Luminous Landscape Forum

Raw & Post Processing, Printing => Printing: Printers, Papers and Inks => Topic started by: John Caldwell on May 15, 2013, 10:45:27 AM

Title: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: John Caldwell on May 15, 2013, 10:45:27 AM
In the interest of trying Symphonic Cleaning Fluid as a partial means of preventative head clog maintenance on our 4900, I see that I don't know how to uncover the 4900's capping station. It is on the capping station pad that a few drops of the cleaning fluid is to be deposited a regular intervals and, according to those who believe in this method, the printed head is kept in a "moist & fluid" state. Revealing the capping station on the 7900/9900 series is straight forward, as it is done from the Service Mode front panel.

It has been suggested that one method of uncovering the capping station is to pull the 4900's power plug while the head is mid-carriage, say during a print or during boot. Before trying this un-plug method, I was hoping to learn from you all here, and to see if you felt a power loss could be hazardous. Further, after pulling the plug and treating the capping station, what would one do next? My instinct would be restore the head at capping station location and reapply AC power.

Anyone who has tried the Symphonic Fluid that cares to chime in here, for better or worse - that's also welcome. Certainly I plan to publish here what my results are. The good thing is that I'm having enough trouble with the 4900, that at least in the short term, it will be readily apparent if this method deters head clogging and need for incessant cleaning of our 4900.

(American Inkjet Systems http://www.americaninkjetsystems2.com/support/how_to_use_symphonic_cleaning_fluids.html)

Many thanks,

John Caldwell
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: JeffW on May 15, 2013, 11:23:37 AM
John,

To uncap the head: Turn on the printer while pressing menu, paper feed and the OK button, all at the same time. Then select self testing, mecha adjustment, CR un cap. Press OK while enter uncap is displayed. The head can then be slid to the side.

Make sure to keep us informed as to how well this works for you. Personally I have struggled with keeping the head working properly.

Jeff
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: John Caldwell on May 15, 2013, 09:45:43 PM
Excellent Jeff and many thanks. I'm not certain why I understood the process to be less transparent on the 4900 than it is, and as you very neatly pointed out.

In any case, I have with your help today, begun the process of prophylactic treatment of the 4900 with the Symphonic solution. My intent is to do as I was instructed, meaning an application, once every three days, of "a few drops" of solution to each of the 5 capping station bays. I have no idea if this will be of value, and I note (with some concern) that this product and method hasn't gotten much talk on this forum - meaning I regard the group here as plenty sophisticated enough to know of tools and tips that are of genuine value.

I'll report my observations with the technique. For what it's worth, the treatment took only a 45 seconds of hands-on time, but it ties up the printer for a few minutes going through the capping cycle. Pretty much the same on our 9900. I'll guess that I'll apply Symphonic Fluid at the end of the day, rather than at the beginning.

John Caldwell
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: tsjanik on May 15, 2013, 10:27:14 PM
I look forward to your report John.  I must say my 4900 has been trouble-free despite periods of weeks without use.   Maybe I have just been lucky so far, but I'm not assuming that will continue.

Tom
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: John Caldwell on May 16, 2013, 08:15:07 AM
Do you print daily? Do you humidify the room in which your 4900 sits, if I may ask?

Our 4900 did very well until we hit about 1200 square feet of throughput, and since then it's been troublesome wrt clogs, cleaning, air in heads and so on. I'm hoping this liquid application is of som evalue.

John Caldwell
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: tsjanik on May 16, 2013, 08:41:49 AM
I do not print daily, often going a week or more between sessions.  I live in the NE US.  During the winter the room is quite cool (high 50s to low 60s ).  Humidity is usually moderate in the summer.  I do leave a pan of water in the covered printer during the summer if I'm away, otherwise no special treatment*.  I always print a nozzle check before a session; sometimes a 2nd nozzle print clears any gaps, if not a clean of the effected nozzles has so far worked.

Tom

* I do remove and shake the ink cartridges every few months.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 16, 2013, 08:58:09 AM
John, Jeff and Tom,

While not exactly the question that opened this thread, I'm interested to drill down a bit into the circumstances causing the problem in the first place, as prevention is often better than cure. I bought a temperature/humidity instrument (cheap) from "The Source" (a.k.a. Radio Shack) here in Toronto and have it set-up beside my 4900. The temperature is normally around 24 C., and the relative humidity fluctuates between 24% and 30%. Under these conditions if I do not make real prints AT LEAST once every three days, there is a virtual 100% probability that two or more nozzles will show clogs/droppages and at least one normal "pairs" cleaning cycle, if not two, will be required. If the printer sits for more than a week unused, the cleaning process becomes more involved (but not to the extent of power cleaning). In discussion with Epson folks, not once, but numerous times, the message that keeps coming back is that two factors are most responsible for these performance issues: (i) inadequate usage, and (ii) excessively low humidity for optimal performance (indeed the manual allows from 20% upward, but recommends minimum 40% for optimal performance). So in your situations, what are the usage and humidity conditions?
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Jim Metzger on May 16, 2013, 10:36:57 AM
I am a long time reader of this forum, very few posts. I prefer to chime in only when I can contribute to the discussion. My profound thanks to everyone who contributes.

I happened to be at the "World Headquarters" of American Inkjet Systems yesterday in NJ. They were the only one in the NYC area to help me get my Epson 7600 (12 years and still going) back up and running with new parts that have not been available from Epson in years.

