asked Jul 3, 2004 at 8:07pm
Epson Epson Stylus Color 640

Epson Stylus 640 out of ink but says it's not

My ink out lights are not on or flashing but yet my printer will not print black ink. Usually, I set my printer to print only b&w so I don't waste color ink unnecessarily. I forgot to set it to just b&w the other day so when I printed the page came out in color and b&w. No problem. But later that same day, I tried to print something (b&w) only and it came out blank. Tried setting it to color and it still came out blank. The last time I replaced the black cartridge was the end of April. It should have lasted longer than that. Could it possibly be the color cartridge that's causing the problem? I bought a new black cartridge just in case but being that the printer says to not change the cartridge unless the ink out lights are on or flashing, I'm a little hesitant. Should I just do it? I've done several nozzle checks and head cleanings and still no results. The nozzle check shows the color grid but the black part is missing. Sometimes it will print black smudges along the margin but that's all I'm getting. Any suggestions?? Thanks!
I can think of a few causes for that problem. The first is the black side of the print head is clogged. Or the ink cartridge is empty. If you are using a generic ink cartridge it is not uncommon for the ink cartridge to not have a full fill which will cause you to run the ink cartridge dry. And your print head could have failed.

Try a little warm distilled water and a syringe or the print head cleaning kit from here http://www.fixyourownprinter.com/kea0.html and clean/flush the print head. For info try this link http://epsonhelp.freehttp.com/Printhead.html

I hope this helps,

by unknown on Jul 3, 2004 at 11:18pm Add comment
Thanks for your reply. I was a little impatient and just put in the new ink cartridge. Seems to be printing just fine. Just seemed odd that the light didn't come on if the cartridge was empty? Anyway, I may try the solutions you gave next time around, unless I should still do it now, even after I've installed the new cartridge. Thanks again for the suggestions!
by T on Jul 3, 2004 at 11:28pm Add comment
T: I do not know if the following information actually applies in your situation, but I thought I would let you know, just in case it does...On older Epson Ink Jet Printers, the printer always assumes you are installing a new cartridge and automatically resets the "Internal Ink Counter", anytime you remove a cartridge with the power turned on. Thats why Epson says to install a new ink cartridge, anytime you remove any cartridge. Even if you simply reinstall a previously removed [used] cartridge, not only has the internal ink counter automatically reset, but the "Ink Level Indicators" have also reset. Now your printer not only thinks the cartridge is new, but also full of ink. If that ink cartridge is not actually new and full, then what can happen is that your printer will usually run out of ink and never know it. Of course the blinking red low ink light will not come on, or even the solid red out of ink light, because the printer still thinks it has ink in the cartridge. If that happens, then air will usually get into the nozzles, which can cause them to start drying out and that usually results in clogging...Also, all new Epson cartridges are sealed and there is pressure put in them at the factory. That pressure is what causes the air to be pushed out of the nozzles, that got into them when the old cartridge was removed and primes the nozzles with fresh ink. If you choose to just reinstall an old Epson Ink Cartridge, with no pressure inside it may be difficult to get the ink toactually start flowing again. You may have to run up to 6 sets of "Printhead Cleaning Cycles" and "Nozzle Tests", to actually be able to get the ink to start flowing again. Running a lot of "PRINTHEAD CLEANING CYCLES" and "NOZZLE TESTS" can use up the ink inside the cartridges. On some models, you could install a NEW CARTRIDGE and run between 10-15 cleaning cycles and tests and its possible to empty the new cartridge. Also the color inks run out faster, because there's far less of each color inside the actual ink cartridge [usually at least three colors share the same ink cartridge], compared to the black ink cartridge...Denny Conway
by Denny Conway on Jul 5, 2004 at 12:49pm Add comment
Wow, good to know!

