Swapping inks and dealing with the residual in the lines

It’s not clear how much longer Jeff will be out of action, so we’ve agreed that I will keep this going until he’s back.

To answer your question, smearing of a print occurred with GO, as well as without.

To help isolate the source of this, yesterday Jeff printed the ink separation page on gloss, dried with with a hair dryer, and then gently wiped a q-tip over it and found that only shade 1 smeared. So while it may be possible to smear a print by being careless and wiping a finger over it, this is something different and only affects shade 1.

You’ll be reassured to know that carelessly wiping a gloss print pre-GO is not standard practice in this part of the world. To explain how this came about … When Jeff started printing again on IGFS, he tried to dry it in preparation for GO. It didn’t dry any of the usual means - waiting and hair dryers. The print appeared wet to the naked eye. At some point you have to touch it to see what’s happening and then it smears. If you manage to put down a GO coat, it still smears.

To help diagnose what was happening he rechecked the linearity. The results are in the initial post and showed that the 100% density point was a lot lighter. As Jeff has printed the purge page the density has darkened, but the smearing, as just described, did not cease. At least not so far.

We'd like to understand what is causing this smearing, but let's suppose for the moment that the root cause was the PK line sitting unused for three months.  What is the recommended procedure to prevent this on a printer where both MK and PK carts are used, but one of them less frequently?  You often recommend to print weekly, but are you really suggesting that the switch on a 3880 needs to be done weekly?  That's 6ml of ink for the round trip each week.  Only takes 12-13 weeks to burn through a cart's worth of ink.  How often should the switch be done to prevent ink settling in a K line that isn't in active use at the moment?

[QUOTE=jon;8570]Remove the cart and physically shake it (rather than the printer which you would have to do too violently for anyone to think you were sane - in order to shake the carts correctly).[/QUOTE]

This is sometimes recommended on this forum, see [here](http://www.inkjetmall.com/tech/showthread.php?1447-9900-Head-Problems&p=7429&viewfull=1#post7429).

You need to determine if in fact the ink that is in the PK cartridge is in FULL pigment suspension, you do this by taking the cartridge out of the printer and shaking it, as Jon explained, simple as that, no need to do ink K ink changes and print using the ink.

I suggested that you take the Ink from the PK cartridge (after physically removing it from the printer and shaking it) and SWAB test it on a piece of gloss paper, such as the IFGS and do the same with the SEL1 bottle of ink. I am suggesting this to eliminate the printer all together to determine if this is ink or printer. PLEASE let this air dry for at least 1 hour then apply a coat of GO and let dry again, then see if it smears off the paper with your finger.

After you have done this very simple test, we will have a better idea in which direction to go, for now I can only speculate what the possible causes could be.

This test will have to wait until Jeff is back on deck.

But I know that he is keen to get an answer to the question about how often to swap MK & PK in order to keep the printer healthy. This is an issue regardless of what the cause of the current problem is. Swapping more frequently than necessary is going to waste ink unnecessarily, and insufficiently often is likely to cause problems. What does IJM recommend?

Sometimes we can’t cure or fix everything. Jeff is having issues that are really unusual and they are outside of our experience (in terms of ink smearing through GO or staying wet when they should be dry). So, we don’t have an answer for this. Or an inkling of an idea. We have nothing to draw on from our experience within our own studio or with our customers.

I’m not saying that Jeff is a picture framer or anything like that - but I wanted to mention that we had a customer with very unusual problems. We just could not figure it out. So, we visited them as they were within a 90 minute drive from our offices. When we got there we noticed that the printers were all covered with fine sawdust. The customer turned out to be massive art picture printmaker and framer and they were printing in the framing woodshop. Everything was coated with fine sawdust - including the print heads of the printers. So, we could not solve this issue from our offices because the fine sawdust was not something we were aware of nor was the customer. The acid content of our inks was even being altered because the sink area in which they poured ink had funnels covered in fine sawdust that had never been rinsed (or rinsed before using). The fix was to remove the printers from the woodworking shop and to place them in an environment that was suitable for printmaking rather than woodworking. We would have assumed that would be common knowledge - but its not in all situations. We tend to ask a lot of questions on the forum of our customers - and often it is to eliminate the obvious (to us). Many things that are obvious to us are not so to our customers. Everyone has different levels of experience and understanding and we appreciate that.

Jeff is a little far for us to drive to. We’re just not understanding what is unique about his situation. Were we there - we may spot something obvious.

