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Author Topic: Epson 9900, wasted time and ink  (Read 17016 times)

Unique Images

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Epson 9900, wasted time and ink
« on: February 15, 2011, 08:05:43 am »

I have spent the last few years enjoying the knowledge that is shared here, so thank you all for this information.

Rarely do people visit to share good experiences with their printers, or media.  But I thought it was worth sharing my experience, and balancing the good and the bad for anyone considering an Epson 9900.

I am onto my third printer, after Epson Australia replaced the last two after many repair attempts.  Epson have always been first class with their service, supplying free ink at one stage and always responding to issues in a timely manner.

A major issue is the fact that I am 111km outside of the standard warranty network.  Standard onsite warranty is within 80km of capital cities in Australia.  Each and every issue I have had, has cost between $400-$600 per callout.  Parts have been provided by Epson at their cost.

The printer have displays some very strange behaviour, and I have owned an operated many since my first 7600.  The amount of time spent cleaning is a major part of my workflow, some four to five hours today alone.  Which is the reason I have finally decided to share my experience, and thoughts.  As I type, the printer has randomly stopped midway through a print and hangs until I restart the print job. 

The first 9900 started out with regular blockages, and I was told that I was the only one with any issues.  This was when they were first released, and even buying inks was a big task.  Soon I realised that I was not alone, and several threads from Epson users surfaced, reporting the same behaviour.  After several trips by a technician, and boxes of different parts, the machine was eventually replaced.

Along comes machine two, and for the first week it was smooth sailing.  As the work load picked up, the printer would constantly start up with the same blocked nozzles.  I do a lot of small runs, swapping from MK to PK and back each day or two.  And this process would take several minutes to change over, but then be followed by an extended clean which would consume up to 70ml of ink.

Random head cleaning failures, and constant frustration resulted in another swap out.  This time, the third printer was running okay for several weeks with light work.  And then, back to constant cleaning and huge delays with forced cleans following swapping blacks.

My office is not air conditioned, and as a result I only print in the evenings when the temperature is below 26 degrees.  I constantly monitor humidity, which sits between 40-65%.  I am also close to the ocean, which is another factor that I have questioned.

A typical day like today results in extreme amounts of time.  I print for professional artists and photographers, and turnaround time is of great importance to my clients.  Today I have used 15% of the maintenance tank, and still not produced a single print.  I have four 8" x 12" prints to complete, and at AUD$400+ for a 700ml ink cartridge, I am not going to turn a profit.  In fact, most days I go backwards due to small jobs and large volumes of ink wasted. 

I have come to the conclusion, it is pointless trying to offer a print service using this machine unless you operate two.  For it is not capable of swapping between matte black and photo black without lengthy and wasteful cleaning cycles.  I previously operated two 7800 and one 9800 for this reason, but reading the glossy advertising materials I believed this machine had solved many of the issues with the previous generation of printers.

As I type, the machine still sites frozen half way through a print.  I have cancelled the print, both through the driver and at the machine.  I have also turned off the power button and still it sits wasting more time.

The only time the machine excels is when you stay on either black and run it all day long.  The print quality is amazing and the speed another major benefit.  But both are useless if you spend most of your days cleaning and waiting to take advantage of the quality and speed.  I can honestly say my business has suffered no end since running no less than three of these machines.  And I have stayed faithful to Epson, as they have been of great assistance.  Just a shame that couldn't get it right when it came to designing a machine that works for everyone.

Firmware updates are performed regularly, but Epson only appear to be capable of emailing sales info to professional customers and not information on any improvements in firmware.  I have never used service mode, as I don't want to jeopardize my warranty.

In my experience, I see the ink change over as a major flaw.  The cleaning system is in need of a major rethink, and the reliability is far to low for a professional product.  Cleaning seems to only cause other colours to block and ends up costing more time than any photoshop or printing work.

Epson, great service, lousy product.

Having just restarted the printer after having to turn it off at the wall, it has wasted another 55 minutes and still no print.  Not something I need after the hours of cleaning today.  I have been out of action for a week, as one of the 700ml ink carts had a faulty microchip (third time this has happened).  The same colour is now blocking all day, with no printing, only cleaning.  I decided to do some test printing of my own work and have not seen any banding.  But as I pointed out, I am yet to actually print a full print.

