Printheads

HP OJP8620 Inkjet Printhead

An HP Officejet Pro 8620 may clog its printhead. The printhead may be flushed, refilled, and returned to perfect printing. The suggestions here relate only to cleaning an HP OJP8620 with online “HP 950/951 Printhead Cleaning Instruction.”

Inkjet Printhead: Initial Equipment

  1. Cleaning Kit: An online cleaning kit is worth its price because it provides all the initial equipment that you need. This includes the instructions, syringe, syringe tip, cleaning fluid, and gloves. The kit also has a printhead suction holder. My advice is to use everything in the kit except the printhead suction holder and the pure cleaning fluid.
  2. YouTube: For your first cleaning, you may want to watch YouTube videos.
  3. Online Fluid: The online cleaning fluid arrives in a plastic bottle. The cylinder of the bottle measures about 5″ tall with a 1.75″ inside diameter. This is perhaps 8 oz. This amount of fluid is inadequate to complete the cleaning. You may need to buy window cleaner (aka distilled water and isopropyl alcohol). Alternatively, you can mix your own window cleaner with amonia/vinegar, isopropyl alcohol, and distilled water.
  4. Recommended DIY Fluid: The internet is full of suggestions for making your own cleaners. Suggested ingredients, in alphabetical order, include ammonia-D (ammonia with less than 1% detergent), automobile insect remover, bathroom cleaner, bleach, commercial printhead cleaning fluid, diethylene glycol, distilled water, ethanol, ethylene glycol, isopropyl alcohol, multipurpose cleaner degreaser, polyether, propylene glycol, pyrrolidinone, rug cleaner, and window cleaner. Chemistry 101 says a solution that does NOT work outside your printhead will not work inside your printhead, so test your solution outside your printhead.
  5. Test Your Fluid: In Excel, make a one-sheet file. This file will be a matrix like any spreadsheet. Fill the cells with the colors that are giving you problems (black, cyan, magenta, and yellow). Fill half the cells and leave half as white. Make one cell print the date and time. Print a copy. This is your baseline. It should show how badly some of your colors are streaking. You may download or view my Red Printhead Clean that only has magenta because that is my only problem. Tear a second copy of your Excel spreadsheet into test strips. Test a strip in your fluid. Heat the fluid in a microwave oven. If your hot fluid can dissolve ink, confirm that it cannot dissolve plastic or corrode metal. Your ideal fluid will dissolve your printhead’s dried ink but not your printhead’s plastic casing or metal heads.
  6. Fluids that Flunk: Fluids that to date have NOT dissolved the ink on my test strips include brake fluid (glycols of diethylene, polyalkylene, and propylene), commercial printhead cleaner, distilled water, hand sanitizer (ethyl alcohol and propylene glycol), mouthwash (cetylpyridinium chloride), paint remover (xylene and toluene, applied gently with a damp Q-tip), rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol), rug cleaner, scum remover (glycol ether and detergent), shaving crème (stearic acid, butane, propane, and glycerin), vinegar alone (5% acetic acid), vinegar & salt (a metal-cleaning combination, applied gently with a damp Q-tip), and window cleaner (water, isopropyl alcohol, ammonia, and detergent).
  7. Fluids that Pass: One fluid to date has dissolved the ink on my test strips. This fluid is laundry bleach (sodium hypochlorite). Bleach leaves a yellow stain, but my magenta is gone. Since I have a magenta blockage, bleach is a possible fluid for me. Some people on the internet say bleach has unclogged their printers. Others on the internet say bleach is caustic, so if you use bleach for a few minutes to unclog your printhead, then follow-up with distilled water for a few minutes to purge the bleach.
  8. Fluids in a Plastic tray: You need a drip pan for your purged cartridges. I use a plastic grocery tray. Any tray from the meat or produce section is fine, provided it can hold water (ie, no holes). I use a Whole Foods chicken-breast tray that is 9″x7″x3.” You can soak in two ways. (1) Cut thick plastic in a circle that can surround you printhead. Put the circle in your tray. Put your printhead head down in the circle, raised enough that the head does not touch the bottom of the tray. Add your soaking solution. Soak overnight. (2) Put your printhead head up in your tray. Level your printhead. Add a few drops of your soaking solution to the printhead. About every 15 minutes, check to see if the printhead is still wet. If not, add a few more drops.
  9. Tubing vs Pliers: Other posters suggest buying aquarium tubing from a pet store. If this tubing is several inches long, then it can extend from the intake port of your printhead to the outside of your printhead. This would make access to the port easier. An alternative is to include a pair of needle-nose pliers in your toolkit. When you must reach deep into your printhead, do so with your pliers. Small pliers work for me.
  10. Remove your printhead: The printhead is a plastic gizmo that holds your ink cartridges. The printhead locks to your printer with a lever. Push this lever up to free the printhead. On the HP OJP8620, the lever is white and to the right of the printhead. Once unlocked, wiggle the printhead free. Return the lever to the down locked position as this may protect your printer while the printhead has gone missing.
  11. Elements of the printhead: On the back of the HP OJP8620 printhead is a motherboard. Do not touch or wet this motherboard. However, there is little harm if the motherboard does become wet. Just give yourself a few extra days for your printhead to dry so that the electronics will not fry themselves. On the bottom of the printhead are the nozzles. If you touch the nozzles to anything soft, capillary action will drain your printhead. On the inside of the printhead are intake pipes that fit snugly with your cartridges. These pipes are where you will inject your cleaning fluid.
  12. Is Your Printhead Unclogged?: Before you finish soaking, squint at your printhead. Some people suggest taking a close-up digital picture of your printhead rather than squinting. You should see some printhead areas that are not shiny. You want these discolored areas to disappear before you declare victory and reinstall your flushed printhead. Say like me your concern is magenta. Red is the first row of heads on the HP OJP8620. Peer at this row. The center will be a long black line, and tell you nothing. On both sides of the black line should be shiny copper. If you have a 4-color printer (Black, Magenta, Blue, Cyan), you will have 4 rows of these copper-surrounded slits. If you see gunk rather than shine around a slit, your printhead is unlikely to print well. You will just be wasting more ink if you re-install a printhead that is visibly dirty. Just keep trying. Do not try indefinitely (beyond a week).

