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Author Topic: Epson 9900 - Wandering nozzles ?air leak ?bad dampers - Please help  (Read 4748 times)

Primus

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My 9900 is now six years old and has been used  for less than 100 44X30 prints a year.

I used to get the occasional clog that would go away with one or two cleaning cycles, and an occasional power clean. I admit I sometimes did not print for two weeks or more. On this occasion it was probably a month since I printed anything.

Now I get banding which is subtle but definitely there especially in gradients like sunset/sunrise or if there is a single color that is predominant. Nozzle check shows variable number of nozzles that are dropped from 6 of the 10 channels. I ran multiple cleaning cycles in pairs and even through the maintenance mode, the nozzles are still dropped but they are never the same, sometimes it is only 4 or 5 missing sometimes it is as many as 20 in a single channel.

I figured it is not a clog. Cleaned the wiper, did the paper towel and ammonia trick, read all I could at Eric's site (myx900.com) and elsewhere. I thought it is air trapped in the channels so I did single color purge prints at maximum quality, 2880dpi for each channel. What is interesting is that on the purge prints, there is slight banding in the upper 1 inch (I did 36X5 inch prints) of the suspect channels, the rest of the print is absolutely fine. After doing several such purge prints, a nozzle check shows the same variably missing nozzles.

I ran the AID test in the Maintenance mode and it does give the NG error on the nozzles.

To me it seems that when a particular channel is called for, there is misfiring or leak or whatever initially and then it prints fine if forced to do so. In normal prints though, there is usually no sustained demand for a particular channel hence the banding continues to happen.

I've changed all the suspect carts, shaken them and replaced them but it's the same issue. I tried the paper clip thing to see if I can release trapped air, but nothing comes out, not even a drop of ink, don't know if that is normal.

In my limited knowledge, it is not the ink carts, probably (hopefully) not the head, but something in the ink supply somewhere.

I've read that the dampers/ink selector need to be changed every 2-3 yrs, mine are the same from 6 yrs ago. Does it seem like this may be the issue? If so, I can hopefully change the parts myself.

Thanks in advance

Pradeep
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Garnick

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Re: Epson 9900 - Wandering nozzles ?air leak ?bad dampers - Please help
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2015, 04:37:03 PM »

My 9900 is now six years old and has been used  for less than 100 44X30 prints a year.

I used to get the occasional clog that would go away with one or two cleaning cycles, and an occasional power clean. I admit I sometimes did not print for two weeks or more. On this occasion it was probably a month since I printed anything.

Now I get banding which is subtle but definitely there especially in gradients like sunset/sunrise or if there is a single color that is predominant. Nozzle check shows variable number of nozzles that are dropped from 6 of the 10 channels. I ran multiple cleaning cycles in pairs and even through the maintenance mode, the nozzles are still dropped but they are never the same, sometimes it is only 4 or 5 missing sometimes it is as many as 20 in a single channel.

I figured it is not a clog. Cleaned the wiper, did the paper towel and ammonia trick, read all I could at Eric's site (myx900.com) and elsewhere. I thought it is air trapped in the channels so I did single color purge prints at maximum quality, 2880dpi for each channel. What is interesting is that on the purge prints, there is slight banding in the upper 1 inch (I did 36X5 inch prints) of the suspect channels, the rest of the print is absolutely fine. After doing several such purge prints, a nozzle check shows the same variably missing nozzles.

I ran the AID test in the Maintenance mode and it does give the NG error on the nozzles.

To me it seems that when a particular channel is called for, there is misfiring or leak or whatever initially and then it prints fine if forced to do so. In normal prints though, there is usually no sustained demand for a particular channel hence the banding continues to happen.

I've changed all the suspect carts, shaken them and replaced them but it's the same issue. I tried the paper clip thing to see if I can release trapped air, but nothing comes out, not even a drop of ink, don't know if that is normal.

In my limited knowledge, it is not the ink carts, probably (hopefully) not the head, but something in the ink supply somewhere.