This was not intended to be a negative story about the bad runs I have had with their product.  Rather a first hand review from a long time Epson supporter, and some points to consider when looking at doing short run printing on their current printers.  I have been told that I am the ONLY one that has constant issues, guess I'm unlucky to have it in three 9900's.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2011, 08:08:27 am by Unique Images »
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Unique Images

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Re: Epson 9900, wasted time and ink
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2011, 08:30:23 am »

Photos printed perfectly, I guess the whole day of cleaning was due to something else?  Maybe air in the carts?

I should add, I have have had best results from turning printer off when not using (Epson says this makes no difference as the head is at rest when not in use), and not printing nozzle checks.  Instead just waiting until jobs band, and then addressing blocked nozzles.  No much fun when your doing a 40" x 60" canvas, but probably cheaper than five hours lost and massive quantities of ink when the machine doesn't really require cleaning.
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dgberg

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Re: Epson 9900, wasted time and ink
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2011, 12:10:07 pm »

I would think a $200.00 air conditioner and a few bucks a month for electric would be the best place to start. Uncontrolled humidity and most wide format printers do not work well together. As far as the ink switching is concerned. I realize not everyone can afford 2 printers but it makes a great deal of sense if you never have to switch inks. Maybe a 3880 or 4900. With my 7900 and 9900 I rarely switch inks maybe every other month.
I would attack that hudmidity issue first, you may not even have a printer problem.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2011, 12:13:21 pm by Dan Berg »
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TylerB

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Re: Epson 9900, wasted time and ink
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2011, 01:29:19 pm »

My experience is similar to yours, though they have not yet resorted to changing out the entire printer yet. Many many parts have been replaced, sometimes twice. I am in regular contact with other experienced Epson users and many of them have enjoying wonderful performance from the 9900, while a smaller percentage are experiencing more problems than ever. I have had many Epsons of all kinds from the EX on, with varying performance experience. I think the pressure system in the 9900 is so dependent on many factors functioning optimally, from the capping station to the pumps, dampers, and even just one cart with a nearly undetectable pressure leak, that the performance you describe can be very difficult to track down and solve. Epson will be here to work on mine again later this week...
When the printer works, the print quality is the best, but like you I can't give up hours a day to standing at the printer doing nozzle checks and cleaning cycles, just to have the dropouts migrate around from one color to three others on and on.
I should also point out that many are doing regular K ink changes without problems, for which the printer was designed, with the caveat that after a change it's best to let it sit 5-10 minutes.
My shop is temperature and humidity controlled and the problems persist. Keep the pressure on where the problem lies, the product. Epson may occasionally push back a bit, but ultimately generally come through with good support.
I hope your situation improves, good luck. Just in case, I'm running a demo new Canon through it's paces here...
Tyler
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gromit

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Re: Epson 9900, wasted time and ink
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2011, 04:09:42 pm »

I run a similar business using a 9900 and 7900, though not canvas. A few observations:

1. If you're switching between PK & MK regularly having two machines is the way to go. If you're running a business you need a backup machine. While it sounds exorbitant, the costs aren't that much higher as the inks are the same, profiles are the same, there's no learning curve for the second machine etc.

2. If you are switching between PK & MK it helps to let the machine rest a while after the switch. Otherwise you get bogus reports of clogged nozzles due to ink still in the cleaning system.

3. At 26 degrees and above the printers play up. Time for the beach!

4. If you're getting hangs mid-print and it's happened with multiple printers, this looks to me like a computer/communication problem.
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Unique Images

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Re: Epson 9900, wasted time and ink
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2011, 04:09:30 pm »

Thank you for the replies.  I have not received any notifications for this thread.

Dan, thank you for your suggestions, I have been trying to get an air conditioner installed but the land lord has rejected all my offers to pay for it.  I'm not a fan of portable units, as they are highly inefficient.

Adding a second printer isn't an option at the moment, as we do not have the funds to invest in more equipment.

