Piezography Workshops at Cone Editions Press!
  • Printer Cleaning and Preventative Maintenance

    The general maintenance routine we recommend for any desktop or pro model Epson printer model is:

    *Agitate ink cartridges every 1-2 weeks to maintain in-suspension pigment, and use printers at least once a week to avoid settled ink in the pro model internal ink lines and to keep the print head moist.

    *If a printer will not be used for a month or longer, we recommend installing a set of carts filled with PiezoFlush and purge ink from the printer before turning it off for safe storage. Keep in mind, with printers that have two black channels, only the one that the printer is in the mode of will be effected when you do cleaning cycles or flush a printer, so to flush the second black line, you must do a black ink change. If you only print with one black and not the other, you can install PiezoFlush in the unused black position to keep it from clogging and drying out, so it's available in the future if you want to use it.

    *Keep printers clean and in good working condition by cleaning waste ink build up from the capping station, flushing box and wiper blade every few weeks. If there are any problems such as mis-firing nozzles, stubborn missing nozzles or ink smears/drips on the paper during printing, gently clean waste ink build up from the bottom of the print head, and if using a desktop model printer- gently flush the print head channels using our PiezoFlush print head cleaning kit (you will find our video link and written instructions for some of these procedures below).

    *With Pro model printers, replace the set of dampers, wiper blade, main/right capping station and flushing box every 1-3 years (depending on use). Often times, the pump will also need to be replaced about every 3 years. Many people can replace most if not all these parts themselves, by following the clear step-by-step instructions in the Epson field repair guide specific to your printer model, which can be purchased and downloaded from www.2manuals.com. If you work on your own printer, we have a few helpful tips to offer: Give yourself plenty of time (don't rush), make sure you're in a decent mood (not short tempered), thoroughly read the procedure in the repair manual before beginning, and use magnetized screw drivers to help prevent small screws from dropping into the depths of the printer.

    *Use humidifiers in the dry months, and AC in the humid months as needed to maintain humidity levels between about 40-60% and temperature between 59-77°F for the best function of printer, inks and paper.

    NOTE: Please watch our YouTube videos to see these cleaning procedures preformed.

    ** Epson desktop printer models (1400, 1430, R2400, R1800/800, R1900, R2000, R2880, etc...): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUysQFDH6u0

    ** Epson R3000 printer model:

    ** Epson Pro 3800 + 3880 printer models: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocoX1WJbJPM

    ** Epson 7800/9800 and 7880/9880 printer models:
    Info and photos specific to the 7890/9890 and 7900/9900 can be found here: http://www.inkjetmall.com/tech/showt...highlight=7900

    ** Video for cleaning 7890/9890 and 7900/9900 printers:

    Clean the capping station and flushing box

    This tip is easy to perform and often highly effective in fixing not only missing nozzles, but also any residual color you may see in a print shortly after installing a set of Piezography inks in a printer for the first time. This tip is especially helpful if you see a nozzle check pattern become worse after running more and more cleaning cycles. The capping station should be cleaned 1-2 times a month (depending on frequency of printing and the amount of cleaning cycles done) to keep the print head clean and working well.

    The capping station is a rectangular flat sponge surrounded by a raised gasket. When the print head is in the “parked position,” at the right side of the printer carriage, the gasket of the cap presses against the print head, sealing it. One purpose of this is to keep the print head from drying out due to air exposure. The second reason is that the cap is used as part of cleaning cycles: the sponge in the cap is porous, connected to a small vacuum pump underneath. During cleaning cycles, ink is pulled or printed out of the print head, and the ink drains into the sponge, with help from the cap. The ink is then deposited on an absorbent waste pad inside the printer. Sometimes the sponge will clog up, due to dried ink, or due to paper fiber in the sponge, and this keeps the ink from draining out properly. The excess ink will then make contact with the print head, and transfer onto the print head’s nozzle surface. This can cause blocked nozzles, or can even cause the printer to print the wrong color, if leftover color ink is pulled back into the nozzles and printed out again.

