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Inkjet Printhead Cleaning Method

Discussion in 'Everything Else InkJet Printer Related' started by barrie3223, Jan 28, 2005.

  1. Jan 28, 2005
    barrie3223

    barrie3223 Newbie to Printing

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    I have a Canon S520 printer. One day, text documents printed in black started to fade by the time the printer got near the bottom of a page. It was as though there was a partial blockage to the cavity feeding the individual inkjets. As long as I printed something that did not call for too much black ink at a time, the print was fine. I tried a new cartridge and cleaning cycles to no avail.

    I tried the air blast cleaning method and a lot of ink did come out. The bad news is that the printer then stopped printing black completely. I tried a few of the other suggested cleaning techniques but nothing helped. I was on the verge of shelling out for a new printhead.

    With nothing to loose I tried the following:

    I washed just about all the ink out of an empty black cartridge. Then, I filled the cartridge with windex. I put the cartridge in the printer and after about 5 days it started depositing windex on the paper. I put a normal black cartridge in and after the windex got washed out, it started working just fine.

    A word of caution:

    If you are going to try this, I would suggest that you make a test pattern of narrow vertical black lines. Try running a cleaning cycle then print the test pattern and look for stripes of dampness on the paper. You do not want to try printing too much continuosly because the inkjet elements may overheat. If you don't see anything on the paper, keep trying once a day.

    I see no reason why this would not work on the color jets as well.
  2. Jan 28, 2005
    Nifty

    Nifty Printer Master Administrator

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    barrie,

    That is terrific! Thanks so much for the post and for all the helpful info... your windex method is great... I'll definitely add it to my list of methods to try IF (hopefully not when) I get a printhead that is blocked.

    Here is my NEW personal list of troubleshooting procedures for clogged nozzles.

    1) Regular and then deep print head cleaning cycles. (Also do a regular cleaning cycle after each of the following procedures).
    2) Pull out the head and run distilled water through the nozzles and printhead and let dry thoroughly.
    3) Let the head sit in isopropyl alcohol (just deep enough to cover the nozzles) and let thoroughly dry.
    4) Same as above, but with warm - hot alcohol.
    5) Use a compressed air cannister to blow air through the nozzles.
    6) Fill cart. with windex and let it sit for a few days in the printer / on the printhead.
  3. Mar 28, 2005
    Craig Ross

    Craig Ross Getting Fingers Dirty

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    I,ve successfully used a humidifier to steam clogged heads on canon printers and HP ,lexmark carts
    Regards
  4. May 1, 2005
    panos

    panos Printer Guru

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    I am using the following method with great success. It does not put the printhead under any stress (such as compressed air) and it requires materials which are easy to find. You need:

    * Ammonia based glass cleaner
    * A small dish
    * Tissue (soft toilet paper will do)

    1) Fold a few sheets of tissue, let it sit on a dish, and spray ammonia-based glass cleaner on the paper until its thoroughly wet.
    2) Let the printhead sit on the wet tissue.
    3) Let a few drops of the glass cleaner on the metallic pickup discs.
    4) VERY GENTLY, push the printhead on the tissue and then pull a little faster. Repeat a few times. Ink should appear on the tissue.
    5) Throw away the wet tissue and repeat steps 1-4. The second time you should notice ink or cleaning fluid appearing on the pickup discs as you push the printhead.

    With a dry sheet of tissue, clean up the printhead contacts and the areas around the pickup discs.

    Don't brush the nozzles or the pickup discs. Don't let the printhead dry; insert it in the head carriage, insert your cartridges and run a cleaning cycle.
  5. May 1, 2005
    fotofreek

    fotofreek Printer Master Moderator

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    Does anyone think that good preventative maintenance would entail removing the print head periodically (6-12 months) and doing the head cleaning routine to avoid the heavier ink buildup that is more difficult to clean? Or---would we just be creating a problem by more frequent removal and handling.
  6. May 1, 2005
    Nifty

    Nifty Printer Master Administrator

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    Panos, thanks for posting your experiences with this. It is always good to hear cleaning recommendations and experiences.

    Out of curiosity has anybody else noticed / remember their printheads when they opened them up? Were yours "wet"?
  7. May 1, 2005
    Grandad35

    Grandad35 Printer Master Moderator

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    Fotofreek,

    I have no data to support this, but I suspect that a periodic soak will help to remove the "Kogation" - see Craig's post #10 in the thread (http://www.nifty-stuff.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=168&p=1) with the link to (http://www.imaging.org/store/epub.cfm?abstrid=2161). This may be why Canon claims that 3rd party inks clog the print heads - Canon may have an additive in their ink to prevent the buildup that 3rd party inks do not have.

