Tips and Tricks 7 – The Service Warning!

Most inkjet printers have an internal waste-ink reservoir. Ink is pumped into this reservoir every time you do one of the following:

  • Change a cartridge
  • Clean the heads
  • Turn the printer off and on again

The printer has a built-in clock that estimates when this reservoir is near to full. At this point you will get a warning and not long after your printer will shut down.

In the past it would have been worth getting it serviced but printers are so cheap nowadays that it isn’t worth the money. You can get a new printer for not much more than it would cost to service the old one.

But there is an alternative…

For many models, especially Epsons, you can buy a new reservoir for not much more than £10. All you need to do is intercept the ink lines via the service hatch at the back of the printer and then divert them to the new reservoir. Finally, a nifty bit of software accesses the internal ‘clock’ in the printer and sets the counter back to zero.

Hey presto, you are printing again. If you want any advice about this please call us on 01253 403020. Happy Printing!

The Ink Squid


Tips and Tricks 6 – How to Cure Blocked Heads

OK – so you already have blocked printer heads. What now?! Here is how to cure them:

1. First, check it isn’t something else! It is easy to forget to remove a ‘pull’ label and this has the same effect as putting your finger over a straw full of liquid. The vacuum stops the liquid escaping. And since the printer does not know if the label has been removed, it tries to draw ink against the vacuum and nothing happens! This looks exactly the same as a blocked head so check for this first. I did this myself not so long ago and I should know better!

2. Try cleaning the heads. Inkjet printers will get a blocked head at some point no matter what you do. This is why they have the built-in cleaning routines. So clean the heads and print a nozzle-check pattern. If it isn’t perfect, repeat and see if it improves. If not, repeat once more and then stop.

3. If repeated cleans don’t work, leave it overnight. Allow ink to flow into the blocked head. Sometimes this will loosen the blockage and the next time you clean the heads there can be an improvement. Also, if the blockage is an air bubble, sometimes leaving it a while allows the bubble to work its way out.

4. Most of the time, the above will solve the problem but occasionally even this won’t work. It is worth replacing the cartridge at this point. On very rare occasions you can get a faulty cartridge where the air-release hole isn’t properly formed. The air can’t escape so neither can the ink. Before you go any further it is worth checking for this. With the £10 originals this is an expensive gamble but with ours it is less painful and worth a go.

5. If none of the above work, then you may need some head-cleaning solution. If the ink has really dried solid (should not happen if you follow our guidelines) then it will need some help to break down. Beware of kits that force cleaning solution through the head usually with some kind of syringe. These can cause more damage than good. Our friends at octoink are experts at this so give them a call

And of course, if you ever need any advice please feel free to call us on +44 1253 403020

The Ink Squid

Tips and Tricks 5 – How to Avoid Blocked Heads

As requested, here are the main ways to avoid blocking the heads on you inkjet printer:

1) Print regularly – if you leave a printer unused for a period of time, the ink starts to dry out in the heads so try and print something in colour at least once per week

2) Never take cartridges out of a printer for more than a few minutes. On many models this exposes the heads to air and the ink will start to dry immediately. With Epson printers this can ruin a printer very quickly indeed.

3) Try not to leave a printer with empty cartridges installed (for the same reason as above)

4) Switch the printer off at the power button first before pulling the plug out (the printer goes through a mini head-cleaning procedure before shutting down and this reduces the chances of getting blocked heads)

5) Try to avoid running cartridges completely dry before changing them. This is a little out of your hands as the printer estimates when a cartridge is empty. The idea is that a little bit of ink is left in the cartridge so that no air gets into the ink line but sometimes the printer gets this calculation wrong. The first you should know that a cartridge needs replacing should be the message from the printer and not a deterioration in print quality. If the quality drops first then air is already in the line and this can be a pain to correct! If this happens a lot then try keeping an eye on the cartridge levels and changing them a little earlier.

6) Try not to keep the printer near a heat source (like a radiator) or in front of window in direct sunlight. This will heat the printer up (especially since many models are black) and bake the heads

7) The same for the cartridges – don’t leave them in direct light or near a heat source

In the next ‘Tips and Tricks’ – what to do if you already have blocked heads.

