Epson 4900 premature printhead failures

Started Jul 19, 2012 | Discussions
OP Darryl E Mylrea Regular Member • Posts: 194
Re: Epson 4900 premature printhead failures

My friend and I who both got suckered in on the 4900 back in 2011 are moving on to Canon, thanks to comments here by Canon users regarding clogs (or lack thereof).

With the tremendous deal right now on the PRO-100 ($199 after rebates plus a free $85 pack of paper) we're going to try dipping our toes into the Canon pool.

I still intend to write a letter to Epson, and refer to this forum/thread about all the users with problems.  It will probably go nowhere, but may get me a different model that actually works.

sjstremb
sjstremb Contributing Member • Posts: 550
Re: Epson 4900 premature printhead failures

Well i have started by writting a review/warning about this on Amazon.com. It's not a big thing, but its a start, we all need to work on getting the word out to others before anyone else gets lured into buying one of these when the next round of rebates make them too good to be true.

I am pretty sure epson knows just whats going on with these printers and a strongly worded letter to them will have little effect beyond them tell us we should have purchased the extended warranty. Perhaps if when they sold them they had a note that indicated the print heads only last two years or less and you are strongly encourged to buy the warranty.......

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Hgrove New Member • Posts: 6
Re: Epson 4900 premature printhead failures

Just finished talking to a Epson Techs Supervisor, I mention my problems of the clogged head with the  Epson 4900, she let me spit out all of my troubles, and also the problems of all the comments that I have read here on this forum. She said with a low percentage of people with this problem, there is nothing she can do. The best thing for me to do is to fixes the problem which would cost just about the amount I had paid for the 4900 and to also purchase the extended Warranty.  So much for that.

JamesMor Veteran Member • Posts: 3,274
Youtube Tutorial

Hey Everyone,

Thanks for this thread.  I have been having the same problems recently.  I found a youtube tutorial that might be helpful.  I am trying it now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lU6PbizbKaw

James

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sjstremb
sjstremb Contributing Member • Posts: 550
Re: Epson 4900 premature printhead failures

I just got back from a professional conference of photo educators and talked to suppliers and faculty from other university programs and this is not an isolated problem. But I think Epson is hanging tough on this and there are few options for any of us out there.

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sjstremb
sjstremb Contributing Member • Posts: 550
Re: Youtube Tutorial

I just watched the video and I am trying this, its easy to do, and honestly, at this point I am not paying $1,000 for a repair, so I am just about at the point where my 4900 is a step away from the dumpster, so what have I got to loose.

I'll let you all know how it worked out in 4-8 hours.

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sjstremb
sjstremb Contributing Member • Posts: 550
Re: Youtube Tutorial-result

I soaked it pretty good and let it sit 8 hours, did a normal cleaning and one power clean to the LC channel and no change at all.

I just doubled up on the paper towel and really soaked it and let it sit another hour, did one power clean and a nozzle check and a very-very slight improvement. I have just resoaked another pad and parked the head on it. Will report after the dinner hour.

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sjstremb
sjstremb Contributing Member • Posts: 550
Re: Youtube Tutorial-result

Resoaked it using a thicker pad and lots of Windex and Damn, it works! I also did a power clean after the soaking.

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erichK Veteran Member • Posts: 6,566
Re: You've helped Epson lose 3 or 4 sales!

Having had 3 years of positive experiences with an Epson 3880, I was about to pull the trigger on an Epson 4900 or possibly 7900.  Wanted reliable roll feed and vacuum feed for canvas and other tricky (on the 3880) materials.

The comments here and in many other places were enough to convince me that I might well be buying a lemon.  A couple of fellow photographers were actually planning to do the same thing, on a joint trip to Calgary and likely Visitek, and a friend was going to join the little epedition in Brooks.  I passed on the warnings and links and we've cancelled our plans, and are looking seriously at Canon and HP, though I'll keep printing with the 3880 till then.

Really getting the word out could be as effective as a lawsuit.