Tyler, thank you for you in depth response and for sharing your experience.  My next step is air conditioning, but I don't imagine it makes any difference to a number of issues I have been experiencing.  The latest being faulty ink carts, which go from working to replace cartridge randomly.  I have tried cleaning contacts on cart and printer with no luck.  I have returned several to Epson, which is no fun when the inks are too expensive to keep a second set handy (close to $4000).

The second issue is the random printing hangs, that persist until the printer is turned off at the wall.

Gromit, thank you for the tips.  I actually leave the printer overnight if changing blacks.  A second machine appears to be a wise investment, which will come second to air conditioning.  We live opposite the beach, so point three is a good one  ;D

The hangs are new to this printer, the last two have not suffered from this issue.

Thank you once again to everyone that has taken the time to respond, greatly appreciated even though it's taken this long to find this thread and reply.
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deanwork

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Re: Epson 9900, wasted time and ink
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2011, 10:30:13 am »

Epson told me the same retarded nonsense when they came out with their 9800...."buy two printers, one for MK and one for PK....
Buy one unit for each black ink?

That is so totally backassward as to be an absurd comedy routine.

Sure a professional needs at least two big printers BUT NOT FOR THAT REASON!

Let's say I have two jobs going, one that is on fiber gloss and another that is on rc gloss. Or I have one black and white gloss fiber job and one color gloss job going, or lets say I have one matte canvas and one fiber gloss job going, or I have one textured matte rag job going and one gloss rc job going at the same time. This kind of combination of daily routine is endless.

Why are they always throwing it back in our court and telling us to buy two clogging machines when we could buy one very fast Canon for half the price? It defies logic. That is the very comment that pushed me toward HP in the first place.

john
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Ernst Dinkla

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Re: Epson 9900, wasted time and ink
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2011, 10:39:32 am »


Why are they always throwing it back in our court and telling us to buy two clogging machines when we could buy one very fast Canon for half the price?

john

Half the price of one Epson I guess.


met vriendelijke groeten, Ernst Dinkla



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Garnick

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Re: Epson 9900, wasted time and ink
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2011, 12:19:47 pm »

My 9900 was purchased last June and aside from the quality and speed factors, I was having the same issues with almost constant clogging, mostly in the two Cyans.  I had been reading about a lot of potential issues on this and another forum before I bought, so from day one I've been keeping a log with dates and issues as they appeared.  I could not print more than one large image consecutively, since there would inevitably be clogging issues at some point in the workflow.  Eventually late in October I placed a call to Epson and arranged a service call.  The tech brought along a new head and pump/cleaning assembly.  He replaced the head first but the new head didn't work at all, so he then reinstalled the original.  He then replaced the pump/cleaning assembly.  Since then I've had very few clogging issues and they are always cleared with one pairs cleaning cycle.  Since the repair job I've been happy with the machine and its performance, but I will definitely be extending the warranty before it expires.  A bit of insurance as I see it.  And as usual, insurance that one hopes will never be needed.

Sorry to hear about all of your issues, but I tend to agree that your environmental conditions may possibly be a contributing factor as well.  I think high humidity is probably more of a factor than low.  I usually run a humidifier in the winter months here in Canada, but I've had problems with the unit this winter and have not bothered with it most of the time.  I'm generally running at between 28 and 30% RH and have had no problems this year, so I'll probably continue along that path in the future unless I deem it necessary to add humidity again, if at all.

A couple of days ago I had to switch blacks and forgot to let the printer sit idle for a while.  Of course the first nozzle check(I have ANC turned off) showed a number of drop outs and I needed three cleaning cycles(pairs) to get them back.  But that's not bad compared to what was happening before the service call. 

I hope you have some better luck in the future with the 9900 and keep posting.

Gary 
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Unique Images

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Re: Epson 9900, wasted time and ink
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2011, 03:12:12 pm »

Epson told me the same retarded nonsense when they came out with their 9800...."buy two printers, one for MK and one for PK....
Buy one unit for each black ink?

That is so totally backassward as to be an absurd comedy routine.

Sure a professional needs at least two big printers BUT NOT FOR THAT REASON!

Let's say I have two jobs going, one that is on fiber gloss and another that is on rc gloss. Or I have one black and white gloss fiber job and one color gloss job going, or lets say I have one matte canvas and one fiber gloss job going, or I have one textured matte rag job going and one gloss rc job going at the same time. This kind of combination of daily routine is endless.