Scott is a mad genius with Epson Printers, he researches, repairs, refurbs, writes software / profiles, creates and sells his own inks (the images are spectacular) and has developed what I believe to be a premium cleaning / lubricating fluid. I'll be using this on my printer.

I imagine the efficacy of the cleaning fluid will depend on where your 4900 is at this point in time but I would have no hesitation in using the fluid as recommended.

Jim
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: stefohl on May 16, 2013, 05:42:03 PM
John, Jeff and Tom,
(i) inadequate usage, and (ii) excessively low humidity for optimal performance (indeed the manual allows from 20% upward, but recommends minimum 40% for optimal performance). So in your situations, what are the usage and humidity conditions?

While not being John, Jeff or Tom, I will add that we haven't had the tons of problems with our 4900 that some seen to have. It's not used everyday, but on a regular basis. But we try to keep the humidity to not less than 40 %. In winter time we have to have the humidifier going at all times.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 16, 2013, 05:48:26 PM
While not being John, Jeff or Tom, I will add ..........

Needles to say the more operational experience that gets reported here the better - so welcome! And that's useful information.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: jpegman on May 16, 2013, 10:04:37 PM
For some side notes - Epson's North-East Field Rep Todd Schneider did a 90 min video at B&H on Inkjet printer maintenance and color profiling. The first 20-30 minutes are very illuminating regarding clogging issues and preventing (minimizing?) them.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxxqN_5mNo0 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxxqN_5mNo0)

Also, specifically on the 4900 and it's Epson Brother and Sister printer, Jon Cone did 3 blogs on issues he has wrestled with for his customers and his take away which is at least worth a few minutes read.

Part 1 http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=jqwrlkdab&v=001ETD-u6eVKYveguhIr5DZUBzitFw_ia7dEjqmcsZjsOfoTssX4PhmLi8RMkiuhIo3eGchX7MyJwpCIT1U_3uJayXmYqZ2Lahp26aMdnmY9t9gx9VDf2jrIpZR21KUawoIRjwv5klRHmtDWGCYhyUSxUbZdBJYlzsv (http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=jqwrlkdab&v=001ETD-u6eVKYveguhIr5DZUBzitFw_ia7dEjqmcsZjsOfoTssX4PhmLi8RMkiuhIo3eGchX7MyJwpCIT1U_3uJayXmYqZ2Lahp26aMdnmY9t9gx9VDf2jrIpZR21KUawoIRjwv5klRHmtDWGCYhyUSxUbZdBJYlzsv)

Part 2 http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=jqwrlkdab&v=001OsO-C5786B10IKSLYoIVjui4EnW8HvOeZjmcQtwpc0amXCmy2hHB4gNXOIGw9BN80Xz_STvpPHzlJBomowkaEt9JciSX8G0HeaXu9Tw0X4DXTQqutvy3lDgmtvWWcnpeaanG8jy0r65bPAeqvK94sEw869ww_5ah (http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=jqwrlkdab&v=001OsO-C5786B10IKSLYoIVjui4EnW8HvOeZjmcQtwpc0amXCmy2hHB4gNXOIGw9BN80Xz_STvpPHzlJBomowkaEt9JciSX8G0HeaXu9Tw0X4DXTQqutvy3lDgmtvWWcnpeaanG8jy0r65bPAeqvK94sEw869ww_5ah)

Part 3 (with specific help from a 3rd party "2manuals.com" on the R3000, however, it seems ironic that Epson appears to limit the user fixes available on R3000, 4900, X890 and X900 printers) http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=jqwrlkdab&v=001Udjluc4seemPA1tBDzSWclbGtAJwc6WtbqWsVgeM-RmkCsuxfbEbu46eEApHp4jAf27oSzzCXFBRnxgpTDrN4UB-5E8mNzdpuJZhLzYAFtQXUM213PVjodYBu0WzsCxO_bCXnpfFW1FYn_Cu7-Wo8tA-cArP-pme (http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=jqwrlkdab&v=001Udjluc4seemPA1tBDzSWclbGtAJwc6WtbqWsVgeM-RmkCsuxfbEbu46eEApHp4jAf27oSzzCXFBRnxgpTDrN4UB-5E8mNzdpuJZhLzYAFtQXUM213PVjodYBu0WzsCxO_bCXnpfFW1FYn_Cu7-Wo8tA-cArP-pme)
 
Good Luck

Jpegman
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 16, 2013, 10:50:35 PM
None of those links open a webpage for me (Mac 10.6.8. with Firefox)
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: jpegman on May 16, 2013, 10:59:59 PM
Don't understand - if I copy and paste those url's into my Firefox v21.0 on a Windows8 PC, they all open up fine for me. I checked each one out.

I don't know how to embed hot links (if one can!) in LuLa's forum posts.

Jpegman
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 16, 2013, 11:14:57 PM
Sorry - it was another service interruption from my technically unreliable ISP (Rogers Communications of Toronto Canada) that caused this just at the moment I was trying to use those links. I apologize for any consternation Rogers caused both of us. It's the cost of doing business with them. Your links work.

