Me and the genius walked a couple of miles to dinner last night. Talked girls on our way out, X900 clogs on our way back. You may not expect this since our 7900 prints happier than a pig in mud these days, but I still think about solving the two greatest mysteries that plague X900 users across the globe - avoiding clogs before they get you, and clearing the ones which already have - just about every day. Recently I have hit on some new ideas I want to explore, after considering all that we face from a brand new perspective. Last night for the first time I aired some of these ideas to my genius. Steve is a lot smarter than I am so when my thoughts got his head to cocking sideways like dog hearing air squeak out of a birthday balloon, I couldn't help feeling I may be on to something...
I want to understand exactly what it is we are up against. Like, why are some clogs clearable and others not? If time is our greatest enemy considering head threatening clogs, just how much time is too much time? How dry is too dry? And why is too dry, too dry? I want to understand how long rinsing dried ink with wet ink will leave you with a clean slate? Is it a day, is it a week? Or is it just an hour? It's pretty amazing I think how the very same ink we ask to stay wet for months at a stretch in the face of our heads just millimeters away from life-threatening air, we then ask to dry in fifteen seconds once it's shot out onto paper. Is there a varnish-like hardening agent in Epson's pigment ink that does this for us? Could this be our best friend once outside the head, but our greatest enemy while still inside of it?
I mean really, this is not a complicated scenario. It's a hole, clogged, with dried pigment ink.
So exactly WTF IS
dried pigment ink? I want a glass slide, a smear of Epson Ultrachrome HDR pigment ink, a really powerful microscope, and a camera.
I want ten glass slides with pigment ink smears on them, each one soaking in something different to loosen them up again. And I want to watch them, under a microscope. I want one glass smear to be just an hour dried in the open air, the other I want to be dried for ten minutes with a heat gun. I want to see the differences, up close, with a microscope. And I want pictures.
Just then Steve looked back at me, like, well you know what like...
After a bit Steve came back at me saying thing's I've never before heard him say. We wondered at first if a microscope which we could actually get our hands on could even see what I want to see. So tonight I did some research. Here, translated by my pea brain into standard monkey language, is what I learned (please excuse me for starting this at the beginning, geniuses feel free to skip two paragraphs)
If you run Epson Ultrachrome HDR inks through your X900 printer, you use pigment ink. WTF is a pigment? Pigments are the powder, the particles, the molecules that give us color. These are pigments:
Pigments are tiny, solid particles which reflect light in different colors than that which they absorb. Different pigments produce different colors, depending on where they come from and what type they are. Shine a white light at a particle/it shines blue back/someone calls it a pigment/Epson buys it and mixes it into your cyan cart. Now you have pigment ink. Pigment molecules attach to one another and form groups called crystalline structures.
So what does all this mean to us X900 printers? We have tiny rocks, in our wet ink, which stick to one another like white dog hair on black velvet, and then they dry - to form mountains, right inside our even tinier piezoelectric printhead nozzles. Why are X900 printers far worse with clogging than previous Epson models? Same size rocks, smaller nozzles. End of story.
...or is it.
As it turns out these tiny crystalline structures made up of groups of pigment molecules measure up in size to a whopping 0.1um. Since I have no idea in hell how big a "um" is, and therefore have no idea if a reachable microscope could even see one, I did more research. Apparently seeing things as small as 0.1um is possible with a decent, realistically attainable microscope...
more to come