Why are they always throwing it back in our court and telling us to buy two clogging machines when we could buy one very fast Canon for half the price? It defies logic. That is the very comment that pushed me toward HP in the first place.

john

I previously operated two 7800, and one 9800 printer to avoid wasting time between various print jobs.  Believing the advertising material, I ordered the new 9900 as soon as it was announced.  False advertising or misleading advertising?  Sure it switches blacks in several minutes, but then you spend up to half an hour as it performs an auto clean that you believed you switched off.

Either way, I'm not complaining.  You just deal with the faults that Epson or any other manufacturer produces.  Two printers is the only real answer if you spend all day printing, or another brand as you suggest.
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Unique Images

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Re: Epson 9900, wasted time and ink
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2011, 03:21:28 pm »

My 9900 was purchased last June and aside from the quality and speed factors, I was having the same issues with almost constant clogging, mostly in the two Cyans.  I had been reading about a lot of potential issues on this and another forum before I bought, so from day one I've been keeping a log with dates and issues as they appeared.  I could not print more than one large image consecutively, since there would inevitably be clogging issues at some point in the workflow.  Eventually late in October I placed a call to Epson and arranged a service call.  The tech brought along a new head and pump/cleaning assembly.  He replaced the head first but the new head didn't work at all, so he then reinstalled the original.  He then replaced the pump/cleaning assembly.  Since then I've had very few clogging issues and they are always cleared with one pairs cleaning cycle.  Since the repair job I've been happy with the machine and its performance, but I will definitely be extending the warranty before it expires.  A bit of insurance as I see it.  And as usual, insurance that one hopes will never be needed.

Sorry to hear about all of your issues, but I tend to agree that your environmental conditions may possibly be a contributing factor as well.  I think high humidity is probably more of a factor than low.  I usually run a humidifier in the winter months here in Canada, but I've had problems with the unit this winter and have not bothered with it most of the time.  I'm generally running at between 28 and 30% RH and have had no problems this year, so I'll probably continue along that path in the future unless I deem it necessary to add humidity again, if at all.

A couple of days ago I had to switch blacks and forgot to let the printer sit idle for a while.  Of course the first nozzle check(I have ANC turned off) showed a number of drop outs and I needed three cleaning cycles(pairs) to get them back.  But that's not bad compared to what was happening before the service call. 

I hope you have some better luck in the future with the 9900 and keep posting.

Gary 

Thank you for sharing your experience.  I will install some kind of air conditioning, as soon as the land lord agrees to a work around as they will not allow a split system after being here for ten years?.  Maybe a dehumidifier is the short term answer?  I have logged all issues since day one, noting humidity and temperature.  From my notes, I only use the printer when the temperature is below 26 degrees, and humidity of less than 60%.  Once the temperature and humidity are above these values, then the clogging becomes severe and you may as well shut down the office.  I moved my printing area to a room that has very little exposure to sunlight, and stays a lot cooler than the previous area.
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Unique Images

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Re: Epson 9900, wasted time and ink
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2011, 09:37:28 pm »

Just as an update, I no longer change blacks to avoid problems.  After the recent firmware update, I believed the option to perform automatic nozzle check would be the best method.

On printing canvas, the printer now performs a clean before every print.  Ink use for the prints are between 6-14ml, yet each clean uses 4-28ml of ink.  After using the Epson brand since the 7600, I can not recommend them in any way.  Costing the prints out has little to do with the ink per print, and after three 9900's I should know.

