How to clean inkjet print head
How to clean print head
Before attempting to clean a clogged inkjet print head, you want to know a few things to avoid that might damage the printer.
Caution: Avoid cleaning fluid drip on the paper sensor
Do not leave the carriage rest on top of the paper sensor too long when applying the cleaning fluid with the drip method. The paper sensor is on the edge of the paper track. If the carriage is at the position for cartridge exchange, the paper sensor is right under the print head.
When ink or cleaning fluid drips onto the paper sensor, if allowed to soak into the paper sensor, the paper sensor circuit could be shorted out. A paper feed malfunction will result. When applying cleaning fluid, move the carriage away from the paper track. Wiped off the excess ink or cleaning fluid from accidentally leak imediately.
*Windex is a good cleaning fluid, but it is not the ideal cleaner for use in cleaning cartridges because Windex has a low viscosity and will drain right out of the print head in a relative short time. Windex can be use on the head cleaning sponge to loosen up the dry ink on the outside of the print head. Use our specially formulated head cleaning fluid to clean the inside of the print head.
First, we want to take a look of the print head. This picture below shows the bottom surface of the print head. The vertical lines are tiny holes where ink comes out from the piezo-electric print head.
Over time, dry ink will accumulate on the the outside of the print head, ink will not flow properly as a result. The picture below shows the capping station, this is the sponge the print head rest on when the printer is not printing. The photo below shows the R1800 head capping station. The sponge pad is held in place by a metal frame. Each time the print head goes back to "park" position, the rubber wiper blade will wipe off what's on the outside of the print head. If a head clean is required, the pump under the sponge pad will pump out ink from the cartridges to remove dry ink in the print head. This is done when a head clean is initiated. The pump will siphon ink from the cartridge, along with air that might have trapped in the print head. Once the print head is rid of dry ink and filled with ink, the nozzle check should show a perfect pattern. A nozzle check must be performed to confirm all the nozzles are firing.Here is a picture of the top where the cartridges go, this part was connected to the print head shown above. A closer look will let you see the tiny holes on the cone shaped tips. These cone shapped tip opens the check valve of the cartridges to allow ink flowing through the tiny holes into the print head.
How to clean the print head without the use of clean cartridges?
The easiest way to clear a minor head block is to spray some Windex on the sponge pad shown in the photo above. The cartridges must be moved away from the capping station before applying Windex. Spray enough Windex on the sponge to saturate the pad.
Caution: Keep the spray away from the metal bar and the paper track.
Look at the picture above you will see some ink left on the edge of the paper track. If this happens, wipe it dry immediately. Have some paper towel ready before using Windex on the sponge pad. Note that the wiper blade is right in the center. The paper sensor is on the left of the wiper blade.
Once the sponge pad is saturated with Windex, move the carriage by hand to the far right so the print head is on top of the capping station. Do not press the ink button or turn off the printer, the printer will siphon out the Windex you just applied if the ink button is pressed or if the printer is turned off. Unplug the printer will also remove power from the head clean pump, it is best to remove the power cord from the printer after the carriage is move back to the capping station.
After this is done, let Windex soak the print head for a day. Return and plug in the power cord. The printer will do an auto head clean. Do a nozzle check to see if you get a perfect nozzle check. If you need to perform a head clean, just use the normal head clean and NOT the auto nozzle check and head cleaning. If the nozzle check is not perfect, perform a couple of head clean and repeat the nozzle check. Re-apply Windex if needed. Give it a longer soaking time if necessary.
What to do when the clog cannot be cleared with Windex?
How to clean the print head?
The safest way to clean the print head is to use a set of cleaning cartridges to apply the cleaning fluid. A special head cleaning fluid will be used. Windex will not stay in the print head for very long, therefore Windex will only work on minor clogs. I use a specially formulated head cleaning fluid that has similar viscosity as ink. The cleaning fluid will stay in the print head until a the pump pumps it out.
I would install the cleaning cartridges with the special head cleaning fluid. Remove the refill plugs, manually push the carriage to " park " position. Leave the printer for 2 -3 minute to allow gravity to draw the cleaning fluid into the print head. Push the carriage back to where the refill plugs can be installed to stop the flow. The print head is now filled with head cleaning fluid. Leave the printer for at least one day to allow the cleaning fluid to work. The power cord should be disconnected when the cleaning cartridges are installed in place of ink cartridges.
After the printer is allowed to idle and the cleaning fluid is given time to soften the dry ink inside the internal passages in the print head, install the ink cartridges and print the nozzle check pattern. A couple of head clean might be required. But I suggest not to use the auto nozzle check and cleaning if possible. A second application might be needed if you are not able to get a perfect nozzle check.
Hope this helps. If you have any questions, drop me a line.