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.


uầy ôi said...

Nice blog !!!
thanks for sharing
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Foto Gajah said...

Are you resolve this problem ? i have this printer and have similar situation. Clogging every time first print.

Foto Gajah said...

Are you resolve this problem ? i have similar problem, and i dont know how to deal with it (and i think Epson doesn't know either)

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Tappityap said...

I believe its an electronic fault with the printer head.
I am extremely cranky as I need to get this replaced after wasting a bucketload of ink trying to clean the head. I have just been told it is going to take nearly 2 months to get this part and have my machine on track. Seriously! They can't physically post this part they have to fill a container and bring it out by the sounds of it from Singapore.Is Epson living in the dark ages? I am happy to pay the freight and yet no I still can't get the part. I can assure the whole universe I will NEVER buy epson again. The supply for the paper was a nightmare when I first got this machine. Now that the machine is just on two years old its going to cost me a bomb and be a complete inconvenience for two months and then how long will it last. $5000 and only 21 000 prints done (the machine is apparently capable of 150 000) and its all turned to shit. I've bought multiple epson printers in many different sizes and I am done. Very cranky!!!

shafri omar said...

i'm a part time photographer and a D700 owner. i bought D700 in august 2015. i only printed heavily during year end in october and november, about 2000 - 3000 8R prints each year. after that the D700 will mostly stay idle. in december 2016, just over a year, the print head played up, no matter how many times i cleaned, it became worst, worst i mean one color light cyan iirc, is totally out (all nozzles clogged), until i did manual cleaned, removed the head from printer and soak in glass cleaner, suck and pump using syringe manually (adviced you can find in youtube and internet by expert users), what i found out is the head's nozzle plate (goldish color) below is leaking on the side, so it described why i cant clean this head, the glue holding the nozzle to the head are torn apart, so i bought a new head on december 2016 (after just over a year, warranty void) for RM850 (USD200+), and today is october 2017, the head is playing up again (just after 3000+ 8R prints only) yellow ink is totally out, power cleaned and normal cleaned many times again, now every color is totally out, i suspect i need a new head again. i'm starting to think, this Epson Surelab D700 is the worst investment ever! DO NOT BUY!

Anonymous said...

I have the same problems. After one year of use and about 6000 prints the printhead was gone. 10 month later the second printhead was faulty. Now again 11 month later the third printhead ist faulty. This machine is a mess. I can't recommend it.

William said...

I agreed that no one should buy this printer unless they have a deep pocket! The print head is simply too fragile and won't last. If you leave it idle, it will be worse.

I was told that power clean will damage the head! So watch out.

Now that the paper will never load properly. It seems that the loader is a precision mechanism.

zafer TEMELTAŞ said...

selam ben 5 yıldır epson d700 kullanıyorum ikiyıl garantisi bittikten hemen sonra kafa değiştirdim ve bu üçüncü kafa olacak ve çok pahallı epson buna bir çözüm bulursa çok iyi olacak

William said...

Epson'un baskı kafası satarak para kazandığını düşünüyorum.
(Google translated)