I've read that the dampers/ink selector need to be changed every 2-3 yrs, mine are the same from 6 yrs ago. Does it seem like this may be the issue? If so, I can hopefully change the parts myself.

Thanks in advance

Pradeep

Seems to me you've made all of the right moves in trying to overcome this issue.  All the right ones except perhaps the "ammonia trick".  There have been several posts on this forum as well as the EpsonWideFormat forum warning against the ammonia treatment for nozzles gaps(clogs).  The general consensus seems  to be that ammonia can easily dry out the head, which is definitely not what you want.  Usually, when trying the Windex/paper towel approach it is suggested that one should use the ammonia-free brand.  In my opinion, your biggest problem is associated with the fact that the printer is not getting as much usage as it should.  These printers are workhorses, and like all workhorses they want and need to be "worked".  Of course I'm not suggesting that you run a bunch of unwanted prints everyday just to overcome this issue, but at least a couple of prints per day would be a good start I believe.  If you're not following this procedure already, it's also a good idea to run a full colour print between cleaning cycles, which helps to keep all of the nozzles "exercised".  Replacing the dampers is also something to consider, as well as making sure you have good humidity control.  These printers seem to thrive on a RH of at least 40%, higher if possible.  I run a humidifier at the business end of the printer all winter and well into spring, until the RH can be naturally sustained at around 50%.  I also keep a full bucket of water just behind the printer at the right end to help keep the RH under control.  One other possibility is perhaps an intermittent pressurizing system, thereby not supply the proper pressure to the carts at all times.  My 9900 is now 5 1/2 years old and seems to be getting better with age.  I say that knowing that since I am now at home the printer cannot hear me typing and hopefully is not telepathic to the point where it can read my thoughts.  Otherwise, who knows what might be awaiting me when I get in to work in the morning and fire up Big Bertha.  During the first two years of usage Epson replaced 2 print heads and numerous other parts, all under warranty of course.  After my 3rd and final warranty year I was of course on my own, but things have been working well since then.  And yes, Eric's research and his site have definitely been a huge help to all of us.  I hope you will be able to solve your issue soon, good luck.

Gary 
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Primus

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Re: Epson 9900 - Wandering nozzles ?air leak ?bad dampers - Please help
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2015, 04:46:38 PM »

Thanks Gary. I used the 'classic' Windex formula, but only after multiple attempts through the cleaning cycles. The fact that a purge print, apart from the slight banding in the upper 1 inch prints just fine suggests that the head is fine, but I am no expert. I will probably try replacing the dampers since that is not expensive except in terms of effort and time.

Pradeep
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datro

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Re: Epson 9900 - Wandering nozzles ?air leak ?bad dampers - Please help
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2015, 06:33:23 PM »

...The fact that a purge print, apart from the slight banding in the upper 1 inch prints just fine suggests that the head is fine, but I am no expert. I will probably try replacing the dampers since that is not expensive except in terms of effort and time.

Pradeep


The reason you see banding only in the upper 1 inch of a print when printing 100% density "purge" patterns (and some nozzles are not firing) is because of how the printer combines carriage movement (lateral direction) with paper movement (vertical direction) to lay down dots in that part of the image.  If you pay attention to a typical print when it starts, the carriage will move back and forth with no paper movement initially, building up the image density with each pass, and then the paper will start to advance with each pass (or each two passes if you are printing uni-directionally) of the head.  You may also see this behavior in the last 1 inch of a print.

In any case, you can't really judge the health of the head using 100% density color bar test prints.  The Nozzle Test pattern is the only way to tell if nozzles are firing or not.  And health of the head is determined by a combination of current pattern, recent past patterns (i.e. what has changed or not), and what type of cleaning attempts have been made in between. 

In general:
If non-firing nozzles are moving around, you may have air in the system.  This can actually be caused by too much cleaning without intervening normal printing or rest time.
If you have a large block of nozzles missing (typically in the middle of the pattern), and cleaning does not bring them back (or makes the block larger), you most likely have a bad head (electromechanical failure, not really a "clog").  You may also see deflected ink patterns on the left and right hand sides of the block where nozzles are missing.
If you have an entire channel missing that does not come back, it could be the damper.

