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HP Designjet 650c and 700 Series Printers - Solving Print Quality Problems

Issue:
Print quality problems on the HP Designjet 650c and 700 Series Printers.
Solution
Use the following procedures if you encounter any problems with print quality, in particular any banding or missing nozzles.
There are many causes of the above mentioned problems. This will explain the background relating to some of the factors.
The most frequent reasons for quality problems are:
  • Defective, dirty or blocked cartridge(s)
  • Incorrect settings in Software or Hardware
  • Defective or wrong media
  • Ambient factors, such as temperature, humidity, etc.
  • Hardware faults on the plotter
HP Ink cartridges
The design of ink cartridges is much more complicated than would initially appear. Cartridges contain both chemical and electronic systems. The process involves hundreds of nozzles with a diameter of 1µm per nozzle (0.000001m) having to be accurately and quickly heated up to 300 degrees Celsius and then activated.
  • Cartridges have a 90-day return to source Warranty.
  • The cartridges have an 18-month shelf life (the expiration date is printed on the cartridges box).
Settings in Software and Hardware
The settings of the Software and Hardware have a major influence on the print quality. The choice of media and quality are very important factors. These define internal print algorithms that determine the application of ink or the composition of colors.
The software usually overrides any settings on the plotter. This is not always obvious and may give rise to wrong outputs. Always check the settings in the printer drivers that are used.
Plotter media
Incorrect media is a major cause of quality problems. Some factors are, resolution, absorption, media expansion, color reproduction, etc.
Each plotter has a specific range of supported HP medias. These have been tested by HP, and provide high quality performance over a long period. Incorrect media may result in quality problems (although not necessarily so). However, if problems do occur, please use the supported HP media for test purposes.
Examples
Color printing with a HP Designjet 650c is supported only on HP 51631x (x = size option) Special Paper. The optical sensor system of the plotter relies on this media for a correct alignment. The internal settings of the device are set using the reflectivity of the media. Any inaccuracy of this alignment may result in offset of subsequent plots. Banding in color is also possible.
On the other hand, HP 51631x Special Paper is not supported for a HP Designjet 750c/755cm. This is due to the different inks and print algorithms that are used. Color lines will tend to bleed, and thus do not provide their usual sharpness, if this media is used with this model of plotter.
The resolution of media is also a vital factor. Very high-resolution media absorbs the ink droplet but does not allow the droplet to expand sufficiently to prevent banding in area fills. If the media has very high-absorption, color output is often very poor.
Environment factors
Temperature and humidity are prone to cause media expansion or buckling. Media expansion varies between areas where ink is applied and areas where the media is dry. Visible offset of lines, or inaccurate line lengths may occur.
The specifications gives an optimum working temperature of 15-30 degrees Celsius, and relative humidity of between 20-80% (RH) for the plotter, and 23 degrees Celsius and 40-60% for the media.
The environment may also affect the firing temperature of the cartridge nozzles. Not all plotters are able to compensate automatically for this problem. This can result in misaligned ink droplets.
HP Designjet 650C: Print mode for overcoming pen start-up problems
 note:
Please bear the above points in mind; they are the basis for subsequent trouble-shooting.
Trouble-shooting
 note:
You can swap the color cartridges (magenta, cyan and yellow) with each other for test purposes. This avoids a situation of having to open cartridges unnecessarily. In the case of a black cartridge problem a new one has to be inserted. If a known good cartridge fails in a specific slot, the fault is with the plotter and not with the cartridge.
Initial situation
  1. The plotter is switched on, white coated paper (HP Designjet 650C: Special Paper) has been loaded, and the display shows Ready.
  2. Press the Access Cartridges button. The carriage moves to the right and the plotter tells you to open the smoke glass cover. Open the cover.
  3. Remove all cartridges from the carriage. Check the various contacts for dirt. Also ensure that the correct cartridge types have been inserted
  4. The carriage now moves to the left and starts to test the cartridges in the Service Station. If the plotter indicates that a service is required, ignore the message and press the Down Arrow button to Continue. The alignment process is started.
