Saturday, December 24, 2011

Fun with printers

Pulled the little-used printer out of the cupboard today to print some DVDs to discover that the third printer in a row has died due to print head blockage.


After some bad language and stomping about I realised that if I only got a shot away with the infrequency that the printer does I would probably have a blockage too, and got on with it.


Note:  running print head cleans until you go an interesting shade of purple in the face will NOT fix this.  The problem is that the heads dry up from lack of use and moisture, similar to the concept of a dry-as-a-nun’s-nasty.  Drastic measures are called for.


Fixing consists of putting the print head in the cart change position, then pulling the power, leaving all the interlocks undone.  You then pull all the carts leaving you with a blocked but accesible print head.  At this stage you may optionally fantasize about pulling the bastard out and ultrasonically cleaning it in a distilled water bath, but a good peer at the ribbon cables solves that fairly quickly.  Not going there.


Plan 2:  fold up a lump of paper towel and put in the bottom of the printer, inside the head slide rails.  Hold in position with a pen and slide the head back over it.  Now assemble a syringe body and a bit of fish tank tubing, plus a glass of about 5% meths and the rest distilled water.  Charge the syringe, purge bubbles, set the tubing on the head nozzle that pierces the ink tank and gently squeeze the syringe to push the solution through the head, thus dissolving any crap blocking the nozzles.  Repeat for all SIX nozzles, about 1cc each.  Slide the head back across and discard the paper towel, not making multi-coloured drips on a man’s carpets.


Piss off for about half an hour, or a beer, whichever seems appropriate.


Repeat same trick.  This time, get a few bits of paper towel and soak up any objectionable puddles in the ink tank bay too, and generally anything you don’t like the look of.


Replace ink carts, close lid, and repower the printer.  Run the print head cleaning cycle about 6 times to get the demin water out of the heads, it’s not worth the hair tearing not to do so.    Then run a nozzle check and dump a few full page test prints in whatever colour is still recalcitrant.


Result:  printer produces all colours normally, for about half an hour’s swearing and about $1 of el cheapo eBay ink to recharge the head reservoirs.  Beats $155 for a new printer.  I shall have to keep this one’s electronic hormones adjusted with a more frequent run in the future.

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