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erichK
saskatoon, canada
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geckowraps New Member • Posts: 12
Re: Long term storage....

You have mention great information, thanks for sharing it.

OP Darryl E Mylrea Regular Member • Posts: 194
Re: Epson 4900 premature printhead failures

Thought I would update my recent experiences with my 4900, as this may help those with a similar problem.

One thing I am not sure of is whether all of us with similar symptoms (random clogged nozzles or entire color not printing) have the same problem.

I can tell you this, I have a problem with random clogged nozzles.  It seemed the longer the printer was off, the worse the problem was.  It also seems that using the nozzle cleaning procedure had little effect.  For me, it was totally random as to which nozzles and colors were affected.

I start with printing a nozzle check page.  This time, though, without doing anything, I left the printer on and printed another page a few hours later.  It showed better results.  The next day, I noticed the printer had not gone to sleep because I left the front panel in a sub menu.  So, I printed another nozzle check page.  Almost perfect.  This time, I purposefully left the panel in a sub menu to keep it awake.  The next day, perfect.  I've left the printer in a sub menu each time (keeping the printer awake), and each day, the nozzle check page is perfect.

Could it be that keeping the printhead circuitry alive and charged keeps the printheads working?

While I'm all for conserving electricity, the cost in ink used trying to make non-functional nozzles work is higher and I'm all for keeping the printer on 7/24.

Maybe others here could try keeping their's on and post results here.

In the meantime, I have a 3rd party extended warranty (AMEX) and am contemplating getting an estimate from Epson and having AMEX pay to repair it.

Are those of you who have had their printheads replaced seeing better reliability?  I don't want to go through the repair just to have the same problem again.

JamesMor Veteran Member • Posts: 3,274
Re: Youtube Tutorial-result

Glad that you had a success.  I have not yet...though I gave up after the first try.  I will try it again.  Thanks for the diligence.

James

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tealeaf Junior Member • Posts: 25
Re: Epson 4900 premature printhead failures

*sigh*

Hi everyone, reporting the same problem. 4900 just at two years old, also bought during the 2011 massive rebate, light use in the last few months. Can't get the VLM and LC unclogged after numerous cleaning, sitting overnight etc. I would be really really disappointed if Epson knew about this flaw and used the rebate to push it on us.

Also called Epson tech, got the same quotes. Technician told me it's probably a print head change and he asked me soak the printhead with Simple Green. 2 rounds of soaking yielded a couple of nozzles so still trying.

The thread I started:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=77073.0

Anyways, I'm so tired of this, ready to throw in the trouble on a 4900 that was trouble from the start. Some of you might remember me as the one with the crazy random electrical/electronic problem where it won't finish printing. It's been behaving lately until the clogging happened.

Are canons or HPs even worthy of comparison?  I am comtemplating a 3880 (which might be enough for me, 4900 doesn't see a lot of use) or a change in brands, any suggestion?
Thanks!

Amy

Pete Berry Veteran Member • Posts: 3,560
Re: Epson 4900 premature printhead failures

tealeaf wrote:

*sigh*

Hi everyone, reporting the same problem. 4900 just at two years old, also bought during the 2011 massive rebate, light use in the last few months. Can't get the VLM and LC unclogged after numerous cleaning, sitting overnight etc. I would be really really disappointed if Epson knew about this flaw and used the rebate to push it on us.

Also called Epson tech, got the same quotes. Technician told me it's probably a print head change and he asked me soak the printhead with Simple Green. 2 rounds of soaking yielded a couple of nozzles so still trying.

The thread I started:

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=77073.0

Anyways, I'm so tired of this, ready to throw in the trouble on a 4900 that was trouble from the start. Some of you might remember me as the one with the crazy random electrical/electronic problem where it won't finish printing. It's been behaving lately until the clogging happened.

Are canons or HPs even worthy of comparison?  I am comtemplating a 3880 (which might be enough for me, 4900 doesn't see a lot of use) or a change in brands, any suggestion?
Thanks!

