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How to Clean the Printhead Clogged?

Formation of Printhead Clogged

Printhead clogged formation: Because the printhead is not tightly sealed or left for a long time after normal printing, the water evaporates excessively, causing the ink particles to dry up and stick to the fine tip of the printhead, making the ink unable to eject normally. Different inks are mixed, resulting in chemical reactions, which usually manifest as frequent disconnections, missing colors, blurred writing, or even failure to print normally.

Printhead Structure of Inkjet Printer

The common printhead structures of inkjet printers mainly include two types: integrated type and separated type. In the integrated printhead structure, after the ink in the ink tank is used up, the printhead and ink tank must be replaced together. Such a structure is relatively tightly integrated and has high reliability, but the relative cost is high. For the separated type, the printhead and the ink tank are separated in a detached structure. The ink tank can be replaced separately after the ink is used up, which can save costs to a certain extent. Most printers commonly used on the market (such as Epson, Cannon, etc.) use a dual-ink head structure: a black (or photo) printhead and a color printhead. In the ink tanks, most of them have independent black ink, and the other three-color ink tanks are integrated. There are also some products where each color ink tank is independent and can be replaced separately, further reducing printing costs.

(More detailed information. https://johopetech.com/print-basics/an-introduction-to-ink-cartridge/)

Printhead Clogged Classification

The printhead clogged can be roughly divided into two categories: soft type and hard type. How to clean the clogged printhead?

(1) Repair of soft types

1. Soft printhead clogged refers to the disconnection failure caused by the increase in viscosity of the ink on the printhead due to various reasons. Sometimes it only adheres to the surface of the ink outlet printhead. Generally, it can be restored by dipping in the original ink and cleaning it several times. The advantage is that the operation is simple and fast, without any physical damage; the disadvantage is that the use cost is higher and the ink is wasted.
2. Use the printhead cleaning function in the printer driver’s application tool to clean it. The advantage is that the operation is simple and fast; the disadvantage is that the cleaning effect is not ideal.
Notes:
1. The above two cleaning methods should generally not exceed three times. When the “blocking” of the printer is not serious, it should be removed within three times. If it still cannot be flushed out after three times, it means that the clog is serious. No matter how many times you clean it, it may not be effective, and it is unnecessary to use a lot of expensive ink. At this time, further processing should be carried out according to the specific situation.

2. Because there will be an “air block” phenomenon between the ink cartridge (such as sponge filling) (type) and the printhead, and a small amount of irregular disconnection will occur. At this time, there is no need to clean it repeatedly. After leaving it for some time, it can be used normally after restarting;

3. Do not mix inks. When purchasing new ink, do not rush to add it to the ink cartridge. First, use a clean disposable syringe to inhale some ink and observe in a bright place to see if there is any suspended matter in the ink. If there is suspended matter, do not mix it. Then suck in a little ink from the used ink cartridge and mix it with the newly purchased ink, let it stand for 24 hours, and then observe to see if there is any chemical reaction in the mixed ink. If there is any change (such as crystallization, etc.), it means that the two inks’ compatibility is not good, please do not mix them!

(2) Repair of hard types

Hard printhead clogged refers to the printhead being clogged caused by chemical coagulation or impurities in the printhead. It is difficult to troubleshoot this problem. In this case, the following four methods can be used to solve it.
1. Soaking method
Scope of application: light obstruction
Necessary tools: 95% alcohol, a clean cup, and a metal container with a smooth bottom
Working principle: Use a medium-strength organic solvent to dissolve the ink particles one by one. Note that 95% concentration of organic solvent alcohol must be used, otherwise it will be counterproductive.
Solution: First find a metal container with a smooth bottom, and add a little 95% concentration of organic solvent alcohol into the container, so that the alcohol just covers the stainless steel edge of the printhead (be careful not to let the PCB board come into contact with the alcohol). Soaking time generally ranges from 2 hours to 4 days. The advantage is that the cleaning effect is good and it is not easy to cause physical damage to the printhead. The disadvantage is that it takes a long time and is difficult to solve the urgent needs of users.

