This is a bit more of a technical posting than I normally write, but the results I saw from this printer were worth all the effort. Hopefully this can help someone else out there get back to the joy of physical prints. I know I’m happy about getting back into controlling my print process, and providing more controlled and better quality prints as a result!
I enjoy the process of having control over prints and being able to create a more regular output of prints on a wide format printer. Coincidentally I was recently given an older Epson Stylus Pro 4000 printer, a machine whose quality and 17″ width I always appreciated. This printer however had some issues that I needed to solve before bringing it back to life. Primarily a partially clogged print head in most colours, and a completely non-function Magenta. I thought I’d document the process here in the hopes that some of this may be of use to someone else out there running into printer issues. Please note, that there some risks taken here and only recommend this path if you feel comfortable doing so. In some cases I’m referring details to the original sources to prevent misquoting.
The first thing I did was give all the moving parts a good cleaning. Good examples and be found on condesystems youtube page. They also suggest some cleaing solutions for this process such as SimpleGreen. This includes cleaning the capping station, wipers, and several other parts aroudn that same area. This took a while, but meant that subsequent cleanings would not be reintroducing old inks. I also took this opportunity to clean out the Maintenance tank.
Preliminary tests before starting this whole process seemed to indicate there was something more severely wrong with the Magenta than casual clogged heads or dirty lines. Test prints essentially resulted in this colour performing very poorly or, more commonly, not firing at al.
It turns out that my assumption of a faulty damper was to blame. New ones can be purchased from various sources, but ebay searches seemed to produce a few cost effective results. Replacing this seems like a scary process, but it went smoothly. For an example of this procedure on a similar printer, see this youtube video by filmdirectonline. This was the most significant discovery and fix, since without this no amount of cleaning would have brought this colour to life.
Running Cleaning Fluid
This wasn’t an absolute necessity, but I decided to do this anyways as a preemptive measure since there was plenty of old and possibly dry ink in the system. It’s recommened to get cleaning carts from inksupply.com or elsewhere. However, since I had a few empty ink carts I decided to fill them with an alcohol/windex type solution as described in Arthur Entlich’s Epson cleaning manual. It’s important to test your cleaning solution before doing anything like this to insure it doesn’t react poorly with your particular inks. The ink traces that remained in the cartridges mixed with the solution and allowed me to see the results of head cleanings and tests until everything flowed. This inlcuded power cleanings and even an SSC before everything was fully funcitoning. See the Epson manual or Epson 4000 Field Repair Guide for details on more advanced cleaning routines and how to flush the ink lines.
I decided to use third party inks since not only was I unsure whether this whole process was going to work, but also due to the general cost saving nature of running the machine. I chose MIS inks from inksupply.com for this. I found a great price for a kit that included easy to fill carts, chip resetter (also useful for the maintenance tank), inks and a bunch of other stuff. They claim that their inks are entirely compatible with the stock Epson inks. While I didn’t find the colours to match, I haven’t found any other issues with their products. I found the stock profiles with these inks yielded very Magenta biased prints. However, I used an X-Rite Colormunki to generate new profiles and was more than impressed with how well these turned out.
Hopefully this quick outline will help someone out there decide that this is worth the effort and that your printer can in fact be brought back to life.