Amy

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/50420411

It's the printer for those who are tired of the care, feeding, begging, coddling, expense, anger and hostility of a spoiled teenager in the home!

PB

erichK Veteran Member • Posts: 6,566
Re: Great experiences with the 3880!

I've had mine for almost 3 years now, with nary a nozzle-clog or other serious issue.  Can be difficult  to feed floppy canvas into the rear slot, which can also be a bit temperamental with other media.  I have had blots of ink, very occasionally on paper-edge and - rarely - on the image, but keeping the sump tank clean and wiping obvious places tended to quickly cure this.

It's a fine printer, and the reason I WAS looking at the 4900 and 7900, before reading warnings from others.

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erichK
saskatoon, canada
Photography is a small voice, at best, but sometimes one photograph, or a group of them, can lure our sense of awareness.
- W. Eugene Smith, Dec 30, 1918 to Oct 15, 1978.
http://erichk.zenfolio.com/
http://www.fototime.com/inv/7F3D846BCD301F3
underwater photos:
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sixscrews
sixscrews New Member • Posts: 4
Re: Epson 4900 premature printhead failures

I have a similar experience, albeit on a much more well used 4900.

My printer is 2 1/2 years new and, from the beginning (I now realize) had a leak in the yellow channel where the ink tubes connect to the ink selector.

This manifested as yellow ink smears on prints a little more than a year after I bought the printer (and shortly after the warranty ran out).  I had a few exchanges with Epson service, all ending in 'send us printer' [sic].  I wasn't interested in spending $500 in crating and shipping charges plus whatever Epson service chose to nick me for an uncertain fix so I bagged that and put up with occasional ruined prints.

Over 2 1/2 years I have run hundreds, perhaps thousands, of sheets and about 20 rolls of canvas/rag paper (much of it purchased from specialty paper suppliers such as Breathing Color and others)  through this printer, selling many of the prints to clients in the Madison, Wisconsin area; I would call that moderate use.  The yellow smears were a fact of life and only occasionally affected  print product.

Up to now this printer has only seen Epson ink cartridges - that will soon change - read on.

The yellow ink tube/ink selector leak eventually flooded the ink mark sensor with yellow ink and caused false paper jam/paper eject errors.  I tore the carriage assembly down (the unit was off warranty by this time and, as before, Epson's response to my detailed requests for assistance was 'send us printer' [sic]), cleared the ink mark sensor of yellow gunk, cleaned another two ounces of yellow ink from he carriage/print head assembly and reassembled the printer (if you are interested in a series of photos of an unclothed 4900 look here: http://www.sixscrews.com/Epson_4900/index.html).

All works now - no false paper jams and no ink tube/ink selector assembly joint leaks - except the cyan channel no longer prints.  It flushes Epson ink and Jon Cone's Piezoflush into the waste ink tank with great enthusiasm but does not print a test pattern or anything else.  I'm not interested in wasting my $$ on Epson service and Epson, in its grasping way, no longer sells print heads to civilians like me.  If there were any other options (Canon?  can't hold a candle to the Epson in terms of gamut or media handling), I would bag Epson as a supplier but I have a significant part of my photo businesses (such as it is) in running prints on this unit, so I'm probably going to buy a refurb with a three year warranty and take my chances.. AND stop buying ink or any other supplies from Epson - other ink suppliers have shown that they can do a much better job of servicing my needs and there are ways of avoiding wasting $35 on replacement waste ink tanks (think paper towels and chip re-setters).