You can hyperlink directly within a LULA post. The button just to the left of the envelope (for email) is a hyperlink button. Click it, a dialog will come up. Insert the URL into the pane (using copy paste is fine). Click OK, and you're done.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: jpegman on May 16, 2013, 11:44:40 PM
Thanks Mark- easy enough and much easier for readers

Hank
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: John Caldwell on May 18, 2013, 02:35:10 PM
We're four days into preventative care of the 4900 heads by every 2nd day application of Symphonic fluid to the capping station. I am discouraged: Never before have I completely, or virtually completely, lost the LK and PK channels until now. While it's tempting to link the full dropout of LK and PK to the treatment, I don't know if there is a relationship.

From here, I'm going to follow Mark's advice and install a humidity and temperature measurement gauge at the printer interior. It makes no sense to me that there is a humidity deficit in this room, the floor of which is poured concrete that sits on grade, in Western Pennsylvania. As a side note, I don't humidify acoustic and electric guitars that are stored in this room, and those who know will regard this is testimony against dry air.

Frustrating technology, but maybe I'm overlooking something I can do differently.

John Caldwell
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 18, 2013, 02:49:25 PM
John,

Sorry to hear things are not going as well as desired. Indeed frustrating and unfortunate. From what you are saying I would suggest two things: (1) Whatever way you can, flush-out all the alien materials in your printer. (2) Call Epson support and ask them how to reset the printer for a complete re-install and repriming of the printer, as if you were buying it for the first time. The ink you use fills the lines, most of it does not get wasted (some goes into the maintenance tank - don't ask how much, I have no idea, but it's cheaper than buying a new 4900). Once all that is done, make real prints of real photos with it AT LEAST every third day. Should be OK thereafter.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 18, 2013, 03:02:26 PM
For some side notes - Epson's North-East Field Rep Todd Schneider did a 90 min video at B&H on Inkjet printer maintenance and color profiling. The first 20-30 minutes are very illuminating regarding clogging issues and preventing (minimizing?) them.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxxqN_5mNo0 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxxqN_5mNo0)

Also, specifically on the 4900 and it's Epson Brother and Sister printer, Jon Cone did 3 blogs on issues he has wrestled with for his customers and his take away which is at least worth a few minutes read.

Part 1 http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=jqwrlkdab&v=001ETD-u6eVKYveguhIr5DZUBzitFw_ia7dEjqmcsZjsOfoTssX4PhmLi8RMkiuhIo3eGchX7MyJwpCIT1U_3uJayXmYqZ2Lahp26aMdnmY9t9gx9VDf2jrIpZR21KUawoIRjwv5klRHmtDWGCYhyUSxUbZdBJYlzsv (http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=jqwrlkdab&v=001ETD-u6eVKYveguhIr5DZUBzitFw_ia7dEjqmcsZjsOfoTssX4PhmLi8RMkiuhIo3eGchX7MyJwpCIT1U_3uJayXmYqZ2Lahp26aMdnmY9t9gx9VDf2jrIpZR21KUawoIRjwv5klRHmtDWGCYhyUSxUbZdBJYlzsv)

Part 2 http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=jqwrlkdab&v=001OsO-C5786B10IKSLYoIVjui4EnW8HvOeZjmcQtwpc0amXCmy2hHB4gNXOIGw9BN80Xz_STvpPHzlJBomowkaEt9JciSX8G0HeaXu9Tw0X4DXTQqutvy3lDgmtvWWcnpeaanG8jy0r65bPAeqvK94sEw869ww_5ah (http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=jqwrlkdab&v=001OsO-C5786B10IKSLYoIVjui4EnW8HvOeZjmcQtwpc0amXCmy2hHB4gNXOIGw9BN80Xz_STvpPHzlJBomowkaEt9JciSX8G0HeaXu9Tw0X4DXTQqutvy3lDgmtvWWcnpeaanG8jy0r65bPAeqvK94sEw869ww_5ah)

Part 3 (with specific help from a 3rd party "2manuals.com" on the R3000, however, it seems ironic that Epson appears to limit the user fixes available on R3000, 4900, X890 and X900 printers) http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=jqwrlkdab&v=001Udjluc4seemPA1tBDzSWclbGtAJwc6WtbqWsVgeM-RmkCsuxfbEbu46eEApHp4jAf27oSzzCXFBRnxgpTDrN4UB-5E8mNzdpuJZhLzYAFtQXUM213PVjodYBu0WzsCxO_bCXnpfFW1FYn_Cu7-Wo8tA-cArP-pme (http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=jqwrlkdab&v=001Udjluc4seemPA1tBDzSWclbGtAJwc6WtbqWsVgeM-RmkCsuxfbEbu46eEApHp4jAf27oSzzCXFBRnxgpTDrN4UB-5E8mNzdpuJZhLzYAFtQXUM213PVjodYBu0WzsCxO_bCXnpfFW1FYn_Cu7-Wo8tA-cArP-pme)
 
Good Luck

Jpegman

Hank, I've read through those articles on Cone's site and I wonder. Most importantly, his story about Ultrachrome ink being the main cause of the clogging doesn't account for the fact that the 3800/3880 series use Ultrachrome ink and are virtually trouble and maintenance free. You can leave those printers shut for very long periods of time - and I mean very long - I experienced one that was unused for a year, you fire them up, do a nozzle check and they come up clean. Leave a 4900 unused for more than a few days and bingo - nozzle clogs. There's something else going on, and I suspect it is associated with the fact that the x900 series print heads have twice as many nozzles per inch as the 3800/3880s. But there could be other design differences too. Jon Cone says his inks don't clog Epson printers and produce virtually identical results. How does he come up with this magic when Epson, with all their accumulated experience, chemists, engineers, testers and labs can't? Sorry, none of this adds-up in my mind, and John Caldwell's experience just reported here with the cleaning fluid is another unfortunate cautionary tale. The advice from Epson to print, print, print, while obviously in their interest, I think at the same time is obviously correct. It's a win-win.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: John Caldwell on May 18, 2013, 03:08:19 PM
Thanks, Mark. I print every 3rd day, and generally more often than that, as is. The room in which the printer sits is very clean, the printer is kept covered, so I can't understand the origin of alien materials if you know what I mean. The Epson suggestion that "Use Your Printer and You'll Be Fine" isn't true in all instances. The amount of time one spends getting the machine to work, at least in our case, has been just stupid.