    Cleaning off the sponge and gasket of the capping station allows the print head to stay clean. This can often make an ink jetting problem disappear instantly. The steps for cleaning the capping station are listed below. Please note that certain printer models have two caps. Pro model printers also have a flushing box- this pad should also be cleaned as waste ink is deposited there during cleaning cycles and drains down into the waste ink tank. If the flushing box pad is blocked by waste ink build up or dried ink, the ink will not drain thru correctly nor will cleaning cycles be as effective because the suction on the print head is restricted by the dirty pad. Pro model printers have flushing boxes (the stationary square pad/box to the left of the capping station), which can be cleaned by following the same procedure for cleaning the capping station below. The flushing box should be cleaned as regularly as the capping station and wiper blade. The capping station, wiper blade, dampers and flushing box should all be replaced every 1-3 years, depending on use. The repair manual for many Pro model printers specify these parts should be replaced every year.

    1. Access the cap: Move the print head off the cap in order to inspect and clean it.

    * Desktop printers: Push the “ink change” button to move print head off the cap. Unplug the printer then move the print head to the left side to access the capping station on the right.

    * 3000 printer (OLD 4-color model): Unplug the printer, and manually slide the print head to the left side.

    * 3800/3880 and R3000 printers: Turn printer on, unplug printer when print head moves out of the right side during start up process then open the top lid and manually move print head to the left side to access capping station on the right.

    * Large format Epson printers: Turn off the printer and open the front cover. Press down on the spring loaded paper cutter located on the front of the print head, which will unlock the print head so it can easily be moved with your hand (release the paper cutter once the head is unlocked). Move the print head over to the left side to access the capping station + flushing box on the right.

    * 7900/9900 or 7890/9890: To move the print head out of locked right side: either turn the printer on, then unplug power cable while print head is out of right side during start up, or start printer in Serviceman Mode (hold right arrow, down arrow and center/OK buttons while turning printer on), and select wiper replacement to move print head over, then turn the printer off and unplug from power.

    2. Look inside the printer case, below where the print head was originally sitting, to find the cap or caps. A cap is a rectangular piece, approximately 1” high by 2” wide (the exact size varies from printer to printer). It is mounted on a spring loaded mechanism.

    3. Look at the cap, using a flashlight if necessary.

    * It should be horizontal to the print path (depending if it’s a desktop or Pro model printer), not tilted at an angle. If it tilted, there may be a problem with the fixture supporting it. This can cause ongoing problems due to ink drying out in the print head. This problem usually requires the printer to be serviced professionally.

    * The surface of the sponge must be flat, and sitting below the level of the gasket. Make sure that it does not bow up at all. Sometimes, the sponge will lift up in the center or an edge. When this happens the sponge will always contact the print head, and cause ongoing problems. Older model printers are more prone to this problem. Newer models have a metal grid holding the sponge down.

    4. Clean the cap. Sometimes you may notice a buildup of residue or liquid in the cap or on the gasket; other times you will not. Use a drinking straw to deposit PiezoFlush solution (recommended) or warm distilled water, or use the tube from the inside of a bottle of Windex to deposit Windex, onto the sponge. Use your finger to dispense only two or three drops of liquid at a time. The liquid will remain in the cap for a few seconds, but will soon drain out. Repeat this several times. Do not let the liquid spill around the cap, and into the printer, some model printers have important electrical components located under the capping station area and can be damaged by liquid (the 2100/2200 are especially sensitive to this).

    5. Fold a paper towel into a 4”x4” (10cm X 10cm) pad. Press the towel gently on the sponge to dab away ink and PiezoFlush, water or Windex. As you push on the sponge, gently push down and slightly to the right, to protect the spring-loaded mechanism that supports it. Pushing too hard, or pushing to the left can damage the capping station (and hence the printer). After dabbing several times, you will remove much of the liquid, but you can never remove all of it. Make sure the capping station returns to it’s normal position and sits flat for a correct seal with the print head.

    6. Dip a cotton swab (Q-Tip) in water, and use it to wipe gently around the edge of the capping station gasket, to remove dirt buildup there. Again, be careful not to push the capping station out of alignment. Take care not to leave any Q-tip fibers behind on the capping station sponge or gasket.

