Do I have a problem with dry sponges

rodbam

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Four of the six cartridges were flushed a few weeks ago & have been air drying after wicking overnight, the black (middle cartridge) & PM (left cartridge) were flushed two days ago so they shouldn't be that dry. I refilled using the German method & I did carry on inserting some ink into the sponges as I withdrew the needle to help them saturate. I was surprised that on a few of the cartridges the ink didn't saturate the sponge in the outlet hole so I just dripped a few drops of ink into the outlet hole to get the sponge saturated.
My worry is that 24 hours after refilling the top part of the sponges don't seem to have much if any ink absorbed so would these non saturated sponges be a risk to use in my printer? There are spots of dryness in some of the bottom sponges as well.
 

Tin Ho

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This is not good. The upper portion of the sponge should be filled with more ink too.
 

rodbam

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Should I empty them & flush them out again? Maybe they should be slightly damp for refilling. I remember the Hat saying he squirted something wet into the outlet sponge before refilling.
 

stratman

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rodbam:

This is not necessarily a problem. I have had sponges that took a few days to saturate. I have also had sponges that had a missed area or two on the bottom portion of the sponges and had no printing problems. I have also used sponges that looked like yours and had no problem. It may be a hit or miss issue and I got lucky, but I think my fortune had nothing to do with luck. If the lower portion of the sponge is saturated and ink is flowing from spongeless side to sponged side to ink ejection port, then having the upper half of the sponge not saturated only matters when considering total amount of ml's of ink refilled - something that is only important when relying on a reset chip to guage when a cartridge is "empty".

As you can see, the there is more than one sponge that makes up the sponged side. There is a cigarette filter-like sponge in the ink ejection port and there are two different sponges that make up the larger sponged area. What you are experiencing is less wicking by the upper half of the sponges in your cartridges. Sometimes this can be from too much separation between the upper and lower halves, which can occur after flushing. Secure the ink ejection port and gently rap the bottom of the cartridge to try and realign the sponges into closer proximity. Do NOT hit the ink ejection port or you might deform it and cause sealing issues when returned to the print head. Then let the cartridge sit for a couple -few days and see if more ink is absorbed into the sponges.

You can also try injecting more ink along the bottom of the sponge to saturate more of the sponged area.

You could also do nothing more and just wait a few more days for absorption to occur.

If there is an air lock underneath the sponge, beginning at or near the open space between the two compartments - sponged and spongeless - then it is possible this channel of air is preventing ink flowing. On the other hand, I have had air channels under the sponge and no issues whatsoever. There is no good data on this topic. It may be a problem or not. You could try removing or pushing the air channel away with injecting ink into that area.

If the sponges are properly aligned and you have tried saturating the sponged area again and still have problems, then you might consider pharmacist's conditioning solution:

Nifty-Stuff.com Pharmacist's cartridge flush/conditioning solution recipe again:

-3 % propylene glycol (or 2 % glycerin)
-20 % isopropyl alcohol
-distilled water up to 100 %

To make this conditioning solution a cleaning solution to dissolve stubborn stains: add 5 drops of concentrated ammonia per 100 ml of this solution. This solution has been tested by several forum members already and they are very happy with it. It also enhances the absorption degree of ink into the sponge after flushing, especially with the difficult pigment based BCI-3eBK/PGI-5Bk cartridge.



Conditioning: after flushing the sponge has difficulty to absorb the ink well and tends to be become a bit hydrofobic (water repellent). By completely immerge and drenching the sponge material with this solution and then blowing as much solution as possible the sponge is revived again. The pigment BCI-3eBK/PGI-5Bk is the most difficult one and using this conditioning solution improves the absorption degree of your favourite refill pigment ink.

Cleaning: fill a cartridge with this solution (with ammonia) and execute a deep cleaning cycle to remove stubborn and tenacious clogging.



20 ml isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol)
80 ml distilled water
10 drops of propylene glycol
(optional: 5 drops of concentrated ammonia)


Ammonia Concentration: if used in cleaning cycle stick with 5 drops per 100 ml and when used to soak printheads externally increase it to 20-25 drops.

