Tech Tip: What is a Head Alignment and How Do I Perform One?

Head_Alignment_Chart

Manual head alignment

Are you noticing horizontal white lines or regular patterns of light and dark over the whole range of your prints?

These are signs that you may need to align your printhead.

If you have never gone through this process before, you may be wondering, “What is a printhead alignment?” In a nutshell, a printhead alignment synchronizes the paper feed with the movement of the printhead, ensuring you get the best print quality possible.

Before we begin, make sure you have done a nozzle check and all of the ink channels are visible and that the lines are all free of breaks; this ensures that the alignment pattern will print correctly.

Are your nozzles clog-free? Then let’s move on.

How To Perform A Head Alignment

How you perform a head alignment differs by manufacturer and printer model, but for this article, we will focus on Epson inkjet printers in the x900, x890, and P-Series families. In general you have two options for alignments:

  1. use the print driver utility
  2. align the heads through the printer’s control panel

Along with Epson, we recommend using the second option and have provided instructions below.

Regardless of the option you choose, you then must decide if you want the printhead automatically aligned by the printer or if you will manually perform the alignment. The latter involves looking at various patterns for each ink channel and selecting the optimal alignment–you are looking for the number of the pattern with the most evenly spaced white lines. We recommend using the auto option as printers today do an excellent job of properly aligning printheads and can end up saving you time.

After you have selected your alignment mode, you need to select the type of printhead adjustment you want. The first option is a Uni-D (unidirectional) alignment that sets the basis for the other alignment type: Bi-D (bidrectional). Uni-D aligns each color based on Light Cyan. Bi-D aligns each color based on the setting you choose: Bi-D 2-color, Bi-D all, etc. We recommend performing a Uni-D alignment before a Bi-D all.

 

How To Align The Printhead Automatically Through the Control Panel On An Epson x900/x890

  1. Press the right arrow Menu button
  2. Navigate using the up or down arrows until HEAD ALIGNMENT is selected then press the right arrow button. You should have PAPER THICKNESS selected.
  3. Press the right arrow button and select the correct media you are using in your printer and press OK.
  4. Now press the left arrow button three times in a row, then press the down arrow button to select ALIGNMENT.
  5. Press the right arrow to select AUTO to do an automatic head alignment
  6. Press the right arrow button again. Uni-D (unidirectional) should be selected. We recommend starting with the Uni-D alignment first.
  7. Press the right arrow then press OK to start the auto head alignment process.
  8. Press the right arrow when the alignment process is finished.
  9. Select HEAD ALIGNMENT followed by ALIGNMENT.
  10. Now select Bi-D ALL (bidirectional with all colors) and press OK to start aligning the head.
  11. When the alignments are done, press the pause/garbage can button to exit the head alignment mode.

How To Align The Printhead Automatically Through the Control Panel On An Epson P-Series (P6000/P7000/P8000/P9000)

  1. Press the right arrow Menu button
  2. Press the up or down arrow button to select MAINTENANCE and then press the right arrow button.
  3. Press the up or down arrow button to select HEAD ALIGNMENT then press the right arrow button.
  4. Press the up or down arrow button to select AUTO, then press the right arrow button.
  5. Press the up or down arrow button to select Uni-D.
  6. Press OK to start aligning the printhead.
  7. When the Uni-D alignment is done, repeat the process for Bi-D ALL COLORS.

Once the process is done, make another print and see if your quality issues have been resolved. If so, your printhead was misaligned. If not, you may have to adjust your paper feed, especially if you still notice horizontal banding.