Fingers crossed I can sell this thing and get a Canon next year.  Epson must do really well out of ink sales, at nearly $400 for a 700ml cart here in Australia.
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fetish

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Re: Epson 9900, wasted time and ink
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2011, 04:04:27 am »

sell the 9900 and get a 11880.

mine has been running almost everyday for 3 years and operating in humidity ranging from 40-90, and the only thing that has been changed is the head cleaning assembly and that happened within the first 3 months.

unless you absolutely need the slightly larger gamut, the spindleless operation, or the rotary cutter, i would say just go for the 11880. no black ink cartridge to change, and i'm still using the same 3 maintenance tanks that came with the printer with no mods or resets.
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narikin

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Re: Epson 9900, wasted time and ink
« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2011, 11:07:20 am »

sell the 9900 and get a 11880.

mine has been running almost everyday for 3 years and operating in humidity ranging from 40-90, and the only thing that has been changed is the head cleaning assembly and that happened within the first 3 months.

unless you absolutely need the slightly larger gamut, the spindleless operation, or the rotary cutter, i would say just go for the 11880. no black ink cartridge to change, and i'm still using the same 3 maintenance tanks that came with the printer with no mods or resets.

the 11880 has its own set of problems with uneven solid blacks on paper. its well documented here.
get the Canon. end of story.
(I am neutral & own both the above)

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fetish

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Re: Epson 9900, wasted time and ink
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2011, 02:15:16 pm »

the 11880 has its own set of problems with uneven solid blacks on paper. its well documented here.
get the Canon. end of story.
(I am neutral & own both the above)



there's no perfect printer IMHO and canons do have their own problems too, but i'm not about to start another lame brand war.
i suggested the 11880 because (yes) it's another epson so workflow wise, it would be similar, and i have never ever encountered the uneven solid black issues personally.  :)
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Wayne Fox

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Re: Epson 9900, wasted time and ink
« Reply #15 on: October 13, 2011, 06:02:38 pm »

the 11880 has its own set of problems with uneven solid blacks on paper. its well documented here.
get the Canon. end of story.
(I am neutral & own both the above)


I have two 11880s and a 9900 and see nothing of what you describe.  I've printed images with 2" pure black borders and they are perfect.

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Unique Images

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Re: Epson 9900, wasted time and ink
« Reply #16 on: October 13, 2011, 06:25:37 pm »

Thank you for your reply, but I always rent the equipment.  Rental period is almost up, and then I'll report back on the new canon.  I have done plenty of reading, and while the Canon is not perfect, I can spend five hours on the Epson 9900 preparing to print a 11" x 14".  The ink is cheap compared to the amount of time that I will never get back.  The Canon sounds like it works better for infrequent printing, which the Epson has proven to hate.

I have moved the printer to different environments, and I only print when the humidity and temperature are within the specified operating range.  It's just a terribly designed printer, which is obvious by the fact that they have released numerous firmware updates which have not made any improvement on the cleaning cycles.  I have owned three units, all faulty, all requiring serious time to print the first job.  Only to continue to produce random cyan dots on prints, banding and generally ruining any opportunity to make a living.

I do live near the ocean, and don't have air conditioning, so that is the only factor I can assume is contributing to six years of hell.  But the problems are not isolated to specific times of the day or seasons.  The room that the printer is installed in does not have open windows, and I monitor both humidity and temperature across the room.  Just about every part has been replaced on the original machine, and then the second and now the third is showing it's own problems.

In order to make money, you need to pump high volumes of work through them to offset the high amounts of ink used to clean.  I go through up to 15% of a maintenance tank a day!!!!  Most good days I see 4-8%, which is just wasteful.  At least the Epson chain are having a good amount of money coming in for developing a unit that actually runs efficiently? 

Yes, a lot of people have no problems.  But you cannot explain three faulty units on lack of air conditioning, the product manual outlines the correct operating environment on page 192.  Print Quality Guarantee, 15-25 degrees (59-77 F), 40-60% RH).  The print quality and speed is exceptional, but the printer takes several hours of stuffing around to reach that.  It's like owning a Ferrari that only starts once every few days, you may as well buy something reliable, because that's what customers expect.. reliability.

Epson's Print Quality Guarantee is rubbish, maybe some day they will release a printer that exceeds expectation, but by then I will be on my third Canon or brand that actually delivers.  End of rant and back to the morning cleaning cycle..
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Unique Images

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Re: Epson 9900, wasted time and ink
« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2011, 06:34:59 am »

A quick update on this nightmare product.  With increased workload this month I am using ~10% of the maintenance tank a day!!! Not cleaning the printer and waiting for failed prints seems like a more logical workflow.  Is anyone using this amount of ink on cleaning???  Calculating print costs, I am using about twice the amount of ink cleaning than printing, but the time lost is 4-5 hours a day just cleaning and cleaning and cleaning..
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Paul2660

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Re: Epson 9900, wasted time and ink
« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2011, 08:45:24 am »

I scanned the older posts, but may have missed a few details and if you have tried this already I apologize.