Google’s Advice to “How Long to Soak a Clogged Printhead?”

  1. Clorox: Pretreat the clog with a solvent such as hand sanitizer.  Soak with Clorox in hot water.
  2. Wikihow: (1) In Windows, find Devices and Printers > Printers > your printer > Nozzle Check > your clogged colors > Print. Repeat the print 3x. (2) Place 7-10 drips of isopropyl directly on the clogged ports. Reinstall, then run the printer’s test 2x. Let sit for a day. Repeat daily until cured. (3) Soak overnight in how water. Dry. Run the printer’s test 2x. Repeat daily until cured. (4) Swab in one direction only with lint-free methylated-spirit-soaked cloth (ie, not a paper towel).
  3. iFixit: (1) Soak in 70% alcohol-30% distilled water (ie, what the pharmacy sells). Do not use ammonia as it dries the printhead of needed oils. Use a syringe to push the solution 3x into the intake ports. Then flush the solution by pushing in distilled water 5x. Dry. Run a nozzle check. Repeat as needed. (2) Use Windex not with ammonia. Drain the existing ink. Push in the Windex, and leave overnight. Pull out the Windex in the morning (ie, pull rather than push the syringe). Repeat as needed.
  4. BCH Technologies: Use only water or their triple-action cleaner ($9). You can soak indefinitely, but you must dry all contacts before reinstating. Do not use bleach or alcohol as these increase clogging. Do not use corrosive chemicals as these work in the short-term but cause long-term failure. The best cleaner is fresh ink, as it is known to dissolve pigments. HP killed all 3rd-party refills in 2016, then apologized and released corrective firmware, but it remains difficult to use non-HP ink.
  5. Instructables: (1) Use isopropyl alcohol rather than water as most ink is water resistant. (2) Put your cleaner directly on the printhead. (3) Simmer in white vinegar and water for 15 minutes, dry, flush the clogged port, repeat 4x. (4) Ammonia is reactive to copper electronics, so avoid as a cleaner.

Inkjet Printhead: Correct Steps

  1. Step 1: Make your soaking fluid. Heat a few ounces of fluid in a microwave oven. The temperature of McDonald’s pre-lawsuit coffee is sufficient.
  2. Step 2: Prepare to move outside. You will bring a plastic tray. Put a paper towel and pair of pliers in the tray. Lay the printhead in the tray with the ink nozzles down, and one side of the printhead resting on the side of the tray. Put the pliers at the back of the printhead to keep the printhead in place. Minimize to zero any contact of the nozzles with your tray. Wear gloves, as ink can stain. Bring the syringe and tip. Bring sealable plastic cups if you want to save ink (say 1.5 oz restaurant-grade condiment cups). I personally do not use paper towels, as they are scratchy to delicate nozzles. Instead, I find a thick piece of plastic or Styrofoam that I can cut into a ring just bigger than my set of nozzles. Then I place my printhead head down into this ring, so the heads are high enough not to touch the bottom of my tray, but not so high as to need lots of soaking fluid in the tray.
  3. Step 3: Let’s head outdoors with our tray and hot chemicals. Pick a spot where your neighbors won’t ask what you are doing.
  4. Step 4: Throw away perfectly good ink. Pick up your printhead. Peer inside to find the in-ports that align with your cartridges’ out-ports. Put the tip on the syringe. Push the tip onto the appropriate in-port (magenta in my case). Do not put fluid in the syringe. Hold the printhead over a sealable cup and press the syringe slowly, pushing air through your printhead. The color that you are flushing will gush from the nozzles on the bottom side. You will collect a small amount of your ink. Save this ink if you want, for after the flushing. If you save this ink, seal it to prevent drying. You probably won’t get more than a few cents worth of any color. You risk doing great damage to yourself or your house if you spill this ink. I don’t find the risk-reward ratio sufficient to save old ink. You can buy “dye type” ink on eBay for pennies per milliliter, and this ink will be fresher than anything you can salvage. Just throw away any ink that you force from your printhead’s nozzles.
  5. Step 5: Fill the syringe with very warm fluid. Push the tip onto the appropriate in-port. Hold the printhead over dirt, with the nozzles down. Slowly depress the syringe. The color that you are flushing will gush from the nozzles on the bottom side. Rock the printhead laterally as if it were bobbing port, bow, starboard, stern on the sea. You want the expelled ink to keep all the nozzles moist. Repeat perhaps 10x. There are definitely diminishing returns beyond ten. When done, you may need to retrieve the syringe’s tip from inside your printhead. Use your pliers gently to extract the syringe’s tip.
  6. Step 6: Unfortunately, the flushing is not quick. You have done as much as you can today. Your printhead has warm fluid in it. Replace your printhead. Lock the lever. Replace the cartridges. Your printer may say it is damaged, unaligned, whatever. Just let your printer do what it wants to be happy. Typically it will realign itself. When the printer is ready, print a copy of your Excel sheet. If your printer is uncooperative, push various buttons until your printer reports that it is ready. Your printer is not damaged no matter what it reports. However, your printer may be sensitive about missing its printhead for the last 30 minutes or so. Once you have the printer ready again, wait a day for the fluid to dissolve deposits inside the printhead. [nb: I use HP subscription ink but I have a drawer full of useless 3rd party cartridges. When cleaning, I use the 3rd-party ink. HP sends me warning emails. After a few days, HP will disable my printer. When this happens, I replace my 3rd-party cartridges with genuine HP subscription ink. My printer will report this wonderful event to HP and HP will enable my printer. My point is that if your internet-ready printer reports that it has failed, replace your ink with genuine ink. Your printer has not failed merely because you flushed it.
  7. Step 7: Repeat the above steps the next day. Nothing improved for me. After several attempts at cleaning, I quit. I injecting my printhead a few more times, once with air, once or twice with distilled water (nb: this water will never run clear, so don’t overdo the water flushing), and finally with fresh ink from eBay. I reinstalled the printhead and let it sit for a month. My wife did some printing with the colors that still worked (all but magenta), but in general the printhead just mellowed in its fresh ink.
  8. Step 8: This step makes no logical sense. As stated, I had already flushed the printhead, primed it with dye ink, reinstalled the HP Subscription Ink, and let the printer just mellow out. Except for some Word documents in B&W, the printer saw no use. About a month later, I printed something from an internet magazine. The HP OJP8620 printed perfectly, and beautifully. I don’t know why. But my printer is fixed for the moment. I’m back to printing with HP Subscription Ink. I’m happy.

Inkjet Printhead: Alternatives

  1. New Printer: My solution while flushing the HP OJP8620 was to order a new Canon PIXMA MG3620 for $10 from Office Depot. The Canon probably has $10 of initial ink in it. My intention was to use the Canon while I soaked my HP OJP8620. My observation is that the cheap Canon MG3620 has nearly identical print quality and duplex capabilities as the expensive HP OJP8620, but a fraction of the speed and paper capacity. Now that the HP OJP8620 is printing in all colors, I will keep the Canon as backup.
  2. Bulk Ink: A Canon printer uses the same universal dye ink as does an HP printer. I have purchased five 30ml bottles of ink for $8. I can use this ink to prime my HP whenever it is flushed, and to refill my Canon cartridges.

Canon MG3620 Inkjet Printhead

The Canon MG3620 uses cartridges rather than a printhead. You essentially replace the “printhead” each time you replace a cartridge.” You do not need to replace an empty cartridge with expensive cartridges.

  1. Dye Ink: An MG3620 cartridge may be refilled many times, perhaps 6x. Go on eBay and buy bulk ink for your printer. This ink will be under $10 for approximately 150 ml of ink. That is a lot of ink, considering an ink drop is about 5 trillionths of a liter.
  2. Drill Out a Good Cartridge: Before your cartridge is empty, meaning before it fries itself, use the drill bit that came with your ink to ream holes in your cartridges. You must drill a hole into the top of the magenta, blue, cyan, and black areas. You drill where there already is a microscopic hole, enlarging the hole so that it is big enough to accept a syringe.
  3. Squirt in New Ink: Use the included syringe to squirt about 2ml of color into each color area, and 7 ml of black into the black area. The color cartridge will have a single red hole at the top, a blue hole to the bottom left, and a cyan hole to the bottom right.
  4. Cover the Holes: Put clear tape over your holes. Poke a sewing needle through the tape where each hole is, so the hole can breathe.
  5. Reinstall: Reinstall your cartridge. Wait awhile for the ink to settle. If the printer refuses to accept the refilled cartridges, hold the Stop button for at least 5 seconds, until the lights flash ready. You can then realign the printheads with the built-in program, or just run a few sheets of paper until the colors look right. That is, print something that contains color, but not something that must be perfect to be useful.

Any questions? I will answer your printhead questions quickly.

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