Fold a paper towell into a nice thick and even strip and drench it with the cleaning solution and put it under the printhead and let it soak for about 1 hour. After that, execute one cleaning cycle.


25-30 % ammonia: this is concentrated ammonia. If you use household concentration, increase accordingly.

Standard household ammonia in the UK is 9% w/w (weight for weight)
 

stratman

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rodbam said:
Should I empty them & flush them out again? Maybe they should be slightly damp for refilling. I remember the Hat saying he squirted something wet into the outlet sponge before refilling.
Unless you prints are critical, you can refill your flushed cartridges after using ghwells kitchen paper towel wicking procedure. The sponges can be a little damp when refilling, and this probably assists in saturating the sponge - unless there is too much residual water in the sponge.

Refilling when the sponges are still damp will dilute the ink. For casual hobbyists, those who do not sell or show their prints competitively, this may be a non-issue.
 

rodbam

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Thanks Stratman I took your advice & set up to inject some more ink into the sponges but as I was sitting there just before starting I thought I would remove one of the silicon top fill plugs to see what happens. Low & behold as soon as I did this the ink well started emptying & filling up the sponge side, I let it go 3/4 up the top sponge & replaced the plug. This half emptied my ink wells so I will let them stand for a few days before topping them back up.
The only thing is I don't like the look of is the bottom 2/3 of the top sponge looks at the same saturation as the bottom sponge so hopefully this will settle itself down before I need to use them.
From now on I will do as you recommend & refill the cartridges after they have been wicked overnight because I remember when I did this once before because I needed to use the cartridge it filled up perfectly.
 

irvweiner

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Rod, that sounds like a heck of a vacuum on the reservoir side. And the sponge was so deeply saturated locally on the bottom side that the air vent was unable to relieve the pressure imbalance. Opening the top fill plug did the trick. A similar problem occurs when both sponges are saturated and the cart becomes air-starved after printing a number of prints.

regards irv weiner
 

panos

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When I was top filling / purging my cartridges I would sometimes let the sponges get very dry and when refilled they would look like yours.

They did work very well though.
 

martin0reg

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IMHO it is just the other way: it can be a problem, if the upper sponge would be just as fully saturated as the lower.

The upper SHOULD be NOT as saturated as the lower, because that upper sponge should be able to "breathe".

Because air must be getting from the sponge chamber to the ink chamber to let ink go vice versa.

As long as the LOWER sponge is fully saturated and the ink flows through, it should be okay.

PS: The air goes through tne air vent into the sponge chamber and through the upper sponge down to the level of the lower sponge. On this level there are small ridges on the separating wall (on the sponge side) to let the air flowing even lower to the "ink tunnel" between the two chambers.
 

mikling

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The opening of the plug possibly displays what might be a concern of the German method. If you fill it too full, does it lock up the cartridge? You did indicate that you continued to fill as you withdrew. The pics show a complete full tank. On OEM carts, I have never seen them that full. Irvweiner experiences might indicate something as well. The removal of the plug for an instant seems to have also fixed it as well. So perhaps there is something to this aspect.

The question I will ask is why use the German method when you have proper plugs and storage clips?

On the top fill, it is simple to stop the top layer from being too full. This method works especially well on purged cartridges that are dry. Just slowly fill the tank and let the ink slowly migrate across the sponge. Keep the ink less than half full or less io the tank side. When the sponge side becomes fully saturated, just block the vent hole with your thumb and fill the balance of the tank and plug it. If you're clumsy, put some tape over the vent hole and fill the rest of the tank. When your thumb or tape is removed, the top layer will abosrb any excess saturation from the bottom layer and the pressure balance is instantly set up with no potential cartridge lockup. On cartridges that are being refilled, there is no need for a slow initial fill to allow ink to migrate as most times you are refilling when it is still saturated.

If your workflow includes a second set of cartridges then having the tape over the vent holes might actually be a bonus in that it can't hurt during storage.
 
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