Epson 4900, 7900, 9900 user woes - a further opinion

First, these are amazing printers. No doubt that Epson has put out fast and highly accurate printer systems with the X900 generation. We love Epson for doing so! Our inks work beautifully in these printers and we support them with Piezography, ConeColor and InkThrift systems.

The bad news about this generation of printer is that it appears (according to the more popular user forums on the internet) that it is prone to pre-mature head failure. The printers come with a one-year warranty. So, the expectation is that the print head should last at least a year. However, this may be the first generation of large format Epson printer that is losing print heads within the first year. Those who are used to getting two and three years out of a print head may be very disappointed unless they select to buy optional 2 and 3 year warranties.

Our own experience with our first 7900 was a head replacement in the first two weeks, followed by a replacement of the head replacement a week later. At the time, the model was brand new. But, in February after reading one user nightmare after another we published an opinion about X900 print head life at our InkjetMall blog which you can read here.

Since February, we have been getting a more and more Epson ink users on the Epson 4900, 7900 and 9900 printers that have plugged heads - and are asking us if our PiezoFlush products can fix them. Normally, PiezoFlush can unclog printers that have been left to sit for a long period. The problem is that these customer printers are active and we can’t promise any results. We are pointing them to the user forums to read about how others are dealing with the issue. So far, Epson is not being very responsive to the users according to the forums.

Traditionally, print heads age gracefully. When there is a plug it nearly always some type of matter in the filters of the ink dampers. The best thing is to buy replacement dampers and change them all out (when you change out the one or more bad ones). If you can’t or don’t want to mess with the hardware (while it is mechanical, it is not difficult), then you can try PiezoFlush.While it is safe for long term storage, it is also very strong in terms of its solublizing strength. If put through the dampers with enough power cleans to have been pulled through the dampers to the print head, it can then be allowed to sit overnight. The next morning power up the printer and let it go through its startup and autoclean routines. It may be enough. You may need to repeat, or it may not be able to fix this issue with the X900 print heads.

If it does work for you, you just need close any vents on your PiezoFlush filled refillable carts. They can be used again and again. For those who are very comfortable working directly with Epson print heads, the best way to clear a print head (after the dampers have been ruled out, or any other blockage of the ink delivery system, is to inject it directly.

If a pliable silicone tube is used to join each print head ink stem to a syringe filled with PiezoFlush, and only light pressure is applied, the silicone flexes to prevent damage to the tiny jet orifices. If there is matter in the head- it will be ejected if it is small enough. You can actually see the streams of PiezoFlush coming out of all the tiny orifices under a print head. Service manuals for these printers always seem to be available on

So our recommendation is to buy an EXTENDED WARRANTY! Don’t wait until your first year has run out.

We can say that no users have reported these head failures with ConeColor, Piezography or InkThrift inks. We are definitely NOT saying that the problems are the cause of using Epson inks. Our biggest worry however, is to inherit head issues from Epson ink users who are on the verge of having a head failure. So, if you have a printer that has developed a nagging issue or has print head suffering - please be aware. Get it protected.

In the USA, because of both the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, Epson can not deny you warranty coverage for using 3rd party inks. But, they can elect not to work on it unless you buy a new set of Epson carts - and that seems a reasonable expectation.