That seems to explain no ink but no light, since I'm sure I've taken the used cartridge out, shaken it (yes, I know it's not toner, but anyway) and re-installed. But if I'm installing a brand new unopened cartridge and it resets shouldn't the counter be all fine and dandy?
by T on Jul 5, 2004 at 4:45pm Add comment
T: Only if your printer actually goes thru "New Cartridge Initialization" Process. Because you have "taken the used cartridge out, shaken it (yes, I know it's not toner, but anyway) and re-installed" it, the Internal Ink Counter and the Internal Ink Level Indicator are both out of spec's and need reset correctly. Depending on how long the cartridge was actually empty and how long the Nozzles were exposed to direct air, its also possible that your printhead assembly may be partially clogged, but one step at a time. At this point, you need to trick the printer and correctly install a new ink cartridge and then go from there. heck for an e-mail from me, that will give you some in-depth info on tricking the printer...Denny Conway
by Denny Conway on Jul 5, 2004 at 5:11pm Add comment
I cannot print colour, but no lights are on. So how do you get the carriage to move across so the ink cartridge can be replaced? This only seems to be possible when the empty light is on and the printer thinks it's out of ink.
by unknown on Jul 14, 2004 at 12:51am Add comment
Remove the colour ink cartridge then power the printer up. It will detect 'NO INK' and then allow you to fit a new ink. As previously stated this must be NEW or the counters will not be correct.
by Ian on Jul 14, 2004 at 4:17am Add comment
Press and hold the paper load button for at least five seconds. The print head carriage will then slide over to the ink cartridge change position. Replace the ink cartridge(s). Press the cleaning button.
by Ron on Jul 14, 2004 at 4:21am Add comment
Rod: Its possible that your color will not print because the Printhead Nozzles may be clogged. If you ever removed that old color cartridge, with the power turned on and simply reinstalled it, that may have caused your possible problem. Anytime you remove an ink cartridge with the power turned on, your printer automatically assumes that you will install a new full ink cartridge and resets the Internal Ink Counter to zero and resets the Ink Level Indicators to full. Now your printer thinks that cartridge is full and if its not, your printer will not actually know when the ink runs out. Air will normally get into the nozzles, drying them out and causing them to "CLOG". Usually that happens before you or your printer even knows its out of ink, especially with color, which is normally not used as often as black ink. Now if you install a new cartridge, it may not actually work, if there is actually a clog inside the printhead nozzles. Thats why Epson says you must install a new cartridge, anytime you remove a old cartridge...If installing a new ink cartridge correctly, does not help and running up to 6 sets of Printhead Cleaning Cycles & Nozzle Tests does not help, then its possible that you may have an actual clog. It's also possible that you may even have an actual HARDWARE/PARTS PROBLEM [failing Printhead Assembly or Main Board Assembly], but normally the most common problem is clogging of the Printhead Nozzles. You might want to try using the Epson Stylus Head Cleaning Solution, available through the Home Page on "fixyourownprinter.com", at " http://fixyourownprinter.com/ ". When it opens, click-on Epson, under PRINTER REPAIR KITS. Then click-on "Epson Stylus Head Cleaning Solution" and that page should then open correctly. The Epson Solution sells for around $10.00 plus shipping. It includes a syringe and some Epson Printhead Cleaning Solution, which is designed to dissolve most clogs, especially if you were using Epson inks. This is the same chemical used by Epson in their service department. You can try it if you want to and see if you can get the printhead nozzles to open up again, but that will only help if they are actually clogged. If you want to see what's involved in print head cleaning, Wes has supplied a link that might help: http://www.epsonhelp.web1000.com/printhead.html and he also suggests trying the SSC Service Utility from here: http://inkjetprinterhelp.us/epsonSSC.html . Unfortunatly, that SSC Utility does not work on all printers and on all Operating Systems, so you will have to actually check for yourself...Good Luck! Denny Conway...P.S. Check for an e-mail from me, with some additional information with that cleaning kit, in case you decide to use it.
by Denny Conway on Jul 14, 2004 at 9:39am Add comment
Thanks, Ian, Ron and Denny for your help. In fact Ron's solution for getting the cartridge out worked (simple when you know how, but why isn't it mentioned in the manual?). After a few printhead cleaning cycles with a new cartridge everything was back to normal.
by unknown on Jul 14, 2004 at 11:03am Add comment
Rod: Your welcome and I'm glad that it did turn out to be so easy for you. Thats not usually the case, when you run out of ink and the printers Ink Error Light/Led does not come on as normal. Thats why I went into more detail, just in case it did not go so well...Denny Conway
by Denny Conway on Jul 14, 2004 at 12:13pm Add comment