Strangest Nozzle Check I've Ever Seen

The attached nozzle checks are from my R1900 running P2, so the channel on the left with the strange output is yellow but running SEL1. This is on scrap paper, so it’s not as clear as I’d like, but the channel in question is fairly clear. The others appear to be ok.

This is a new cart and a new bottle of ink. I had been printing normally, mostly matte but some gloss. Last Friday morning I did a nozzle check and printed an ink sep page in preparation for a few days away. Tonight (Tue) I fired it up and got the first nozzle check in this image. So I did an ink sep page at 720dpi, and got the second nozzle check, i.e. it cleared Y-SEL1 a little. So then I did a single channel purge on Yellow-SEL1 and that pretty much cleared it up entirely.

I’ll probably do a scheduled cleaning routine quite soon, but has anyone from IJM ever seen anything like this? I haven’t, and I’ve seen a few odd ones, either here in the studio or on the forum.

Edit: This looks like a bad case of mis-firing nozzles, as per the article on looking at nozzle checks very carefully to check for such things. If so, what surprises me is (i) the extent of it; (ii) the speed with which it developed (four days); and (iii) the ease with which it cleared, just by printing purges.

This little gremlin has returned. In the last post, I said that a few purge patterns had cleared it up. I kept checking once or twice a day and things were ok. Life got a bit busy for a few days and so today was the first time I had turned the printer on in two or perhaps three days. Here is what I got. I’ve scanned only the problem channel, this time at higher resolution and it’s on slightly cleaner paper stock. Again, one ink sep and a purge pattern on that channel cleared it up fairly readily. And no, I haven’t had time to do a clean just yet.

What I find odd is that this appears to be a particularly bad case of misfiring nozzles, as mentioned in Evaluate a Manual Nozzle Check to Determine the Health of Your Printer, rather than a clog, which clears up and then returns so quickly. Anyone seen this - IJM staff or others?

Hi Brian,

I believe that 2880 printhead I sent you had a couple of nozzles that would trail up or down like yours is showing. However, the nozzles from the 2880 stayed like that and didn’t straighten out after repeated head cleans priming cycles, flushes using the syringe, etc. From what you’ve said, yours clear after a few cleaning cycles.

Now, after I removed the head and immersed it directly in piezoflush, many solid chunks came out into the flush. I was unable to test the head again to see if my efforts had been successful, so I cannot say if that technique would clean up such a nozzle check. I almost wish I had another cheap or free 2880 to play with. I almost wish I had the time to play with it too.

My hypothesis regarding the printhead is that over time, if the head is not maintained, pigment will most certainly accumulate at various points between the cart and the nozzle. If such an accumulation were to break free inside the head, it could settle on the nozzle. Cleanings would stir things up and clear the nozzle check, but they would eventually settle out again and block the nozzles. I suppose that a fine chunk could get trapped in the nozzle and cause to misdirect the flow.

I’m not an expert here, of course. But I was surprised just how much crud came out from the printhead when I soaked it. This was after filling the carts with piezoflush and performing many head cleanings, treatment with the paper towel under the head, and flushing with the syringe. It would not surprise me that particles could be in suspension inside the cavities in the head.

This information probably doesn’t help you, but…


Thanks for those insights Larry.

The print head you sent is still in transit. There was a bit of a delay before you-know-who and I managed to connect to discuss shipping.

I’ve looked again at your nozzle checks and I didn’t see anything quite like that one of mine. Perhaps I’ve missed something.

Mine is better than you think. No head cleanings so far, just purge patterns. I’m hopeful that it’s just a little overdue for a cleaning routine, although it had flush carts in it not so long ago (during June & July) and it was pretty well flushed through back then. Perfect flush nozzle check and a nice bright pink capping station with no traces of ink.

Just a WAG, but what if the paper formed a bump during printing to cause the ink to deflect? Maybe puckering under the rollers, platen too wide, or a bump or crease in the paper itself? I had some Ilford GFS that looked very uneven in the coating once, and some looked like someone flung a spatula full of mud on it too that I could chip off with my fingernail, but I never ran a nozzle check on the stuff.


OK, I looked at my nozzle checks again and you’re right. What looked like a trailing nozzle was actually a neighbouring segment partially printed on top of the previous segment. I looked like a slightly trailing segment until I zoomed way in on the nozzle check.


