This saga of permanently clogged print heads from printing with Epson Ultrachrome inks continues.an opinion
When we are contacted by customers who can not free up one or more ink positions in a 4900, Epson inks are always at the cause of this. We still, to this day, do not have any ConeColor or Piezography ink customers who have started up 4900, 7900 ror 9900 printers with our inks and experienced a “permanent” head clog.
So, more than a year after we first reported wide spread problems with the X900 printer platform, we are more than a little convinced that the Epson ink itself may not be the best option for use in these printers. Of course, that is simply our opinion. But, never in our entire history of supplying Epson printmakers (since 1998) have we ever encountered a printer platform that was so prevalent to premature head replacements.
To be fair to Epson, they are guaranteed for only one year. But, in our experience and in listening to our customers, the X600, X800, and X880 print heads (on average) last over two years before needing replacement. Many lasting three or more years. We never encountered customers complaining of print heads lasting less than a year or just longer than a year. With the 4900 it’s like a clock that goes off just after warranty expires… So we advise extending your warranty prior to one year. And using ConeColor® or Piezography® or InkThrift® inks does not void your warranty (in the USA). Each Nation has its own consumer protection laws…so check with yours if you live outside the USA. It is our understanding that the EU has strengthened consumer laws as they relate to choice of consumables and replaceable parts (non-permanent).
Nonetheless, Epson inks remain the choice of most customers and “permanently” clogged print heads are a fact of life for many Epson ink customers when using the Epson X900 printer platform.
So what can InkjetMall do to help?
This past winter we were absolutely inundated with requests for help from Epson 4900 ink customers. We sold 100s of PiezoFlush cleaning kits and we developed a recommended “best practices” instructions to flush the system with PiezoFlush. We polled our customers to find out the success rate. We received truly positive replies from those using our best practices. We believe that our PiezoFlush solution and cleaning method works. We’ve saved quite a few customers from needing new print heads.
The value of a PiezoFlush system, beside being used to repair your printer, is that it can be saved and used again. The PiezoFlush does not have an expiration date. It can sit for long periods of time in either the printer or the cartridges or the bottles. And if you have more than one 4900, or 7900/9900 a set of carts for each can be shared with printer models of the same (4900 or 7900/9900).
So why is this happening to these printer platforms when it did not happen to preceding generations?
I think that question is on everyone’s mind these days (at least those contemplating whether they should extend their warranty or not.) My opinion is that the reason this is happening is because the R3000, 4900, 7900, 9900, 7890 and 9890 printers are the first Epson printers to be released which do not have traditional power cleans. Removing these traditional power clean functions from the consumer makes it more difficult for Epson ink customers to change to radically different ink systems, such as using dye sublimation inks or eco-solvent inks. These are huge markets of ink. And these are ink types which can not be allowed to combine with the OEM inks or chemical reactions occur.
Instead, Epson is offering short intensive head cleaning functions that if repeated frequently end up further clogging the print heads.
Changing from one pigment brand to another does not necessarily require flushing out the old. Certainly changing to ConeColor can be done as simply as changing one position at a time in these printers. There is no harm in allowing the ConeColor inks to slowly chase out the Epson inks during the course of normal printing. The color match is so close that you will most likely not see the difference when the changeover is complete.
So in our opinion, the lack of basic maintenance tools is causing OEM customer nightmares. Epson print heads clog. It’s just a fact of life that head cleanings are going to be necessary from time to time. In dry climates head cleanings are more frequently needed. On all preceding large format printer models, the customer could completely refresh the ink system with two POWER CLEANS. In the X900 printers, it takes an equivalent of more than 50 head cleanings to do the same. Not a smart move on the part of Epson engineers to remove a basic cleaning operation in favor of making it more difficult for the customer to switch to dye sub or eco-sol inks.
PiezoFlush cleaning kits for these printers are sold in complete sets or in individual positions. We have a cleaning procedure that we recommend and suggest that you follow to the ‘T’. Most of those that have followed our recommended best practice method are getting their printers back to production.
You can check out PiezoFlush kits for the following printers: