I am planning to purchase an inkjet printer: either an a Canon imagePrograf Pro-1000 or an Epson SureColor SC-P900.

During the first few weeks I will have some printing jobs. But then the printer will not be used for 6 to 12 months.

  1. During the shutdown time it will probably not possible to supply the printer with power. How do I avoid the drying out or clogging of the print head and the ink system?

  2. If the printer can be powered, do they automatically clean themself from time to time?

I checked in the manuals and on the internet but I did not find any information on this.


  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I’m voting to close this question because, although peripherally related, it's not actually about photography. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 13:44
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ I do not agree. There are many other questions about photographic printing. The StackExchange system even provides tags like "printing" and "ink-jet". \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 18:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does this answer your question? Best way to avoid print head clogging when not using printer? \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented Jan 13, 2021 at 5:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/80168/… \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented Jan 13, 2021 at 5:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you tried talking with either manufacturer’s technical support staff? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 13, 2021 at 7:19

3 Answers 3


I own the Canon Pro 1000.

Short answer: Don't buy the printer for this scenario. Use a printing service instead.

The Canon is designed to be frequently used. It uses pigmented ink which don't take long periods of not being used too well. It even shakes the cartridges before each print run. If the printer is kept plugged in, it will clean itself from time to time. These cleaning cycles use a good amount of ink and you have a good chance of wasting a full set of cartridges during these cleaning cycles into the waste ink tank if you let it do multiple deep cleaning cycles. That is about $500 in inks.

The printer is kept from doing deep cleaning cycles if you print at least one sheet every 48 hrs. I usually keep some cheap 4x6 paper in the feeder and at least print a small print every other day.

I also currently play around with a raspberry pi mini-computer to automate that. So that I can dump images into a network drive and the mini-computer takes one each day and prints it. That would be about 50 cents used in ink and paper vs ink wasted in cleaning cycles.

If you detach the printer from power for a long time (several months), you have a good chance of the inks clogging and destroying the print-head beyond repair by automated cleaning cycles.

So if you don't have a scenario of frequently using the printer, I cannot recommend it.


I think the general guideline for ink is two years from the manufacture date. For Prograf, that may be less. There may even be an expiry date printed for some grades/brands of ink cartridges

I have found the best thing to do is to print test pages and alignment pages every so often. If you are really going to be away from a printer for that long, and you are concerned, you could use a mini-computer that you keep on. You can stock some paper in the printer (I think canon actually has a special paper for test prints) and remotely log in to print a file every so often. Some paper websites make test files to help unclog print heads or even review for alignment. You could even create a small test page with a variety of colors, that way you don't use a whole page of ink.


Use a printer with the printing heads in the ink cartridges, rather than permanent head in the printer. If/when the heads get clogged, you're only a new cartridge away from clean, new print heads.

If you absolutely require the use of a pro-grade printer like the Canon imagePrograf Pro-1000 or an Epson SureColor SC-P900 for only a limited amount of printing, it's more efficient to farm the printing out to a professional printing service.


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