[QUOTE=Mack;9137]what if the paper formed a bump during printing to cause the ink to deflect?[/QUOTE]

Anything is possible I guess, but I don’t see any evidence of a head strike, which usually looks quite different. More like smearing. You wouldn’t expect a head strike or similar to go away as purge patterns are printed, esp on the same sheet.

TBH, I’m jumping the gun a little here as I haven’t yet done all I need to in search of a solution. I posted early because I thought it would be of interest, and because it was clear from that Evaluate a Manual Nozzle Check to Determine the Health of Your Printer page that Dana has seen a few such things in her time. I was hoping that when she eventually gets to this post that she may have a few insights.

I also am getting strange nozzle checks involving yellow (shade 6) and matte black (shade 1). On the nozzle checks it looks as if matte black is overprinting into yellow. The other four inks are alway good on the nozzle check. This happens on both an Epson 1400 and a 1430 loaded with the same ink set. This is a relatively recent problem. It eventually takes a cleaning or two to clear this, but in a few days the problem returns. At this point I’m trying to eliminate the matte black ink (batch 131223) as being the problem by using an older matte black in the Epson 1430. The Epson 1900, 1400 and 1430 have a 1.5 pl droplet.

Mazer, your problem sounds different to mine. Your problems sounds like cross-channel bleeding. There are plenty of reports of similar problems in this forum. For example, see the threads linked to here. Although they’re about the R2880, the principle is the same. Your problem could be cause by a leaking cart, your printer needing the cleaning maintenance routine (see the support video), or its age. I suggest you start your own thread so that you can get advice targeted to your problem. Posting a scan of your nozzle check and providing a bit of history, including frequency of use, the age of the printer, inks and carts and your maintenance routine will assist IJM to help you.

What’s unique about mine is the [I]shape[/I] of the lines in that nozzle check. They’re not straight. That’s a sign of misfiring nozzles rather than cross-channel bleeding.

I’m not sure how much you know about the design of an Epson print head. My only knowledge is from specific Internet searches out of curiousity. Dana, Kelly, and the team will know more, for sure.

But, what I’ve learned is that the nozzle itself is simply a hole. It’s so tiny that ink normally will not flow through unless it’s pushed by the piezo element, or pulled by suction from the capping station or flushing box, or wicked through if there’s a buildup of ink on the bottom of the head or top of the capping station. From this, the only way I can see ink getting thrown sideways as in your nozzle check, is if ink has dried along the side of the nozzle, wicking it out and sideways as it gets pushed out by the piezo element.

If cleaning it clears the problem, but then returns after a few days of sitting, I can only surmise that cleaning removes enough dried pigment that the ink flows correctly. But, if not all pigment gets cleared from the nozzle, that provides a “seed” for new pigment to collect and dry up in the same location.

I discovered that dried pigment can be nearly impossible to remove by solvent alone. Leaving piezoflush on the points above the head only softened the pigment clogs at the points, but failed to dissolve and remove them. I don’t know if IJM has a stronger version of their piezoflush available. This might be useful in situations like this. I understand their piezoflush is designed to sit in carts and the head, so it’s not so concentrated as to potentially damage internal parts if left to soak for a long time. I could understand them not wanting to sell a stronger version in case it were to damage the head in this manner.

I’m waiting to hear what IJM has to say about this nozzle check pattern as well.


Looks like I misinterpreted your nozzle check. I’ll post again when I’ve narrowed my problem down further. My main suspect is the latest batch of matte black ink so that is what I’ll try to elimate first. Perhaps something about the ink that requires more frequent printer maintence than in the past.

Thank you for the links. Good luck resolving your problem.

It’s time for an update. Since my last post, for a day or two I managed to fix these odd wavy lines and gaps in the nozzle check on that particular channel by doing purge patterns. Then eventually I started getting [I]real[/I] gaps without any wavy lines, and purge patterns didn’t clear it up any more. As much as I hate head cleans, I did one, which cleared it up, and it has stayed clear, i.e. complete with no gaps. I have been printing, but only on matte and this channel is shade 1 gloss, so it has only been getting a workout in nozzle checks. Despite this, it seems ok.

This was puzzling. This was a brand new bottle of SEL1 (shade 1 for gloss) in a brand new cart. As part of the conversion to P2, it was put into the Y channel that had previously had shade 7, i.e. the lightest of the shades, and there was no history of problems with that channel. So this is the last place you’d expect a problem like this. Just one of those things (JOOTT), one of those completely inexplicable things. Larry may be right about the cause, but how would you know?

