Printer woes….

Oh the joys of technology.

First it was the transition to digital photography. We had to learn about megapixels, pixel pitch, bayer arrays, moire, noise, colour management, profiling, RIP systems, unsharp mask….the list goes on and on. No more dropping velvia off at the lab and grabbing a pint; nowadays the professional photographer has his own professional printer for folios, proofing and client samples along with laptops, digital backs, lights etc. It seems so long ago that I’d leave with one camera and one lens. That’s because it was.

So, Monday I decided to print some new work to add to my folio and to do some prints for some architects that I work with. Turn on the Epson 3800, my trusty A2 printer. Oh dear, after lots of power cleaning, head alignment and nozzle checking I realised that I had a big problem….a blocked nozzle – of course Epson could assist me to the tune of ¬£300……so, in my usual ‘have-a-go-at-anything’ approach I surfed the net looking for assistance. If you have ever had a blocked nozzle and you’ve spent 1/2 day wasting ink trying to flush the head¬† you’ll know how annoying this is. To my disbelief I actually managed to do it and avoid the Epson bill :-) So, if you too have an Epson 3800 try this….Firstly, get some Isopropyl alcohol and pec pad non abrasive wipes. That’s all you need. Secondly, turn the printer on, put some A4 normal 80gsm in the sheet feeder and print a nozzle check pattern from the console. As the print head moves immediately pull the plug out of the printer. This will release the print head and enable you to move it along. Next, wet two pec pad wipes (others have used paper towel but I think it can block the tiny nozzles) and fold the wipes so that they sit in the channel where the print head runs along. They mustn’t ride up the sides as when you move the print head, it will just push the wipes out of the way. You can actually rock the print head slightly to gain extra clearance. Just move the head over the wipes from left to right. You should find lots of ink coming off and onto the wipes. If 2 folded wipes isn’t sufficiently close to the print head, try 3. Once the wipes are covered in ink, use some new ones and do the same again. Keep doing this until each pass over the wipes reveals less and less ink. Eventually once you think you’ve removed the dried ink, wet 2 new ones and ‘park’ the print head over the wipes for a few hours. Then come back to the Epson, move the print head and remove the wipes. (One advantage of using pec pad wipes is that they won’t fall apart and clog your printer like paper towel could). Ensure that nothing is left in the channel where the print head runs. Now, plug the printer back in and wait for the inks to recycle. Now, do a head clean (not power clean) from the utility software and then print a nozzle check pattern. If you’re not all clear I’ll be very surprised. If this is the case, then you’ve not got the isopropyl alcohol close enough to the print head. Go back and repeat. This worked for me and my printer is as new again. Give it a try but it’s at your own risk – be careful and good luck. I’ll be turning mine on every week from now on, even if I’m not making prints…to ensure that the print head is kept lubricated…

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