Dave

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Primus

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Re: Epson 9900 - Wandering nozzles ?air leak ?bad dampers - Please help
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2015, 08:46:13 PM »

The reason you see banding only in the upper 1 inch of a print when printing 100% density "purge" patterns (and some nozzles are not firing) is because of how the printer combines carriage movement (lateral direction) with paper movement (vertical direction) to lay down dots in that part of the image.  If you pay attention to a typical print when it starts, the carriage will move back and forth with no paper movement initially, building up the image density with each pass, and then the paper will start to advance with each pass (or each two passes if you are printing uni-directionally) of the head.  You may also see this behavior in the last 1 inch of a print.

In any case, you can't really judge the health of the head using 100% density color bar test prints.  The Nozzle Test pattern is the only way to tell if nozzles are firing or not.  And health of the head is determined by a combination of current pattern, recent past patterns (i.e. what has changed or not), and what type of cleaning attempts have been made in between. 

In general:
If non-firing nozzles are moving around, you may have air in the system.  This can actually be caused by too much cleaning without intervening normal printing or rest time.
If you have a large block of nozzles missing (typically in the middle of the pattern), and cleaning does not bring them back (or makes the block larger), you most likely have a bad head (electromechanical failure, not really a "clog").  You may also see deflected ink patterns on the left and right hand sides of the block where nozzles are missing.
If you have an entire channel missing that does not come back, it could be the damper.

Dave



Dave, thanks, that explains a lot.

The dropped nozzles are random and  on some nozzle check printouts there may only be 3-4 in a channel and the next time it may be as many as 10 or more.  The ones that go missing may come back the next time. Some channels have NO missing nozzles at all on any of the prints.

I have printed at least 10 feet of random images in the past few days to test this and on the ones that do not have a single dominant color or it's a busy image (lots of foliage etc), the banding is not obvious.

What is frustrating is that some channels are more affected than others. Green for example has at most two nozzles that drop out now and then, while VM and LK have lots.

There is NO single channel that is completely missing.

What I don't want to end up doing is changing the damper/ink selector and then finding out it's the head that's gone. But I don't know how to figure this out.

One thing that seems obvious (to me) is that this is not an issue of the usual clogged nozzles.

Pradeep
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Paul2660

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Re: Epson 9900 - Wandering nozzles ?air leak ?bad dampers - Please help
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2015, 09:40:59 AM »

As much as hate to say it, this sounds like an electrical issue either in the piezo part of the head or the main board. Hopefully not the main board.

Random dropped nozzles to me are not representative of a clog but instead a mapping issue and that points to electrical.

Damper issues in my experience happen the same each time and tend to show up as a fully missing color or 1/2 of a missing color.

Paul
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Paul Caldwell
Little Rock, Arkansas U.S.

Primus

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Re: Epson 9900 - Wandering nozzles ?air leak ?bad dampers - Please help
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2015, 09:56:43 AM »

As much as hate to say it, this sounds like an electrical issue either in the piezo part of the head or the main board. Hopefully not the main board.

Random dropped nozzles to me are not representative of a clog but instead a mapping issue and that points to electrical.

Damper issues in my experience happen the same each time and tend to show up as a fully missing color or 1/2 of a missing color.

Paul


Oh boy!

Is there any way I can figure this out some more? I don't mind paying for a tech to come out but from what I've read here, they are not very reliable and may prescribe the wrong 'medicine'.

Would  a 'mapping issue' affect only some channels, because four channels are pristine and the others variable.

FWIW, I actually have a spare main board that's brand new. When i first got the printer it wouldn't work at all and Epson shipped a board that turned out to be not necessary after all and they never collected the board back. Is this something that can be replaced by an average person?

If the head is fried, I'd rather just replace the printer, it would not be 'cost effective', but the hard part is figuring out what the problem is.

