Where's my ink going?


#1

The first issue I had is when I watched the refill installation video some months ago, there was no mention of putting the plug back into the port. I should have known better but the outcome was that all of my black ink emptied into the printer into still an unknown place. My second attempt was to refill the cartridge and replace the port plug. Success!

After a few months of not printing I tried printing some photo’s the other day but noted that photo black was not working. Many nozzle cleanings later still no success. I pulled the photo black ink cartridge out of the printer and discovered NO INK!

What is going on here? How did the ink escape? This is getting expensive and I got to wonder what “cranny” the black ink had found on my Epson 3880. And where is my ink going inside the printer?


#2

I might suggest you review the video. Pay close attention at the 2:55 and 3:48 marks. This is where Dana says “replace the plug.” She can actually be seen replacing the plugs. It’s not right to blame IJM for your not following their instructions.

I’d be willing to bet your capping station is filled with ink and is wicking the ink from your cart. The IJM folks can better assist here.

Good luck,
John


#3

Unfortunately, I found the video you referred too after the loss of ink. I had used the instructions found for Epson 3880 for refilling the cart.

I didn’t mean to blame Dana, the video was great, my memory maybe not so. I did find the instructions a bit confusing. I know I didn’t replace the plug which I thought was the orange plug. I’m not at home so I cannot inspect from here. There’s no mess and no signs of any spills. Just an empty cart

Nor do I find any issues with printing other than running out of the photo black ink (the only cone ink I currently use) after ~ 3 or 4 months and only a few prints. No smearing and no ink leaking anywhere that I can see.


#4

There is a known issue with the 3880 which causes one or other of the black inks to drain. It seems to have something to do with the in selector switch for the MK/PK switch. I gather it jams or gets stuck. It’s not clear from what I’ve read whether this is a faulty part, or a jam caused by pigment sedimentation. If you google you’ll find a number of reports of this phenomenon.


#5

When you refer to the “port plug” are you referencing the Fill Hole plug that is normally the color of the ink cart you are filling OR the orange plug that covers the air vent hole?

The only plug that needs be reinstalled is the Fill hole plug, located at the rear of the cartridge, where you inject the ink into the cartridge. The orange plug needs to [B]remain removed[/B] from the cartridge so when installed into the printer the air is allowed to flow through the inlet port. If you left the Fill hole plug out, the cartridge would leak ink out when tipped back to it’s original position and installed in the printer. But not internally, but rather out the back of the cartridge instead. You would have an inky mess all over the front of the printer itself, you would certainly see this.

I’ve personally never experienced a 3880 draining a cartridge of ink, but as Brian mentioned there is evidence of other users experiencing this bizarre behavior due to ink selector defects internally. This is a possibility, that we shouldn’t rule out.

As Jeff mentioned, your capping station is probably filled with ink, from the the internal wick of ink. I don’t believe this was/is caused by the cartridge having a defect. The Cartridge supplies ink into internal ink lines, which run into dampers aka. Ink Selector unit. This ink selector unit OR damper assembly would have to in the open position due to a defect within the printer itself.[B] I see you have 2 other position cartridges of ours, have you installed those with success? [/B]

This ink probably wicked into the capping station, then into your waste tank, at this point that would have been 80mls of ink, which the printer [B]would not[/B] have monitored as part of any ink waste accumulation.

If your printer is still fairly new, I would contact Epson for warranty replacement.

As I said, this is NOT a normal behavior for this printer and these cartridge models due to the ink system inside the printer. Once the ink reaches the dampers (aka. the ink selector unit) the ink physically stops at the damper unless it’s called for and the damper opens. You can think of these dampers as one way valves, when they are shut/closed the ink is stopped from going anywhere. When they are open the ink is flowing through the head and either onto the media or into the capping station, then to the waste tank.

For good measure I am sending you a replacement cartridge, as I said I would be surprised if it fixes the problem, but anything is possible. Please let me know how it turns out.
Kindly-Kelly


#6

I was under the impression that the OP had a 3880, in which case he would need to replace or somehow refresh his waste ink tank. However, if he has a 3000 then a waste ink bottle would definitely be a good idea.

For the carts-on-head printers, a draining cart could be caused by a faulty cart, although there are other more common explanations. For an ink-lines-and-dampers printer, the nature of the design makes this much less likely, as the cart structure is not involved in creating and maintaining back-pressure than holds the ink in. At least that’s my understanding.


#7

According to my testing, it is physically impossible to suck ink out of the dampers unless the system is pressurized. You can read about my damper adventure here.
http://www.inkjetmall.com/tech/showthread.php?228-3800-LC-channel-completely-missing&p=8823&viewfull=1#post8823

Having 50-80mL of ink leak out somewhere is definitely troubling, but obviously it must go somewhere. Check your maintenance cartridge. Even though the printer may claim it’s still empty, pull it out and feel how heavy it is. If it is heavier than expected for the use it claims to have, there’s where your ink went. That’s the most likely place, but also check the lollypop-like pads at the back of the cartridge slot. They should be white with a bit of ink staining. If it’s completely soaked, then you probably have an issue there.


#8

[QUOTE=KellyC;9102]When you refer to the “port plug” are you referencing the Fill Hole plug that is normally the color of the ink cart you are filling OR the orange plug that covers the air vent hole?

The only plug that needs be reinstalled is the Fill hole plug, located at the rear of the cartridge, where you inject the ink into the cartridge. The orange plug needs to [B]remain removed[/B] from the cartridge so when installed into the printer the air is allowed to flow through the inlet port. If you left the Fill hole plug out, the cartridge would leak ink out when tipped back to it’s original position and installed in the printer. But not internally, but rather out the back of the cartridge instead. You would have an inky mess all over the front of the printer itself, you would certainly see this.

