Strange issue with magenta ink

Hi Dana et al,

I’ve encountered a rather perplexing issue surrounding my magenta ink on my Epson r3000. I print infrequently, so I accept that I have to do the occasional cleaning cycle (I’m not always in town to do a weekly print). I hadn’t printed for about three weeks, so this afternoon I did a did a nozzle check, a purge file, and then another nozzle check. I noticed some clogs that weren’t fixing themselves, so I ran a head cleaning cycle. Following that, everything was perfect except for my VM line, which was about 80% absent. Interestingly, on the purge file I printed, VM looked just fine, even though it looked pretty miserable on the pre/post nozzle checks. Thinking there was some stubborn ink there, I decided to try one more head cleaning. No change on the appearance of VM in nozzle checks. I then selected a VM purge file and printed it to see if my VM was in fact printing cleanly. So far as I can tell, it’s just fine. No discernible banding, etc. I followed up with one last nozzle check and, as expected, hardly anything showed up.

So, in short, it appears my VM is not showing up in nozzle checks but performing just fine when I print. I suppose I could bite the bullet and do a few prints, but I’d like to understand this issue further, if possible, and fix the printer so that is its nozzle check are an accurate indicator of whether or not I have any clogging issues. Can you shed any insight into this situation and any recommendations on how to resolve it?



Hi Collin~

Your ink channels are preforming as they are in the nozzle checks. If your VM isn’t fully printing on nozzle checks, than it isn’t fully printing any other way.
Did your VM cartridge ever run totally empty? is the exit chamber about 1/2 filled with ink or more, and air vent hole open for proper ink flow?

How are you printing these purge sheets- thru QTR calibration mode following our instructions, or printing a magenta image thru the regular Epson print driver? Based on what you say, I believe you are printing a magenta image thru the Epson driver, which mixes inks, and doesn’t have individual channel control like QTR calibration mode to be able to print pure ink from each individual channel. We have information that explains how to print ink from individual channels using QTR calibration mode, here:

You say you print infrequently- about how often do you print vs. how long does the printer sit unused? How often have you been agitating your ink cartridges? What are the humidity and temperature levels in your printing environment? Have you manually cleaned your printer’s capping station, wiper blade and/or bottom of the print head? If not, I recommend you follow our instructions to manually clean your printer:

After reviewing your order history, I see you purchased the set of R3000 refillable carts and set of 110ml ConeColor ink bottles in Oct. 2012.

Infrequent use of a printer, in combination with using pigment ink without regular agitation, and little or no maintenance of the printer is bad for the printer health, and can actually cause more problems than regular use and proper maintenance. Magenta and yellow inks are always the thickest of the pigment ink colors (this is true with all brand pigment inks, including Epson). Pigment settles when left sitting (in both cartridges and printer’s internal ink system), which is why we recommend regular agitation of cartridges and use of printers, as well as regular maintenance to keep the printer and inks working well- to get the best output results and longest life from your printer. If inks are not agitated to maintain in-suspension pigment, and a printer isn’t regularly used, thick pigment that has settled to the bottom of the carts will be drawn into the printer first (ink is drawn from the bottom of the carts), in combination with settled ink in the printer’s internal in lines, will cause particle build up in the dampers to occur faster than with regular use.

I recommend you start by manually cleaning your printer by following our cleaning procedures, but due to age and use history, suspect you may be dealing with particles in the VM damper restricting flow in this channel, which will require dampers to be replaced (due to the fine filter, they can not be cleaned).

I hope this helps, please let me know your results and answer my questions above, so I can try to help you past this and back to happily printing.
Best regards~ Dana :slight_smile:

Thank you for your reply, Dana, and sorry for my delay in getting back with you:

I thought it might be a cartridge-related problem, but my air hole is open, and the exit chamber is about 2/3 full. To answer your other questions…

About how often do you print vs. how long does the printer sit unused?
Too infrequent - I’ll print once every couple weeks without a job, but I’ve not been using QTR (thank you for explaining that, by the way).

How often have you been agitating your ink cartridges?
If my printer is idle for a long while, I’ll pull them out and give them a shake, but honestly, I only do this every few months.

