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How to Identify Whether Your Epson Print Head is Locked or Not?

Why Are Epson Print Heads Locked?

The reasons why Epson print heads are locked are as follows:

  1. Protect your own patented products;
  2. Help ensure the market share of your own brand;
  3. Help prevent counterfeit products.

What is the Difference Between the Epson First-Locked and Second-Locked Printheads?

Some universal printers and photo machines using Epson’s second locked printheads have appeared on the market. So what is the difference between first-locked and second-locked Epson printheads? Here we do a simple analysis:
Not long after Epson’s first locked printheads were launched, they were quickly cracked by printer/photo machine manufacturers. The reason is that the first-generation encryption algorithm is simple and can be cracked perfectly with a little analysis. For the cracked first locked printheads and the non-encryption printheads, there are no differences in speed, ink output, and service life. The first locked printheads can be used normally.
After the first locked printhead was cracked, Epson carefully summarized, learned lessons, and immediately started the work of the second locked printhead. For this encryption, Epson adopted a more rigorous algorithm. Various printheads on the market, including DX5, DX7, and 5113 printheads, have been added with secondary encryption. In view of the more stringent encryption algorithm, second-locked printheads are, strictly speaking, impossible to achieve real cracking. So why are there still photo machines/universal printers using second-locked printheads on the market? The situation is this:

Some photo machine/universal printer manufacturers have adopted a compromise approach in order to use second-locked printheads:
“Let half of the eight rows of nozzles of the printhead, that is, four rows of nozzles, work, and the other four rows of nozzles compensate for the defects caused by the operation of the first four rows of nozzles. Simply put, there are only four rows of eight rows of nozzles really working, while the other four rows are doing useless work.”
The consequence of using the Epson print head in this way is that the printing speed and ink output are reduced by half, that is, only one-half of normal conditions. To make up for the above shortcomings, manufacturers have adopted the extreme method of increasing the driving voltage and jetting frequency, which increases the workload of the printhead. As a result, the life of the printhead may be seriously shortened. According to calculations, when used in the current environment, the life of the second locked printhead is only one-quarter of the original printhead. Given this current situation, customers are reminded to have a clear understanding of the printhead when purchasing photo machines/universal printers.

Differences Between Locked and Unlocked Epson 5113 Printhead

It can be distinguished from the letters under the QR code on the Epson 5113 printhead cover. The letters are G, GR, GH, and H, which are unlocked printheads. The letters under the QR code for locked printheads are GRH. But beware of unscrupulous merchants secretly replacing the cover.

locked Epson 5113 printhead
unlocked Epson 5113 printhead

Differences Between Locked and Unlocked Epson DX7 Printhead

When considering Epson DX7 printheads for large format use, it’s important to distinguish between locked and unlocked heads. To ensure you are purchasing an unlocked head, you can verify it using the serial number on the board. This serial number is an 8-digit code, with the first three digits being crucial. The first two digits represent the year of production, and the third digit indicates the month. For example, a serial number starting with 135 signifies it was manufactured in May 2013.

To avoid a locked Epson print head, look for a serial number starting with 144 or higher, indicating production in April 2014 or later. Heads with these serial numbers are the second generation of locked heads, which currently cannot be unlocked.

Differences between Locked and Unlocked Epson Print head XP600

It is currently known that the encryption date of this printhead is January 2019, and the starting number of the printhead code is 19. Look at the code in the red box on the right side of the picture below:

The encryption method of the XP600 printhead is the same as that of the Epson printhead dx5 186. The locked XP600 printhead will not produce ink.

locked Epson XP600 printheads

What are the consequences of the Epson XP600 printhead being locked:

First, the price of XP600 printheads has skyrocketed, and the cost of replacing existing XP600 printhead machines with new printheads has increased. The unlocked printheads available on the market will become less and less used, and the price of the printheads may continue to rise for some time.

Second, even if the locked printhead is decrypted later, the price of a decryption card will need to be increased when using it.

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