The only positive aspect of this experience is that I can regenerate the unit as a greyscale-only printer using a eight shade black ink kit from Jon Cone's operation - I can re-jigger the standard greyscale RIP to use a different ink channel and abandon the cyan entirely.  I have previously done this with an otherwise healthy 4880 with excellent results - B&W prints done with this setup are much more detailed than ones done with the 'native' B&W settings of the 4880 or 4900 series.  Some of the original images are on my websiite - warrenbuckles.com

I realize that few 4900 owners have the capacity to tear down and re-assemble their printers (I developed my own belt tension measurement device with a reference microphone and a digital oscilloscope, saving about $2k on a similar unit from Epson)  but the availability of basic spares for this unit is pathetic.  Epson is killing itself by restricting sales of heads and other key components while protecting the cash flow of otherwise incompetent repair subcontractors.  This is basically similar to Apple's strategy - keep the repair service, such as it is, in the hands of their dealers (Q - if an Apple product is so easy to use, why does it take a 'Genius' to fix it?).  Vendors hide behind flawed laws such as the DMCA to keep people from repairing products they own - this is not a free market but more like Putin's Russia or Imperial China.

wb

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OP Darryl E Mylrea Regular Member • Posts: 194
Re: Epson 4900 premature printhead failures

Darryl E Mylrea wrote:

Thought I would update my recent experiences with my 4900, as this may help those with a similar problem.

One thing I am not sure of is whether all of us with similar symptoms (random clogged nozzles or entire color not printing) have the same problem.

I can tell you this, I have a problem with random clogged nozzles.  It seemed the longer the printer was off, the worse the problem was.  It also seems that using the nozzle cleaning procedure had little effect.  For me, it was totally random as to which nozzles and colors were affected.

I start with printing a nozzle check page.  This time, though, without doing anything, I left the printer on and printed another page a few hours later.  It showed better results.  The next day, I noticed the printer had not gone to sleep because I left the front panel in a sub menu.  So, I printed another nozzle check page.  Almost perfect.  This time, I purposefully left the panel in a sub menu to keep it awake.  The next day, perfect.  I've left the printer in a sub menu each time (keeping the printer awake), and each day, the nozzle check page is perfect.

Could it be that keeping the printhead circuitry alive and charged keeps the printheads working?

While I'm all for conserving electricity, the cost in ink used trying to make non-functional nozzles work is higher and I'm all for keeping the printer on 7/24.

Maybe others here could try keeping their's on and post results here.

In the meantime, I have a 3rd party extended warranty (AMEX) and am contemplating getting an estimate from Epson and having AMEX pay to repair it.

Are those of you who have had their printheads replaced seeing better reliability?  I don't want to go through the repair just to have the same problem again.

I just wanted to reiterate that for those with random clogged nozzles (as per the nozzle check page) that just leaving the printer ON fixes it.  My friend with a 4900 had the same problems I did--major random nozzles and he could just not clear them no matter how much he cleaned them.  I told him to leave the printer on and in a sub-menu so it wouldn't sleep, and the next morning, he emailed me to say IT WORKED!  Clearly an electronic issue here.  My own 4900 turned off about a week ago and yesterday I turned it on and did a nozzle check page.  3 or 4 colors had major missing nozzles.  I left it on last night (in a sub-menu) and this morning, PERFECT.

I understand other have other problems.  So far, with as little as I print, I just have the nozzle issue.  So, no new printhead needed.  Just keep the printer turned on!

sixscrews
sixscrews New Member • Posts: 4
Re: Epson 4900 premature printhead failures

I posted last night (4/20/2013) regarding my repair of the consequences of a long term ink tube to ink selector leak in the yellow channel and subsequent travails with a now-clogged cyan channel.

In the course of that I displayed my utter ignorance of the Canon line - after looking at the iP5100 I want to take back my comments about gamut - many reviewers and posts compare this unit favorably to the 4900.

That said, these printers, too, have a history of premature print head failures.  The difference is that Canon sells the heads - not cheap, I saw one for $460.  The unit has two heads and I don't know if one is more prone to failure than the other.

I have been a loyal Epson buyer since the first Stylus Photo came out - 15 years? - not sure - and have owned perhaps 10 units including four 2xxx series printers, two of which are still printing fine after being passed on to new owners.