Pradeep
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Paul2660

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Re: Epson 9900 - Wandering nozzles ?air leak ?bad dampers - Please help
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2015, 10:55:35 AM »

In the US, Epson will send Decision One, the quality does vary as the tech are multi trained and large format is really not that big a volume compared to other printer/copiers etc.

They can run a diagnostics to query the head, and it will be required to print certain patterns etc.  If the head misses any of these, then they try again and if they get a similar error, they can usually determine the head or something else. 

If the printer is not giving any error codes, then it will take a good tech, familiar with the printer and M/A software. 

You might try Epson, and send them some of the nozzle checks showing where a nozzle is firing one time and then not on another and Epson may have you run some diagnostics to send them. 

It's probably the head, but this type of error/failure is going to be hard to dig into since it seems to never repeat the same pattern with the same missing nozzles. 

Paul
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Paul Caldwell
Little Rock, Arkansas U.S.

Primus

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Re: Epson 9900 - Wandering nozzles ?air leak ?bad dampers - Please help
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2015, 12:11:00 PM »

In the US, Epson will send Decision One, the quality does vary as the tech are multi trained and large format is really not that big a volume compared to other printer/copiers etc.

They can run a diagnostics to query the head, and it will be required to print certain patterns etc.  If the head misses any of these, then they try again and if they get a similar error, they can usually determine the head or something else. 

If the printer is not giving any error codes, then it will take a good tech, familiar with the printer and M/A software. 

You might try Epson, and send them some of the nozzle checks showing where a nozzle is firing one time and then not on another and Epson may have you run some diagnostics to send them. 

It's probably the head, but this type of error/failure is going to be hard to dig into since it seems to never repeat the same pattern with the same missing nozzles. 

Paul



Thanks Paul. The printer is not giving me any error codes at present, just the nozzle checks are frustratingly erratic. Will give Epson a call to see what they say.

Pradeep
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StuartR

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Re: Epson 9900 - Wandering nozzles ?air leak ?bad dampers - Please help
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2015, 10:42:14 PM »

I had a somewhat similar problem where I was very often getting clogged nozzles and doing a lot of cleaning to get around it. Careful inspection of the cleaning system (with the right side off) showed a small bit of ink around one of the plastic tubes running to the cleaning unit. The tech switched out the cleaning unit (it is a single part) with a spare to see if that would make a difference. It did. The tech was very expensive here, so I wound up just buying the cleaning unit in Germany and replacing it myself. I think it was about 250 euros. Replacing it was not hard...just a lot of plugs and screws. Eric's site and the service manual did the trick. The cleaning unit replacement does not require any reprogramming, so it can be done by the user (though I am sure they certainly don't want you to). It has been two years since then and the printer is working quite well. I am not sure how much better it is getting with age, but I am certainly always learning more tricks towards getting it to perform well.

If you have the courage to follow the instructions and remove the side of the printer, it may be worth your time to have a look back there and see if you see any ink or other signs of degraded tubing. If the tubing is loose, it cannot properly pull a vacuum to clean the head, and air might enter the system.
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Primus

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Re: Epson 9900 - Wandering nozzles ?air leak ?bad dampers - Please help
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2015, 04:48:50 PM »

I had a somewhat similar problem where I was very often getting clogged nozzles and doing a lot of cleaning to get around it. Careful inspection of the cleaning system (with the right side off) showed a small bit of ink around one of the plastic tubes running to the cleaning unit. The tech switched out the cleaning unit (it is a single part) with a spare to see if that would make a difference. It did. The tech was very expensive here, so I wound up just buying the cleaning unit in Germany and replacing it myself. I think it was about 250 euros. Replacing it was not hard...just a lot of plugs and screws. Eric's site and the service manual did the trick. The cleaning unit replacement does not require any reprogramming, so it can be done by the user (though I am sure they certainly don't want you to). It has been two years since then and the printer is working quite well. I am not sure how much better it is getting with age, but I am certainly always learning more tricks towards getting it to perform well.

