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Author Topic: Epson 4900 clogging problem  (Read 434 times)

Roger_Breton

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Epson 4900 clogging problem
« on: May 04, 2017, 11:48:37 AM »

I was having a slight clogging in VM but, too slight not to be noticeable.
After exhausting the "usual", I had no other choice than to turn, once again, to my faithful "Epson Adjustment" program.
On a nozzle check, only the darn VM was showing a problem, would you believe?

So, once I got into the Epson program, running on an XP PC, instead of selecting "Ink Eject" for ALL the lines, I selected only the "Home" lines (the left side of the printer) which includes C/VM, Pk, Lk.... Wow! I was pleased I was saving all the ink from the "right" side of the printer.
This lasted about 10 minutes in all.

Epson documentation states that an "Ink Eject" draws 79ml from each cartridge -- broke my heart but I could not get that darn clogging on VM otherwise, wasted way too many normal and power cleanings, so I had to bite the bullet. Lucky for me, the printer still accepted my "refillable cartridges" which I filled with a piezo cleaning solution from a local ink store (www.lencrier.ca).

Then, having replaced the refillable cartridge for the normal Epson cartridges, I was prepared to issue the "Ink Charge" command, "115 ml" worth of ink down the drain -- thank you Mr Epson...

OK. At this point, having done this procedure a few times in the past (my printer is 5 years old), running a nozzle check always returned perfection, but not this time :(

Would you believe, I was having ink clogs in the Pk, Llk, Lc and "one" offending clog in VM (although not as severe as before starting the whole thing)?

What was I to do? Call the Ghostbusters?

I tried my luck with a few power cleanings and I was done!, except for that pesky Vm clog, just a tiny little line which I deemed I was able to get away with.

With the printer in this almost pristine state, I was able to finish printing the job I was working on without any noticeable banding.

Having said that, I will need to draw many lessons from this adventure....

One, the stupid Windex trick does not work and only serves to mess the printer -- my experience, your mileage may vary. (Had to try my luck...)

Two, I regret not having done an "Ink Charge" with my refillable cartridges in! With hindsight, that would have probably help but I never done this in the past?

Moral of the story?

Believe it or not, I had been keeping the printer "alive" for months before this last VM clog reared its ugly head. As a matter of fact, the week before, I ran 15 17x23 prints, all perfect. When I started this particular job, a new set of 25 17x23 prints, the printer progressively started to "clog"... It got a little more than halfway through right but then started acting...

As I was "contemplating" my options, two things went through my mind.

First, I found out newer refillable cartridges have a "Permanent" Auto-Reset Chip, compared to the generation of chip on my refillable cartridges which need to be "reset" from times to times using a little $15.99 gizmo.

At one point, before getting into the Epson Adjustment program ONCE MORE, I toyed with the idea of, perhaps, putting in JUST the VM refillable cartridge (filled with cleaning solution), figuring that, maybe, after printing a few 100% magenta solids from Photoshop, the cleaning fluid would have arrived at the head? But nothing was further from the truth, ha! ha! ha!.

In the course of trying this little experiment, though, I "discovered" that my printer did NOT recognized the refillable cartridge? I tried resetting the ink chip to no avail? I ended up taking a trip to the store where I originally purchased the cartridges to buy a new "ink chip". Once that was done, the printer IMMEDIATELY recognized my VM refillable cartridge.

I have since located a Chinese eBay seller that sells a complete set of chips for these cartridges, for $24.99. I think that's a no brainer.

(At one point, while sweating on swapping the real Epson VM cartridge in an out for my VM refillable cartridge, the printer stopped recognizing the original Epson cartridge -- real trouble !!!!!!). It finally recognized its own cartridge but, boy!, did I ever sweat because the consequences of this would have been dire, to say the least, which brings me to my second point...

If the printer no longer recognized the cartridges, for some reasons, I had to consider replacing the printer with, possibly -- I'm such a masochist --, a new P5000 printer. But knowing that Epson only sells these, out of the box, with mere 80ml cartridges, half of which go to prime the lines, not only would I have to pay the price of the printer itself, $2495 cdn, but a complete set of new cartridges as well, at, what, $100+ a pop, cdn? Sheesh!