Scott, the mad scientist at American Inkjet Systems tells me, for what size grain of salt this is worth, that they have been besieged by desperate owners of dead-head 900 series machines since the 900 series introduction. He, Scott, ties this to Epson's inks more than to the heads, if I understood him correctly. Scott explains that Epson's elimination of a gloss optimizer forced the company to formulate an ink that would offer the appearance of GE prints, but without the GE channel. In his view, this ink formulation -coupled with the size of the small head pores - is the perfect storm. The point that American Inkjet Systems is in the business of selling 3rd party inks, not 3rd party heads, should probably no be overlooked in evaluating his claim. Still though, Jon Cone's advertising claims similar numbers of SOS calls from 900 series owners. One can't help but fear that something is not right with this design.

I ran an HPZ3200 machine for three years with exactly one head clog incident; and that clog was cleared in a 5 minute cleaning. That machine sat where the 4900 and 9900 now sit. Epson is missing some practical points, I am afraid.

Thanks for your interest.

John Caldwell
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 18, 2013, 03:19:21 PM
The problems with the design need to be evaluated in the context of data we don't have: how many dead heads compared with printers sold? The extent to which those guys are "beseiged" could well still be a small faction of the total number of those printers sold and in use. My experience over and over again indicates that usage is the key issue. But your printing rate sounds as if it should be OK, so something else in your case is clearly going on.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: digitaldog on May 18, 2013, 04:17:40 PM
I've had nothing but problems with clogging on my 4900 from day one. It's feeding that overflow tank like there's no tomorrow. I can run cleaning after cleaning which is often required then it's fine for just a day. If I turn it on and check the heads a week later, clogs. In the SAME room is a 3880 that never clogs. So I don't know about humidly (which is single digit here). The 3880 is always perfect.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 18, 2013, 04:24:17 PM
Andrew - that may be the problem - the fact that you let it sit for a week without printing in that low humidity environment could be a good part of the problem. That said, I wish we had the 4900 capabilities in something like a 3800/3880 package that doesn't need nearly so much babysitting - in fact near none at all.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: digitaldog on May 18, 2013, 04:25:22 PM
Andrew - that may be the problem - the fact that you let it sit for a week without printing in that low humidity environment could be a good part of the problem.

The 3880 suffer's none the same.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 18, 2013, 04:26:53 PM
Yes I know - that's what I said. So what's going on?
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: digitaldog on May 18, 2013, 04:33:43 PM
Mine may be kind of a dud. I can't recall, did the original ink cart's hold a full load? I've only printed 220 sheets according to the panel. I've replaced nearly all inks and the Maint tank is about 70% filled. That doesn't sound right. It isn't anything like the 3880 even without the differences in head clogs. I really want to sell it. The 3880 is the bomb <g>
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 18, 2013, 04:42:24 PM
No, the starter cartridges held 80 mls, the replacements are 200. What size sheets did you print? Anyhow, it's not impossible. If 17*19 inch, you've put through about 490 sq ft of paper, which at most probably accounts for about 450 sq.ft. of ink coverage. My data indicates a 4900 averages about 1.5 ml/sq.ft., so you've probably used about 675 ml on prints. Figuring on using 10 channels at a time, that's a total of 800 ml starting, minus about 25% for initial charging, which is continuously in the lines waiting to be fed, so your flow-through on the initial set would start at about 600, which is less than you may have consumed. So it seems about right unless you were using smaller sheets with a lot less coverage,
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: JeffW on May 18, 2013, 11:22:24 PM
John,

I he'd a very similar situation where I had put windex under the head for an extended period of time. I had total drop out in PK and LK. I believe what I had done was to suck all of the ink out of the head. From there,I continued to run cleanings and power cleaning and would let it set overnight between them. Every day I would pick up a few more jets. It took almost two months to get back to all gets working.

I am sure there may be a short cut to getting it back, but, for me, it did come back.

Jeff
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: John Caldwell on May 18, 2013, 11:23:08 PM
We've run about 2000 square feet through our 4900 in it's 13 months of service. The average gap between print days has been 2.5 days, I'll guess but I can't say as though I've made a true measurement. Head cleanings are needed all the damn time, even when the printer in running every day without interruption, and many times on a given day even after after a clean nozzle check has been achieved before starting a series of prints.

We're on our 3rd maintenance tank because of the volume of ink that's wasted there during cleaning cycles, instead of flowing onto paper.

It's clear that not everyone is having this experience. My bias is that there is something wrong in the design here, but I can't prove it and, as Mark says, I certainly can't quote the rate of events as a proportion of units in the field. So anything I'd say would be just an anecdote, or driven by the bias I've already confessed to.

