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Purging a Desktop Epson Printer With Sponge Filled Cartridges
Purging Procedure -

If you have just installed a new archival or Quadtone cartridge you must purge the Epson print head of all of the old, non-archival, ink before you can begin to print with the full archival effect. The print heads in the Epson 200/400/440/500/600/640/740/800/850/860/900/1160/1520/Photo/Photo 700/Photo EX/Photo 750/Photo 1200 printers hold about 3 to 5 pages worth of ink. Always run a Nozzle check before printing. Even if you get a perfect nozzle check on your first try after putting in a new cartridge, run at least one or two head cleaning cycles. This will prevent any excess ink from over filling the print head. After the cleaning cycles, use the purging test patterns below to purge your system of the old ink. After printing about 5 (8.5x11) pages of this pattern, 98% of the old ink will be gone. The rest will come out slowly and may take as many as 20 or more pages, but at the 98% point you will see good results. If you have an Epson 3000, 5000 or 9000, see below.

Download (59kb) to get these test patterns and others.
To expand the file you will need PKZip for PC's or Stuffit for Mac's

Do not attempt to purge your print head by injecting water, alcohol or Windex or anything else directly into the print head. It can lead to problems if not done exactly right. The above purging procedure is the safest and most reliable purge method for the sponge filled cartridges.

If you were previously using Lysonic or Luminous ink, then you must first purge your printer using either a Lysonic/Luminous or a MIS cleaning cartridge. The Lysonic/Luminous ink is not chemically compatible with Epson ink or MIS ink. The cleaning fluid will get rid of the incompatible ink before the MIS ink is introduced. Follow the same procedure as above when using the cleaning cartridges.

If you are changing from Epson color ink to MIS Quadtone ink you can use the cleaning cartridge to observe the purging progress. As you begin to print with the clear fluid in the cleaning cartridge, you will see the old color ink start to disappear as you print your purge patterns. If you still have color or black left in the print head after 5 pages of each color, you can continue to print until all traces of color or black are gone. This is not really necessary, because after you remove the cleaning cartridges and install the Quadtone cartridges, you will have to run the purge procedure again to get the cleaning fluid out of the print head. However, sometimes it is comforting to know that all the color is gone, but it is extra work.

Flipping back and forth from Archival to Quadtone or from Archival to Epson ink can be easily done for the smaller Epson printers by following the above purge procedure. However, once you remove the cartridge from the printer, do not put the partially used cartridge back in the printer again. It can cause you to loose prime on the print heads. It is best to use up all of the ink in a cartridge before switching over to another one. So, switching back and forth can be done, but you must use new cartridges each time. (We are not saying this to increase cartridge sales, it is to keep you out of trouble).

If you want trouble free printing, you should plan on dedicating the printer to just one type of ink. Minor banding, excessive bleeding and color problems can occur if you do not do a good job of purging out the old ink.

�� Purging an Epson 3000
To clean out an Epson 3000 or to change ink types, follow these steps:

  1. With the printer switched on, remove all four ink cartridges from the printer.

  2. Turn off printer. The printer will now run a cleaning cycle which will automatically empty any remaining inks from the ink feed pipes and the print head. Wait until this operation has finished and all the indicator lights on the printer have gone off.

  3. Switch the printer on and then off again after 5-10 seconds.

  4. Place the Quadtone or Archival cartridges into the printer and turn the machine on. The printer will prime the lines and print head with the new ink. This operation can take several minutes.

  5. Wait for the printer to be idle.

  6. Print the 4 color purge pattern above on some inexpensive paper. If you are using Quadtone ink they will come out in shades of black. This will get rid of any residual ink of the old type left in the printer. Print about 35 (8.5x11) pages of the 4 color pattern to be sure the new ink is in place. This will get you to the 98% point. To get to the 100% point, several more pages may be required. You will get good results at the 98% point. Some customers report it takes as many as 60 or 70 pages to get to the 100% point.

  7. If you previously were using Lysonic ink, you must purge the printer using either Lysonic or MIS cleaning cartridges before installing the new MIS ink cartridges. Then after installing the MIS cartridges, you will have to purge again to get the cleaning fluid out of the printer. This is necessary because the Lysonic ink is not compatible with Epson or MIS ink.

  8. If any banding is present, run a nozzle check/nozzle clean cycle in the normal way. If the printer is skipping or not printing properly, go back to step one and repeat the purge process.

  9. Printer is now ready to use.

Note: On a new 3000 printer, for some reason unknown to us, the start up procedure in the Epson documentation does not charge the lines and print head. If you run the above Purge Procedure, it will charge the lines and the printer will work properly.

