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HP Designjet 700 Series Printers - Service Pens/Continue Message, General Ink Cartridge Troubleshooting

Experiencing ink cartridge error messages or problems with printer recognizing ink cartridges.
Please use the following procedures if you have any problems with the pen testing or are getting the error message, "Service pens/Continue." The appendix contains further information for maintaining and handling ink cartridges.
These error messages might be caused by various reasons:
  • Faulty or dirty cartridge contacts
  • Faulty contacts in the cartridge carriage
  • Faults in the cartridge control electronics
    Turning off pen checking will eliminate the service pens or continue message.
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 cartridge's box).
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 to be good" cartridge fails in a specific slot, the fault is with the plotter, and not with the cartridge.
Use the following procedure to identify faulty cartridges. If the plotter does not respond as expected, keep pressing the Previous button to get back to the initial status and then start again from the beginning.
Check the contacts
Initial situation: Switch the plotter off. With the plotter off, hold down the Enter and Up Arrow buttons. Switch the plotter on. Keep holding the two buttons down until the following display appears.
Press the Enter button.
Repeatedly press the Down Arrow button until you receive the following message on the display.
Press the Enter button again. The display will show:
Now, simultaneously press Enter and Up Arrow buttons. The device displays the adjacent text. If this text is not displayed, press the Previous button and repeat the above steps.
Keep pressing the button Up Arrow until the adjacent text is displayed.
  1. Press Enter.
  2. The cartridge carriage moves to the right-hand side.
  3. The plotter now displays the status of the interconnection between the cartridge and the cartridge carriage (this information is provided in the form of a hexadecimal code).
  4. Use the arrow buttons to select each individual cartridge in turn and display its interconnection status.
Continuity status
If the plotter indicates anything other than a zero (0 / 0), it indicates a failure. A missing cartridge is indicated with FF / 1FFF or 3FFF / 3FFFFF. Examples of failures are FC / 1EA1 or 3FFC / 3FFFFF (that is to say, every available status between no problem and missing cartridge).
In order to check the contact continuity status, simply use an Arrow button to scroll through the display for each cartridge and check if statuses other than zero (0) are displayed. If they are, use the following troubleshooting steps.
  1. Remove all cartridges from the carriage.
  2. Check the various contacts for dirt (also, ensure that the correct cartridge number is being used).
  3. Use the arrow buttons to scroll through the display for each cartridge slot, and observe whether FF / 1FFF or 3FFF / 3FFFFF is displayed. If this is not the case, the hardware is faulty.
  4. If the statuses are correct, select the yellow cartridge slot, insert the yellow cartridge, and check the contact status. If this is OK, repeat the procedure for the other cartridges.
  5. When the contact test has been successfully completed, press the Enter button.
  6. The cartridge carriage returns to the Service Station (the printer's will display a SERVICE TESTS / CARTRIDGE CONTINUITY message.
    Important: Turn the plotter off and on again (normally) to deactivate the service mode.
    Because cartridges have been removed from the carriage, it is necessary to complete the process of aligning the cartridges (use only load White coated paper).
  7. The display should show Ready.
  8. Press the Access Cartridges button (the carriage moves to the right, and the plotter will ask to open the top-cover).
  9. Open the cover.
  10. Remove all four cartridges from the carriage and slowly reinsert them in sequence (ensure that each color is placed back in its own slot).
  11. Close the cover.
  12. The carriage now moves to the Service Station on the left and starts to test the cartridges. If the plotter indicates that a service is necessary, ignore the message and press the Down arrow button to Continue. The alignment process will start.
  13. 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).
  14. 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 appears to be ok.
  15. If the plotter shows that one or more cartridges are faulty or the quality of the boxes is not good, the fault points to the cartridges (either replace the appropriate cartridge(s) or swap the color cartridges with each other to determine if the problem lies in the cartridge or carriage).
  16. Repeat starting at Step 8.
  17. 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 the printer from working. You can either use the Down arrow button to Continue, or turn pen checking off. If the pen checking is turned off, you should always monitor the quality of the plots being output, to avoid bad quality.
Determining the firmware and PostScript (R) revision
Initial situation: The plotter is switched on, media is loaded, and the display shows STATUS/Ready to Plot or Ready.
  1. Press Enter.
  2. Using the Arrow keys, scroll to Utilities and press Enter.
  3. Scroll to Menu mode = and ensure Full is selected. If not change to Full and continue with the remaining steps.
  4. In the Utilities menu, scroll to Statistics and press Enter.
  5. Scroll to Code rev =, which will display the printers current firmware version.
  6. Continue to scroll through the Statistics menu until ROM-SIMM = is displayed. The printers current PostScript version will be displayed (if no value is shown, PostScript has not been installed).
  7. Press the Previous key until the front panel displays Ready or Ready to Plot.
Cleaning the cartridges
  1. With the front-panel displaying Ready, press the Access Cartridges key on the front panel.
  2. When the ink cartridges are accessible, turn the printer off.
  3. Prepare several lint-free cloths dampened with water. Be sure to wring out the lint-free cloth in order to remove excess water. Never drip water into the printer.
  4. Remove the cartridge from the printer. Hold it by the cap and turn it upside down so that the nozzle plate of the print head is facing upward. Do not clean the nozzle plate.
  5. Using the damp, lint-free cloth, clean the entire area along the electrical contact pads, especially where it bends down the backside of the print head. Wipe the contact pads very gently toward the cap end of the print head. Following this procedure will ensure that debris/contaminants are not wiped onto or toward the nozzle plate.
    Do not attempt to clean the print nozzle area of the print heads. Clean only the electrical contacts on the print heads. Cleaning the print nozzle area may cause damage to print heads. Clogged print nozzles can also occur if the nozzle is wiped clean.
  6. With the dampened lint-free cloth, clean the entire area along the carriage electrical contact pads.
  7. Re-install the cartridges, close the top cover, and turn the printer on.
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 then in Cling-Film wherever possible. This will provide the best possible airtight seal.
Cartridge type
Plotter type
Model numbers
Cartridge type
HP Designjet 700
C4705A, C4706A
HP Designjet 750C and 750C Plus
C3195A, C3196A, C4708A, C4709A
51644C, 51644Y, 51644M
HP Designjet 755CM
C3198A, C3198B
51644C, 51644Y, 51644M
Cartridge types must not be mixed if color cartridge sets are used.






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