As for the Symphonic fluid application that got this thread started, I'm certainly not applying it again. My LK/PK are out cold, several power cleanings later - dead to the world. Mind you I began the sequence of applying Symphonic with completely clear nozzle checks with the goal of keeping them clear - not trying to clear a clogged head - just maintain what I had. But now I have a blank LK/PK series that never before did we have.

John Caldwell

Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: John Caldwell on May 18, 2013, 11:28:02 PM
...Every day I would pick up a few more jets. It took almost two months to get back to all gets working...

Maybe so, Jeff. No more Symphonic fluid here. The thought of checking in with a printer daily for a month to see if it's ready to work again doesn't describe my lifestyle though.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: JeffW on May 19, 2013, 12:33:57 AM
Yes I feel like little shop of horrors. I need to keep feeding the damn thing. I have never had this much problem with a printer. Unfortunately I bought Epsons marketing hype that they have been able to reduce clogging. I do love the images, but I hate to be tied down as well.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: jrsforums on May 19, 2013, 10:08:56 AM
John, I also had similar results with water and windex.  Also had a complete drop out of Mk/Pk.

The only way I could get it back was do an initial charge with the service program.  In the Cone articles, one of the things I believe he has correct is the cleaning cycles do not move enough ink to clear air out.

Service program:
http://www.2manuals.com/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=10&products_id=1365

Service manual also available there.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 19, 2013, 11:12:55 AM
John, I also had similar results with water and windex.  Also had a complete drop out of Mk/Pk.

The only way I could get it back was do an initial charge with the service program.  In the Cone articles, one of the things I believe he has correct is the cleaning cycles do not move enough ink to clear air out.

Service program:
http://www.2manuals.com/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=10&products_id=1365

Service manual also available there.

I'm not sure Mr. Cone got that right, if you are reporting correctly what he said. If I understood correctly what Epson America ProGraphics Support once told me, I think it's more likely the reverse: cleaning cycles run the risk of generating air bubbles and om this regard, running successive Powerful Clean cycles without printing in-between is particularly not recommended. Epson recommended to me running a print between each cleaning cycle, to prevent damage and improve clearing efficiency.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 19, 2013, 11:27:24 AM
We've run about 2000 square feet through our 4900 in it's 13 months of service. The average gap between print days has been 2.5 days, I'll guess but I can't say as though I've made a true measurement. Head cleanings are needed all the damn time, even when the printer in running every day without interruption, and many times on a given day even after after a clean nozzle check has been achieved before starting a series of prints.

We're on our 3rd maintenance tank because of the volume of ink that's wasted there during cleaning cycles, instead of flowing onto paper.

It's clear that not everyone is having this experience. My bias is that there is something wrong in the design here, but I can't prove it and, as Mark says, I certainly can't quote the rate of events as a proportion of units in the field. So anything I'd say would be just an anecdote, or driven by the bias I've already confessed to.

As for the Symphonic fluid application that got this thread started, I'm certainly not applying it again. My LK/PK are out cold, several power cleanings later - dead to the world. Mind you I began the sequence of applying Symphonic with completely clear nozzle checks with the goal of keeping them clear - not trying to clear a clogged head - just maintain what I had. But now I have a blank LK/PK series that never before did we have.

John Caldwell



John, this distressing experience runs contrary to the advice we hear that using these printers with the kind of frequency you report should keep them fully functional. There is something else going on in your case. I don't know how convenient or cost effective it would be for you at this stage to involve Epson's service people in the issue, but depending on the circumstances, it would be interesting to know if they can get to the bottom of the cause and tell you - and then you, us, what it is. This would be of interest to the community; regardless of the repair statistics, the performance risks are worthwhile understanding.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: jrsforums on May 19, 2013, 11:35:59 AM
Mark,

When I had my complete drop out, you had posted that and I had tried that approach of successive clean/print cycles.  It did nothing to change the dropout.  Only the initial charge brought it back.  So, I suspect, Cone may have at least a point on the relative amounts of ink moved to clear large air spaces.  At least, this was my experience...YMMV

I have since used your approach with minor dropouts.  Seems to clear them up with just one clean/print....but, knock wood, have only had a few since the major.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 19, 2013, 11:40:42 AM
Fortunately, to date my *mileage* has varied because the kind of clogs I've experienced have been fully mitigated with at most several clean/print cycles. There is probably more than one cause of these problems, which would tend to suggest more than one solution. How much ink to clear how much air? I don't know and I wonder if anyone apart from Epson's design engineers really know.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: jrsforums on May 19, 2013, 02:18:14 PM
Mark...ever noticed a case where the auto nozzle check said an ink needed cleaning, but the printed nozzle pattern was perfect?

I rarely (any more) do the auto check, but while printing a test, decided to just see what the auto check said.  SInce I normally print nozzle tests on cheap copier paper, I then printed on gloss, just to be sure.  Under a glass, I could not see any problem...yet auto still said on ink needed cleaning.

Hmmm...??
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 19, 2013, 03:56:12 PM
I turned all that stuff off very soon after buying the printer. When I print, I start with a manual nozzle check and clean or not clean as indicated - not Auto-Clean either; manual - no automatic anything.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: jrsforums on May 19, 2013, 04:04:43 PM
I turned all that stuff off very soon after buying the printer. When I print, I start with a manual nozzle check and clean or not clean as indicated - not Auto-Clean either; manual - no automatic anything.

I understand.  I have those turned off also.