  5. The plotter first prints four boxes 8 mm x 25 mm using the basic pen-colors. When this has finished, terminate the alignment procedure with the Cancel button. Check the four boxes for banding that would indicate misaligned or faulty nozzles.
  6. If the plotter does not indicate any problems with the cartridges, and if you do not see any quality problems with the boxes, the plotter would appear to be OK. Because the Pen Alignment was interrupted, you have to complete the process. Repeat the section starting from Initial Situation, but do not press the Cancel button to interrupt the alignment.
  7. If the plotter shows that one or more cartridges are faulty, or the quality of the boxes are not good, the fault would appear to be in the cartridges. You can either replace the appropriate cartridge(s) or swap the color cartridges with each other to determine if the cartridges or the plotter is the cause of the problem. Repeat the section starting from Initial Situation.
If the plotter still indicates that the cartridges are faulty even though the boxes are OK, the optical sensor in the Service Station is probably faulty. The Service Station should be cleaned and/or the sensor replaced. This problem will not prevent you from working. You can either use the Down Arrow button to Continue, or the pen checking can be turned off. If the pen checking is turned off, you should always monitor the quality of the plots being output, to avoid bad quality.
If the problem cannot be remedied with the above instructions, please contact the HP Response Center.
Cleaning the cartridges
Normally, it is not necessary to clean the cartridges. The plotter in the Service Station performs this automatically. However, if it is necessary to clean the cartridges at any time, proceed as follows:
  1. Take the cartridge(s) out of the plotter. Ensure that you do not touch the nozzle areas or contact areas of the cartridges with your fingers.
  2. Carefully wipe the contact areas clean using a dry, lint-free cloth.
  3. Gently dab the nozzle areas using a lint-free cloth that has been moistened with water.
     note:
    Do not use any alcohol, white spirit or similar product to clean the nozzle areas. This is extremely likely to damage the cartridges.
  4. Before you insert the cartridge, cover the nozzle area with the cloth and briefly shake the cartridge. A slight wet ink film should now show on the nozzles, due to the capillary system having been filled. Insert the cartridge again.
Storing open cartridges
If cartridges are not going to be used for a week or more, they should be removed from the plotter. The cartridges do not have an airtight seal when they are parked in the Service Station, and tend to dry out if they are not used for a period of time. The cartridges should be stored by wrapping them in cling-film whenever possible. This will provide the best possible airtight seal.
Determining the firmware and PostScript (R) revision
Initial situation
  1. The plotter is switched on, media is loaded and the display shows STATUS / Ready to Plot or Ready.
  2. Press the Enter button and then press the Down Arrow button until Utilities appears in the display.
  3. Press the Enter button again. If the Menu mode = short, press the Enter button, and then press the Up Arrow button, then press the Enter button again. The Menu mode = full is now selected.
  4. Press the Down Arrow button until Statistics is displayed, and then press the Enter button again, then press the Down Arrow button until you read '"code-rev =", write down the data (for example, A.02.04 or 5.0).
  5. Press the Down Arrow button again until you read 'ROM-SIMM ='. If this indicates none, PostScript has not been installed.
  6. If you see PostScript or Both in the display, press the Enter button and write down the revision information. Press the Previous button until you return to Ready to Plot, or Ready.
Cartridge allocation
Plotter Name
Model numbers
Black Cartridge
Color Cartridges
HP Designjet 650c
C2858A, C2859A, C2858A, C2859B
51640A
51650C, 51650Y, 51650M
HP Designjet 700
C4705A, C4706A
51645A
HP Designjet 750c, 750c Plus
C3195A, C3196A, C4708A, C4709A
51645A
51644C, 51644Y, 51644M
HP Designjet 755cm
C3198A, C3198B
51645A
51644C, 51644Y, 51644M

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