    7. Return the print head to the parked position (on far right side), plug the printer back in and turn it on if necessary. Run one or two print head cleaning cycles then print a nozzle check pattern. If the nozzle check pattern is better, but not perfect, do one or two more cleaning cycles and print another nozzle check pattern. If the nozzle check pattern continues to show missing nozzles, contact Inkjetmall’s support department for assistance.

    Scrub the bottom of the print head

    Use this procedure to clean the bottom of the print head, where the nozzles are located. You will manually move the print head back and forth over a folded, wetted paper towel. This procedure can remove a buildup of paper fibers, dust and ink gunk that may not be removed by print head cleaning cycles. Use this procedure sparingly, and understand that it is the most invasive of the tips listed, in that it can damage the print head if performed improperly. A dry paper towel can actually scratch the print head, affecting its performance. Additionally, if there is any abrasive residue built up on the print head, this technique may either scratch the print head or else force a piece of solid matter into a nozzle, permanently closing it. However, if used carefully and in moderation, it can be a very effective cleaning technique, particularly on an older printer, perhaps one that has never been cleaned before, or one that has sat for a long period of time without use.

    1. Get several Bounty White paper towels and a glass of warm distilled water or a bottle of PiezoFlush. We recommend NOT using Windex or other glass/ammonia cleaners on the print head. It is best to use heavy duty paper towels when cleaning the inside of your printer because cheap ones easily tear and leave behind fibers, which can cause more problems.

    2. Unlock the print head from the far right parked position:

    * Desktop printers: Push the “ink change” button to move print head off the cap. Unplug the printer then move the print head.

    * 3000 printer (OLD 4-color model): Unplug the printer, and manually slide the print head.

    * 3800/3880 and R3000 printers: Turn printer on, unplug printer when print head moves out of the right side during start up process then open the top lid and
    manually move print head.

    * Large format Epson printers: Turn off the printer and open the front cover. Press down on the spring loaded paper cutter located on the front of the print head,
    which will unlock the print head so it can easily be moved with your hand (release the paper cutter once the head is unlocked). Move the print head over to the
    middle of the printer to easily clean.

    3. Cut a paper towel in half and fold it lengthwise until the strip is about 1” (2.5cm) wide, by about 8 inches long.

    4. Lightly dampen the folded towel with PiezoFlush solution or warm distilled water (NOT tap or spring water!) and flatten it between two fingers or on a table top.

    5. Push the moist folded paper towel strip in the black plastic channel beneath where the print head travels back and forth when printing. Push the edges of the paper towel down, especially the right end so the head doesn’t catch on the towel when slid over it.

    6. Manually slide the print head over the right edge of the paper towel, trying not to slide or drag the towel as you do so. If it doesn’t slide over easily, don’t force it- move the head back to the right and flatten the towel edge to try again.

    7. With the print head over the center of the folded moist paper towel, lift the two sides of the towel and gently slide it back and forth to clean the bottom of the print head- like shining a shoe.

    8. After two or three passes of the paper towel, let go of the paper towel and slide the print head to the far right, remove the towel, and if more cleaning is needed replace it with a new one, following steps 3-7 above. Two towels are generally enough to remove the majority of the debris on the print head. Additional towels will continue to turn black, but this is mainly due to ink from inside the print head, wicking onto the towel by capillary action. Make sure not to rip the paper towel with the print head, as that could cause fibers or pieces to be stuck onto the print head.

    9. When you have finished scrubbing the print head, slide the print head to the far right and remove the moist towel, then use a clean, dry paper towel and Q-tips to clean up any liquid remaining in the black plastic channel.

    10. Plug in the printer and run one or two cleaning cycles to remove any remaining paper fibers from the bottom of the print head. Then verify you have a perfect nozzle check pattern before printing.

    Flush print head using our PiezoFlush print head cleaning kit:

    1. Remove cartridges (desktop model printer) or disconnect dampers (Pro model printer) to access the print head- you should write down the cartridge or damper order before disconnecting from the head, to know which channel you need to clean and how to put it back together after cleaning. There will be a 1/2" plastic point sticking up for each ink channel in the print head- these points are where the cartridges or dampers connect with the head.

    2. Fold a paper towel just like in the print head scrub procedure and moisten it LIGHTLY with PiezoFlush or distilled water.

    3. Place moist paper towel in the printer were the print head moves back and forth, make sure to push the edges down so the print head can slide over it without catching.