I manually started the auto nozzle check.

The point I was on was the discrepancy between the auto and the manual check.

If people are only using the auto check vs. the printed pattern, they may be cleaning more often than necessary.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 19, 2013, 05:24:40 PM
Exactly why I turned it all off! :-)
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: John Caldwell on May 19, 2013, 10:01:16 PM
It will cost me little to involve Epson as I purchased the 2-year warranty extension ($500) for the 4900. I had jitters early enough with this machine that there was no way I was headed into the future without extended warranty coverage.

So I will be on the phone with Epson tomorrow, and plan to let them hire Decision One to deal with the matter. I will also let them buy the ink carts needed to flush ad nauseum to clear, or not clear, the head. I will be inconvenient.

I can't conceal my irritation, I'm afraid. I perhaps a little too suspicious that this product line is troubled, and that the culture that has become apparent in these discussions of "so long the owner stands on his or her head in just the right way the machine perform almost well" is not helping the process, in my view. I'll ask rhetorically if there is any other piece of hardware we use in our trade that provides this kind of track record?

But I also must confess that I may clearly have worsened any 4900 problems to have gone down the road of using this Symphonic fluid from American Inkjet, particularly when I had clear nozzle checks at the time I began the treatments. Mind you I did so because I was fatigued by the amount of time, ink and paper I'd been spending getting rid of head clogs - so I was looking for a sustainable maintenance plan. On the other hand, I had uneasy feelings about American Inkjet - that they in their small NJ office had solved problems that Epson engineers couldn't solve - it didn't ring true. I did speak by phone with the company proprietor before initiating treatment with Symphonic Fluid, and I should have followed my instincts. In summary, I should have not begun the treatment without hearing from others, like people here, first hand that it was wise.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: John Caldwell on May 20, 2013, 12:17:04 PM
Epson is replacing our 4900 with a new/refurb machine. Epson asked few questions once I explained the portion of nozzle drop out and that Powerful Cleanings over a three-day period had failed to restore nozzles. They do not employ Decision One for 4900 field service unless the original 12 month warranty is in effect.

The ease with which Epson complied made me think they have been down this road enough times to know that its best and cheapest to get it over with and consider the unit unrepairable in the field.

John Caldwell
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 20, 2013, 01:01:01 PM
That sounds good John. It would be good to find out whether you are getting a refurb or a new printer, and if a refurb what the warranty is on it. There can be issues with refurbs.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: John Caldwell on May 20, 2013, 02:13:10 PM
Mark, Epson is sending a refurb 4900. The refurb bears the same warranty is if our original 4900 was still in our hands, meaning 23 months are remaining on the two-year extended warranty that we bought with the unit. Epson is on the hook to keep this replacement (refurbished) 4900 working correctly for 23 months.

What are your thoughts on issues that might plague a refurb above and beyond issues that affect a product design in general?

Think of the dollars Epson pours in the direction of replacing a 4900 shipped overnight to Pittsburgh. It's got to be a fiscal inconvenience. So if they are eligible for the same misery or replacing the refub with another refurb, I'd think they would avaoid sending out a marginal unit. Just a (hopeful) thought.

Thanks for your interest.

John Caldwell
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 20, 2013, 02:23:14 PM
OK, you don't know the reason why I wrote that. At a totally different level in the pecking order of Epson printers, I also own an all-in-one called Work Force Pro 4530. An el-cheapo office machine, but it is supposed to work. Before the warranty expired, the yellow channel dropped out completely and there was no getting it back. Epson promptly replaced it with a refurb. Three additional refurb units later - they were collecting in my living room - I was still without a yellow channel - all these refurbs had the same defect that had developed in my original unit. I was getting tired of setting up and installing one defective printer after another, so I escalated the issue to a higher level in the service organization and told them I was running out of space in the house to stockpile defective Epson printers, hence I thought it would be best to simply replace it with a new machine untouched by any repairmen. They agreed, sent me the new printer, I trundled down to FedEx with all the other machines, which amused the FedEx Agent quite a bit, and that was the happy ending - the new 4530 is working as advertised. I mean not to say that all people who get any refurbs of any product model will have this kind of experience, but so it was in this case.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 20, 2013, 02:24:55 PM
I should add, throughout the whole experience, the Epson people were really very forthcoming and good about it. They were innocently implementing the routines they were trained to implement, politely, promptly. I can't complain about the customer service angle at all.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: John Caldwell on May 20, 2013, 02:26:11 PM
Quite a story. One aspect that may keep Epson in the spirit of assuring a happy ending from the start is the freight bill associated with shipping a 4900 both directions, CA to Pittsburgh. We'll see.

John-
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 20, 2013, 02:34:09 PM
At least! :-)
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: John Caldwell on May 20, 2013, 08:14:03 PM
Scott at American Inkjet Systems, the maker of Symphonic Cleaning Fluid, spent an hour on the phone with me today. I called to report my frustration that 5 days into the regimen with his cleaning fluid, I completely lost LK/PK from my Epson 4900 machine. I stressed that when I began the Symphonic Fluid applications, the nozzle checks were intact; that my purpose was simply to maintain what I had working at the moment on that printer.