Do you have ANC on or off?  if it's on, then I would recommend turning it off.  From what I understand, when ANC is on and the printer finds a clog any clog, i.e one missing bar, it's going to run a cleaning cycle and that cycle will be a very strong cycle using a good amount of ink.  (I have also found with the 9900 you can easily run good prints at 1440 with a few bars missing BTW)

My solution for the 9900 that seems to work well (note my volume is very on and off depending on demand so the print may sit idle for a few days, then run hard for a job then sit again)  is that I always start the print in service man mode.  Some call this service mode, but the Epson term is serviceman mode and when you read the service manual it will always refer to it that way.
While in Service man mode, I run a NZ check.  65% of time I will have a clog mild only a few missing bars in at least 1 color.  From here you follow the menu on the LCD until you get to pairs cleaning options and pick a CL1 cleaning.  CL1 is uses the least amount of ink.  100% of time so far this has cleared the clog and I then start my prints.  Most time I power off and come back up in normal mode, but you can print in service man mode, you just can't adjust the platen gap and set paper type from the printer (which to me is redundant anyway since you can still do this from the driver just like all the older Epson printers). 

The key here is you are using CL1 to clean, and your ink usage will go down quite a bit.  If you clean from the normal modes from the computer even with pairs cleaning I feel you use a lot more ink per cleaning and if you let the printer determine it i.e. with ANC then you are going to use a whole lot more ink. 

Epson makes great machines, yet they tend to leave some of the best tools out of reach for the users.  In this case the CL1 through CL4 pairs cleaning in Serviceman mode.  in the older printers the SSCL used to be buried and only accessible in M/A mode 7800/9800.  I believe in the 9880 they allowed this to be done from the computer finally.

I strongly recommend making the photo black to matte black ink swap from Service man mode also.  Doing it here won't trigger a cleaning cycle and if you do if from the normal mode you get a cleaning and it's a pretty strong one.  I have yet to have any issues going back and forth from PK to MK in Serviceman mode.

One note, in Serviceman mode, you can make a lot of other adjustments ones, you don't want to make unless necessary.  So be careful and don't confirm anything until you are sure. 

Epson just released a new firmware level, I have not upgraded to yet.  But I think it was to fix issues with carts not being recognized by the printer.

I will agree with your original post about wasted time since coming up in Serviceman mode and checking the nozzles takes about 15 or so more minutes each day, but to me it's worth it in being able to get to the CL1 cleaning ability and using much less ink.

Send me a PM if you need any info on getting to Serviceman mode and or the CL1 cleanings.

Paul Caldwell
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Unique Images

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Re: Epson 9900, wasted time and ink
« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2011, 09:03:06 am »

Paul, thank you for taking so much time to respond.  I will try the workflow you recommend.

A lot of my work is 40" x 60", so I am very hesitant to print without having all nozzles firing.  My profiles for canvas are produced using 720, so I have not attempted to use 1440 as I believed it would interfere with the shadow detail that I have been happy with so far.

ANC is always off, and the only time I have ever used is was following a firmware update.  After countless updates, I have never had success with it turned on.  CYAN and VIVID MAGENTA are constantly blocked, and cleaning more often than not, leads to more colours blocked.  A technician charges several hundred dollars travel allowance to inspect, and the last few times they have not been able to find anything wrong (this is my third 9900 after having the first two rebuilt). 

My environment is within specifications noted in the manual, but I am in close proximately to the beach and do not have air conditioning.  Relative humidity is usually around 40-60%, and no printing is done when temperatures are above 25 degrees.  The property owner is not open to having us install an air conditioning unit, so air conditioning is out for now.

I have been printing for several hours after spending 5-6 hours cleaning without success on the Magenta channel.  No banding, and colours look good??  Excessive cleaning seems to cause a lot of issues, but when do you call it a day and give up?  After ten, twenty cleans?  I will report back after following your advice, which is greatly appreciated.

Nigel
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