String Beans!

Since the beginning of time we’ve had an issue with stringing of our ink cartridges.What’s stringing? It’s a term we invented to describe a frequent printing artefact. It usually appears as small strings or strands emanating from one side of a print (in the vertical/y direction).

If you have stumbled across this article while looking for the green vegetable, please go here.


Delicious.

It’s a particularly difficult issue to eliminate because it’s intermittent. Sometimes we’ll try a fix and get promising results only to find stringing comes back a few prints later.

We’ve investigated lots of possible causes including: the temperature of the printhead, hardware bugs and electrical issues. Everything we’ve tried seemed to help a little, but we’ve never been able to reliably eliminate the issue.

Over the last few weeks our software engineer, Trent, has been on a crusade to eliminate stringing – and his efforts finally paid off. In the image below there are 3 prints. The top one was printed with a black cartridge left uncapped over night. The bottom left print was performed after priming the cartridge with a tissue and the bottom right was done after wiping the nozzle with an alcohol pad.

What’s going on? Our best guess is that stringing is caused by clogged nozzles which when fired, cause other nozzles on the cartridge to fire. So when we fire a nozzle we think is over black, a different nozzle (in the wrong place) actually fires. The tissue which we usually prime cartridges with seems to not do a good job of getting fresh ink flowing through the cartridge and may actually make the problem worse. The alcohol pad on the other hand seems to prime the cartridge extremely well!

We’ll find out in the next few weeks if the fix holds. Stay tuned.

 

In the mean-time, keep your nozzles well clean!




Rob Walker
Rob Walker

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