In fairness I'll say that he seemed genuinely disturbed by my experience; that he did not blame me, my method, or even insist that something else on the machine must have failed unrelated to the use of his product. He did insist that there are times that the head absorbs enough of his cleaning fluid that as many as two or three cleaning cycles may be needed to purge his fluid from the head - not that the head is clogged - but that the cleaner has displaced the ink. To me this implies retrograde flow of the ink into those conduits proximal to the head, and I have no idea if this is physically possible. He insists that under no circumstances will Power Cleanings be needed to purge any absorbed Symphonic fluid from the head so he concedes that my experience is aberrant and one he has never before heard of. Scott insists many thousands of end-users are out there, and are relying on Symphonic Fluid to maintain their Epson machines.

Clearly I do not know, nor will I ever know, if the Symphonic Fluid use had bearing on loss of the LK/PK shared pair on this 4900. Since the machine is going back to Epson, I doubt any final diagnosis will ever be shared with me. I continue to note that I am one of the few on the LuLa forum to bring up Symphonic Fluid and that, alone, probably points to a basis for acting conservatively in using the product.

John Caldwell
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: tsjanik on May 20, 2013, 09:53:42 PM
................What are your thoughts on issues that might plague a refurb above and beyond issues that affect a product design in general?..................


John:

As I posted earlier, my 4900 has been trouble free for 1.5 yrs, despite going weeks at a time without use.  I didn't mention that it's a refurb, sent to replace the two-month-old new unit that would not clear some noozles.  I wish you equal luck.

Tom
 
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: John Caldwell on May 20, 2013, 10:54:13 PM
Tom, In what climate are you and do you actively humidify your machine, or the room in which the machine sits? Do you use OEM inks?

You're way ahead of the curve in your results, so it's worth teasing out factors that worsen, or improve, performance that deviates from the expected performance.

Thanks for your interest, Tom.

John-
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: tsjanik on May 21, 2013, 07:53:17 AM
John:

As I mentioned earlier, I don't take any special measures other than a container of water left inside the covered printer when it's not to be used for an extended period (2-3 weeks) and shaking the ink cartridges every few months.  The printer is next an open window only 100 m from the Lake Erie shore, so perhaps I have a natural humidifier during the summer.  I use only Epson inks.  Although clogging is clearly an issue with these printers, I suspect many users have an experience like mine, i.e., fairly trouble free, so they're not reading or posting on these threads.  I read it only to find out how to expose the station in case I ever needed to do a head soak.

Tom
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: benchdog on May 21, 2013, 08:53:12 AM
Reading John's thread brings a question to mind about how I have been maintaining my 4900. I purchased my 4900 a couple months ago after extensive research so I feel I made an informed decision and I feel I have a grasp on how to maintain my printer. LOL I average 1 print a day and will go 2 to 3 days without printing for the most part. I print a nozzle check page before I print that day and catalogue all my print jobs and head cleanings. After 4 or 5 days regardless of what I have or have not printed I start to see a couple of nozzles drop out of LK and sometimes VLM. I will let this go a couple days and see an additional nozzle or 2 drop out and then manually clean the head which takes 3 or 4 minutes. I print another test page and all the nozzles are clear. I average cleaning the print head once a week. I live in Upstate NY and use no type of humidity control in my home office.

My objective is to stay ahead of any serious head clogging issues but am I doing a manual cleaning to often?

Ed
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 21, 2013, 08:56:20 AM
Reading John's thread brings a question to mind about how I have been maintaining my 4900. I purchased my 4900 a couple months ago after extensive research so I feel I made an informed decision and I feel I have a grasp on how to maintain my printer. LOL I average 1 print a day and will go 2 to 3 days without printing for the most part. I print a nozzle check page before I print that day and catalogue all my print jobs and head cleanings. After 4 or 5 days regardless of what I have or have not printed I start to see a couple of nozzles drop out of LK and sometimes VLM. I will let this go a couple days and see an additional nozzle or 2 drop out and then manually clean the head which takes 3 or 4 minutes. I print another test page and all the nozzles are clear. I average cleaning the print head once a week. I live in Upstate NY and use no type of humidity control in my home office.

My objective is to stay ahead of any serious head clogging issues but am I doing a manual cleaning to often?

Ed

Your experience is not much differnet from mine here in Toronto. Three days without printing is about as long as my 4900 survives without a cleaning of at least one pair of nozzles. They always come back, but it does need baby-sitting - and use.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: John Caldwell on May 21, 2013, 04:44:41 PM
John:

As I mentioned earlier, I don't take any special measures other than a container of water left inside the covered printer when it's not to be used for an extended period (2-3 weeks) and shaking the ink cartridges every few months.  The printer is next an open window only 100 m from the Lake Erie shore, so perhaps I have a natural humidifier during the summer.  I use only Epson inks.  Although clogging is clearly an issue with these printers, I suspect many users have an experience like mine, i.e., fairly trouble free, so they're not reading or posting on these threads.  I read it only to find out how to expose the station in case I ever needed to do a head soak.

Tom

Yes, Tom forgive me. You had of course offered this information earlier but I failed to make the proper connection. It's good to hear of your uncomplicated 4900 use. I'm hoping to go in that direction myself.

John-
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: John Caldwell on May 21, 2013, 04:51:06 PM
My objective is to stay ahead of any serious head clogging issues but am I doing a manual cleaning to often?