On the printer shaking - we do shake large format printers because the carts have a very large volume and about 10 inches of length for the ink to travel and slosh back and forth with the gentle shaking of the printer. On an 38XX you would have to shake it too violently to get the same effect. So, its a better practice to remove and shake gently. Were you to do the same gentle shake with a printer in hand as you would with the cart - it would be quite a violent shake. Rolling a pea back and forth at 20 revolutions per minute - or rolling an elephant back and forth at 20 revolutions per minute - are not the same. The former would be a gentle experience - the latter quite violent. It’s just a matter of scale in regards to the contents of the cart. So you would really have to shake the beejeezus out of an Epson 1400 to stir up the contents in the carts. You would appear as a mad man seething with rage. Were you in the USA you would probably be gunned down by neighbors. Certainly you would be subdued and held down until the EMT arrived to sedate you, move you to a psych hospital, and begin your evaluation. That little bit of time savings in removing the carts could cost you three months from work, alienate you from your pets and family, and subject you to poor hospital food, as well as a possible lobotomy. We’re a little cautious here in the USA, so we suggest removing the carts and shaking them.

So, lets say it is ink that has separated into various components in the ink line and cartridge because it has sat unused for three months. We would remove the cart, shake it, put it back in, run the black ink change, and then perform three POWER CLEANS. If you wish to conserve ink - we would run enough meter of material in single channel QTR Calibration mode printing until we saw the ink change. You should be able to see the differing appearance as you print full sheets of black. That would work too. BUT running ink through the printer with QTR Calibration mode is not the same as using the suction of the POWER CLEANS. It simply is a different matter of physics and does not permit the same ink exchange in the damper - and possibly the ink lines. THe physics of motion in allowing a liquid to seep in and causing a liquid to be sucked out are not as different as a pea and an elephant being rolled at 20 revolutions per minute - but you get my point and hopefully my humor. Sometimes you have to be light about things when the only other solution seems to be to pull one’s hair out (or violently shake a printer while screaming expletives at it!)

All valid points, speaking just for myself. I haven’t visited his studio either yet, although he has been to mine several times.

I don’t understand the extent to which your last para answers the question of how often to swap MK & PK in order to keep the printer healthy, that is, the little-used K line healthy. Are you saying that a user may as well not worry about it and just do as you say when problems emerge? Three power cleans will consume a fair bit from all channels. Surely there’s a switch frequency that’s going to keep the line clear and waste less ink that the power cleans every three months.

If I were to get a 3880 for K7, and it’s still possible, I’d put WN1 in one K cart as a universal black and flush in other. But Jeff has too much NU1 & SEL1 for this to be economic.

An alternative could be to set the printer up as a Piezography2 printer and put the PK in the Yellow slot. Then you can just push it out with QTR and not worry about the ink exchanger or how it works or doesn’t work if you are not making glossy prints for three months.

Background…with long answer to your question. Epson requests in writing that you throw out their ink carts after six months. This is because of pigment settling. The time Jeff’s ink was allowed to sit was half its life of three months. Epson life is pigment settling life. In other words - Epson could tell its customers to remove the carts and shake them - but it’s more in their support and economic models to just say discard them. That way they do not have to deal with the support issue and also they get to sell more ink.

Hypothetically, what if Jeff did not make a glossy print for 3 years? Or 1 year? Or six months? Or three months? Or three weeks? What level of standards does Jeff wish to maintain in comparison to the economics of saving ink rather than maintaining consistency? It’s a headache to be sure - and a heartache to flush expensive ink into the waste box. But at what cost them to printing standards? So this is why I am suggesting he may wish to convert the printer from K7 to Piezography 2.

In the meantime, in other arts such as fine cooking - ingredients being fresh is critical not only for health reasons - but also preparation. No one drinks fine wine after the cork has been released and enjoys it in the same way days later. Darkroom chemicals are always mixed fresh. Old gas makes for grumpy snow blower operators, and so on and so forth. This is fine ink in a very high technology. You should want to keep everything in its prime condition if you wish to make very high standard prints. Partly we think that this is just good common sense.

We believe[/B] that ink needs to be agitated every two to three weeks in order to keep it in its best condition and more importantly - to allow prints made now to match prints made then or in the future. That is our best practice for our own studio. Your eyes may not be sensitive enough to see changes in color pigment settling (only because there are 100s of 1000s if not 1,000,000s of colors being printed). Very few humans are that color sensitive until it hits them hard. However, your eyes may be sensitive enough to see color pigment settling right away. It often depends upon the image. But, Piezography responds very quickly to density changes. You see it quickly for obvious reasons. e.g. when shade 17% begins looking like shades 18%, 19% and 20% you see the print flatten right away. It’s not a matter of some values of blue looking a little magenta while some greens seem just ever so cool and reds being both warmer or cooler, etc. Most of that is lost on color image viewers for a variety of reasons including good old gestalt. But Piezography reveals everything quickly.

