A plea to inkjet printer manufacturers

This page may be considered an open letter to all manufacturers of quality inkjet printers. Here I address a few problems not solved by any of the manufacurers I know about. I have only checked with Canon and Epson in particular, but have no reason to belive any other manufacturers offer good solutions. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Problem 1: Drying of ink. My Canon S9000 printer was sitting unused for 7 months while I was on an assignment abroad. No precations had been taken prior to this, and the ink cartridges were left in the printer, and the printer stored in a room with about 18 - 20 deg C temperature. The printer worked after 7 months, but terrible banding occured on the prints making the printer useless for printing photos, which it did beautifully before the 7 month hibernation. I checked with Canon and Epson (I plan an upgrade to an Epson) how they proposed to address this problem. Both only replied to try the cleaning procedure using the printers ink, or replace the print head. I am now trying cleaning using a 3rd party cleaning fluid (ColorJet purchased from www.blekkskriveren.no). This fluid is transparent, and after multiple prints of a test image containing all colors, the original ink was replaced by the non-visible "print" of the cleaning fluid. However, the banding part still printed with color. Probably due to some stubborn or hard to get to parts inside the printer containing remains or dried parts of color ink. Repeated prints and cleaning cycles with cleaning fluid finally made the banding color to almost disappear. I will leave the cleaning fluid in the printer for a month, repeat the process, and then reinstall the original ink cartridges and give it a test. My plea to inkjet manufacturers: To provide a solution when a printer will not be used for a long period.

Problem 2: Waste tank full error. This problem may arise after a long time of use. The ink used during cleaning cycles is drained into a waste tank, usually with a sponge to absorb the ink.The printers firmware keeps track of this and warns you when it is belived to be full. Todays printers require you to go to a service center to have this fixed. My plea to inkjet manufacturers: To provide a description on how the user can do this himself, saving the user the waste of time and money to see a service center. Particularly important for those living far away from a service center.

Problem 3: Ink cost We all know this is where inkjet printer manufacturers makes the big $$$. One way to save on costs without reducing the manufacturers profits is to allow cartridges to be re-useable. Add a small filling hole for ink, and the possibility to cap up the cartridge to prevent them from drying. My ColorJet cleaning cartridges were fitted with both these features, and it is very nicely done. If ColorJet can, so should Canon and Epson. Canon and Epson could then sell ink in bottles but save the cost of cartridges. This saving could be forwarded to the end user without reducing manufacturers profit. A benefit to both, and to mother nature that will not receive all those wasted cartridges. The cleaning sponge inside the cardridge should be good for at least five fillings. I know 3rd party vendors are selling solutions like this, but many customers would like to stay with the documented quality of the original ink. If my Canon S9000 cannot be brought back to par, I will start using 3rd party refillable ink and use it as a general purpose printer.My plea to inkjet manufacturers: To provide refillable and cappable cartridges and ink sold in larger containers.

Problem 4: How to fix a printhead clogged with dried ink. If the damage is already done, and dried ink is clogging the printhead, there should be alternative ways to the expensive "replace the printhead" stated by manufacturers. A suitable solvent or cleaning agent should be available, or other means of cleaning. If the alternative is replacing the printhead, methods that may damage the old head would be acceptable if they have a fair chance of success. Today, the used is left on his own to experiment with 3rd party solutions available. Why don't the big brands see this as possible new business? I know there are some inexpensive ink jet printers where the whole printhead is replaced together with the cartridges. This will make sense for users with very low print volumes, but for medium to higher print volumes operation of such printers will be too expensive. My plea to inkjet manufacturers: To provide a solution to clean a printhead.

(c) Thomas Høven 2004