If you have the courage to follow the instructions and remove the side of the printer, it may be worth your time to have a look back there and see if you see any ink or other signs of degraded tubing. If the tubing is loose, it cannot properly pull a vacuum to clean the head, and air might enter the system.

Thank you Stuart. I think it is time for me to dive in and see what's going on. Enough speculation. I do have a spare main board but the problem will be resetting the vram. Still, wouldn't hurt to simply inspect the innards of the machine.
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sugarhillworks

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Re: Epson 9900 - Wandering nozzles ?air leak ?bad dampers - Please help
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2018, 01:42:27 AM »

Pradeep, I'm having exact same problem with 9900 (6.5 yrs old, medium usage, small custom print business) of missing nozzles moving around in only the V Magenta ink. Resistant to cleanings, & shows as different gaps in nozzle checks. Going crazy trying to diagnose problem, for months! Prints only show banding in images with smooth gradations using lots of magenta; my only solution has been to "walk away" & try again later, in hopes the missing nozzles have moved in a way that won't show in print. Printing the pure magenta purge prints also does not show banding, just like you described.

I've goggled for hours, read lots of the x900 site, called Epson, sales guy who installed printer, Decision One, & now a new Fuji service technicians that Epson seems to be using instead of DO (I'm in NYC). Last week finally got a tech to show up for a service call, he replaced the whole pump cap assembly & also wiped gunk off the surface of the print head. Maddeningly, still have exact same uncurable problem with moving missing nozzles in Magenta ink only.

Tech swore only thing to do is a power clean, but I'm reluctant to buy hundreds $$$ of expensive Epson inks & maintenance tanks to do a power clean unless it's actually going to work, of which I'm skeptical. The tech quickly replaced the parts, but had less working knowledge of printer than I do, & neither the techs nor anyone at Epson seems to know anything.

What did you figure out with your printer? Was it fixable?
Please Help!!
Many thanks for any suggestions or insights.
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Primus

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Re: Epson 9900 - Wandering nozzles ?air leak ?bad dampers - Please help
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2018, 06:53:05 AM »

Pradeep, I'm having exact same problem with 9900 (6.5 yrs old, medium usage, small custom print business) of missing nozzles moving around in only the V Magenta ink. Resistant to cleanings, & shows as different gaps in nozzle checks. Going crazy trying to diagnose problem, for months! Prints only show banding in images with smooth gradations using lots of magenta; my only solution has been to "walk away" & try again later, in hopes the missing nozzles have moved in a way that won't show in print. Printing the pure magenta purge prints also does not show banding, just like you described.

I've goggled for hours, read lots of the x900 site, called Epson, sales guy who installed printer, Decision One, & now a new Fuji service technicians that Epson seems to be using instead of DO (I'm in NYC). Last week finally got a tech to show up for a service call, he replaced the whole pump cap assembly & also wiped gunk off the surface of the print head. Maddeningly, still have exact same uncurable problem with moving missing nozzles in Magenta ink only.

Tech swore only thing to do is a power clean, but I'm reluctant to buy hundreds $$$ of expensive Epson inks & maintenance tanks to do a power clean unless it's actually going to work, of which I'm skeptical. The tech quickly replaced the parts, but had less working knowledge of printer than I do, & neither the techs nor anyone at Epson seems to know anything.

What did you figure out with your printer? Was it fixable?
Please Help!!
Many thanks for any suggestions or insights.

It has been a long time since I visited this forum.

I did get Decision One to come in. The tech took over 2 hrs, tried everything, but the yellow nozzle was still erratic. He told me the best option was to replace the head which would cost almost $2000. I ended up just buying a new printer - the Surecolor P9000. There was a discount going on at the time so it cost me a bit less.

Since then I've been extra careful I use QImage and run the nozzle-unclog program so it prints a few inches of the roll paper every 4-5 days. Yes, it is a big price to pay, but since I do not print that often myself, it is worth it, IMHO.
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