�� Purging an Epson 5000
The 5000 does not have a transport procedure (line dump and recharge) like the 3000 and 9000 printers. An internal valve is used to prevent ink leakage during transport instead. There is an initial charge procedure that can be used for head cleaning, plus other methods that help clear out old inks an restore missing nozzles. This information comes from the Epson Service Manual. Most all of the Epson Service manuals can be obtained from this site,

To assist the owners of 5000 printers, we have put a few pages of the service manual together into a zip file. These instructions explain how to do cleaning cycles and the meaning of the front panel lights, and controls. It also contains instructions on how to reset the waste ink counters via the use of the Epson adjustment program (also included). Download zip file.

�� Head Cleaning for Epson 7000


When installing a new ink or a Continuous Flow System on a 7000, very often air gets trapped in the plastic tubing running from the heads to the cartridges within the printer. As you purge the old ink and charge the new ink, the printer has been known to let the ink build up into a frothy mixture. Obviously this plays havoc with your efforts in trying to get a good nozzle check.

Should this happen, do not panic. Let the printer sit overnight and then do the following:

This won't work without paper loaded. Paper can't be properly loaded in the service mode. Make sure that the paper is loaded properly before starting. It will not work with 8-1/2 x 11 paper, so load something larger.

To access service mode, turn the printer off. Then turn it back on WHILE holding down the BOTTOM three buttons.

This will initiate the test mode.

  • Use the SELECT TYPE button to cycle to the Cleaning mode, then press ENTER
  • Then cycle to through to Initial Fill using the ITEM button
  • Once the Initial Fill cycle is called up on the LCD, press ENTER.
  • A more comprehensive nozzle check can be run from the Service Mode
  • Once the Cleaning screen comes back after cleaning, cycle through the main menus until PRINT CHECK appears or something like that, then press ENTER.
This will initiate a nozzle check that will run all the way across the sheet, and print other parameter bars as well. Should the next nozzle check still not be perfect, run the Initial Fill one more time. Be advised that this procedure should only be used when first installing the CFS as it uses a lot of ink.

�� Ink Purging and Replacement in the Epson 7600 / 9600

What you will need:

-1 draining cartridge that came with your printer.
-1 full set of carts containing flush liquid.
-1 full set of new ink carts filled and ready to install.
- flashlight to look through the printer's front door to monitor progress in lines.
- Replacement maintenance tank or chip resetter and absorbent filler.


The following procedure works well when purging color inks from the Epson 7600 / 9600 in order to replace them with a B&W ink set.

As with any ink changing process, the procedure will burn up ink in the 7600 / 9600, however it is a much faster procedure than simply printing square footage in order to purge the lines and is worth the relatively small amount of waste and cost involved.

Unfortunately you may need a replacement maintenance waste ink tank to complete this process due to the amount of ink that is to be drained from the system. A replacement tank must be available before running this procedure. If you don't have a replacment maintenance tank, you can reuse the one in the printer by replacing the absorbent material then resetting the chip on the tank with an MIS SK188 or equivalent chip resetter.

Tightly packed cotton balls, terry cloth rags, sanitary napkins or disposable diaper material work well as absorbing material. The cotton balls reduce the splatter of ink. If you use cotton balls, be sure to check the tank often to see if it is filling up. You don't want the mess of an overflow!

With the 7600 /9600 there is a maintenance procedure to change from Photo Black ink to Matt Black ink. It involves using the draining cartridge that came with the new printer and a sequence of commands from the printer's keypad.

During this procedure you are asked to remove all carts, insert the draining cart and the printer will then go through a draining procedure to remove the black ink from the lines. When this is complete you are asked to return all ink carts to the printer at which time the printer goes through an ink charging action.

During this phase of the procedure, all ink lines are charged, pushing ink through all the lines at a fairly rapid pace, not just the black ink, but all 7 inks. It is at this point that you will replace a flush set of carts in place of the ink carts. This will instead put flush liquid into the lines.

You will then enter the service mode to do an initial ink fill procedure which will further charge the lines with flush liquid and purge the printer's lines of old ink. Once the lines run clean, you can replace the flush carts with the new ink carts and run the same initial fill procedure until the new ink is fully charged into the lines and dampers.

It sounds a little complicated, but is easy after you have done it once or twice. Here are is the step by step process.

