Tech Tip: Maintain Print Head Nozzles on Your Inkjet Printer

What’s the leading cause of poor print quality, costly service repairs, and avoidable downtime leading to loss of revenue from your commercial printer? Failure to maintain the print head nozzles is the number one preventable cause of downtime for professional inkjet printers.

In this Tech Tip, we’ll cover how to properly maintain your print head nozzles for reliable color-accurate print jobs and maximized print head life on Epson, HP, and Canon printers—and how to resolve the most common issues with inkjet printers.

Print Nozzle Maintenance for Every Brand

Epson Inkjet Printers

Of the three major professional imaging printer brands, Epson inkjet printers typically benefit the most from proactive print head maintenance. You can avoid troublesome nozzle clogs by regularly using your printer to circulate ink and performing manual nozzle checks on at least a weekly basis. If recent events have led to less-frequent printing, then a weekly manual cleaning cycle can help to keep the ink system flushed. For regular use, run a manual nozzle check before printing and clean as described below to produce a 100% clean nozzle check pattern. Even one missing nozzle on an Epson print head can lead to inaccurate color output and, if left unrecovered, can lead to a permanently clogged print head that would need replacement.

Returning back to printing after a long period of inactivity? Please check out our in-depth reviews of what it takes to restore your Epson inkjet printer back to daily use if you are dusting the cobwebs off of your printer.

Canon and HP Inkjet Printers

For Canon and HP printers, the print head nozzle maintenance and remediation is usually straight forward. Print heads on many professional inkjet models are user-replaceable components, with lifespans and warranty intervals that vary by brand and model. 

Print a manual nozzle check or diagnostic print, review the output, and look closely to see if there are any breaks in the patterns. Some thermal head inkjet printers can remap around clogged nozzles to avoid impact in print quality up to a certain percentage of missing nozzles (after which print heads with clogs would need to be replaced to restore best print quality and color accuracy).

Print Nozzle Cleaning for Success

If you notice breaks in your nozzle pattern, run a cleaning, followed by another nozzle check. Repeat the process up to a few times to remediate any pesky clogs.

One of the important benefits of user replaceable print heads is that, depending on the model, Canon and HP print heads can be swapped out for new ones if unrecoverable clogs are detected. Replacing the print head and performing a fresh calibration will most likely fix issues with print quality and color accuracy if print head clogs were the underlying cause of the issues.

Print head nozzle maintenance is a very important and fundamental step in making color accurate prints and ensuring the maximum life of your professional inkjet printer. This essential maintenance is often overlooked until it is too late to recover a clogged head. The best practice for inkjet maintenance is to be proactive, create a weekly protocol for checking nozzles and cleaning to prevent clogs and unnecessary downtime. Failure to be proactive can lead to downtime and repairs that have a costly impact on productivity, even when the repair itself is covered under warranty. For out-of-warranty printers the cost of time and materials for a print head replacement can often approach a similar cost as a whole new printer.

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