Monday, October 24, 2016

Epson SureLab D700 Printer clogged print head or is it?

(Note: I am updating this post whenever I have new information. So please do scroll to the end.)

Epson probably made one of the nicest colour photo printer for small time professional use. It is small enough to be fitted into a small office and it is fast enough to probably meet any demanding print job for small businesses.

I am probably the only freelance photographer using D700 printer in Sarawak. It was totally free from problem for the first one year of operation. However, problem started after one year of usage. It keeps complaining of clogged print head and the printed images had fine "scratch lines". See this two images:
The more I cleaned the print head, the worse the problem becomes. So serious that it gave me stress and depression! Calling the service engineer seems to take forever as I am an hour flying time from the nearest service centre. So, I have to do problem analysis myself.
What I have done so far:
1. Head cleaning is not much use other than consuming ink.
2. Switch the printer off overnight. The problem may disappear.
3. Switch the printer on and off may solve the problem.
4. I changed the print setting to "fine". Problem went away for a few weeks.

From the above three scenarios, I am convinced that it has nothing to do with clogged print heads. So, I did some problem solving analysis:

1. Today, the printer made the most disgusting print ever. See the right portion of the picture above.

I noticed for while that my ink level for cyan and black is low. I refreshed my cyan cartridge and the cyan pattern is now perfect. However, the black ink pattern can't be worse. See pattern 1 below.

So, I refreshed the black cartridge and without doing anything, the subsequent three print patterns seem to be getting better and better (no head cleaning in between test print pattern). This is inconsistent with a clogged print head! Since I am running out of patience, I switched the printer on and off. And indeed, the final print pattern (not shown above) is perfect and when I did my test print, the picture is now perfect (see above left portion). My conclusion:

The so called clogged print head is just a false alarm. It has to do with ink level in the cartridge and probably the Epson design of the ink pump is not that good! If you have same issue like me, try to install a new cartridge and see if the problem goes away. Please do share your experience in the comment here.

Please note that, above is just one of the issues faced by many users of this printer. My issue seems to be related to low ink level. Many others who have almost new ink cartridge also give the same "clogged printer head" problem.

Update: 18-Sept-2017

One fine day, I found ink all over the table! Now, that was big issue! I called the service engineer and they came to change my ink pumps, all of them. I have already suspected that the ink pumps were not behaving. After changing the ink pumps, the printer started to print again but for the black ink, it showed "scratch line". On the test print, it looks perfect but not on actual photo printing.

Two months later, I decided to change the print head. Thanks God, now everything is back to normal.

Total cost for changing the print head and pump is about RM2500. It is not cheap to maintain this baby. If it is not for convenient and my own ability to maintain the print quality, I would have thrown this printer out.

Update: 05 Dec 2017

My humble recommendation for users of this printer:

1. You must switch on often and don't leave it idle for a prolong period. Even if you are not printing.
2. If you see any line on the test pattern, and the problem won't go away no matter how many wash, just leave it on over night and try again. The problem generally goes away.
3. Switch off the auto detection of clogged print head. (May not always be a good idea.)
4. Keep the printer clean.
5. The biggest annoyance now is that the paper loading is always problematic. I was taught that you snip off a wedge shape with a scissor on both side of the paper and it should always work.

If you have not bought this printer and you are thinking about it, ask yourself these few questions:
1. Why not outsource printing? I don't want because they are in-consistence with quality
2. Are you ready to spend about US$600 a year for maintenance? I am hoping that my pump and print head are now ok.

My opinion is that the print head, head cap and pumps are flawed in design. Other than that, this is a beautiful printer!

Update: 16-Sept-2018
The print head suddenly died! It was changed out on 2nd Oct 2018 after printing just 10K photos.

I was told that it is best to leave the printer switched on ALL the time. That a print shop in town probably (my estimate) printed more than 200K photos before a print head died.

Update: 22 Nov 2018
My service technician told me NOT to do POWER HEAD CLEANING. It will damage the print head. Normal head cleaning should be sufficient. If the problem doesn't go away after three times, just let it rest for 30 minutes. If problem persist, you may consider switching on and off or just leave the machine switched on overnight.

For my machine, I have replaced the print head twice, changed all the pumps and it is now working fine.

Only outstanding issue: Why the paper never load properly? So to overcome this issue, I will always cut off a wedge shape at the edge of the paper if I wanted to load paper and do printing. I also set the sleep timer to a longer period so that it doesn't go to sleep too fast. If anyone has a solution to this issue, please do drop a comment.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Solar Eclipse 2016 in Miri

Solar eclipse in Miri on 09-March-2016. It was very cloudy and fortunately the sky cleared long enough for me to take some pictures.

Friday, January 22, 2016