What are the humidity and temperature levels in your printing environment?
Temps are in the 70’s; humidity, I bet is pretty low, especially having just come out of winter, it has been rather dry.

Have you manually cleaned your printer’s capping station, wiper blade and/or bottom of the print head?
No; I plan to do this, but wanted to come here first.

How much does it cost to replace dampers? And are there any associated maintenance issues that accompany an r3000 that aren’t as pressing on the 3880? I know both have been talked about as maintenance-free printers, and both employ the same ink and printhead technology, but I’ve heard such glowing reports from 3880 users that I nonetheless wanted to see if you felt there was a notable difference in issues between the two.

Thanks for the additional information Collin.

Based on what you have said, I recommend starting by manually cleaning your printer’s capping station, wiper blade and bottom of the print head by following the cleaning procedures I referenced in my last message.
Infrequent cartridge agitation and use of the printer will lead to settled pigment in the carts and internal ink lines, which can cause particle build up in the dampers, and restrict ink flow. Infrequent use of a printer, along with no maintenance and low humidity can cause build up of gunk, as well as drying, which lead to clogging.
Our cleaning procedures and PiezoFlush cleaning/storage solution are helpful tools for maintaining a printer, and keeping it in good working condition, but if you’re dealing with clogged dampers or print head, dampers will need to be replaced, and print head flushed (to flush the print head of a R3000 printer, we recommend using our print head cleaning kit directly on the print head after disconnecting the dampers and ink lines). For the R3000 printer model, the dampers are included in the ink system, which Epson recommends and instructs to replace all at once. I believe you can get the part from for about $175 (if you contact them, let them know we sent you). You can find the repair manual, which includes clear step by step instructions and photos to guide you thru this and other printer repairs, from

The R3000 and 3800/3880 are mechanically very similar. They are all great machines if properly maintained, but any pro model printer with internal ink lines and dampers require a bit more maintenance than a desktop printer where the carts install directly into the print head.

I hope this helps.
Best regards~ Dana :slight_smile:

Thank you for the reply. I’ll study up on and determine if I’m ready to do this. Fingers crossed that the dampers aren’t too far gone.

You’re very welcome. I hope everything goes well, keep us posted!

Warmly~ Dana :slight_smile:

Hi Dana - a quick question for you on this topic… I’ve done some reading, and I’m aware that the only way to do a power clean on an R3000 is by using the Epson Adjustment Software, which is Windows only. Is this still the case? This is problematic because I operate entirely on Mac. I could partition my HD and install a windows OS, but I don’t want to do anything that’ll cost until I know it’s necessary. I’d love to get some extra carts and piezo flush so I can take better care of my printer in the future, so I was wondering… could I achieve a result equivalent to a power clean (i.e. clearing my lines; filling them with piezo flush) by purging my lines through QTR? Or would that be entirely too impractical?

Four months after writing my initial post, I’m finally going to see whether I think I can get the lines in this printer clear. I just did a nozzle check - no head cleanings yet - and Yellow, VM, and MK are nowhere to be seen, VLM is 50%, and the rest are fine. I am operating off a new computer now, so I was going to load the driver software onto the new computer and let the printer set itself up as if it was new to see how far that gets me before taking more additional steps. Thoughts?

Thanks for your help!


Hi Collin,

Yes it is still the case. Epson has not released any upgrade to the printer utility that ships with the R3000. So the only way to move out the ink in the ink lines and dampers is with the Epson Adjustment Software which is Windows only.

You could purge through QTR - but it is not very effective because printing is not the same as an INITIAL INK CHARGE. What happens is residual ink tends to stay in the dampers and mix with the incoming ink or flush fluid. You can do this to move PiezoFlush into a printer - but it will not effectively clean out color pigments as an ink change method for Piezography. Stain remains… If you are seeking a way to move PiezoFlush into the print head it will work. But you will not get the benefit of the strong suction from the INITIAL INK CHARGE. That is a very effective and powerful tool. Printing with PiezoFlush is not effective as a means to recover nozzles. You really need the suction from the capping station provided by the INITIAL INK CHARGE.

