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Canon print head and cleaning clothCleaning Canon printheads - iPF8300 / PF-05

Head cleaning for large format Canon printers

At Northlight, we have a large format (44" width) Canon iPF8300 printer, which has worked just fine since November 2010. However, print heads for a printer like this are a consumable item, so you must expect to replace them after a while.

Of course, I'd prefer that the head in this instance was just a bit dirty and a cleaning would save some cash ;-)

The printer has been left switched on, since printmaking is not a large part of our photography business.

It regularly wakes up and agitates the ink tanks for a few minutes, and checks the print heads if it's been unused for a while.

I've writen an article about some of the issues you need to think about if you want a large format printer, but suffice to say, they do not like to be left idle. Having your own large format printing capabilities is great, but requires a certain amount of planning.

There is a second article about actually replacing a printhead

The issues here apply to any of the large Canon Image ProGRAF (iPF) printers - indeed, I've written long reviews of all the major model changes since the iPF5100, covering the 6100 / 6300 / 6350 / 8300 / 6400 / 6450 models (17, 24 and 44 inch width).

Our printer started taking a long while doing nozzle checks and head cleaning at the end of last year (2013). After I'd put in a new MC-08 maintenance cart it just stopped after cleaning, with a hardware error (03800500 2F44) and asked to be restarted.

error message -2f44

Prints however looked just fine...

Everything went well until I recently tried to add a new paper type, and the paper feed adjustment failed.

My thoughts were that this was either a very clogged head, or maybe it had failed - but the prints looked fine.

A nozzle check images show no gaps, only a lighter area of print for one head. The two blocks at the right are from the rightmost PK black set of nozzles. There are 2 heads, each with six colour inks for this machine.

faulty nozzle check print

New heads are around £300, so I preferred to think it might need a clean...

This article covers my initial attempt at cleaning - a second article covers subsequent replacement of the right (PF-05) printhead.

Accessing the printheads

The menu allows you to replace heads, but there is no 'pop one out for a look' function. So I used the cutter replacement option, which moves the heads out and allows access.

setting the printer to change its cutter, to access the print heads

The head cover is raised and the two blue levers moved back to gain access to the head.

The sequence is shown more fully towards the end of the article about setting up the iPF6450

opening the covers and clamps that hold the print head in place

The head can just be pulled out. Keep your fingers clear of the electrical contacts, the nozzles and the ink inlet tubes.

As you can see, there is some ink buildup, but nothing obvious.

the print head (PF 05) before cleaning

cleaning cloth used for head cleanMy suspicions were that it was an electrical fault (that missing part of the nozzle test print was just too precise).

However, it could have been just a big blob of dried ink...

For cleaning I'm using some of my favourite bathroom/inkjet cleaner, on a lint free lens cleaning cloth (I've plenty laying about, collected over the years).

Cleaning dried ink?

You really only need to check out the household products line at your local supermarket ;-)

I've written a short guide about 'cleaning inkjet printers' that's based on cleaning some pretty gunked up printers.

ink removed from head

You can be quite vigorous in the cleaning process, remember that these heads are in a very exposed position, and whilst they shouldn't hit much paper, the nozzle area is quite robust.

Just remember to avoid the electrical contacts - it's only the nozzle area that you should clean.

The now much cleaner head returns to the printer.

cleaned print head, ready for return

head returned to printer

After closing the printer lid I cancelled the cutter replacement, and the head returned to their normal park position.

However, the RH head now needs refilling with ink.

More ink flushed away...

On the right hand side of the printer, the Red, Green and Blue inks were still the original 330ml carts supplied with the printer, originally used to first fill the ink lines.

These were at 'get ready to replace' levels at the start of the cleaning, so I had spares ready.

The Canon iPF printers use inks at quite dissimilar rates, particularly since I do quite a bit of black and white printing. So whilst I use 700ml carts for inks like the greys, I'm happy with some spare 330ml ones for the low use colours. If it's taken two and a half years to nearly empty the R/G/B inks, I suspect I may be replacing the printer before they run out again. This question of ink use for light users such as myself is a key one I'm looking at in my 'So, you want a large format printer' article.

The head gets refilled (actually not that much ink is required).

printer re-fills cartridge

Then we get a nozzle check.

After such a check I'd ideally want to print a head adjustment print and run a calibration print.

printer running nozzle check

This took a long while and to cut a long story short, the cleaning had achieved nothing...

Well, not quite, those 3 carts were now dead. The adjustment prints can now wait until I've put in a new printhead...

several ink carts run out

As I suspected, the right print head was faulty.

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I confirmed this, in chatting with people at Canon UK and several people in the US, who have a lot more experience in day to day use of Canon iPF printers.

Canon printheads have a 12 month warranty - this one was way out of it's time period (I'm told that in the US, Canon take a 'very helpful' attitude to printhead failure, if you've a maintenance contract)

Anyway I'm in the UK and ~£300 out of pocket for a print head...

A couple of days later, a new one arrived - I've written up the replacement process in a second article:

Other info pages

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