In our studios we are printing about the same amount of matte and glossy. We do not have this headache. BUT - if we let a printer sit for 3 unexpected weeks whether Epson OEM, or ConeColor Pro, or Piezography inks - we do not hesitate to run an INITIAL INK CHARGE or three Power Cleans (on X880 printers). Why? Because of our high standards. That is the best practice.

Many thanks to you all. Hospital food and oxycodone are centre stage for me at the moment, but I escape today. Then I will be able to return to my studio which is conveniently located in an asbestos factory.

As you can see, Jeff will be back in action shortly, and he can have his thread back. A couple of final remarks.

Contrary to what Epson say, all the printing and colour management nerds over at Lula claim that sedimentation is not a real world problem with OEM inks, except over the very long term. They are concerned about damage to the exit valve on the carts from being continuously inserted and removed. However piezo inks certainly need agitation. Have you had any problems with the exit valve on your carts from them being inserted and removed multiple times?

The 3880 is not listed as a suitable printer for P2, or more correctly P2 is not necessary for the 3880. But it is an option, and as you say, for some usage it’s the better option. Perhaps the P2 option for the 3880 should be promoted in situations where one K is used much more often than the other?? Ditto for the WN1 option.

It’s still an option for me, should I pick up one of the few remaining 880s in this part of the world. Personally, I wonder if it’s worth the trouble of running non-standard curves in order to have ready access to both blacks, when WN1 does such a good job as a universal black. Conversion now for Jeff is costly, whereas switching to WN1 is less costly.

Which brings me to something I said elsewhere - many of us here are not running a professional printing house, and what we need is real world advice, based on your experiences, rather than being told to emulate Cone Studios. I said back then that “many of us have to make decisions about value-for-money and find the best way to operate within the constraints we face”. That still applies.

Brian, I’m not familiar with Lulu and whether they are experts or enthusiasts. From experience, I believe that “all these color management nerds” (as you refer to them) - their concerns are misplaced about the valves and they should be worried about pigment settlement in OEM inks. The latter is very real.

Refillable cartridges have valves that are designed for multiple insertions as are the OEM cartridges (and Epson’s stated reason for design of the Intellichip in the first place.) Refillable cartridges can last for years and years as can the chips. There are crappy cheap cartridges out there with even crappier cheap chips stuck on them. But, OEM carts are very high standard as are the carts we sell at InkjetMall and both can be removed and reinserted dozens and dozens of times.

The reason we do not list the 38XX as a P2 printer, is not because its not suitable - rather it is because it has two black carts and the user does not have to physically swap out carts. During the workshops in Santa Fe, I often run both the 3880s and the R2880s as P2 printers as a convenience to the attendees so they can print matte or photo prints without black ink changes. That is the most economical way to run Piezography. And as you say - WN1 may be a perfect black (both matte and photo). If Epson only made one black - this would be it, and their printers would not have two black slots.

Running Piezography is less costly than running Epson inks - and if someone can not afford to run the OEM inks, I can not understand why they choose to purchase a printer in the first place. Printing is costly. There is the cost of the printer, the inks, the paper. Running a printer a little costs more in terms of maintenance than running a printer a lot. You don’t buy an expensive piece of technology to let it sit. If you do let it sit for fear of spending money on consumables - then you have to deal with the maintenance issues that inactivity causes.

I appreciate what you are saying about your need to save money over employing the best practices or reaching for the highest standards. But, I advise you and others based upon my real world experience because I am Cone Editions and I have been Cone Editions now for some 35 years. There is no coincidence that my surname is Cone. I have to advise what are my best practices because I already know what happens when one doesn’t. You can choose to use lesser practices, or seek advise elsewhere, but from my experience you may end up spending more in the long run or wasting lots of valuable time and materials. You get to choose the standard which you wish to emulate. But, if we know what doesn’t work, or we know what can jury rig something for a fortnight - we don’t express those things to you as advise. That would be a disservice.

One of my teachers once said to me…“You can do it that way. Or you can do it the right way.”

Ok, I’m back, sort of. My takeout at the moment is that shaking the printer is not enough but that I need to shake the carts regularly, not the printer no matter whether I am on K7 or P2.

  1. Will that be enough to avoid my current problem, assuming that it is settled pigment or is there possible settling in the lines to the head?

  2. Given that I have lots of NU 1 and SEL 1, P2 may be a good idea for now but there does appear to be a dearth of curves for P2. Do you have any hidden away?

