Clean nozzles but banding starts part way through 16x20 prints on 4900

4900

#1

Hi kindly support folks,
I have an Epson 4900 that is about 11 months old. I have the extended warranty but haven’t yet called Epson because I wanted to riddle you first. I’ve been working with these printers ( 4900, 9900, 9800, 9880, 4800, and 4880 ) for at least 5 years in a lab environment and at artist’s studios so I’ve seen a lot of wild problems and solutions, working both DIY and side-by-side Epson techs.

I’ve been using Cone Color inks for this printer’s working life. On my 4900, I’ve printed perhaps 1500 or so prints, mostly 8.5x11 b/w proof prints on Epson luster. I also occasionally made 16x20 prints on Harman Warmtone Gloss, Canson Platine, Innova Warm Cotton Gloss, and Hahnemule Photorag Pearl, from rolls and occasionally 17x22 sheets.

I was recently working on printing proofs toward an edition when, at first, I noticed some pizza roller markings on prints on 17x22 sheets. I was working to resolve this issue, when I looked with a 10x loupe and a lightbox and found, to my horror, that the leading side of the prints were perfect, but a banding pattern was appearing about 2/3 of the way through the prints in the 3/4 tones and shadows. Before running the print, I had printed a nozzle check. All clear.

After seeing this banding appear, I ran a printed nozzle check, checked it under the loupe. A couple – in the PK and C were blocked. I cleaned those channels. It was seemingly fixed on the next printed nozzle check. I ran the print again. Again, the banding appeared part way through the print. I ran a printed nozzle check. Nothing clogged. So then I ran solid black pages and a C M PK LK LLK page to try to run out any air bubbles that might be in the line or the head. The banding appeared in every one of the 8.5x11 black Luster sheets I ran. In the interim, I also re-set the printer’s settings and re-aligned the printer. No change.

I’ve tried printing using the Epson driver in Photoshop, QTR, and ImagePrint, using canned and custom profiles, Epson Luster roll paper, Innova roll paper, and Harman sheets. All to the same result.

I cannot be sure if this is truly a nozzle clog issue or if it is perhaps a paper-feed error, as I’ve seen both the tell-tale clogged nozzle banding pattern, but on a couple prints where there didn’t seem to be a clogged nozzle, I think I see a doubling up of ink density where the head passes overlap slightly.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I’ve wasted about 4 working days and inevitably a lot of paper and ink.

Thank you,
JR


#2

Hi JR~

There are ink flow and print quality issues with the x900 model printers, so it’s hard to say for sure what’s causing your micro-banding issue.
Have you tried printing thru the Epson driver with high speed off (uni-directional), and/or QTR with uni-directional speed?
Have you cleaned the capping stations, wiper blade and/or bottom of the head?
Have any parts been replaced in this printer, such as the wiper blade, ink selector unit (dampers) and/or head? If not, we have instructions here: http://www.inkjetmall.com/tech/content.php?133-Printer-Cleaning-and-Preventative-Maintenance
What is the temperature and humidity in your printing environment? Low humidity can cause ink flow and print quality issues, such as clogging, mis-firing nozzles, etc…

Please let me know and I will try to help.
Best regards~ Dana


#3

Hi Dana,
Thank you for writing back. I tried your suggestions. Unfortunately, now the printer can’t get through an 8.5x11 sheet without getting a clogged nozzle, even if the printed and auto nozzle checks pass immediately before printing. I’ve tried uni and bi directional. I’ve tried QTR and Photoshop. I cleaned the capping stations, wiper blade. I did not risk cleaning the bottom of the head. I still have my 3 year warranty, but to have a technician come I will need to sink about $870 into Epson cartridges. I’m considering buying an entirely new machine and selling this one cheap, used to someone with more patience to get rid of the headache. I would convert it to Carbon if I thought it wouldn’t be wasted by an unreliable machine. This one has lost my trust.

The temperature is about 70F and the humidity is around 40-45% in my printer’s room. I will humidify as the seasons are changing. Do you recommend a cold or hot humidifier for printer environments? I was okay this last winter and spring without it, but I want to hedge my bets.

Is there an Epson printer model available that is a reliable work-horse? I print mostly B+W but also some color proofs for clients (If I had space I’d have a second machine dedicated to carbon prints). I miss the 9880 and 4880 days. I am very disappointed that my 4900 is on last breaths at 1556 prints and 11 months.

Thank you for any additional advice.

JR


#4

Thanks for the additional information JR.

Unfortunately, the x900 and x890 printer models are fussy and unpredictable, sometimes they work great, then sometimes they can suddenly have issues… We get reports from people struggling with these printer models every day (using a range of Epson and third party inks, many of the printers are less than a year old, and some are used daily, where others are used infrequently). We’ve also experienced issues with our 4900s, 7900s and 9900s… so aggravating. These newer models are not easy to manually clean or work on like previous models, and have a very different print head design that doesn’t respond well to flushing, which is all very frustrating from a user perspective. Our +/- 5yr old 7880s and 9880s are incredible work horses, and have worked flawlessly since day 1 with only minimal maintenance over the years. I wish Epson would go back to those models!

Can you attach a printed manual nozzle check (300ppi min to see details) for me to examine? Instructions for attaching images to this forum can be found here: http://www.inkjetmall.com/tech/content.php?152-How-to-attach-images-to-this-forum

When you print a good nozzle check, then immediately make a print than has banding, are nozzles missing in the printed nozzle check following the banded print?
Your temp and humidity levels are good, and you’re right that the dry winter months are when a humidifier should be ran to keep levels between 40-60% (though, you generally won’t have issues until it gets below 30%). We have several Honeywell Quietcare humidifiers that have internal filters and two water containers, they work well and aren’t too loud. They have invisible cool mist. Keeping the humidifier and filters, etc… clean is important to avoid bacteria growth.

Best~ Dana