I also own a 4880 that I bought in January 2011.  That unit has seen two cycles of storage, each for a 12-13 months.  I didn't do anything to prepare it for storage besides throw a sheet of plastic over the cart.  Both times I returned the unit to service I got perfect test patterns on the first try.  I have since converted it to a 7 tone greyscale printer using the Cone Piezography B&W system (which, BTW, gives phenomenal results).  When it went back into storage this time (third cycle) I ejected the black ink using a flushing solution and left the flushing cartridges in place.  I will see how that works in the winter when I get back to that studio.

That said, I own a second 4900 that is stored in the same location as the 4880 (rural Vermont).  This printer was purchased in January of 2013, a little less than two years after my problematic 4900.  I gave that printer a heavy workout during the month of February (two rolls of matte, 1 roll of glossy, several hundred sheets of matte - ran through the initial ink cart set and most of the way through a second (Epson branded) set. then put it in storage, also loading it up with flushing solution before putting it to bed.   This printer never showed any nozzle clogs but it got nearly daily use so I'm not surprised.

Head clogging is a function of time - the longer a printer sits idle the more likely it is to get a head clog.  My head was out for about five days and I'm thinking the cyan dried out during that time.

This leads to possible fixes.  In my case, cleaning and ink recharge cycles are ineffective, and it appears that solvents may be of service - I see the recommendation (in a previous post in this thread) from an Epson tech to soak the head in Simple Green and there is another site that recommends a variant of Windex on a piece of gauze overnight.  Neither of these is attractive to me but I was wondering if anyone has tried this and what kind of results they obtained.

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Chaney101 New Member • Posts: 1
Re: Epson 4900 premature printhead failures

04/22/2013
Hey Guys,

Same problem here on lk,llk and after cleaning head and replacing dampers now yellow. Everything was done correctly and upon cleaning all of my channels were flowing clear so its definitely the heads. I am starting a suit against them this week. If anyone wants to start a small class action contact me. I promise you they will replace our printheads before paying for a corporate attorney. I know this because I paid $25 and did some copying and pasting, sued Sprint and won in 3 weeks. It is cheaper for them to fix our issues than to pay a corp attorney and get their name drug through a court nightmare and lose sales. I am filing later this week early next week. I have a 9900 that was $6000 with only 520 pages printed. it counts all of the little test prints etc... I have wasted $840 in ink trying to clear issue and a lot of time. This is a problem they are aware of and I am tired of them putting good honest people off and telling to go screw ourselves because they wont stand behind their product and admit their flaws. The last person I spoke with said "ignore what you read online those people don't know what they are talking about." They were supposed to send me a lk and llk as a courtesy and have a tech check it out for free because the probem did not start until I got a  defective cartridge and they screwed up and did not send my warranty replacement for almost 3 weeks. So my printer sat wit open lines until then. After I installed my new cartridge channels started dropping out one after another. Now the LVM is only printing 25%. My email is cchaney101@gmail.com. The printers are now $2500 to $4990 and $1700 for a printhead is uncalled for and literally robbery. They are taking advantage of people as it is on the cost of ink. Time to fight back and enforce our rights against these corporate giants that screw the hardworking little people because we let them. I keep hearing the same story. "They said im pretty much screwed and need to spend a fortune. I have yet to hear of someone that file a motion against them. Well I am and if anyone wants to be included hit me up. Take care and I truly wish you guys the best and hope you get your issues resolved. -Chris/ Hagerstown, Maryland

OP Darryl E Mylrea Regular Member • Posts: 194
Re: Epson 4900 premature printhead failures

Darryl E Mylrea wrote:

(blah...blah...blah...)

In the meantime, I have a 3rd party extended warranty (AMEX) and am contemplating getting an estimate from Epson and having AMEX pay to repair it.

Are those of you who have had their printheads replaced seeing better reliability?  I don't want to go through the repair just to have the same problem again.

OK, so I went through Epson and got an estimate for repair (over $1700).  I submitted a claim with AMEX, and today was notified that the cost of the printer has been refunded back to my card.    I'm a happy camper and LOVE AMEX benefits!  

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