How do you know when a print head has gone bad?

This may sound like a stupid question but how do you know when a print head has gone bad?

I wanted to take the business into a direction where we could starting doing some printed vinyl.

I purchased a used 46" Falcon. When I bought the printer it wasn't printing all of the colors. After having a tech here he showed me how to replace the capping station. Ever since it prints. When you look up close at solid colors there are faint white lines going through the screens. Sometimes when I do a clean (with gently rubbing the bottom of the heads with a foam swab with cleaner on it) the lines get a little better.

Tech made it seem like that is as good as the printer will ever be. I can't say for sure because I never seen what the printer did brand new out of the box. Before starting our vinyl business several years ago I worked for a commerical printer and we used Epson 9800/9900 and Canon ImpoProofs and if they were printing like this I know we could get them better.

I have two new printheads that the guy selling the machine gave me. I have a manual and can see how to change them. Looking at the manual it's a little intimidating looking at how to get to the heads and then the calibrations you need to do. I don't want to go through the hassle/expense of changing them if they aren't going to do anything.

So far I've printed banners and those seem to turn out ok. I can see the lines more on printed vinyl. I haven't sold any printed vinyl because I'm a little nervous about the print quality. Maybe I'm being too critical. From a foot away you can't see the lines, only when your looking up close.
Here is a pic. I'm seeing this affect in mostly magenta and cyan. This isn't the actual print patch that has one fine line going through it (couldn't get good pic).

This a a 2"x 2" swatch filled with 100% cyan - 720x720 unidirectional from Flexi 8.6 on Mac.

I took a skinny pieces of foam (my wife uses to apply makeup) soaked in in solvent cleaner and parked the print head over it for about 15 minutes. When I printed it again it was a little better, put not perfect.
Heres the pic...sorry it didn't attach


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New Member
Well, if it were me, I would try some more aggressive cleaning then, before I went and swapped out the head. These printers arent exactly known for beautiful printing, but you ought to be able to do a little better. Do a head soak, then pull the dampers and inject some cleaning solution through the head. Use a syringe and a peice of tubing onto the nipple. Be very careful, the nipple is sort of fragile.Use MINIMAL pressure on the syringe. Do this several times, then a cleaning cycle, then a nozzle check.


New Member
I too, am pretty much in the same spot you are. My cyan is nearly identical.
I am new to this, and have read about soaking the heads. I don't exactly understand the whole parking the head thing? So you took a piece of makeup foam, saturated it, then stuck it under the heads? Where do you do this at? Middle of the printer?

Also back to the cyan. Is this considered banding? I started playing around with the step adjustment... But need to get my heads soaked I believe
When the head is parked it will be all the way to the right "parked" over the capping station. To soak the head I pulled it out to the left . There is a section where the head goes over that has a foam pad that collects ink. I took one of these make up pads, soaked it, and put it over that hole with the pad. Then I "parked" the head over the soaked makeup pad making sure it was resting on the bottom of the head. The makeup pad comes as a wedge so I trimmed it into a skinnier rectangle with a scissors first.


Trump Hater
print a pure cyan block with profiles turned off to see what the machine can do when not being interfered with by the profile.


New Member
print a pure cyan block with profiles turned off to see what the machine can do when not being interfered with by the profile.
This is a good point to start at. Then you at least eliminate the profiles in the equation all together.

You also need to do the nozzle test. If it's missing nozzles you never get it better unless you get all of them firing right. Is it just Cyan doing that?
Another thought on this as well....when I purchased this printer we took it off the printer stand....put it in the van....and transported about 30 miles into my studio office in our basement. We were very careful....but we didn't know how to park the print heads for transport. I suppose it could've gotten jiggled out of alignment as well.

I printed the alignment test and the numbers that I thought looked good on the sheet are what was already programmed into the lcd display on the printer. Any other things I could look at as far as this goes?


New Member
I am right along side of you know. I am currently playing with the stepadjustment control. Located in Menu>Function>StepAdjust. Mine was originally set at -1.90 which i have no idea what it means, I am just trying random numbers and seeing what happens.

I also notice it is getting hung up a good deal trying to print, switching from "receiving[port1]" and "converting[port1]"


New Member
Heat up until media wrinkles too much. Watch it as it heats up and you'll see.
I am close to 50 on oracal 3651 and 3m 180
Thanks to everyone for your help!

I think I had a combination of problems.

1. The print head needed a good cleaning.

2. My heater was way to low. Set to 36 degrees. I upped it to 48 and the banding is virtually gone. I can only see it cause I know that it was there. May need just a bit more heat. On one print the paper was a little rippled and it rubbed against the bottom of the print head just a bit. Might be able to adjust the icc profile it puts down a little less ink.

I think I'm going to pump some more cleaner through the head like Auto-FX suggested and I'm willing to bet banding goes away completely.

Right now I would have sellable decals. Thanks again to all because now I'm confident I can sell and make some money to pay the printer off and start saving for a better machine!