Ed

I'm aware of no disadvantage in (non-Powerful) head cleanings, at any frequency, so long as you make at least some sort of print that exercises the just-cleaned heads, before doing additional cleanings. Mark Segal may amplify but the risk, as I understand it, is the air-entrainment into the head may follow cleanings unless the cleaning is followed buy some form of printing. This has been stressed especially after Powerfull cleaning. It may be that my facts are not correct, meaning this air-ingestion risk may only accompany use of the Powerful cleaning. Power cleanings are apparently best followed by not only printing but also "resting the printer" for some period before additional cleanings are done. Again I think Mark Segal has given this a lot of thought and  written on this topic.

John Caldwell
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Alan Goldhammer on May 21, 2013, 04:55:53 PM
One thing occurs to me and forgive me if this has been covered.  If you have a poor nozzle check what happens if you ignore it in terms of doing a cleaning and just run a small print through.  Would this be enough to clear the nozzle and get back to normal printing?  The nozzle check really uses a very small amount of ink and any issue might be magnified.  This is somewhat in line with Mark's advice that he got from Epson.  I'm not knowledgeable about the 4900 since I'm a blessed 3880 user who often forgets to even do a nozzle check.  Anyway printing is much gentler on the print head than a cleaning is.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: John Caldwell on May 21, 2013, 05:00:50 PM
It depends, Alan, in my experience. I've tried just as you say, meaning run "large prints" through after a spotty nozzle check hoping that the print would purge any air. My result has been that the very small sorts of nozzle check dropouts that may defy additional cleanings may indeed go away with printing. This has made me wonder if those small drop outs were in fact air, rather than clog. But I have certainly not cleared the kind of major nozzle loss that I have recently experienced, as reported above, with printing attempts.
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: tsjanik on May 21, 2013, 11:14:34 PM
One thing occurs to me and forgive me if this has been covered.  If you have a poor nozzle check what happens if you ignore it in terms of doing a cleaning and just run a small print through.  Would this be enough to clear the nozzle and get back to normal printing?  The nozzle check really uses a very small amount of ink and any issue might be magnified.  This is somewhat in line with Mark's advice that he got from Epson.  I'm not knowledgeable about the 4900 since I'm a blessed 3880 user who often forgets to even do a nozzle check.  Anyway printing is much gentler on the print head than a cleaning is.

Hi Alan:

Right after posting my last response about my trouble free 4900, I had some clogs and vertical banding!  Sometimes a print will clear the noozles, sometimes even a 2nd nozzle check.  In this case, I did an alignment after 3 nozzle checks and a print and then cleaned the affected noozles; everything is now OK.
So a lot of trouble to produce a few prints. Oh, I got a blue screen on my PC too, maybe a bad day.

Tom
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Wayne Fox on May 22, 2013, 01:58:58 PM
I stressed that when I began the Symphonic Fluid applications, the nozzle checks were intact; that my purpose was simply to maintain what I had working at the moment on that printer.
So your printer was working, and you were trying to be proactive with the use of the solution?

Applying any solution to the capping station could easily cause the drop out of all nozzles, as the solution will tend to capillary back up into the nozzles. I've seen this frequently when windex is used to clean the surface of the head.  Once this happens the ink up inside the nozzle could harden since it is exposed to air.  Personally I think using any solution like this should be a fairly short length and immediately followed by a nozzle clean.

I don't follow these threads much anymore, (no time), but thought I would mention many times the loss of complete set of nozzles is due to problem with the pump cap assembly, not clogging.  My guess is for some reason it doesn't seal so things don't work right.  I had a problem losing an entire channel on occasion, Epson replaced the pump cap assembly and no problems since.

Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: John Caldwell on May 22, 2013, 03:43:19 PM
So your printer was working, and you were trying to be proactive with the use of the solution?

Exactly, Wayne.

Applying any solution to the capping station could easily cause the drop out of all nozzles, as the solution will tend to capillary back up into the nozzles. I've seen this frequently when windex is used to clean the surface of the head.  Once this happens the ink up inside the nozzle could harden since it is exposed to air.  Personally I think using any solution like this should be a fairly short length and immediately followed by a nozzle clean.

Maybe so, but that hardening would need to have developed over only 2 or 3 days, and it would need to be refractory to even Power cleanings. Don't you think this is unlikely?

...many times the loss of complete set of nozzles is due to problem with the pump cap assembly, not clogging...

This seems the most satisfying explanation to me, meaning what one failure in the chain could produce complete and refractory failure of an LK/PK pair. I'd feel differently if, say, we'd lost LK and cyan. Does this thinking make sense?

Thanks for your interest.

John Caldwell
Title: Re: Epson 4900: Exposing the Capping Station
Post by: Mark D Segal on May 22, 2013, 03:58:51 PM
I'm aware of no disadvantage in (non-Powerful) head cleanings, at any frequency, so long as you make at least some sort of print that exercises the just-cleaned heads, before doing additional cleanings. Mark Segal may amplify but the risk, as I understand it, is the air-entrainment into the head may follow cleanings unless the cleaning is followed buy some form of printing. This has been stressed especially after Powerfull cleaning. It may be that my facts are not correct, meaning this air-ingestion risk may only accompany use of the Powerful cleaning. Power cleanings are apparently best followed by not only printing but also "resting the printer" for some period before additional cleanings are done. Again I think Mark Segal has given this a lot of thought and  written on this topic.

John Caldwell

John, the repeated advice I've received from Epson America ProGraphics Support is clean-print-clean-print in cycles till the test pattern is unbroken, for ordinary cleanings. More than once I have been told especially not to implement one power clean after another without printing between them, but the advice applies to all cleaning.