Clogged Inkjet print heads.
I hate to think how many printers I have dumped in my time for clogged print heads. The latest to fail on me was a Cannon IP4300. I think the cause, was that for the past month or so, I did not use it much ... if at all. Naturally the solvent ink in the Print head orifices dried up and blocked further ink flow. A new print head costs about £50 and for that kind of money you can get a new printer complete with a set of cartridges and a 12 month warranty !. I then thought that if I was going to dump the printer it would do no harm to have a go at unclogging the print head. I had already tried using the printers 'deep cleaning' facility and it failed to solve the problem.
What I did not immediately realise was that on the IP4300 the print head just clips into place, so it is easy to remove.
Removing the IP4300 print head (At your own risk!).
a. Switch the printer on and lift the top lid. This will cause the print head to move to the center and all ink cartridges can be removed by pushing the transparent lever on the cartridge and lifting it out. Stick a piece of tape over the ink hole in the bottom of the cartridge to stop them drying out. It would be best to store them in a closed plastic bag containing a cotton wool ball soaked with water.
b. To the right of the black plastic print head assembly is a grey lever which secures the print head into the machine. Lift this lever and lift the print head out of the machine. It would be wise NOT to touch the print head orifices under the print head.
c. I refill my own ink cartridges and with the refill kit comes a syringe, blunt needle and a bottle of flushing fluid, which I suspect is alcohol. I used a spare bottle of that, but you can also get a small bottle of Isopropanol from a chemist shop.
d. I then obtained a small flat tray (plastic box lid) and poured into it about 5.mm of flushing fluid and placed the print head in the liquid with the print orifices downwards so that the fluid completely covers them. Using the syringe loaded with the flushing fluid fill up the little wells where the cartridges normally sit, with flushing fluid. The flushing fluid is volatile and evaporates, so you will need to top it up occasionally.
e. Ideally the print head should be left in the fluid for several hours to allow it to dissolve the solidified ink in the print head, but remember the fluid will try and evaporate so it would be best to do the soaking in a closed container. No naked flames or smoking !. After the soaking period remove the print head from the flushing fluid and dry the cartridge with a tissue. DO NOT WIPE THE PRINT ORIFICES or you may block them again.
f. Eventually the print head will contain re-dissolved ink and some flushing fluid, so the next step is do some printing to prime the print head with clean ink.
g. In my case only the two black ink jets were blocked. To make sure that there was enough ink in these two cartridges to re-prime the print head I turned the cartridges upside down and injected about two cc of ink into the ink-hole foam before fitting them back into the printer.
h. Next I did a deep clean which primes the head and gets rid of the flushing fluid.
i. Find a file with lots of black print and print it out. You may need to do this more than once to get the head completely primed.
Resetting the Cartridge chip.
It is amazing how much trouble printer manufacturers go to, to stop the user refilling their own cartridges. Each cartridge contains an electronic chip that uniquely identifies that cartridge and whether it is a new branded cartridge. Cartridge is timed timed and will 'expire' after a certain time ... even though they may still be full of ink. They simply stop working !.
If it happens to be a used one that you have re-filled you will be presented with dire 'end of the world' warnings that your printer will immediately self destruct and the warranty cancelled .... also the ink level indicators will 'white out' and stop working. To get the ink level indicators working again and lose all the warnings we need to reset the chip, so that it thinks it is in a brand new cartridge. To do this, the free world has invented the 'Printer cartridge chip re-setter' which is a little electronic gadget that does exactly that. There are different models for different brands and models. The refilled cartridge is simply plugged into it for a few seconds, two lights flash and the cartridge will now be accepted by the printer. The re-setter costs about £16 with VAT and P & P. Re-setters for EPSON cartridges are simpler and can be purchased for about £4.
Mine arrived today and it works a treat !. I did find it a bit odd being able to print stuff out without all those warning messages !.
There have also appeared on the market, 'reset chips'. These are specially programmed replacement chips that automatically reset themselves. These are available on EBAY either with replacement cartridges or separate. Anyone who has used a OEM cartridge will know how to change over the chip, otherwise there are lot of instruction video's on Youtube.
OH no ... Not again !
If it has happened once, it can happen again !. If you know that you are not going to use your printer for some time, for example when you go away on holiday or store a spare printer ..... remove the print head, re-fit the cartridges into it and store them in a sealed plastic bag containing a felt pad soaked in water. This will help stop them drying out.
Attempting the above will probably invalidate your warranty as will filling your own cartridges !. You attempt the above at your own risk. In most cases unless you are prepared to buy an expensive replacement print head .... your printer is going to end up being dumped anyway, so what do you have to lose ?. In the case of the Cannon IP4300, the print head was easily removable, many other printers may not be so simple to tackle. I can only suggest that you search Google for instructions on how to de-clog other printer models. Have fun ! .......