Printer Maintenance - the next steps?

I’m wondering what my next step is for a stubborn VLM clog on my R3000.

The history
Everything was printing perfectly until I foolishly ran the LC cart dry and introduced air into the line. I ran an initial charge to get the ink flowing again and it worked for the LC, but as soon as the initial charge was done, the VLM started to act up. There is some ink getting through, but the nozzle check only shows about 20% coverage.

The attempted solution
I started out with head cleanings and nozzle checks, but there was no change. The nozzle check pattern stayed exactly the same. I watched the video and went through the full maintenance regimen. I cleaned the capping station and its edges, the wiper blade and the bottom of the print head after a several hour “soak” over a bounty paper towel with cleaning solution with head cleanings and nozzle checks. There is no improvement, but the nozzle check pattern has changed slightly. Still only about 20% coverage, but the coverage has moved slightly higher in the pattern.

The next step?
Is the next step to flush out the line with cleaning solution? Can I fill a cartridge and print only VLM with QTR until the cleaning solution has run through? Or, do I have to fill all the lines with cleaning solution with an initial fill and clean it that way?

Might it be the damper? Can I switch out that one damper? If so, is there a set of instructions or video for that?

Thanks in advance for your help.

I just responded to your other post about this, so will paste my response here as well:

Hi Jamie~

After reviewing your order history, I see you bought a set of R3000 refill carts from us earlier this month, and previously bought a set of 4880 refill carts and ConeColor ink. Are you using the new R3000 carts you bought from us a few weeks ago with ConeColor ink, or different carts/inks? If using our carts/inks, what inks/carts were previously used in this printer? About how old is this printer, and about how much has it been used vs. how long has it sat unused during its life?
What was the ink level of the VLM cart when you ran the initial charge to get the LC channel printing again (is there any chance air entered the VLM channel)? When did the VLM channel stop fully printing (have you done a few cleaning cycles and let the printer sit overnight, then do a nozzle check and 2-3 more regular cleanings?)

The next step will somewhat depend on your answers to my questions above, but if it’s a clog that needs cleaning inside your VLM channel somewhere, then you can install a single flush cart and either run an initial fill cycle to flush that channel (checking + topping off any other carts that are below 1/2 full, to avoid any running empty), or you can use QuadToneRIP to print purge sheets from a single channel, though the printing method may be a way to get fluid to the damper + head without wasting ink in all the other channels, it may not be enough pressure needed to clear the blockage.
Dampers can be individually replaced, though are there are no “official instructions” for this procedure, though I can direct you to a link where people have posted their photos + tips of replacing dampers in their 3800/3880 printers, which have essentially the same ink supply + damper assembly unit.

Please let me know, thanks~ Dana

I made sure there was enough ink in all the carts before the initial fill, so I doubt I’ve got air into the VLM line.

I got the printer used, so I don’t know of the age or total usage of it. I’ve just started to get (as of this morning) a warning message that says “Ink pads need maintenance”. I’ve been using it fairly intensively the last few weeks printing school photos - about 1500 5x7s and 200 8x10s. I’ve been using both an older set of ConeColor carts (with batteries) that came with the printer and the new set so that I have to fill once and can do both carts with one cleanup.

It has sat overnight and had more cleanings/nozzle checks this morning. I’ve also tried to just run the LVM channel with QTR and get pages with regular horizontal banded patterns ranging from medium to light density.

Thanks for the additional information. That’s a lot of prints in a short amount of time for a little machine. Let’s consider the possible factors in your situation: Unknown printer age + history, and unknown age of carts that came with the printer. Ink flow issues could be related to an older cart that no longer provides good flow (resolved by installing a new cartridge), the printer may have build up somewhere in the ink system (cart to line connector, ink line, line to damper connector, or damper), or the printer may have build up in the micro print head channel. Based on what you said about the amount of printing nozzles staying the same at about 20%, but the printing section of nozzles has moved up on the nozzle check printout, makes me suspect the issue is not in your print head, but more likely in the damper or ink line.

My recommendation is to flush the line, and allow PiezoFlush to sit in the printer for at least 24hrs before proceeding. Before flushing the ink line, you can test the “old cartridge” factor by installing a new VLM cart with PiezoFlush (make sure the exit chamber is primed before installing into your printer), then do a few regular cleaning cycles and print a nozzle check- if it looks good, then you may just need a new VLM cartridge with ink (and avoid the whole flushing procedure).
If you do need to flush, there’s something to consider: with the unknown age + history of this printer, and knowing that all the dampers/ink supply system should be replaced every few years to maintain good ink flow, do you buy one cart with PiezoFlush and print purge sheets thru QTR to flush the one channel you’re currently having a problem with (knowing the other channels may also have build up that could restrict ink flow in the not so distant future), or do you get a full set of carts and PiezoFlush to flush your entire ink system at once? It may be best to try flushing the single channel you’re currently having trouble with, and if PiezoFlush brings it back, then you can resume printing (I suggest installing a new VLM cart after flushing, since the age of the current cart is unknown). If the VLM nozzles don’t return after flushing, then you are likely faced with replacing the ink supply system (therefore, not needing to flush all the channels of the old ink system).

Please keep me posted, and let me know if you have further questions.
Best~ Dana

I got another set of cartridges and cleaning solution. I installed them and ran an initial fill. All the cartridges except for the VLM were down about half way after the fill. The VLM, only slightly. Now if I use QTR to print single ink pages, all the others give me lightly tinted but soggy sheets of office paper, but the VLM channel page is dry, like to ink is getting through. I’ll leave the cleaning solution in for a while and try again.

How long is is worth leaving it? It doesn’t seem like the cleaning solution is getting anywhere/where it needs to be. Is there another way to introduce it into the system?

Should I bother with another initial fill?

Or is it at the point where it likely requires service/replacement parts?