Epson 11880 Head Strikes

We have an Epson 11880 which we run very regularly. Last week in the middle of production we started experiencing head strikes (ink spots deposited on the paper due to the rollers some how becoming soiled with ink as the head passes over). We have been using this printer for more than four years error free. We have cleaned, power cleaned, cleaned rollers and nothing seems to correct the issue. We have always used Image Print RIP software with this unit, until a client needed us to print directly from photoshop print que (that’s another long story… Lesson to be learned here for you artists: know the color space & profile you are creating your art in, before taking it to your printer & asking them to color match your print). Not sure if this has anything to do with it however that is the only thing that changed prior to this issue.
Has anyone experienced this? Thoughts on Peizoflush helping this problem? Wiper blade replacement? Any thoughts would be appreciated!
Much love & thanks,
Matt & Shayna

Also running 11880’s from ImagePrint, here. Printing from IP or Photoshop will have no effect on head strikes. What else can you say about the case where this is happening? What type of paper, what’s your platen gap set for, what media type is selected, are the strikes happening on the edges of the paper or in the centre somewhere, is it happening in areas of heavy or light ink loads, etc.?

Also, is it really head strikes, or is it ink droplets? Or ink on rollers being transferred onto the paper? You description kind of fits all three possible scenarios. :slight_smile:

While diagnosing this, stop power cleaning. That can be destructive to the head, and if it’s not solving the issue it’s a risk not worth running.

I will surmise that if you’ve been running this printer for 4 years with a moderate to heavy work load, you probably could benefit from replacing the whole cleaning/capping unit. (Unlike the x900’s I don’t think the 11880 wiper blades would be easy to replace by themselves.) Release the print head, slide it out of the way, and shine a flashlight in where the wiper blades & capping station are. Do you see a ton of juicy ink, dust, fibres, crud and whatever else in there? Or does it look pretty clean? Crapped out cleaning & capping stations I firmly believe is a huge reason people have trouble with Epson large format printers.

Thank you so much for your quick reply!!

When this started we were running Epson Exhibition Matte Canvas (platen set to wider, then tried widest with no change in results), squeaked through that and needed to run Reflections Pearl paper (platen set at widest) and had the same issue as well as Epson Luster 260 (also on widest - we usually run luster on normal). Media types in the printer were selected per manufacturer suggestion. These jobs were all run through image print with corresponding profiles. “Strikes” were left, right and middle of the substrate and not specific to areas of heavy or light ink load.

Ink was getting onto rollers and being transferred to the substrate as it passed through and would clear up in one area and reappear in another area.

Wiper blades and capping station were not as gunked up as we thought, not nearly as bad as our 9900 which we have had for more than 6 years. Upon further inspection, tricking the machine to release the head and position it in a fashion we could shine a light into the top of the printer, look down where we could see the real issue… serious gunk on the print head itself. Particularly on the top of the print head.

Today we cleaned the print head per these instructions. How to Professionally Clean Epson 7890, 9890, 7900 & 9900 printers - YouTube which helped but when we looked down into the machine we could see there was still gunk on the top of the print head. SO following these instructions somewhat we rigged a digital camera sensor swab to a skewer (instead of the metal ruler in the article) as the issue was physically on top of the head. Loaded the swab with peizoflush (the same product we used the clean the head in the first instructions) and we were able to swab the gunk packet off the top of the print head. We will say this has to be done delicately and we did end up getting a bit of ink in undesirable areas of carriage which we had to clean up afterwards. However…


After getting into these machines and seeing what happens on the inside we agree the cleaning/capping unit should be replaced and are on our list of things to do very soon.

Thank you again!!

Crud buildup on the head itself is indeed a trigger for ink splats. Though generally in my experience if that much crud is on the head, it’s pretty evident in the capping station too. Ink splatting on something like a luster media is a good sign of crud on the head; there’s no other common way for the excess ink to happen. Anyway, now that you’ve seen this, you can keep an eye on the head with a visual inspection every so often.

Releasing the print head by yanking the power cord as Barranca describes works, but is a bit harsh. Perhaps you’re aware of another approach already, but for other readers… simply go to the maintenance menu, trigger the cutter replacement function, and then power off. The head remains free and there’s no crashing of the printer in the middle of it trying to make a head pass.

All in all, a good result. Glad you’re back up. :slight_smile: