[…] Haven recently took to Twitter to share a frustrating experience with their wife’s “very expensive @EpsonAmerica printer” which, seemingly out of the blue, displayed a warning message stating that “it had reached the end of its service life.” It then simply stopped working, requiring either a servicing to bring it back from the dead, or a full-on replacement.
So what was the issue with the printer? A dead motor? A faulty circuit board? Nope. The error message was related to porous pads inside the printer that collect and contain excess ink. These wear out over time, leading to potential risks of property damage from ink spills, or potentially even damage to the printer itself. Usually, other components in the printer wear out before these pads do, or consumers upgrade to a better model after a few years, but some high-volume users may end up receiving this error message while the rest of the printer seems perfectly fine and usable.
According to the Fight to Repair Substack, the self-bricking issue affects the Epson L130, L220, L310, L360, and L365 models, but could affect other models as well, and dates back at least five years. There’s already videos on YouTube showing other Epson users manually replacing these ink pads to bring their printers back to life. The company does provide a Windows-only Ink Pad reset utility that will extend the life of the printer for a short period of time, but it can only be used once, and afterwards, the hardware will either need to be officially serviced, or completely replaced.
A few years ago, Epson released its EcoTank line of printers, which were specifically designed to address the extremely high cost of replacing the ink cartridges for color inkjet printers. The printers featured large ink reservoirs which could be easily refilled with cheaper bottles of ink, and although Epson’s EcoTank printers were more expensive as a result, in the long run they would be cheaper to operate, especially for those printing a lot of color imagery. But that assumes they actually keep working for the long run. Videos of users manually replacing their Epson printers’ ink pads seem to indicate that the company could redesign the hardware to make this part easily user-serviceable, which would extend the life of the hardware considerably. But as it stands, the company’s solution runs the risk of contributing to an ever-growing e-waste problem and forcing consumers to shell out for new hardware long before they really need to.
As it stands now, there are undoubtedly many users getting an error message like this that simply replace their printers entirely, when they’d certainly be happy to instead pay for a $15 maintenance kit that quickly gets them running again, keeping more devices out of recycling facilities or garbage dumps.