ink.co.uk “Special Printhead Cleaning Solution” to revive a blocked print head.

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Reviving my Canon iX4000

AKA: Using ink.co.uk “Special Printhead Cleaning Solution” to revive a blocked print head.

First, a bit of background:

My Canon iX4000 A3 inkjet printer is now about 4 years old, I was very pleased with the printer when I first got it but over the last year I’ve been having problems with poor colour print quality caused by blocked nozzles in the print head. I think the problem started when I didn’t use the printer at all for several months at the end of 2008.

Over the last year I’ve had several attempts at solving the problem by running cleaning cycles, replacing the cartridges. and even cleaning the head with warm water but all to no avail.

The print head on the iX4000 is user replaceable but a new one comes in at more than £60. That’s a bitter pill to swallow when you can buy a whole printer like the iP3600 which uses a similar head for about the same price. So before I paid out for the head or even a new printer I decided to have another bash at fixing the existing one.

To do this I ordered “Special Printhead Cleaning Solution” from my current favourite printer supplies site ink.co.uk (who I think are actually based in Germany). I didn’t hold out much hope, but for £1.67 plus p&p thought it was worth a try. By the way, I can’t seem to get a good link for the product page, if you want to find it go to “Cleaning Supplies” under accessories on the left-hand menu.

There is very little information about this product on the ink.co.uk site and when it arrived no instructions were included. The bottle itself, which is branded Digital Revolution, was even labeled in German. However, even if I could read it there doesn’t appear to be any use instructions on it. Confusingly, the cleaning solution comes in a bottle with an atomiser type pump spray. I’m not quite sure that they intend this to achieve as I can’t see why you’d want a fine mist of solution over a large area.

With no instructions and nothing to lose I made it up as I went along. Here’s the steps I followed:

Remove the cartridges from the printer and cover the ink ports on the bottom with tape to stop them dripping or drying out.
Remove the print head from the printer.
Pour about a quarter of the solution (25ml) into a small plastic pot just big enough to stand the print head in.
Place the print head, nozzles down, into the solution making sure it doesn’t come up to the circuit board on the back.
Spray some more of the solution into the in ports on the top of the print head.
Wait for about two hours.
Remove the print head from the solution and dab it with kitchen towel to remove the excess solution and any remaining ink residue. Use a cotton bud to clean and dry the area around the ink ports on the top of the head.
Make sure the circuit board is dry.
Reinstall the print head in the printer.
Before replacing the cartridges, put a drop of the solution in each of the ports on the top of the head.
Remove the tape you applied earlier and load the cartridges back into the printer.
Run a deep cleaning cycle.
Run the head alignment procdure (if you don’t perform this step you may get streaks in your prints due to bad alignment).
Do a test print.

I suppose I must say at this point that if you decide to try these steps you do so at your own risk, all I can say is that they worked for me.

Much to my surprise, this process actually worked beautifully for me. I went from having badly streaked colour prints affecting both cyan and magenta (and possibly yellow, it’s harder to tell with the lighter colour) to very close to perfect prints. On a test print I can still see a couple of blocked nozzles but these don’t seem to show up in actual prints.

Now I can finally print some of the images I’ve been hoarding for posters!