I own an Epson 9600 and have two rough clogs. I came across this forum a month or so ago and gained lucidity on my problem when I read about the wiper crud re-entering print head. Here is the current solution I am in the process of prototyping, for whatever it's worth:
I live in the mountains, in a dry climate. My humidity is about 20% daily, in the winter. I noticed the topic of a micro climate, which I am in the process of simulating. My office is very small, 10' x 10' so I'm trying a humidifier right now.
Here is what I'm looking at embracing for a solution. It's a little robust, but what the hell.
There seem to be two opportunities for solutions. One is the wiper blade, the other is clog prevention. I feel that if you can completely bypass the wiper blade you are setting yourself up for success. I also feel that if you can keep something moving through the print head while the print head is not in use (perhaps dial in the cleaning solution that has been mentioned here before) then you are creating a situation where there is a low probability for a clog to form inside the nozzle.
My attempt is going to look like this:
1) remove the wiper blade and replace this "action" or "concept" by using, and disposing of after use, chamois cloth. By design, a wiper blade doesnt seem to come close to the "solution" of cleaning the excess ink off the print head after a head clean. Paper towels were never designed specifically for this job, but have assumed the role (clear flaw here is paper bits or dust left engrained in print head). On the other hand, chamois cloth is much more expensive, but worth it for this stage of the solution process, as a means. Chamois cloth is designed to clean fine surfaces and cutting up the cloth into smaller pieces, and giving the print head a careful "shoe shine" is what I have in mind.
2) remove the clog itself. This seems to be the million dollar question in some ways. Ill share a little concept that has been on my bandwidth and see what surfaces.
I make kombucha and bottle it in wine bottles. Instead of using a proper cork, I use "tasting corks" which have a cap on the top of them to assist in removing the cork. A few times I've gone to uncork the wine bottle to drink my kombucha and have encountered the cork "stuck". A few times, without thinking, I applied a forceful twist and ripped the cap off the cork. Not a huge deal, I get a wine opener and open the bottle. In not wanting to waste my tasting corks, I took a look at the bottle and realized that I had been storing these bottles as they would sit on a table. In doing so there is no moisture on the cork itself, and the cork dries out (you wine drinkers will know that wine bottles that have real corks, not plastic corks, are stored at an angle so the wine touches the cork) . I then started to tip the bottles upside down for as little as 15-30 seconds and wet the cork before opening the bottle. I got good results.
Here is where the clog comes into play.
I removed my print head and cleaned it with a solution I found online. This was the first time I went this far down the rabbit hole with repair. I got improved results but the stubborn clogs still persist. I've since removed the the dampers from the ink lines a couple times and the dampers from the print head a couple times. In doing so, I realized this wasn't that hard to do. A little messy occasionally but put on rubber gloves and get some q-tips soaked in windex for cleanup.
What I'm looking at doing (to get the stubborn clogs removed) is apply motion (slight pressure) on both ends of the clog, at different times but in close duration. This is a bit of a lofty goal but from all the posts out there with nozzle clogs, it needs to be. 15 seconds of light pressure from the end where the ink line inserts, 5 seconds of pressure from the other side. I am not sure if the nozzle is a "one way" flow as previously touched on in this thread. Even if it is, the flow coming back into the print head would be far less than what is flowing out, per traditional travel of ink. I'm going to begin not using any pressure at all, just puddling, then move on to slight pressure if need be.
The visual in my mind is this...when a wine cork is in a bottle there are small spaces in between the cork and the glass where liquid can touch. When my liquid (kombucha) touches this area, I get the desired result of the cork releasing. Now picture this (this is what is in my mind). Instead of visualizing a "piezeo tube" I picture a set of Chinese finger cuffs (for some reason this came to mind when I was thinking about the flexibility of the piezeo nozzle). The finger cuffs have a cork stuck in the middle. Now picture liquid accessing each side of the cork. So that means that the finger cuffs are flexible in a small way and likely allow a bit of an improved space (between the cork and "glass" or cork and finger cuff) for the liquid to access each time liquid is applied to either side of the cork. And it's a very, very small improved space but likely gradually improved each time liquid hits it, even if in tiny amounts. The rate and duration of liquid coming in contact with both sides of the clog is what will allow the clog to dissipate. Yes, this may mean that a print head will need to be connected to a setup like this for a couple weeks (months) perhaps, but our boy Eric has been after it for close to a year. In hindsight 2 weeks is nothing. I've been trouble shooting for two months and am front row and center with "necessity is the mother of invention."
My idea is to take the print head out of the printer and connect latex tubing, the same size as the ink tubing, to the print head (7 tubes, 7 colors on the print head). I then gently pump (I'm thinking breast pump) cleaning solution through the print head. And I do mean gently (I recall someone posting something about the metric used for pressure? A BAT perhaps? Long term we dial in the correct BAT that sends pressure but doesn't throttle the print head). On the other side, the clog itself needs to be in motion or closer to being in motion. So I then puddle cleaning solution on the top of the print head and access the areas I was referring to before (the space between the cork and glass) on the business end (the side of the print head that faces the paper) of the clog. Perhaps apply a bit (a tiny bit) of pressure somehow to this side as well. Desired "action" is cleaning solution gaining access to the space in between the clog and the piezeo wall as often as possible, but not at the same time.
This concept isn't new at all. Often times we get out the ol' syringe and plastic tubing and try to work it out that way. I've found that rather challenging, mostly because the syringe doesn't move smoothly. In fact the one I have is quite jerky, which is dangerous to the print head if you should happen to "burst" fluid through the syringe. The other problem is the the tubing (female end) rarely matches the male end where the traditional ink tubing fits. The tubing is usually too small. How about a piece of latex tubing that fits snugly?
While this is a subtle attempt the long term solution would be a pump with an auxiliary set of nozzles attached to the print head that gently (like 3ml a day gently) pumps a cleaning solution through the print head while the printer isn't in use.
The pump (I'm looking at using a breast pump because of the "gentle" pressure associated with such a device...it will be tested of course. Long term perhaps we stumble on the right brand name breast pump that offers the correct pressure). If we stumble on the right pump it's likely $50-$400.
The rubber latex tubing (3 bucks a foot?)
Tubing assembly (not exactly necessary but could be convenient)
7-way splitter for tubes coming off pump
Adaptor from pump to tubes
Towel on the back end of the print head to absorb the 3ml per day that comes out of the print head
(more costs associated with a device on the print end of the print head that could gently feed a solution down the "wrong way" of the print head....much more long term)
This would primarily be a tool of prevention but would also serve as a remedy if need be. I heard somewhere that an ounce of prevention is worth something valuable.
Eric, well played sir. To all the other who have contributed to this point, thank you for being a part of this solution.
I keep looking over at my copy of "The Cluetrain Manifesto" and smiling.
I'm not a handyman or a technician or a scientist or a even an amateur printer. I'm a ski bum in Colorado who wants to print stuff.
Again, for what it's worth.