  3. My SEL 1 came from a tiny bit of a new bottle and mainly from a now used bottle so doing a smear test isn’t apples to apples. Do you still want me to do it with the new bottle?

I will start doing the power cleans to, hopefully, get me rolling again.


Neither Brian nor I am trying to dodge using best practice. We understand that there is a cost to printing. However, in the absence of clear documentation on some aspects of the correct procedures to maintain our printers, we both muddle along. Case in point, agitation and the PK/MK switch are are not in the manual or videos. I have been shaking my printer because I read a post by Dana suggesting that it was a way to agitate the carts. No mention was made that this would not work on a 3880.

What you are arguing against is a staw man that you have set up, and then pointing out that we haven’t followed the unwritten rules. No-one is disagreeing that printers need to be used and inks need to be agitated. Rather, the real question is what is the most efficient and effective way of keeping the printer healthy? There’s nothing wrong with searching for the most efficient and least wasteful way of doing something.

Recently, you asked for feedback on documentation. After my experience, I would suggest that printer best practices would be an excellent topic.

I shook all carts, did three power cleans, printed a 21x4 target and left it overnight. I have now measured it and my 100% is now at 5.4. I’ll print an Inksep, GO it and measure it tomorrow morning.
5.4 is still quite a way from the 4.08 starting point from a couple of months ago but a vast improvement on my recent starting point.

I’ve just printed the Inksep on EEF. Here’s the score so far:

Pre GO
60% 14.61
80% 13.77
100% 13.41

Post GO
60% 14.19
80% 13.86
100% 15.05

and it still smears on the 100% patch after GO, but not as badly as before.

This whole situation is baffling, your 1st linearization shows your system to be running very dark, but your lab values are showing the SEL1 to be much lighter then it should be. Now your linearization looks A LOT better, but the Lab values are still showing the SEL1 to be very light compared to what it should be. You are also seeing the same smearing as before, just better after the shaking and cleaning cycles. This is what I would do next:

-Remove and re-install your QTR print driver & curve library and your Epson Print driver
-Shake and top off ALL the carts in your set (if they are resettable chips), run 3 cleaning cycles
-Print an ink separation using QTR calibration mode and test the L values for ALL your inks in EEF w/GO

This will give me an idea if you entire system is in line with what is should be or if something else is contributing to your wacky results. I still think there’s something funky with the SEL1 in that PK line, but as you are seeing it may be settled pigments in your line that hasn’t been worked all the out yet.

Other questions would be (because I am not familiar with your system) are:

  1. What version OS are you using
    2.What version QTR & QTR Tool are you using
    3.Lot #s from all your ink bottles (this is so I can compare to the exact lot/batch)

Thanks Kelly, the plots that I am posting are on IGFS not EEF. I started off with IGFS, and have added the EEF inksep info as you requested. The last plot is after 3 power cleans.

Before I do any more, I need a little clarification.

  1. run 3 cleaning cycles - Do you mean Power Cleans from the front panel or Head Cleans from the System Preferences? I have already done three Power Cleans over the weekend.
  2. ALL your inks in EEF w/GO - I need to stop using EEF as I am almost out of it, and it was problematic when I tried to use it before. http://www.inkjetmall.com/tech/showthread.php?1433-Epson-Exhibition-Fibre-100-flat&highlight=100%+flat I can offer IGFS or HPR Baryta.

Your other questions:

  1. I am using OS X 10.9.5
  2. Print Tool 1.1.0, QTR 2.7.5. My 3880 runs as a Bonjour Airport printer.
  3. I don’t have lot #s for the ink in the carts. I used all the ink from my first order in filling the 3880 carts after my abortive attempt to use a 2400

I am losing the will to live as far as ink changes on a 3880 are concerned. I see no point in sorting this out without some documentation on how to manage these printers. Fixing it is one thing, providing information on how to stop a reoccurrence is far more valuable. I also don’t see suggestions that I must live in a bizarre, environmentally challenged house as helpful. Jon said “You can do it that way. Or you can do it the right way.” That’s all very well for him to say that, but perhaps he could make sure that the “right way” is fully explained and documented, and insofar as the MK/PK switch is concerned, it isn’t.

I am seriously considering using a K3 printer for gloss with QTR, and sticking flush in the PK channel. The lack of a consistent and documented approach to GO amounts, and bronzing are compelling arguments to do something else.

Please understand this is NOT something we have experienced before, your situation is a unique one. We are trying to figure out the problem 1st, before we offer any solutions, you can’t fix it unless you know what’s wrong with it to begin with. I have been asking you for lab values on the EEF paper because that is the latest tests I have for SEL inks, we also test on Type5, HPR & Type2. If you have Type5 paper then I can compare to that as well. I simply need L values to figure out if your printer is printing SEL1 or NU1 inks, at this point I think it’s printing NU1 for some reason.