    I remember reading where someone cured a "clogged" print head that resisted all of the normal cleaning attempts with a 2 day alcohol soak. I suspect that the head may not have been actually clogged, but this buildup prevented the resistor from getting the ink hot enough to generate a "bubble" and fire an ink droplet. I now have over 40 carts from various suppliers, and I do a major refill on everything when I run out of carts. I take that opportunity to also do a head clean. I use a soda straw that fits tightly on my 30 CC syringe (with the needle removed) and push rubbing alcohol through each ink pickup by placing the free end of soda straw around the ink pickup and pushing it against the rubber pad to get a seal. I then push print head cleaning solution through each ink pickup, and then use the same technique just posted by Panos, except that I use folded paper towels and print head cleaning solution instead of tissues and Windex. I also like to leave the head sit on the cleaning solution soaked pad overnight before reinstalling it.

    While the head is out of the printer, it is also a good time to pull the power plug when the carriage is in its "cart change" position. This allows you to freely push the head from side to side and to clean the little wiping pads and blot up some of the ink in the sponges that cover the heads when they are parked, as well as to clean any other ink spills in the printer. When you first power-up the printer, it will do an extended cleaning cycle because it was powered off when the head wasn't parked (only a little longer than the cleaning cycle that it runs when the print head is removed), but that isn't a bad thing when the head needs to be filled with ink and the ink in your refilled carts doesn't cost a fortune.

    Nifty-stuff,

    When I remove carts, I normally see a nice bubble of ink on top of the ink pickup when everything is working properly. If there is no bubble, that is an indication that the cart is starving the print head (at least a little bit), and I am close to having an ink feeding problem (banding) on that color.

    BTW - I recently saw where someone claimed that they eliminated banding by replacing the USB cable?? The other thing that can sometimes reduce banding is doing a print head alignment.
  8. May 1, 2005
    Nifty

    Nifty Printer Master Administrator

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    Regarding inkjet cartridge cleaning solutions. I'd like to see some posts regarding what people use (and don't use), where to get it, how to make it, etc. Someone told me that some cleaning solutions are exactly the same as the ink in the printer, but without the dyes and/or pigments.
  9. May 1, 2005
    fotofreek

    fotofreek Printer Master Moderator

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    Arthur Entlich, in his cleaning manual for Epson dye based printers, suggests a mix of two to four parts Windex (with Ammonia "D") and one part isopropyl alcohol for the dye based Epson inks. He recommends testing it with your inks for safety. The original Windex has Ammonia and works, the newer cleaners without ammonia will not. I haven't tried this with Canon printers, but it worked great with the Epson printers I've owned. If you are interested in his techniques for clearing Epson print head clogs you should definitely email him and ask for his Epson head cleaning manual. Worth getting and reading even if you don't use Epson printers as some of the info applies. Arthur Entlich's email address is e-printerhelp@mvps.org . Just ask for his Epson print head cleaning manual and he will send it to your email address at no charge. For those of you who haven't read his posts on the printer newsgroup, he really helps a lot of people who have problems with Epson and some other printers. Good Guy.

    Granddad - what is the cleaning solution you use? Homebrew or purchased?
  10. May 4, 2005
    Grandad35

    Grandad35 Printer Master Moderator

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    Fotofreek,

    I use a commercial solution that I bought from (http://216.219.159.185/tools.html). I was told that it was basically ink without the dye, but when it arrived, it didn't smell like ink. I then requested and received "MSDS data sheets" on the solvent. For those who aren't familiar with these sheets, they provide information on the potential health effects of exposure to chemicals and on safe working procedures when handling chemical products - see (http://www.translinknet.be/translation/msds/definition.html) for more details. The data for this product is given at (http://www.nifty-stuff.com/docs/Msds-Rinse-Solution.pdf).

    A few useful definitions that can help to understand the "composition" include:
    1. Ethanol is the same stuff that some people like to drink (grain alcohol). Ethanol is also a good solvent and cleaner.
    2. "Surfactants" are used to lower the surface tension of a liquid - soaps are good examples. Surfactants should help to break up clogs of thickened ink in the same way that detergents break up grease stains on clothing.
    3. The term "auxiliaries" can mean anything.
    4. "VOC" stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. 4.8% VOC means that up to 4.8% of the solution can readily evaporate into the atmosphere if the cap is left off the container. Ethanol is an example of a VOC.
    5. Aqueous solution just means that it contains water (about 92% in this case).

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