2. Pressure cleaning method

Scope of application: severe obstruction
Necessary tools: 95% alcohol, a clean cup, a disposable syringe, and a disposable infusion set.
Working principle: The pressure generated by the siphon action of the syringe is used to inject alcohol, an organic solvent, into the printhead to clean the dried printhead.
Solution: Use the plastic tube or needle part of a disposable infusion set to make the interface between the syringe and the clogged printhead ink supply port (the joint must be tight). After the interface is made, place the printhead at the concentration In 95% organic solvent alcohol, inhale the alcohol through the printhead (note that it can only be inhaled) into the syringe needle, and inhale it several times. The advantage is that the cleaning effect is good. Generally, heavily clogged printheads can be cleaned by this method.
It is worth noting that when inhaling alcohol, the force must be even and consistent, and it will generally not cause physical damage. However, when making the interface, you need to make it by hand due to the actual situation. Therefore, you need the cooperation of professional maintenance technicians and a certain degree of hands-on ability to repair it. The made tools can guarantee long-term use.

printhead cleaning syringe

3. Distilled water cleaning method

Scope of application: severe obstruction
Necessary tools: a decoded empty ink cartridge, a disposable syringe, and a bottle of medical distilled water (purified water can also be used instead).
Working principle: It is similar to the working principle of the pressure cleaning method, so there is no need to go into details here.
Solution: First prepare a decoded empty ink cartridge, a disposable syringe, and a bottle of medical distilled water. Use the pressure generated by the syringe’s siphon action to suck the distilled water into the syringe and inject it into the ink cartridge through the vent hole of the ink cartridge. After a while, then use a syringe to suck out the injected distilled water and repeat this process several times to clean the remaining ink in the cartridge.

4. Ultrasonic instrument cleaning method

Scope of application: The most serious obstruction
Working principle: The ultrasonic cleaner is used to generate strong ultrasonic waves, which causes the water molecules to vibrate violently, shattering the small dry ink particles and then dissolving them in the water, thereby achieving the purpose of cleaning.
Solution: Gently put the inkjet printhead into the cleaning machine, and add pure water or special printhead cleaning fluid. The pure water or special printhead cleaning fluid is limited to just covering the stainless steel edge of the printhead clogged (be careful not to let the PCB board come into contact with pure water or special cleaning fluid), it can be quickly cleaned within 10 to 15 hours of turning on the machine. The advantage is that the cleaning effect is ideal, the printhead that has been blocked for many years can be cleaned, and the operation is very simple. The disadvantage is that the maintenance cost is high and the price is relatively expensive. Under normal circumstances, ultrasonic cleaning machines can be found in hospitals, eyewear stores, or special mobile phone repair points, and are free in some places. They can also be modified with ultrasonic humidifiers.
It is worth noting that when using cleaning fluid, you must use pure water or special print head cleaning fluid. You cannot use cleaning fluid from hospitals, eyeglass stores, or mobile phone special repair points, because the cleaning fluid from eyewear stores generally contains more impurities. The cleaning fluids at authorized mobile phone repair centers and hospitals are generally strong organic solvents. Frequent use will cause fatal damage to the inkjet printhead that is difficult to repair.

Things to Note When Cleaning Printhead Clogged

1. When there is a sudden power outage or blackout, and the ink cartridge cannot return to its normal position, it is necessary to wait until the power supply voltage is stable before turning it on. It can only be used normally after the ink cartridge returns to its normal position. This is because the special ink used by the printer has quick-drying characteristics. To prevent the printhead nozzle from being exposed to the air during idle printing, the ink concentration will increase and dry out, causing “clogging”. Note: When the red power indicator light of the printer is still flashing, do not unplug the power plug or cut off the power of the printer at will.

2. Because the special ink of the inkjet printer is volatile and affected by the use environment and other factors, long-term non-use will cause the printhead to become clogged, so even if you do not use it for a long time, you should perform a self-check every other month. This is because every time it is turned on normally, the printer will calculate the time interval between power on and off based on its internal clock, and automatically clean the print head according to its length. The purpose is also to prevent the printhead from being clogged and unable to print normally due to long-term non-use.

3. When the ink is used up, replace the ink cartridge with a new one in time. If it is not replaced in time, it will easily cause the printhead to dry up and become scrap. But for HP, Cannon, and other printers, because the ink cartridge and printhead are integrated, replacing the ink cartridge also replaces the printhead. For this type of ink cartridge, the service life of the ink cartridge can be extended by adding ink. Even if the ink cartridge is clogged, the entire machine will not be scrapped. It is worth noting that the inside of this type of ink cartridge is negative pressure. If the excess air is not extracted after adding ink, there will be no ink spraying out during printing.

4. Customize different printing methods. By choosing to use different ink cartridges and media types, adjusting the print density, and customizing the printing mode, you can achieve the purpose of saving ink.

5. To effectively prevent the ink cartridges from drying out and clogging due to long-term exposure to the air, when the printer is not in use temporarily, the printheads should be placed in a dedicated printhead storage box.

6. Clean the printhead regularly. When cleaning, try to use high-quality wet paper towels or cotton-free paper towels to carefully wipe the edge of the printhead, and be careful not to touch the nozzle. Then use the cleaning button on the control panel to clean the nozzle until the printout is clear.

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