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Printer cartridges Epson flags as empty still have a lot of ink in the tank

Ian Paul | Sept. 16, 2015
In 2008, we ran a test showing printers often left a lot of ink in their cartridges even when officially empty. A recent video from a professional printer says higher-end machines are no different.

Editor's note: Following is further comment from Epson Singapore, inserted 18 September:

The article highlighted a video posted by Bellevue Fine Art Repro. I would like to clarify how the ink system of the Epson Stylus Pro 9900 is designed. The Epson Stylus Pro 9900 printer is a graphic arts printer designed for professional operation for printing high value photographs and fine art reproductions on canvas and other specialty media up to 44 inches wide. Like Epson's other graphic arts printers, the Epson Stylus Pro 9900 is finely calibrated to consistently deliver extraordinarily high print quality.
For quality assurance, the Epson Stylus Pro 9900 ink system uses two methods to track ink levels. The first system estimates ink consumption by mathematically calculating how much ink is consumed from a cartridge for each ink droplet fired during printing and print head cleaning. The printer and ink cartridge use this information to display ink levels and initiate an "Ink Low" status alert. This alert is an indicator to the operator that it is time to consider ordering a new cartridge and occurs with roughly 10-15 percent ink remaining.
After "Ink Low" alert, the printer can continue to print normally until all usable ink in the cartridge is consumed and noted with an "Ink Cartridge Expended" notice. This "Ink Cartridge Expended" notice is triggered by a second method – a physical sensor in the cartridge – not an estimated amount. The sensor triggers when ink volume has declined to the point that further use could cause harm to the print head.
If a cleaning cycle is initiated during the "Ink Low" status and the level of ink remaining in the cartridge is estimated by mathematical calculation to be less than required for a print head cleaning, the printer will signal that there is "not enough ink to complete the process." The ink required for cleaning is conservatively estimated to assure there is enough ink to completely eliminate any print head obstructions and ensure quality output. At this stage a fuller cartridge needs to be installed to complete the print head maintenance. But, it is important to note, that after this maintenance cycle, the original cartridge may be reinserted and used until "Ink Cartridge Expended" status is reached. It does not have to be discarded.

-- Cherie Ho, Public Relations, Regional Marcoms Department, Epson Singapore


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