The Ink Squid

Tips and Tricks 4 – Installation Best Practice

Ok – so I have talked about the consequences of memory conflicts and recognition faults. So how are they to be avoided? Easy, just follow these simple rules:

1. Don’t mix inks from different manufacturers. They will almost always have different capacities and this will confuse the printer. Colours are also formulated to work in sets so if you mix colours from different factories you can get strange results.

2. Ideally you want to start from scratch when you change suppliers. The best way to do this is to follow these steps:

a)  Remove all the old cartridges from the printer (quickly turn them upside down so they do not drip and be careful not to spill the ink)
b) Switch off the printer at the power switch and then unplug it for 2 minutes (no more).
c) Restart your computer.
d) Making sure the cartridge bay door is shut, plug the printer back in and switch it on.
e) Install a completely fresh set of Ink Squid cartridges.

This will start you off with a clean slate, the ink levels will be correct and you will avoid any conflicts that can cause recognition faults.

Happy printing – The Ink Squid

Tips and Tricks 3 – Memory Conflicts

By far the greatest number of calls we get from customers relates to chip or memory conflicts. They don’t happen all that often but when they do occur, they can cause real problems. So what is a memory conflict?

This is where the printer ‘remembers’ the previous type of cartridge that was installed and is confused by the change. This can cause recognition faults, which as it happens are easily rectified. But in some circumstances, the printer can assume the wrong ink levels and this has a couple of possible consequences:

1. If the printer thinks a cartridge holds less ink than it does, then you will be told it is empty when it is still 2/3 full. This is obviously annoying and a waste of ink. Since our cartridges always hold more than the originals (and in some cases 3 or 4 times as much) you want to avoid this.

2. The flip side is that if you continue printing out of sync then you eventually get to a point where the printer thinks there is more left in the cartridge then there actually is. In this case, the printer will keep trying to print after the cartridge is empty. When a printer tells you to replace a cartridge, there should be a little bit of ink left in the bottom so that the flow of ink is maintained. If the printer continues printing when a cartridge is bone-dry, then air is sucked into the ink line and creates a blockage. This is easily recognised: when a cartridge needs replacing, the first you should know about it is the message from the printer. If during a print-run you see a deterioration in quality first then the cartridge has completely run out of ink and the printer is starting to suck on air. And once you get an air bubble in the ink line it can be a pain to get rid of so you really want to avoid doing this.

So how do you avoid this?  See “Tips and Tricks 4″ for the best practice.

The Ink Squid

Tips and Tricks 2 – Epson printers

Compatible ink cartridges often get a bad name for reasons that have nothing to do with the ink or cartridges, especially when it comes to Epson printers.

Here is a common scenario: a customer who is using original Epson ink orders compatibles from us but, before ours have arrived, contacts us to cancel the order because his/her printer has died.

In their eyes, this is just one of those things. Electronic goods don’t last for ever so they go out and buy a new one. But if this had happened just after installing our inks, then “it is obviously the compatibles that have caused it”!

Of course, there are bad compatibles out there. I have come across some shocking-quality ink cartridges over the years. But in my opinion most problems we come across have nothing to do with the cartridges.

So, over the next few days/weeks/months I will be publishing a list of do’s and don’ts – these will help you avoid the pitfalls that can lead you to throw that printer out of the window.

So keep reading – and if you have any questions please feel free to ask ;)

The Ink Squid

Tips and Tricks 1 – blocked print-heads

This is one we come across every day and the most common cause is taking cartridges out of the printer.

At least once a week someone walks into the shop with a bag of ink cartridges asking if we supply them. They have taken them out of the printer and exposed the ink-soaked print-heads to air. Since ink is designed to dry almost instantly, as soon as the head is exposed to air, it starts to dry out.

This is bad news for most printers but particularly so for Epsons. Within a few hours, the heads will be blocked and will need cleaning. If the printer is left like this, the printer will almost always be a write-off within a few days.

The golden rules…?
1. Never ever take the cartridges out of the printer for more than a couple of minutes
2. When a cartridge runs out, replace it straight away