EPSON printer ghosting

During the time I worked for EPSON it was drummed into me that the tradename must always be spelt in capitals.  I am trying hard to kick the habit, but it’s difficult.

I thought it might help someone out there to post the peculiar problem I have just come across today: an EPSON printer which was producing weird prints.  It was doing what I call ghosting: printing mostly in the right place, but also placing a faint duplicate image some distance to the left or right of the correct one.  No amount of head alignments, resetting to factory defaults or anything else would make any difference.  No amount of Google searching threw up anything helpful, and I was on the point of declaring the printer dead.  Here’s an example of the prints it persisted in producing:

The problem turned out to be fingerprints on the locator ribbon.  The print head locates itself by counting the number of vertical stripes on a transparent ribbon, and somehow this ribbon’s stripes had become obscured by somebody touching it while trying to clear a paper jam, I assume.  The prints were invisible until I shone a powerful torch into the innards.  I was actually searching for a bit of torn paper or other debris which might be obscuring some sensor somewhere, and suddenly there were these faint marks showing up clearly on the locator ribbon in the beam of my torch.  It all made sense.  The reason the ribbon is there is to allow the print head to calculate how far along the guide bar it has travelled, but the vertical stripes are so close together that the smallest mark could fool the print head into mistaking two or more stripes for one big one, which would cause it to travel further along the guide bar until it found the next gap between lines, and se the whole print out of kilter.

Once I’d detached the ribbon from its mounting on one end, it was a simple matter to clean it with a lint-free cloth, reattach it, realign the print head and produce perfect prints again.

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