Moral of the story? I'll continue maintaining this printer... I may decide to buy a new set of refillable cartridges at one point, the ones with the new "ink chip"... We'll see, but I don't don't do that much printing with it, I know...
« Last Edit: May 04, 2017, 12:07:29 PM by Roger_Breton »
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Epson 4900 clogging problem
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2017, 12:49:30 PM »

Your advice to not use Windex in these printers is correct - very bad idea to expose the print head to those kind of fluids.

As for the rest of it, sounds like time for a new printer. I don't know why you're fussing about the 80ml cartridges. Firstly, most of this ink will be used to make prints, as you correctly point out it charges the lines. From the lines it goes to the printhead via the damper for printing. If you buy a P800 or a Pro1000 you also get 80ml cartridges, without ever accessing the scale economies of the 200ml cartridges you would be using over the long term in a P5000. As a side note, personally, I would not use 3rd party inks in these printers, but I know that's a separate controversial talk-show.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Roger_Breton

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Re: Epson 4900 clogging problem
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2017, 12:06:03 PM »

Thank's Mark. I agree, it maybe penny wise and pound foolish to use third-party inks in these "class" of printers. Mind you, I personally have no history of "clogging" behavior with third-party inks? Maybe it's the same as using Epson's own inks? If that was the case, the only thing that would hold me is their "gamut" which I have no idea about, never seen anyone's CIE Lab measurements of cyan or magenta or yellow or any of the set of colors inside this printer... That would be useful information. (Maybe I have to look harder?)

As your suggestion that it maybe time for a new printer, that hurts. because it's probably not far from the truth but, lately, my business activity has considerably slowed down, so the printer is far from having a "normal mileage", maybe equivalent to 15,000 miles on a 5 year old car -- very low mileage indeed. That's why I am not tempted to buy a new one because, on the one hand (I'm still not a rich guy), and because, mechanically, I think the printer is not all that worn out. Perhaps some key parts will need to be changed soon? We'll see.

One of the CRAZY behavior I found on this particular printer is the effect of "time"?

Take this morning, Saturday May 6th 2017. Needing to exercise the printer, I turned it on and fired up a nozzle check : PERFECTION!??
Meaning, the VM slight clog I was fighting earlier this week was gone! The air bubble finally went through? Some other reason? I could not tell BUT I can tell you that this is NOT the first time that I observe this behavior on this particular printer. At work, when I used to work at Transcontinental, I could not afford to let the machine "sit overnight", after a series of power cleanings or what not, to benefit from the effect of "gravity pull" or some other unknown phenomenon that would unclog a line, I had to find solutions right away, and I would not tire until I *did* find a solution up to calling a technician in, because of production. But here, in my home office, I have some of that luxury.

This may sound crazy but, I remember the first time -- a few years ago -- I undertook to declog the printer using the Epson Adjustment Program, it took me THREE months to return it to perfection! I remember that, at night, after some various use of cleanings, seeing that the lines were not getting "better", I would let the printer "rest" for a few days and, lo and behold, when I fired it back, the line was clear!

FWIW, I ordered a set of "permanent" auto-reset ink chips for my refillable cartridges from a Chinese seller on eBay for $24.99. Look forward to swap them all in on my current cartridges to see how the printer will "handle" them... Will keep you posted ;-)
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Epson 4900 clogging problem
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2017, 01:30:09 PM »

Hi Roger,

Yes, it is known that "clogs", if that's what they really are, can resolve themselves by letting the printer sit unused over night after a series of cleaning cycles. I thought you had been through all that already and it had failed you, but pleased to hear you're back in shape now. As long as you can keep it running properly without too much trouble and expense, of course keep it - it makes fabulous prints. If the printhead dies, then it's time to replace the printer regardless of the condition of the rest of the printer. The component alone is about 1500 bucks before you pay for the installation.

As far as gamut volume is concerned with the inks you are using you can measure it in ColorThinkPro. I've published a lot of information on gamut volume from various printers and papers, but to refresh, for your guidance: an Epson 4900 with a good profile using Ilford Gold Fibre Silk paper generates a gamut volume in the range of 960,00~977,000. That's with Epson inks. All this is measured through profiles. To test what you get with 3rd party inks, you would have to print a decent size target with your inks, say on that paper, create a profile from that target using a decent spectro and profiling package (or send the targets to a good profile maker), then open the profile in ColorThink Pro and see in the Profile Inspector what gamut volume it generates. That would answer your question directly.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
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