For the record, a further update, one month on.

After the head clean mentioned in the last post, the nozzle checks stayed perfect for several days, then the problem returned, albeit in a much, much milder form. Purge patterns were able to clear it up when it reappeared, given that I wasn’t using that channel when printing.

Eventually I had to refill the shade 5 cart and a few others, and took the opportunity to do a printer cleaning routine - capping station, wiper blade, under the head. I didn’t push flush through the offending channel using the cleaning kit, tempting as it was, in order to test whether the other parts of the cleaning routine were sufficient. The answer is that they were. I haven’t had a repeat of the problem, and I’m just back from 5 days away and got a perfect nozzle check upon my return. Hopefully this is the end of this particular story.

Oh bother, it’s back again. Solved by printing a basic ink separation page at 720, but I don’t think that it’s going to be the end of the matter.

No, it wasn’t the end of the matter. Would it be possible for the world’s greatest printer maintenance guru (Dana, [I]not[/I] Jose Rodriguez) to comment about what to do about misfiring nozzles that keep on returning, when she has some time. No rush, I can wait. I’ve given up for the time being and put a flush cart in the problematic channel.

To save you reading the entire thread, this is an R1900 that was recently converted to P2. The problem channel is Ye-SEL1 (so I can still print on matte). The ink was a brand new bottle ordered in the last sales. The cart was a new, unused cart. Initially I kept clearing the misfiring nozzles through purge patterns, then had to resort to a head clean, then finally did a full printer clean. That cleared things up for several weeks, but the misfiring nozzles are now back. The image in post #2 is indicative of what I’m seeing, but not quite that bad, although I’m sure if I left it for a few more days then it would worsen. I have printed an ink sep page more often than once a week to exercise all channels, in addition to occasional prints. All other channels are fine, and believe me, I’ve stared at them under a loupe to check.

An update to this ancient thread. I kept flush in the problematic Y channel for over two years. I recently decided to try gloss shade 1 in the Y channel again. Seemed ok for a few days but then nozzle gap problems re-emerged. Not as bad as the ones above, but problems all the same. Printing a purge pattern cleared them, but they returned again the next day. I’ve put a flush cart back in the Y channel and the printer is stable again.

So the question is, does this printer simply not like that ink in that channel, or is that cart faulty?

Further updates to come when I get around to doing more testing. Sometime in the next two years.

I think you have accumulated debris inside of the internal head filter or at the nozzle plate itself. PiezoFlush would print fine in this situation due to it’s chemistry, gloss would print ok as well as dye, but a pigment probably wouldn’t (doesn’t as indicated by this thread). 1.5pL print heads have internal filters (instead of dampers with filters before the head). It could also simply be the cartridge filter itself . . .


Thanks. I wondered about something like that without knowing the specifics. I had hoped that an extended period of having flush in there (so that included all nozzle checks, purge patterns and head cleans) might have dissolved any such debris. If that’s the cause then clearly flush didn’t cure it.

I have two ideas in mind. Prior to the switch to P2, this ran as a K7 printer for a number of years and I had no problems with shade 7 in that Y slot (and yes, I examined all the nozzle checks carefully as #7 is hard to see). I could try shade 7 again and see what happens.

I am a little suspicious of the cart, although the problems emerged very shortly after the switch to P2 and glossy shade 1 went into a new cart, so the initial problems couldn’t have been a cartridge filter, if these ancient carts have such a thing. My other idea is to try a fresh cart.

But not for a while. Special Edition on a PK paper is an acquired taste and there isn’t much call for it at present.

Hanging the head 2mL deep over/into a batch of PiezoFlush and then sucking PF up through the nozzles and out of the inlet spike can solve this issue.


Interesting idea. I’ve only removed a print head once. That was in an R2400 that I regarded as dead and was using for amateur brain surgery, not intending to replace the head. I think I’d need to get to a deeper level of desperation before I try that on an otherwise working printer.

Where does this accumulated debris come from? Pigment? If so that’s odd, because this Y channel only had shade 7 from new for years until the switch to P2, and that’s the last channel you’d expect to get accumulated pigment in. The problems occurred very soon after that switch from K7 to P2, like maybe a month or two, so it’s hard to blame the shade 1 ink (SEL-1). Or is the debris from another source?