I can't get a good nozzle check on my new P400

I asked Walker if he would send me replacement carts for Y and C, since they’re the only ones with problems. If the variability is in the printer (not the carts), I suspect this won’t solve the problem, but I think it’s worth trying.

On the outside chance it’s the carts and not the printer, I’m asking inkjetmall if they’ll send me two replacement Y and C carts to try. If that doesn’t fix the problem, I’ll put the Epson inks back in, as you suggested.

Thank you for your help and good advice throughout this discussion!

I wholeheartedly agree with your statement “You can’t operate like this.”

Regarding the possibility of manufacturing variation in the print head manifold: If the Epson cartridges gave good nozzle checks and the IJM cartridges don’t, then doesn’t it follow that the variation must be in the cartridges, not the printer?

Notice how the IJM carts fit:


The gaps between carts are irregular and the carts are not perfectly parallel.

Now see how snugly the Epson carts fit:


To see why, take a look at the next image.


The IJM carts are clearly narrower than the Epson carts. The difference amounts to 5/32" over eight cartridges, or a little less than 1/32" between carts. This is enough for the carts to wiggle laterally within the spacers at the bottom of the carriage.

I have no idea how to reply to a specific post, since not every post has a reply button. So I apologize if this post is out of order.

Walker: I had not yet tried switching chips as you suggested. However today I got around to replacing the Y and C carts with the new ones you sent me (thank you!). I filled them with 15ml flush, ran two head cleanings, and then a nozzle check.

The nozzle check was perfect.

Prior to replacing Y and C, I was getting gaps in Y and/or C as well as GO. Y and C were down to just a few gaps, but the nozzle check for GO was a mess of blobs. After simply replacing Y and C, even the GO printed a perfect checkerboard pattern.

I should mention that, in the hours before replacing the Y and C, I had done several head cleanings, fiddled with foam core, and even taped the bottoms of the carts with gaffer’s tape to space them evenly. This didn’t help, but it didn’t seem to hurt either; gaps were occurring in the same places with every nozzle check I ran.

Before declaring victory and moving on to piezo ink, I need to understand how the end carts could have an effect other carts, such as GO. It couldn’t be the result of the last two head cleanings, since I had been running head cleanings all afternoon and they had no effect on GO. There is something special about Y and C. What do you think?

We’re sending Y and C. (BTW, I did not respond during the weekend as I was not working this weekend.)

BUT, I suggest doing a small part of the scientific process.

  1. Take your Magenta cartridge and switch it with Yellow (the chips are easily pulled off and placed on).
  2. Switch Orange with Cyan.
  3. Make sure the carts are topped off. If you are putting more PF in there, hold your thumb over the outlet hole so you don’t get PF in the air filters (like you have in Y, R, and PK).
  4. Tap the cartridges against the edge of a table gently to ensure no air is in the outlet.
  5. Do a cleaning.
  6. Do a nozzle check.
  7. Upload here so we can see.

best regards,

Air in the ink stem has effect on nozzles.
Clogged air inlet has an effect on nozzles.
Tipped carts (more air + ink block) has an effect on nozzles.
Forgetting to use a priming tip or improperly priming (too fast, too slow, at an angle) has an effect on nozzles. (I usually never prime. I just tap the air out of the stem.)
Damaged carts (by manufacture defect or by ship or drop or by miss-filling or miss-priming) can have an effect on nozzles.

Again, I’ve gone through 300-400 of these cartridges on multiple printers without a single problem in manufacture. I’ve run over 3000 small format cartridges in the past year. I’ve been a professional printmaker for 15 years with Epson printers (both small and large). These specific cartridges work better than OEMs in my direct experience. I don’t know what else to say. Glad the replacements are working. There is zero need to do more cleanings. Fill your new carts carefully with Piezo ink (Don’t use your PF carts with Piezo ink.) and enjoy.

all the best,

With the foam core.

I probably agree with Walker that the foam core was unnecessary. It may have had a beneficial side-effect, but it was not the cure. Replacing the Y and C carts was the cure.

The sad fact is that I have learned nothing from this six-week exercise in frustration. I don’t know what caused the problem, and I don’t know what cured it. Or perhaps I should say I don’t know why replacing two carts cured it (and why replacing Y and C also fixed GO).

When I switch to my ink carts this weekend, I won’t be surprised if I get a bad nozzle check. Then I’ll stumble around for another six weeks until some random act fixes the problem.

John - was this with or without the foam-core?

Regarding clogged air inlets: Can an air inlet become clogged by holding the cart the wrong way (air inlet side down) while filling? Or after filling, by holding or storing the cart with air inlet side down*, allowing fluid to enter the air inlet area? Or by overfilling a cart?

  • obviously I do not mean storing carts upside down!

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then the Filling Procedure (insert 106) should include warnings: Don’t overfill, don’t tip the wrong way, etc…

Or maybe both. Time will tell. Speaking of which …

Yes, that is often the case. It takes a lot of very tedious repetition to be certain of the cause and cure. And as Keith said earlier, it’s hard to know whether the fix is just over the hill or the cause is hopeless. Such is life with refillables. Or at least it can be for a lot of people. Some get lucky. I’ve been both. Hence my lessons post.

No. You’d only perform any of the procedures in the small format cleaning kit, including the under the print-head procedure, to remove dried-on ink. This is a new printer that’s only ever had flush as I understand it, so there would be no benefit, and as Keith observed, the under the head routine is not without risk.

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Very interesting indeed. It had occurred to me that the two channels that you were having problems with were at either end of the print head, but I didn’t know what that meant.

Let me tell you a tale. At some point in the dim, dark past, I had a printer on which I was using non-IJM inks and refillable carts. Once I had achieved a good nozzle check I could print happily and the printer was well-behaved, up to the next head clean. At some stage the printer would decide it was time for one, either because an ARC chip had reset, or the printer had just decided that it was time, as all these printers do from time to time. And after the clean there were gaps all over the nozzle check that were hard to remove. It took several days of purge patterns, patience and head cleans to resolve the situation. And then all would be well until the next clean. With eight ARC chips, these cascading cleans came often. I found someone else with the same problem, with a different print and carts from a different supplier.

You can’t operate like this. You can’t continually find yourself in the situation where you need to print, and the printer decides that it’s time for a clean, and you can’t print for a couple of days.

So the question is - how can a simple head clean, which is supposed to solve problems, cause so many where there were none before the clean? It had to be that air was getting in during the clean. I felt that there was a poor seal between the ink nipple in the cartridge bay and the rubber seal in the exit port of the cartridge. Where did the fault lie? It could be either the printer or the cartridge seal. Some of these cheap Chinese cartridges are pretty cheap, and so I have no doubt that part of the blame lay there. But I also suspect that there was manufacturing variation in the print head manifold - the plastic containing the cartridge bay that sits on top of the actual print head.

In the lessons I have learned post I shared else where in this thread, lesson 7 alludes to this sad and sorry tale, although without explaining all the detail.

Hopefully the relevance of this to your situation is fairly clear. Utterly intransigent nozzle gaps in a new printer running flush have to be due to a poor seal between the ink nipple and the cartridge exit port seal. The foam core is an ingenious way of trying to ensure a good seal. Just shows that there is always something new to learn. I’d not have thought of it, as I remove my cartridge bay lids for ease of access to six of the eight carts when the printer is off.

You must be getting close to the point where you can try out ink carts.

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Are you suggesting that John do this with or without the piece of foam core? (This thread is becoming a little hard to follow the way that the post are sorted, which seems random. Replies are not displayed under the the posts that they relate to. See this post for the the foam core technique, and this post for my response.)

I came to much the same conclusion in situations where I’ve had this problem, although without the benefit of the foam core trick to confirm my diagnosis. It’s a pity, as the P400 has a lot of advantages over the P600 in terms of being easier to maintain, hibernate and swap from one inkset to another.

Success. Today I removed my flush carts and installed new carts filled with ink. I used the foam core for good luck. I did three head cleanings and then a nozzle check. The nozzle check was PERFECT.

I don’t know whether to credit the foam core, or to credit having done a better job filling the ink carts. As I posted elsewhere in this forum, I think I may have overfilled the flush carts. If overfilling can block air vents, then that was indeed the problem. I definitely did not overfill the ink carts. I filled them to just below the air vent area (the little box filled with absorbent material under the air vent hole).

In the future, when topping up an “empty” cart, how do I avoid overfilling when the ink level is no longer visible through the ink-stained plastic?

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I’m glad you’re printer did not clog. This has been my experience all told with these carts.

Yes, make sure not to overfill these carts. That’s important. Just put the cart in front of a light if you are feeling like you can’t see the level.


The really interesting test to do would be to see what happens if you removed the foam core. However I’m not suggesting you do this, because one of the golden rules with anything, and printers especially, is if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. (The exception to this might be occasional cleaning of the capping station and wiper blade). When you finally get a printer working, the thing to do is … PRINT.

Although Walker vigorously defended the build and fit of these new generation cartridges, your experience and that of Christopher with using foam core does raise some questions.

I’m leaning toward the theory that one or more air inlets was clogged due to overfilling. See this discussion. If that was indeed the problem, then the filling instructions (insert 106) ought to include a warning about overfilling. The possibility of clogged air inlets brought up relatively late in the discussion. Replacing two cartridges and filling them (but not overfilling them) fixed the problem.

Can’t have helped, but if that was the main problem why did the foam core have such an impact?

I’ve worked with another user who had your symptoms both with overfilled carts (ink in the vent passage foam) and correctly filled carts. Sadly he disposed of his R2000 not long before the foam core technique came to light.

You’re right about that. Adding foam core gave me a big improvement, but I couldn’t eliminate the remaining gaps until I replaced the Y and C carts. Also, something that I mentioned in passing that the GO pattern was a mess until I replaced the Y and C carts; then GO printed a perfect checkerboard pattern.

It may be that the foam core tipped the carts forward enough to make a difference in the fluid level at the air vents. Since I always waited overnight after trying something, maybe the absorbent material had time to dry out, letting air into the vents.

I’m going to keep using the foam core. It only applies a slight downward pressure. It can’t hurt.