Loading the new software onto a new computer will not cause the printer to set itself up as new. That only occurs when the printer is powered ON for the first time. The only way to repeat that process is with the Epson Adjustment Software.

Maybe you can borrow someone’s Windows laptop? Or take your printer to a place with a Windows machine. This way your only expense is the Epson Adjustment Software.



Thanks for your reply, Jon!

I actually have a copy of Parallels and a friend tells me he has a Windows license he’s not going to use, so the prospect of getting the Epson Adjustment software onto my laptop isn’t as inconvenient as I initially thought it would be.

I reinstalled the driver, which initiated a head-cleaning when I printed the test page (thats what I mistook that as the printer loading ink for the first time). I did a nozzle check following that head cleaning, and everything was 100%… except for PK, which was almost entirely absent. Would switching from PK to MK clear that line up? What would you recommend I try next?

Thanks again for your help… honestly, I’m astonished that a single head cleaning cleared the other lines up so nicely!


yes a black ink change could clear that up. there is a black ink exchanger that uses ink from both cartridges but feeds into one head. possibly the issue is there.

is this a new ink install? did you vacuum fill the cart the first time?? If not the ink outlet may have an air bubble trapping ink from flowing out…

When I turned on my printer to address these clogs, I simply removed and agitated the preexisting carts (refillable ones I purchased from Inkjetmall) by inverting them a few times before doing a head cleaning. I vacuum-filled them about two years ago when I got them. I’ve just refilled normally ever since; I assume all is still fine with the carts, but please speak up if anything I’ve done sounds wrong.

Going back to your original problem of the VM printing just fine but not appearing normal on a nozzle check - and you are performing various cleaning operations to deal with it - yet when you print all is normal…

So - nozzle checks perform the duty of informing you if the print head is in condition to print. If all the nozzles are firing you can assume that the print will be perfect. But also, nozzle checks are performed immediately after a head cleaning - and moreso immediately after the print head is wiped clean by the wiper blade. It is possible for the wiper blade as well as the capping station to be unclean and for residue to form under the print head and block jets. Nozzle checks also fall victim to extremely dry humidity conditions below Epson minimum of 35%. There is some chance that your nozzle check is indicating an issue with cleanliness of the capping station (you print infrequently and this area may be getting gummy or gel coated and transferring to the head or wiper blade). You may wish to clean this area. You can look at our small format maintenance video to see the areas that you should regularly clean… And you may wish to investigate whether the humidity is low in your print room.

The head cleaning operation is different between just before printing and when performing a nozzle check. The latter occupies more time in the cleaning station. THat may be when the residue is being transferred to the VM head. Take a look with a flashlight and see if it looks stained (normal and OK) or if it looks like its grungy, coated with a gel, and if the rubber seal is dirty. Flip up the wiper blade and see if it has residue on it. Clean everything with a little PiezoFlush if you have it or distilled water and q-tips or a sponge cleaning stick.

Well, believe it or not, changing the black ink and doing two additional head cleanings cleared my nozzles up. I’m stunned. Everything is running perfectly now. The last major job I did was in January, so I was sure it would take some pretty extreme measures to clear things up. I suppose your ink deserves a lot of credit! I’ll clean the capping station and wiper blade soon, but I think I’ll leave the print head alone since its performing fine and doesn’t look gunky so far as I can tell. I’ve debated getting the Epson adjustment software, Piezo flush, and spare carts so I could safely “sleep” the printer when I know I won’t be using it, but I think instead I’ll pick up QTR and use it to print a weekly ink separation image to ensure every channel is getting some proper exercise each week. What do you think?

I think I’m largely out of the woods here… Thank you for your help, Jon and Dana!!! Even though it didn’t end up being nearly as bad as I was fearing, I still learned a lot!

Hi Collin~

Yes, we recommend either agitating your ink carts every week or two, and making at least one letter size print a week- or flushing inks from the printer and safely storing it with PiezoFlush in the lines (this way, the printer can be left off for as long as you need, then just reinstall inks when you’re ready to start printing again).

Best regards and happy printing~ Dana :slight_smile: