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Old Feb 9, 2006, 8:25 PM   #1
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I have a (relatively) new Canon IP5000, and recently received my first 'low ink level' and then 'out of ink - replace ink cartridge' warning. These warnings were on the (OEM) pigment black cartridge. I'm a bit puzzled, because although the reservoir tank of the cartridge is empty the sponge part seems full, and the cartridge has continued to print fine for the past week despite the warnings. Additionally, the reservoir tanks are empty on several of my color cartridges but I have yet to receive even a 'low ink level' warning on them (they also continue to print fine). Is it safe for me to continue using these cartridges until I actually see drop-outs or missing lines on the printed page? I know that it's possible to damage the print head if the printer is run without ink, but I assume that so long as the print looks fine there must be enough print running through the printhead to prevent it from burning out.

One other question -- do the Canon Pixma printers run an automatic head-cleaning operation everytime an ink cartridge is removed/replaced? I've opened my printer and pulled various cartridges several times to visually check their ink levels, and I'm wondering if this is wasting ink by forcing unnecessary head cleanings.

Thanks for any info,
Zack
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Old Feb 10, 2006, 9:37 AM   #2
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To Zack23,

Not sure if I know the answers here---but damn good questions perhaps best
posed to Canon tech support.

But I have run a across a post from a photofreak type--who was doing some comparisons between Canon OEM cartridges and a certain third party prefilled cartridge vendor-----at least on the BCI-6 cartridges he indicated----and method is by cartridge weight -----that a Canon OEM BCI-6 cartridge contained 14 ML of ink----and experienced a low ink warning when 3.5 ml of ink remained in the cartridge. And the third party prefilled cartridge contained only 12.7 ml of ink and got a low ink warning when 4.2 ML of ink remained in the cartridge. Couple that with the reserve ink tank side of a BCI-6 cartridge having a 90% full capacity of about 7ML means about 50% of the ink is in the sponge side of a new Canon OEM cartridge-----and since the BCI-3eblk is in essence a doublewide BCI-6 its probably safe to double those numbers.

Its my understanding that your style Canon printer use an internal light to monitor ink reserve tank conditions-----the cartridge itself is translucent--the ink is less so---and ink remaining in the reserve tank prevents the light from shining on a sensor---and that light interruption condition should change when the reserve tank empties---but a slight delay may be programmed in the printer that you may be screwing up by frequently removing your cartridges. But the normal user will wait until an ink low warning appears---and then pop in a new cartridge---and then the printer memory will reset and assume the cartridge is full-----but the same reset would occur if the user popped in a partially used cartridge with some ink remaining
in the reserve tank---but probably only some really competent people at Canon tech support would know exactly how this works.---the average boob you are likely to encounter at Canon would probly garble some bad answer off-----But lets also leave a chance for some more knowlegable than I at this forum to weigh in.

But if one assumes the posters I cited has his numbers correct----it stands to reason that both the sponge and the reserve tank both empty over the life of the cartridge.
If every drop depleted from the sponge was replaced with a drop from the reserve tank one would get a low ink warning at the 7 ml left in the BCI-6 cartridge if its based solely on the non translucent ink letting the light shine through---given my figures that the reserve tank capacity is 7 ml also in a BCI-6. So a delay mechanism may kick in saying to the printer wait for some time after the reserve tank becomes light transparent before triggering ink low---and Zack23 may be screwing up those printer pre-programmed assumtions by frequent cartridge removals.

I also note the new chipped Canons use a different ink monitoring method---they count nozzle fires-----which more accurately monitors ink consumed--and hence better understands how much ink is left in the sponge--and someone who refills that cartridge with third party ink has to navigate numerous nag screens some threatening to void any warranties before the printer will allow that refilled cartridge to print once the nozzle fires reaches a certain count------and loses all subsequent ink monitoring except by visual inspection when pulling the cartridge.--but many are refilling chipped Canons with excellent results.

Hope that helps some but I know all questions are not answered---but you may be playing a dangerous game by frequent cartridge pulling---because no ink delivered to the printhead can damage it but its likely safe for now--as you probably have a 3 - 4 ml reserve still left in the sponge with a BCI-3eblk.

Even if a Canon ip5000 is perhaps the most economical inkjet out there OEM to OEM
cartridge consumable cost comparisons used----bottom line is that you get to use only 75% of the ink you paid for-----must be really bad on other printers with smaller cartridge capacities where un-useable ink retained in sponge is probably much higher than 25%. The other bottom line is that ink retained in sponge downward pressure to the ink outlet hole can't be a constant over the life of the cartridge. But reliable ink delivery seems to occur so there must be an acceptable range.


IF you can get reliable information from Cannon please post back as I would like a better understanding also.
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Old Feb 11, 2006, 1:30 PM   #3
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Yes the Canon does a cleaning cycle when Ink tanks are changed or when it's not been used a while.

The ip5000 I have you can run the printer when you get the yellow warning triangles, you find the tanks as you described, one half empty with the sponge black and partly white assuming we're talking about the black tank.

When the ink runs out you get a red triangle and 'Ink Out' warning, I find it surprising how many pages you can get once the 'Low Ink' or yellow triangle appears.

Davy


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Old Feb 17, 2006, 4:38 PM   #4
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I talked with a very friendly and knowledgeable woman at Canon tech support (I've been quite impressed with all the Canon printer tech support people I've talked with), and she basically confirmed what Osage speculated above. When the reservoir tank in BCI-6 cartridge empties, a light sensor in the printer is trigered. This in turn starts a droplet count, and after a certain number of ink drops have been fired, the first
'low ink' warning appears. An additional number of drops are counted, and the 'out of ink, finish printing page and replace cartridge' warning appears. Yet an additional number of drops are counted, and the yellow warning signs in the 'ink status monitor' window turn red, at approximately the point at which the cartridge should actually run out of ink. If you pull the cartridge out of the printer after the empty reservoir has trigered the initial light sensor, then the subsequent droplet count will reset, and the subsequent warning will be inaccurate. The tech rep. also noted that even if you don't pull a cartridge out after the light sensor is triggered, the subsequent warnings can sometimes seem to come at inconsistent intervals, and she didn't know why that was.

She confirmed that one could continue to print after receiving all the warnings with no danger of damaging the printhead so long as one replaced the cartridge as soon as a print actually showed signs that ink was not flowing through the printhead (ie, missing lines).

Additionally, she confirmed that pulling a cartridge out of the printer and the replacing it would trigger a 'little' head cleaning, one that used substantially less ink than the regular (not the deep) ink cleaning initiated through the Canon Print Utility panel. She said she wouldn't pull the carts several times a day, but she herself likes to check the levels visually and the amount of ink wasted is fairly minimal. She also mentioned that this sort of very minor head cleaning was triggered each time the printer was turned on and off, or after a certain amount of time (she thought roughly 36-48 hours) if the printer is left on continuously. She said that if you absolutely want to minimize ink loss through head cleaning, best bet is to leave the printer on all the time. I objected that this was wasteful of electricity, but she pointed out that when the printer was idling in Standby, it only used 0.65 watts whereas if it was turned off it continued to draw roughly 0.35 watts (as I said, this woman knew her stuff). I will continue to turn my printer off nightly, and then kill the power strip which it (and a lot of other electicity-hungry electronic gear) is plugged into, but that's another story.

Zack
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Old Feb 17, 2006, 4:57 PM   #5
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Thanks for sharing - good information.

Based on your numbers I calculate it costs about 5c a year to keep my printer turned on compared to completely unplugging it. Even with refilling I have to save more than that in ink. My iP4000 has been on since the day I bought it.

I like the system for refilling. When is tells me a tank is low I just pull them all and refill them. You have less refilling problems if you don't let the sponge go completely empty.

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Old Feb 18, 2006, 4:39 PM   #6
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To Zack23,

Thank you for posting back the answers from Canon Tech support. We all leaned something. Whatever I or anyone else speculates is somewhat totally trumped by a knowlegable Canon tech support rep who is far more likely to know.

I might add rightly or wrongly that its my custom is to only turn on my printer on with its own on off switch prior to printing only---then print what I need to---then turn it off with the printer on off switch. Because turning the printer off with its own on off switch properly parks the heads which prevents ink drying at the ink outlet hole. For me, electrical consumtion issues are so minor that its not worth the worry: whereas ink drying is a function of the time they are left improperly parked.

I am now refilling my own cartridges and wish to point out that almost all refillers recommend not waiting
until a low ink warning before refilling---but rather refill when the reserve tank tank level reaches about 10-20 %.
Granted one refills more often, but the benefit is that the sponge is supposed to stay in better condition--and the cartridge itself will cycle more overall ink through before the sponge will show ink feeding problems. The other thing to note if you refill, its best to have a spare set of cartridges---even the five minutes to refill a cartridge does dry the ink outlet on the printhead when no cartridge is in place.--and a spare set then also allows you to refill at your leisure.

I have also had great sucess using both OEM cartridges and third party prefilled cartridges. Then one might as well run them as far as possible.---but I just am too paranoid about my printhead to go very far past the first low ink warning.----but at first sign of dropped lines I would sure replace a cartridge as that is telling me I am now in risk damaging printhead territory and have pushed my luck too far.

But for me, the reason I decided to go Canon is precisely in the huge savings possible using prefilled third party cartridges and the ease of Canon cartridge refilling. But if any use those options, one must leave the safety of Canon OEM and find ways to avoid bad vendor choices that are possibly unsafe--and these forums and the nifty stuff forums are good places to go to get user recommendations and experiences
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Old Feb 18, 2006, 8:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Because turning the printer off with its own on off switch properly parks the heads which prevents ink drying at the ink outlet hole.
Both HP and Canon printers dock after about a minute of non-use. So you don't have to turn the printer off to dock.

If you don't print often you don't really use that much more ink by turning the printer off since it runs through cleaning cycles every couple of days anyway. But if you use the printer a couple times a day you waste a lot of ink having it run through a cleaning cycle every time you turn it on. And it is irritating.

HPs docked against a moist pad and never went through cleaning cycles. Docking the tanks on Canons does not dock the heads like HP. I'm not sure how the system works, but I've never seen warnings about not pulling the plug before shutting them off and waiting until all the clicking and grinding stops. It was critical to do that with HPs. Probably a good idea though if you turn your printer off immediately after the copy comes out.

Quote:
I am now refilling my own cartridges and wish to point out that almost all refillers recommend not waiting until a low ink warning before refilling
I've never seen that recommendation and see no reason for it. It was the case when I was refilling my HPs, but Canon's have about half again the ink held by the tank left in the sponge when the tank is empty. That is what triggers the first warning. I'm guessing that is a generic instruction and not specific to the Canon cartridges that measure ink in the tank and give a very early warning.

I have been filling Canons for about 3 years now and don't usually fill until the first low warning appears. I buy my paper by the box of 10 reams and buy my black ink by the pint, so I'm not talking about occasional refilling.

I had 700 and 900 series HPs I filled for maybe 6 years before the Canons. I usually waited for the low warning with them, but it was a lot more critical to get at them right away. The heads weren't critical but they would develop air blocks.



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Old Feb 19, 2006, 4:13 PM   #8
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To slipe,

You do make a valid point about printer turn off. In my case it may be days between print jobs
even if I boot up my computer at least once a day. So leaving the printer off save me cleaning cycles and
ink. For someone who may print many times per day at odd intervals, your method may be better.

In terms of my source on its better to refill before the sponge goes empty, that at least specifically stated in teh hobbicolors instruction sheet----as well as seeing countless posts about having problems with refilling a somewhat dry sponge.--------but some of those posts may somewhat refer to cases where a cartridge is run dry to the point of refusal---and then the user waits months before refilling. With the ink remaining in the sponge perhaps dried up and refusing to become soluable again.

But it would be interesting to see some scientific tests run to get this beyond opinion. But I do note some commercial refillers will completely dis-aaemble the cartridge, steam clean it, and put in a new sponge prior to refilling.
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Old Feb 19, 2006, 9:07 PM   #9
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Osage wrote:
>>>>>The other thing to note if you refill, its best to have a spare set of cartridges---even the five minutes to refill a cartridge does dry the ink outlet on the printhead when no cartridge is in place.--and a spare set then also allows you to refill at your leisure.<<<<<

I've been told by the folks at alotofthings.com that if possible empty cartridges should be refilled as soon as possible after removing them from the printer, otherwise the risk of their drying out increases significantly.

Slipe wrote:
>>>> Both HP and Canon printers dock after about a minute of non-use. So you don't have to turn the printer off to dock. <<<<

I was told by Canon tech support that it was essential to use the printer's on/off switch to turn the printer off prior to unplugging it (or turning off the powerstrip into which it was plugged), since powering it down with the switch did lock the printhead in place and somehow assured a better seal to the dock.

Zack



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Old Feb 21, 2006, 1:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
In my case it may be days between print jobs even if I boot up my computer at least once a day. So leaving the printer off save me cleaning cycles and ink.
It doesn't work that way. Canons run cleaning cycles only when you print. You can leave the printer on for a month and it won't run a cleaning cycle until you print. It isn't a choice of which strategy saves the most ink, but how much extra ink you use turning it off and on. With your use pattern it probably makes little difference, but you can't save ink by turning it off.

Quote:
In terms of my source on its better to refill before the sponge goes empty, that at least specifically stated in teh hobbicolors instruction sheet----as well as seeing countless posts about having problems with refilling a somewhat dry sponge.--------but some of those posts may somewhat refer to cases where a cartridge is run dry to the point of refusal---and then the user waits months before refilling. With the ink remaining in the sponge perhaps dried up and refusing to become soluable again.
There is a big difference between not letting the sponge go completely dry and the instructions you quoted earlier to refill when there is still 10-20% of the ink still left in the tanks.

If HobbiColors' instructions say to regularly pull your cartridges so you can refill while there is still ink in the tank I suggest you find better instructions that are specific to the Canon printers that measure ink in the tank. There is plenty of ink left in the sponge when the tank goes empty and it wastes ink to run a cleaning cycle every time you pull the cartridges to check the ink level.

Quote:
But it would be interesting to see some scientific tests run to get this beyond opinion. But I do note some commercial refillers will completely dis-aaemble the cartridge, steam clean it, and put in a new sponge prior to refilling.
That applies only to cartridges with the heads in the cartridge like HP and Lexmark. They can sell "remanufactured" cartridges for about half the cost of new ones since the aftermarket cartridges makers can't get good heads. It is apparently cheaper to manufacture tanks without heads from scratch than remanufacture them.

The re-manufacturers have no idea how many times a tank has been refilled before it is turned in for remanufacture. I have no idea why, but the sponges do wear out.

I doubt that any large testing facility is going to run tests for refilling cartridges. The major ink distributors like MIS likely test their procedures and get feedback from customers. There are plenty of people successfully refilling Canon cartridges with no problems.

Quote:
Osage wrote:
>>>>>The other thing to note if you refill, its best to have a spare set of cartridges---even the five minutes to refill a cartridge does dry the ink outlet on the printhead when no cartridge is in place.--and a spare set then also allows you to refill at your leisure.<<<<<

I've been told by the folks at alotofthings.com that if possible empty cartridges should be refilled as soon as possible after removing them from the printer, otherwise the risk of their drying out increases significantly.
If you pull them with the first ink warning they will keep for a while if you seal the hole. I usually use a single set because I can refill them pretty quickly. I've never had problems with the ink in the heads drying. But if you are still learning it might not be a bad idea to put a filled set in when you remove them.

Quote:
Slipe wrote:
>>>> Both HP and Canon printers dock after about a minute of non-use. So you don't have to turn the printer off to dock. <<<<

I was told by Canon tech support that it was essential to use the printer's on/off switch to turn the printer off prior to unplugging it (or turning off the powerstrip into which it was plugged), since powering it down with the switch did lock the printhead in place and somehow assured a better seal to the dock.
I agree that you should not only turn the printer off before removing the power but wait for all of the action to stop so you know everything reached their docking position. The post you quoted was in reference to Osage's assumption that turning off the printer docked the heads where leaving it on dried them out.

I've had my S9000 and iP4000 for quite a while and never had a clogged head. And they both stay turned on all the time. I do run a nozzle check occasionally if I haven't used one of them for a few days. That puts enough ink through all the heads to preclude problems – at least so far.

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