|Cleaning Service Stations In Your
Inkjet Printer Keeps Print Heads Healthy - TSN19
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All inkjet printers have a service station (also called a parking station) that is used to collect and dispose of waste ink which may be produced during a head cleaning process or during normal operation of the printer. The service station can be a simple as a rubber cap, wiping blade, and absorption sponge, such as those found in many HP DeskJet printers, or as complex as the spring loaded sump station found in Canon and Epson printers.
This document addresses the two most common types of desktop inkjet printer service stations and recommends some steps to maintain them (if they are accessible) to maintain full cleaning power to the stations. In order to perform any of the recommend maintenance functions you must get the print head in the load position and pull the power plug from the printer to keep the print head from re-parking itself over the station.
Rubber Cap Style Stations
These types of cleaning stations are commonly found in HP and Lexmark printers. They consist of a rubber cap which normally covers the cartridge when the printer is powered off, but is also used as suction cup during the head cleaning process. adjacent to the cap is a retractable wiping blade that is used to clean the surface of the printhead, acting as a squeegee, removing excess ink from the head during the cleaning process. To the left of the wiper blade is a sponge sump which collects the ink that the blade removes.
Over time the cap, squeegee and sponge can get a build-up of thickened ink on their surfaces. Once every 6 months you should inspect all three components and use a print head cleaning solution such as our Ultra-Purge™ Solution and a damp cloth to remove any build up from the cap and wiper blade. If the sponge can be removed you should do so and clean in running water then squeeze out the excess water and re-install. If the sponge can't be removed then apply a small amount of print head cleaner to the sponge, let sit for 30 minutes, then use several dry paper towels to sop up the excess solutions.
Sump Style Stations
This style station is found in all new Canon and Epson desktop printers. It consists of a cap with an installed absorption pad as well as and adjacent retractable wiper blade. The cap also has a drain tube with a cam attached to it. The drain tube leads to a collection pad in the bottom of the printer which collects the waste ink.
During the cleaning process the print head fires all nozzles to eject ink from the printhead (essentially replacing all ink the firing chamber with fresh ink). The ink is collected in the absorption pad from the firing as well as from the wiper blade which squeegees the print head face during cleaning. The absorption pad allows the ink to settle to the drain tube. Once in the drain tube a cam massages the tube to encourage the waste ink to flow down into the sump pad where the waste is stored. In the sump pad the waste ink evaporates the base water and alcohols over time leaving behind small amounts of colorant and glycerin.
There is a counter in your printer's firmware that tracks the estimated waste ink production. Once the counter reaches the full mark, an error message is generated by the printer. This is a service notification and means that the sump pad should be replaced and the counter reset. This is usually done by the manufacturer's authorized service agent, however there are work-around procedures for such posted on the web by industrious printer owner's who have obtained the necessary knowledge on how to reset such counters. We recommend caution before attempting such resets, unless you are prepared to disassemble the printer to clean out the sump pad, otherwise you could flood your printer with waste ink.
Over time, often long before the sump pad counter reaches full, the cap absorption pad and drain tube can become clotted with thickened or dried ink. When this occurs the cleaning process is less efficient and you may experience the following problems:
To address the thicken ink in the service station and drain tube we recommend the following:
Some of the newer Canon printers have body designs which prevent easily accessing the service station. In such case you will need to remove the upper part of the body to gain easy access to the station.