Epson SP3800 - Ink wasted switching MB to PB

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by benbangerter, Apr 26, 2009.

  1. I have been printing on my SP3800 with matte black ink for the past couple of months. Prints have been fine, occasional nozzle checks have been perfect, all 180 nozzles firing for each color. Today I switched to photo black ink, via the printer's control panel, after checking the ink levels. Then I checked the levels again. The photo black was down by 5%, all the others were unchanged. At $50 per 80 ml cartridge, this was $2.50 in ink cost - not bad at all. Then I printed a nozzle check. Oh-oh. Only 6 of the black nozzles were printing, while all 180 nozzles of each of the other seven inks were printing. So I did a head cleaning. So far, so good. Now 126 of the 180 black nozzles were printing, and all patterns for the other seven inks were perfect. (I know, I'm compulsive - I used a loupe to check!) We are almost there. I did a second head cleaning cycle. Things begin to fall apart. Nozzles not printing were as follows: PB, 8; LB, 12; LLB, 78; C, 0; M, 0; lC, 26; lM, 15; Y, 58. I did a third head cleaning cycle. Nozzles not printing were as follows: PB, 0; LB, 0; LLB, 0; C, 0; M, 63; lC, 13; lM, 6; Y, 12. Better, but not there yet. After a fourth head cleaning cycle, all nozzles were printing, except for the bottom 4 of the M channel. I decided I was done. Checking the ink levels at this point, all 8 active inks (MB not in use) were down by 5% each from the levels prior to the four head cleaning cycles. Cost of this wasted ink: $20.
    Is this the sort of thing all SP3800 users experience? I cannot understand why the head cleaning procedure should mess up the ink channels not involved in the MB/PB switch. I can understand how the PB channel would be affected, of course. It seems to me Epson could allow only an affected ink channel to be cleaned, unless the cleaning procedure uses a vacuum applied to the entire head and all ink jets. This experience suggests to me that a better procedure for getting the black channel to print after a MB/PB switch would be to print a dark black patch, rather than running cleaning cycles. Any suggestions or observations from other SP3800 users?
  2. The 3800 (like all Epsons from the 2200 to tht 7900 to the 11000) has a head "scrubbing" station that has a double wiper, half soft "squeegee" rubber, half absorbent felt. Spreading nozzle clogs are caused by partially solidified "gummy" ink accumulating on this wiper and transferring to the head during what is supposed to be a cleaning.
    If I had to guess, I'd say your couple of months use of PK (since you're compulsive, the abbreviation for black is K, not B) gave some MK time to settle out and get gummy in the feed tube, and that gum was what spread during your cleaning.
    If I'm right, the fix involves cleaning or teplacing the wiper. Search for "3800 cleaning station" for articles that might help with this, or try to find a 3800 service manual online.
  3. The 2880 manual recommends shaking the cartridge before installation, not sure about the 3800.
    Edit: never mind; the 3800 has a tank/tube not a cartridge, duh!
  4. Brad, don't say "never mind", your advice is good and solid.
    Epson recommends a good shake even for the monster 2200ml carts in my 7600 and 4000. I shake my whole supply of spare carts and ink bottles every 3 months. Keeping the ink mixed can help eliminate sediment in those tubes that connect tank to head.
  5. Joseph, Brad, thanks for your comments and suggestions. I may have to look into cleaning the cleaning station eventually. I did this on my Epson 1200 and SP870 printers (dye inks of course), but disassambly of the 3800 appears to be a bit more daunting. My SP3800 was new less than six months ago, and of course I agitated the cartridges before installation. I am reluctant to remove the ink tanks and shake them now, for fear of introducing air in the lines. I suppose I could shake the entire printer, but it weighs 43 pounds! [Of course, black = K = key, K3 Inkset, I knew that - or should have...]
  6. I have an Epson 4880 -- does anyone know if I can just pull out the partially used ink carts and shake them, or will this occasion an unnecessary cleaning cycle, or worse?
  7. Spreading nozzle clogs are caused by partially solidified "gummy" ink​
    Thanks for that, Joseph. I always wondered what was going on.

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