I’ve personally never experienced a 3880 draining a cartridge of ink, but as Brian mentioned there is evidence of other users experiencing this bizarre behavior due to ink selector defects internally. This is a possibility, that we shouldn’t rule out.

As Jeff mentioned, your capping station is probably filled with ink, from the the internal wick of ink. I don’t believe this was/is caused by the cartridge having a defect. The Cartridge supplies ink into internal ink lines, which run into dampers aka. Ink Selector unit. This ink selector unit OR damper assembly would have to in the open position due to a defect within the printer itself.[B] I see you have 2 other position cartridges of ours, have you installed those with success? [/B]

This ink probably wicked into the capping station, then into your waste tank, at this point that would have been 80mls of ink, which the printer [B]would not[/B] have monitored as part of any ink waste accumulation.

If your printer is still fairly new, I would contact Epson for warranty replacement.

As I said, this is NOT a normal behavior for this printer and these cartridge models due to the ink system inside the printer. Once the ink reaches the dampers (aka. the ink selector unit) the ink physically stops at the damper unless it’s called for and the damper opens. You can think of these dampers as one way valves, when they are shut/closed the ink is stopped from going anywhere. When they are open the ink is flowing through the head and either onto the media or into the capping station, then to the waste tank.

For good measure I am sending you a replacement cartridge, as I said I would be surprised if it fixes the problem, but anything is possible. Please let me know how it turns out.
Kindly-Kelly[/QUOTE]

The orange plug was removed and I don’t see an accumulation in or around the printer but I haven’t checked the waste tank (didn’t know there was a waste tank). There’s a maintenance tank but it shows about 60% used. My printer has been rock solid for years (I think 4 years now) no problems and no clogs. Really, one of the best pieces of hardware I’ve ever bought. Because nothing had ever gone wrong with this printer (other than my initial lesson in installing an inkjet mall cart), I don’t even know what a capping station is.

I’m hopeful tonight I’ll get some time to dig further into my printer, capping station inspection and replace the maintenance tank (I have a spare) and locate the waste tank (maybe maintenance and waste tanks are one in the same?)

To answer another question regarding the other Inkjet Mall carts I had purchased, no, I hadn’t run out of ink yet in those because I haven’t been using my printer much over the summer. I am anxious to get back to printing so I’m hopeful I can get this behavior corrected.

Thanks for all your help!
And thanks for sending me a replacement cartridge!
–Michael


#9

The maintenance tank is the waste tank, so don’t go looking too hard. On the 3880 it’s built-in to the printer, and Epson call it the maintenance tank. Smaller printers come without one, but you can fit an external one, and sometimes these are called waste bottles, but it’s the same principle.

Just to add to what tjncooke said, unlike smaller carts-on-head printers, the internals of a 3880 cart aren’t involved in creating the vacuum that holds the ink back, and so a channel that drains is not likely to be caused by a faulty cart. At least that’s my understanding for ink-lines-and-dampers printers. On a carts-on-head printer, it’s possible for a faulty cart to be the cause of a drain, but most often it’s a result of the printer needing cleaning maintenance.


#10

I would recommended looking into replacing your Ink Selector unit, as I said I do NOT believe this is cartridge related.

Here is an article that relates to your complaint
http://www.ianbarberphotography.co.uk/epson-r3880-ink-system-repair/

The ink selector unit can be purchased at Compass Micro https://www.compassmicro.com/parts_detail.cfm?ID=7462&form.mfg=Epson&form.printerstyle=Inkjet&form.printername=Stylus%20Pro%203880


#11

I finally got around to refilling the new photo black cartridge. Printer recognizes the cart but performing a nozzle check yielded nothing. I did a cleaning and still nothing.

I never had a problem with this printer. The sheets are clean only yielding a missing black component. The new cart is still completely full of ink. I performed a priming per instructions. Should I try multiple cleanings? Should I try to clean the exposed port as maybe ink has dried on the opening? Maybe prime again the cart?

I read the article you posted but feel that this may not be the problem I’m experiencing. Just like to turn all stones before investing more time and money.

Thanks for your help.


#12

As I suspected, the cartridge didn’t solve your complaint. The Ink Selector Unit houses the Ink Selector itself, this is what selects which black ink to print, if this is broken (in this case I believe this is the problem) it can/will allow the black ink to drain out of the system because it is allowing the damper to remain open during resting periods of none printing.

One question I didn’t ask originally is, Can you get one of the black inks to print after a Black ink change OR are you completely without either blacks at this point? In addition, are both black draining out into the “unknown” when resting? IE. printer is set to PK mode, you cannot get the PK to print on a nozzle check after 3 cleaning cycles, you leave the printer sitting for sometime and the PK cart empties itself out?

I have explained how the Ink Selector Unit functions, the cartridge has not resolved this problem (as I suspected) and the only possible cause left is the Selector Unit itself. If the Dampers were staying open to allow the ink to drain out of the cartridge, this would indicate, again a faulty Ink Selector Unit.

If you open the diagram of this unit, you will see it is made up of several components, the Dampers, the Ink Selector itself (which acts as a mechanical mechanism to switch between the 2 black), the Ink lines, the ink supply system (where the carts are fitted into the printer) and the cartridge housing. Scroll done to reference #511 to see the whole assembly http://www.compassmicro.com/files/SPro%203880%20exploded%20diag.pdf This is sold as a complete assembly, making the replacement much easier as a whole. This replacement is involved, but with some mechanically abilities and the repair manual, it is possible to replace this unit effectively.

Here is a good picture of the Ink selector mechanism itself http://www.manualslib.com/manual/820107/Epson-Stylus-Pro-3800.html?page=43#manual