Steps to Take:

  1. Go to printer's keypad and press the SelecType or right arrow button. You will the see Printer Setup in the LED window along with an up, down and right arrow.
  2. Press the down arrow button on the keypad until you see Maintenance in the LED window.
  3. Press the right arrow or SelecType button again and you will see PWR Cleaning in the LED window.
  4. Press the down arrow button until you see BK Ink Change in the LED window.
  5. Press the right arrow or SelecType button again and you will see EXEC in the LED window under BK Ink Change. You will be prompted at this time for which ink you are changing to. Choose #1 mat - #2 lt blk. At this point make sure you have all your materials laid out and ready to go. If at this point your printer determines that one or more carts doesn't have enough ink for the procedure, simply reset the chip using a chip resetter even though you are not refilling the ink. You will not need these carts again if you are changing inksets.
  6. Press the Cut/Eject/Enter button to execute the procedure. You will now be given a series of instructions in the LED window to follow. You will first be asked to lift the ink lever and then remove all ink cartridges.
  7. Once you have removed all carts you will be asked to place the draining cartridge into slot #1 and then lower the ink lever. The printer will then go through a draining procedure that will last several minutes.
  8. After the draining is complete you will be asked to lift the ink lever and remove the draining cart. You will then be asked to replace all ink cartridges into their respective slots.
  9. To flush the lines of old ink, this is where you place the Flush cartridges into the printer instead of the ink carts. At this time you may receive an error message stating Wrong Ink - Ignore?, if so press the enter button to ignore. Once done, the printer will go through a relatively lengthy charging process that will take several minutes. During this time you can shine a flashlight through the printer's front door and watch the progress of the charging. You will begin to see the lines running clearer as the flush liquid is charged into the system.
  10. When the printer signifies that it is done charging and once again ready, turn the power off. You will now start the printer in an alternate service mode for the rest of the process.
  11. To start printer in the alternate service mode press paper feed up button, paper feed down button and the cut/eject/enter button and hold all down at the same time while you press the power on button. In the LCD window it will say check: and test. Press the paper feed down button twice until it reads cleaning:. Then press the Select Type button and you will see std: KK0. Now press the paper feed down button until you see Init Fill in the window, then press the Enter button. This will begin an initial ink charging routine that will take several minutes while the lines are further charged with the flush liquid. By using the flashlight to look through the front door, you will see that the lines will continue to run more clear. Repeat this step as many times as it takes to make your ink lines run clear with flush liquid.
  12. Once confident that your lines are free of the old ink, you can replace the flush carts with your new ink carts and once again run the Init Fill routine until the lines are filled with the new inks. Once filled, turn the printer off and re-start in normal mode. You should now be ready to run nozzle checks and test prints. At this time you may need to run a few cleaning cycles to completely charge the print heads and get a good ink flow. You're now ready to print with the new inks.
This procedure was authored by one of the MIS UT7 Beta testers. We want to thank him for giving us such a complete and detailed set of instructions. He learned this from the Epson service manual and from his Epson service technician.

�� Quick Ink Change Procedure for the Epson 4000 and 7600
These two procedures were forwarded to us by a customer that has both of these printers. The claim is that, if this is done properly, that flushing the printer with cleaning fluid can be avoided.

Follow this procedure for changing the ink in an Eposn 4000.

Follow this procedure for changing the ink in an Eposn 7600 or 9600.

These procedures are new (Mar 2005). Let us know if you have any problems or issues in using them.

�� Purging an Epson 9000
Because of the width of the 9000, there is a lot of ink contained in the lines between the print head and the cartridges. All of the old ink must be removed before the MIS Archival or Quadtone ink will work properly. To clean out an Epson 9000 or to change ink types, use this procedure to purge the machine. Click here to view the procedure. Let us know if you find any problems with it.

Basically the procedure is used to dump the ink in the lines and refill them with cleaning fluid. Once the cleaning fluid is in place, you must print each color until only a trace of color is left. This may take quite a few prints. What a trace of color is, is up to your judgment. You want to get at least 90% of the old ink removed, but because it is a serial dilution process, it does take time for this to happen. When you are satisfied you have reached the 90% + point, re-run the purging procedure to install the MIS Archival or Quadtone inks. Then, you will have to print more pages to get full strength ink. Yes, it is a long process, so don't plan on switching back and forth everyday. If you need assistance give us a call at 248-690-7612.

A word of caution. If you are refilling your own cartridges, do not skip the last step where you remove all excess air from the cartridge. If air gets in the lines, you will get banding and skipping and you will not be able to get a perfect nozzle check, no matter how many cleanings you run. If you think you have this problem, repeat the last step on the refilling instructions where you pull back on the syringe with the cartridge in an upright position. This will get the air out of the cartridge.


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