it's not as wholly fair comparison.

From the company I've used for more than fifteen years, a set of genuine Epson cartridges for my printer currently costs 65.00, whereas a set of compatible cartridges costs 11.99 - a fifth the price of Epson ones. (Both inc VAT and post free, and from time to time, a discount is offered - presently it's 20%). The company has 500,000 customers, has had 50,000 reviews and offers 100% satisfaction guarantee if problems arise. (I've never had to put that to the test). On average, depending on the volume of printing I do, a black cartridge lasts five months - colour ones last six to seven months.

Printers are very complex electro-mechanical machines with thousands of parts - many of them moving parts. The print-head technology is mind boggling, and as often as not, they copy and scan, and have ethernet and wi-fi. Yet despite that, they're ludicrously cheap, even with 20% VAT. However, the cost of ink per ml is dearer than the finest vintage wines. It's difficult to conclude therefore that the printers are a 'loss-leader' to hopefully lock in ongoing revenues from expensive ink, notably from business customers.

We've been around that loop several times before so I think the mods may rightly conclude that it's time to 'pause printing' on this aspect of the thread.
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Old 20th Jul 2020, 10:51 am   #9
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Default Re: Epson Ink-Jet printhead blockage problem solved.

I have problems with my Epson printer / scanner with head clogs, especially as I was using non-original ink in it.

Eventually I let my sister in law have it, as she wanted it for the scanner.

Had I known about the cleaning kit I would have given it a try.
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Old 20th Jul 2020, 11:31 am   #10
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Default Re: Epson Ink-Jet printhead blockage problem solved.

I don't do enough printing to warent having a working printer.
When I do print something I put it on a memory stick and pay as I go at a local shop.
It is more cost effective for me based on the reliability of a printer that is not used frequently.
We are talking 10 pages a year.
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Old 20th Jul 2020, 2:26 pm   #11
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Default Re: Epson Ink-Jet printhead blockage problem solved.

For a very long time I used many Epson ink jet printers generally with very good results but they did suffer occasionally with the frustrating blocked nozzles (nearly always used OEM Epson inks).

Did try a couple of cleaning kits with mixed results.

In more recent years have switched over to Canon inkjets and touch wood no nozzle blocking so far.

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