    4. Carefully slide the print head over the paper towel (the paper towel is to absorb the liquid that gets sprayed thru the print head).

    5. Insert the dummy cartridge into the position to be cleaned, making sure the tip is snugly over the point in the print head.

    6. Pull 1-2ml PiezoFlush into the syringe then put the tip of the syringe firmly into the hole in the dummy cartridge.

    7. Push the syringe plunger to push the PiezoFlush thru that position of the print head (don’t push TOO hard if there’s strong resistance).

    8. Pull the syringe plunger up to pull air up thru the head, then gently push fluid thru again (you should be able to feel the clog break free and see the syringe plunger going down slowly).

    9. Slide the print head over a different section of the paper towel so as to not over saturate one area (you do not want liquid to drip into your printer as this could damage the machine).

    10. Push fluid and pull air thru a few times until you can feel the fluid is able to flow thru the print head.

    11. Absorb any excess liquid in the print head using Q-tips.

    12. Slide the print head off the paper towel and throw it away.

    13. Reconnect the dampers (make sure to prime dampers with ink before attaching to the head, for good ink flow) or reinstall the ink cartridges.

    14. Do 2-3 cleaning cycles to get ink flowing thru the head again, then print a nozzle check to see how things look.

    ©Copyright Vermont PhotoInkjet, LLC All Rights Reserved. No parts of this can be reproduced without written permission.
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Muizen's Avatar
      Muizen -
      Hello Jon,

      I studied your above detailed report on "Printer cleaning and Preventative Maintenance".
      - I also had a look at the "Epson Field repair guide" (for the Pro 3800; 3880 can not be found)) and concluded that taking the Pro 3880 apart just for the purpose of maintenance is something I am technically not capable off and/or do not want to do at all.
      At the end I will be required to buy a new printer!

      - I did clean the capping station and wiper blade (as far as I could reach these).
      But I can not find the flussing box that needs maintenance too.

      - I can also scrub the bottom of the print head, when this becomes necessary.

      - The chapter on "Flush print head ..." I didn't understand at all.
      You are just advising to "disconnect dampers (pro model 3880)" without any information how dampers look, where to located these dampers and how to disconnect.
      I can understand that flushing the printer head can be necessary when clogs cause printing problems.
      But this requires detailed instructions and can't be done following the instructions in this chapter.

      How can I e.g. flush just one clogged ink channel (e.g. Magenta) and do the" required Power cleanings of that one channel?
      My Pro 3880 is new and I use it at least once a week.
      So it could be that cleaning the capping station and the wipers is for the time being sufficient?

      Thank you for your advise!
    1. jon's Avatar
      jon -
      You can find the flushing box and parts and procedures in this video: http://shopping.netsuite.com/s.nl/c....gory.122469/.f

      The easiest way to flush the print head is by installing flushing cartridges and running either an INITIAL INK CHARGE, or INITIAL INK FILL, or in the case of the 3880 you could run 3-4 POWER CLEANS.

      You can install one cartridge in the 3880 and flush only that channel but you can not prevent the other ink channels from consuming ink. Unfortunately, you need SUCTION to really clean an ink channel and the functions that produce suction produce it to the entire print head. There is no way to apply suction to only one print channel.

      We do not recommend you get into the dismantling of the ink exchanger in order to replace dampers unless you are technically inclined. You have to do this on your own following the Field Service Manual. We do not show you how to do things that are risky.

      Epson recommends that you replace the ink exchanger on an annual basis. It's about $175 available from Compass Micro. That is worth learning how to do on your own by following the field service manual. Or you can come to Cone Editions Press to take a printer maintenance course with Dana - but it will set you back $750. Would be cheaper to have Epson replace the ink exchanger. Most of the people coming to Vermont for technical training are taking care of entire departments of printers or responsible for maintaining printers for pro printing operations in which they maintain a lot of printers.

      The best advise we can give you is to use a PRO printer regularly. Allowing it to sit unused for longer periods of time (a few weeks) will cause you headaches whether you are using OEM or 3rd party inks. Use our maintenance video to do routine maintenance!
    1. donbga's Avatar
      donbga -
      It appears that this link:


      is no longer available.
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