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Printers/Epson CX3900 Not Recognizing Ink Cartridges/Not Printing



I have two multi-function inkjet printers (model number above) of the same, originally one for main use, the other as backup.

The current problem is that the main printer (which I have compatible cartridges installed and working), started to go wrong in the space of a few days when we moved house. It showed a constant red light next to ink sign (incompatible cartridges). When I inserted the well preserved original cartridges, it also showed the red light.

My backup printer however accepted my compatible cartridges, no red lights and followed all commands. However, no ink is shown on the printing paper. Also, when i inserted the aforementioned original cartridges, a constant red light appeared...peculiar.  

Both printers have working scanner function. The latest printer driver is installed in the computer. v6.52

Looks like 2 separate problems, but now both printers are now scanner only.

Please help as soon as able.

From your initial description it seems that the cradle the cartridges are installed into is malfunctioning to some extent or you have just been unlucky and received a defective cartridge. If the printer is not already connected to a PC/laptop I would suggest doing so. By doing this the Epson status monitor should give you more detailed information regarding which of the cartridges your printer is having trouble recognising. With this done I would recommend taking the following steps:

-Remove all ink cartridges from the printer
-Turn the printer off and wait for a minute or so
-Turn the printer back on
-When the printer warns that no cartridges are installed, install a single cartridge
-Check that the Epson status monitor recognises the cartridge. If recognised, move onto the next colour. If rejected, either try another cartridge of the same colour or leave the slot empty and move onto the next colour
-Repeat this process for each cartridge

By following this method you will now hopefully be up and running with your printer. If some cartridge slots are still empty I would recommend purchasing another cartridge and popping them in. Since the second printer rejected the Original set it seem there is a high possibility that at least one of these cartridges is faulty. As such I would not rely upon them too heavily to determine a problem with this first printer (but it is certainly worth using them for troubleshooting anyway).

In the worst case scenario that you are now looking at a printer with all of the cartridges missing, it seems there may be an issue with the printer. Unless you have some kind or amazing extended warranty or you know someone technically minded that would be happy to take a look at the printer, it may be time to lay the printer to rest. If however the printer carries some sentimental value it may be worth getting a quote on getting it repaired at your local Epson service centre, but it is typically not cheap.

With regards to the backup printer...

If the printer is going through the motions of printing but putting no ink to paper it is most likely to be a blocked or dried printhead. This can happen if the printer has been left unused for some time. Thankfully this can usually be resolved by running a few head cleaning cycles from your printer/printer software. If you end up doing more than 2-3 I would recommend leaving a few minutes between cleans to avoid overheating the printhead. You can also do a nozzle check from your printer to check for improvement in each colour.

If the quality of your prints is not improving after the cleans it would seem that the printhead has either dried so severely that it is not usable or has ceased to function mechanically. Whatever the case I would like to refer you back to my previous advice about warranty's, techie friends or Epson service centres.

I hope you find this advice useful and would love to hear how you get on.


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Matt Stevenson


Questions regarding inkjet/laser printers, whether they relate to specific problems or printers in general. I can also offer in-depth troubleshooting for a variety of issues relating to printer consumables and hardware.


I have been involved in the printer industry since I was 18 and have worked for a major UK retailer of printer consumables (Refresh Cartridges) since 2009. I also maintain the company blog and have written on a variety of technical issues. I have also spent time answerring printer related questions on FixYa and Yahoo answers recently. Examples of my answers can be found here or here

Other than my work with Refresh I do not belong to any other printer related organisations.

Our company blog here at Refresh Cartridges:

A Levels in English Literature and Media Studies

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