Why are Epson printers the devil?
November 7, 2012 4:07 PM   Subscribe

Why won't my black ink print?!

I have an Epson WorkForce 600. It has been working fine for its whole life (3 years?) up until now!

I was out of black ink, so I bought a black ink cartridge and installed it. The printer then said it also needed magenta ink. I went and bought some and installed it. I ran all the utilities (nozzle check, head cleaning, alignment check) and tried to print. Things are printing EXCEPT black. I went and bought another cartridge just in case, and it still won't print black. When I do an alignment check, no black shows up though there are some random smudges. If I try to print in only black, it makes all the noises like it's printing, but when the page comes out, it's blank. There are no error messages on the printer.

I called Epson support and they were useless. They wanted me to turn it off and on and run the utilities and try another cartridge. Barring that, I'm out of warranty and I could pay someone to look at it, but...seriously? I have a feeling there is nothing wrong that I can't fix!

Googling hasn't been helpful. I really need to print off some postage labels for some clothes I sold online, so time is of the essence.

Any advice you've got is beyond appreciated. My advice to you is never buy an Epson printer! This problem sucks AND they won't print in grayscale if you're out of any color, so you're constantly buying ink. Whee!
posted by masquesoporfavor to Technology (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is there a little plastic film over where the ink is supposed to come out of the cartridge?
posted by Night_owl at 4:19 PM on November 7, 2012

Response by poster: There was but I took it off before installing it. Whoops?
posted by masquesoporfavor at 4:21 PM on November 7, 2012

Is there another piece of plastic still [partially?] covering the electrical contacts? If they were all covered, I'd expect the printer to be complaining that there is no ink cartridge in place, but maybe just some of them are, and the cartridge is not being signaled to spit ink?
posted by chazlarson at 4:28 PM on November 7, 2012

Response by poster: Nope, no plastic on either of the two brand new cartridges I have. Bonus: when I check the ink levels, the black cartridge I installed yesterday is supposedly down by about 30% despite no black ink having been expended. If I remove the cartridge, I can see that there is indeed black ink inside. And some things come out with smudges of black but none in a concentrated area or anything.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 4:30 PM on November 7, 2012

Best answer: Alright, so it's probably a clogged printhead. The printer has a separate printhead [as opposed to HP, where you typically replace the entire printhead with each cartridge]. I think the only thing for it is going to be getting a heavy-duty cleaning kit and cleaning out that black printhead, or replacing the printer. If the printer is spitting ink, but it's not ending up on the page [this sounds like an old Epson I had] you may find that the bottom of the printer is full of black ink.
posted by chazlarson at 4:43 PM on November 7, 2012

Response by poster: Booooo! Thanks for your help!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 4:47 PM on November 7, 2012

If it's down to throwing it out you could try some home repair first. I'm not sure if it's similar enough to a 740 that this would work but here and here have instructions on removing the print head and cleaning it. Rubbing alcohol does wonders for getting ink gunk out of the print heads.

With any printer repair work I highly recommend rubber/vinyl gloves, old clothes and working away from carpet and textiles that you value. Bleach does a great job of cleanup for spilled black ink, not sure about the CYM inks though. The one thing epson has over other brands is that separate print head, my understanding is when it clogs it's easier to get back working than a cart that has a built in print head on it (that copper/plastic thing on the bottom of the cart with the little tiny holes.)
posted by mcrandello at 5:50 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have hated every single piece of Epson hardware I have ever used. If you decide to junk it, get something not made by them (have had great luck with Canon and HP) but definitely check out the laser printers. Laser - even laser color - has gotten pretty cheap, especially when you compare cartridge replacements. Dry toner lasts way, way longer than ink, and you get better prints out of them.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:22 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you everyone! I ended up just printing what I needed at work and am not sure what I'll do, but probably whatever doesn't give Epson my money. :)
posted by masquesoporfavor at 1:32 PM on November 11, 2012

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