Tonight it ends. My genius buddy Steve came over. Been a while since he's been in on this. As he walked in he said, "Dude, do you know it's been a year since you started that thread on Luminous Landscape?" I answered, "Actually it's been two..."
Used to be Steve and I did everything on this journey together, but then he got a girl - game over I've been solo on this ever since. Until tonight. I told Steve a week ago it was time we wrap this up, and so we did. Tonight we sacrificed a perfectly good, fully functional, thoroughly cleaned/rinse/soaked & initial filled until it's eyes watered X900 printhead. Consistent nozzle patterns, full pages of ink, 100% working head - minus almost half of the PK channel. Typical terminal clog story, cleared up fine until it got to a specific point - then it never budged a millimeter further.
We traced the lines, we drew maps, we zeroed in on ink's path through the nipple board, into the chambers and finally out the nozzles. Once we knew exactly which side of what chamber housed the PK bank we carefully took the head apart and raised it up to the microscope. Fascinating what we saw.
Since this thing began I have pictured caked up nozzles, ink bound chambers, stubborn ice burg sized ink clots jammed up against tiny piezoelectric nozzles and the like. For sure, in my heart I have felt our clogs are clearable. But I have also known, even feared, that terminal clogs are not clogs at all. They may instead be damaged nozzles, chambers, walls or whatever else might be possible. And I have known, all along, that taking apart a working head would reveal which of the two was our destiny.
I feel bad about this actually. Even sorry. Rather than finding impossibly stubborn caked up ink inside the specific chamber walls in question, we found absolutely nothing. I mean this X900 printhead is not only impeccably clean inside, but it's microscopically clean. There is not a single trace of ink inside any part of the piezoboard. Not one chamber wall is damaged. Not, one. There's no dust, no cracks, not one inconsistency in the entire thing. These nozzles are perfect in every way compared to their properly firing counterparts just a chamber wall away. The whole bank is perfect, just half of it doesn't fire anymore.
Feel free to draw from this experience any conclusions you deem appropriate. To me, and I am wrong far more often than I am right, we have not been fighting clogs at all. We've been fighting ghosts. I don't know what it is that does it but something destroys an X900 nozzle. Maybe it's age but I doubt it. Perhaps it's a characteristic of piezoelectrics - one wall can only take so much heat, or so much charge, or so much vibration - and then it is fried. Either way it is confirmed, finally, in my opinion and under my microscope - a terminal clog is not a terminal clog at all. It's a non functional nozzle.
It's been one hell of a journey, thanks for coming along. Before we part ways I leave you with one final piece of caring advice - maybe it's best to stay away from SS cleanings all together. Rinse them, soak them, suck ink from their faces - but never turn up the heat on a clogged X900 nozzle.