I asked you do to swab test on a glossy paper using the SEL1 ink from your bottle and compare to the ink from the cartridge. You can suck ink out of the cart with a needle and syringe. I need to know if this is INK OR PRINTER to determine a repair.

We have documentation of how to maintain your printers, you can view the article here http://www.inkjetmall.com/tech/content.php?133-Printer-Cleaning-and-Preventative-Maintenance

Kelly, I have three sheets of EEF left. I asked about IGFS because of the drama I had with EEF, or TPP as it is known in Australia. In the end we decided to walk away from that. The 100% measurement will always be crazy, and the others may be suspect. Here are the latest values:

Pre GO
60% 14.61
80% 13.77
100% 13.41

Post GO
60% 14.19
80% 13.86
100% 15.05

The ink that I am using is from the first bottle that I bought. You have built two custom curves and seen various examples from it when we were trying to solve the EEF problem. I don’t have any more of it and I have chucked the bottle. My current SEL ink may also be in there but only a tiny amount. I just can’t remember what happened at the time. I’m happy to do the smear test on the bottle and cart still but wonder whether it will tell us anything. Please let me know whether you still want me to proceed.

Now to maintenance: *Agitate ink cartridges every 1-2 weeks to maintain in-suspension pigment, and use printers at least once a week to avoid settled ink in the pro model internal ink lines and to keep the print head moist.

  1. As you know, I shook the printer. Jon has now advised that the carts on a 3880 must be removed and shaken - update required?
  2. I have used the printer more than weekly. How much printing is required weekly?
  3. There is no mention that on a 3880, both PK and MK should be printed weekly - another update perhaps?

I also suspect that I may have remained blissfully unaware of this problem, if I had just printed. However, I immediately started printing targets and was presented with the problem.

I did a smear test with the PK and MK carts, and the SEL bottle. They all smear a little before GO. The bottle smears more but it is a thicker coating. The two carts hardly smear at all. I wiped them with a Q tip. I just GO’d them and will report back later.

After GO, none of them smear.

Just to verify, the lab values you are supplying are L values, correct? What are you measuring with for a device? Can you supply me with all the LAB values, so I can compare color as well?

It is very unusual that your printer would be putting down ink onto the paper that smears off with GO applied, BUT the inks (BOTH SEL1 & NU1) when swab tested outside of the printer do NOT smear off the paper with GO applied. I am baffled at this situation to say the least. THANK YOU for doing this test for us, this REALLY helps me determine where to from here. With this simple test we have eliminated the inks as possible causes.

I don’t think that your regular practices are out of the normal, you are doing everything correctly. We don’t need to pursue that avenue any farther. You are using your printer regularly, you are agitating your carts regularly and keeping the system in working order.

Did you flush this printer prior to installing the K7 inks? I am wondering if maybe there is some residual flush looming in your system that is causing all this problem. Did you perform any initial fills after installing your K7 inks to chase the flush out???

Since I stay up later than Jeff, I can quickly clarify a couple of points.

Jeff uses an I1 Photo V2 and iProfiler.

He has used the printer regularly, but the PK line went unused for about three months.

Although he refers to “flushing” the lines, it’s my understanding that he has never put carts with piezoflush solution into this printer, well not so far. This printer never had OEM either. It started life from new as a K7 printer about six months ago and has stayed that way ever since. By “flushing”, I believe that he is referring to head cleans, power cleans and printing purge patterns in an attempt to move ink though the PK ink line, in line with the advice provided here.

Thanks Brian and Kelly. To confirm, I am using an i1Pro2 on an i1io2 table, with the latest version of i1Profiler. This printer has never had anything but K7 Neutral near it. I will print an inksep and measure it both pre and post GO and post the result. Brian and I have discussed this at length over the last little while. I have developed a theory with his help, which may be be crazy but may just have some truth. Here it is:

Settling in the lines to the head is inevitable with K7 inks. If a printer uses only MK for an extended period, then settling will happen in the PK line. The way to avoid this would be to swap and print an unknown amount weekly. I haven’t done this.

There is very little shade 1 used in any print. It only kicks in in the darkest part of an image. Most people would probably not notice the difference between where my ink was three months back, and what it is now. I happened to switch to PK and immediately printed and measured targets. What I was trying to do was linearise and build ICC profiles for different amounts of GO.

So what I am seeing is normal. That leaves the question of how to avoid it. As I see it, that would need a weekly swap of PK and MK and some printing. How much, I don’t know.

I’m happy to be told that this is crazy.