Two years ago I bought a Canon PIXMA MG5550 which never had a problem until recently, when the printed text started to appear "blurry".

I printed the nozzle check pattern and this is the result:

enter image description here

It is supposed to be a perfect grid with straight lines. As you can see, it's not (what's printed is blurred, the picture is not out of focus). If you click the image to view it not scaled down, you will notice that certain lines on the grid even split in two and then merge back together. On the left, where it says "PGBK", you can see what I mean by blurry text. All the other cartridges (C, M, Y and BK) do not have this problem.

So far I tried:

  • Executing the printer's built-in nozzle cleaning (several times)
  • Executing the printer's built-in deep nozzle cleaning (several times)
  • Replacing the PGBK cartridge with a brand new one
  • Replacing all cartridges with new ones

Nothing has worked, and I will have to buy a new printer if I can't solve this.

Any advice?

  • I've since tried all suggested ways of running a print-head alignment - no improvement. I've also had suggestions that the encoder strip may be damaged or dirty. I attempted to clean this and it made the problem worse not better. The printer has now gone in the bin and I've added Canon to the list of makes not to buy. – AutomatedMike Mar 8 '19 at 11:42
  • If you look closely at the print test, you will see that it isn't actually blurry. It is printing multiple sharp but offset images. That is an alignment problem. hdhondt's answer describes how to fix it. If that fix doesn't work, it means the printer is defective. No replacement of ink cartridges or cleaning will fix it. Replacing the printhead isn't likely to fix it either. The printheads are precision manufactured and output alignment relies on firmware and printer sensors. If the procedure doesn't work, it will similarly not work with a different printhead. – fixer1234 Mar 31 '19 at 7:37

From page 174 in the User manual, here's how to perform a printhead alignment:

  1. Load 2 sheets of A4/Letter paper
  2. Go to Printer Properties. Click the Maintenance tab and the Custom Settings
  3. Tick "align heads manually" and click OK
  4. Click Start Print Head Alignment and then click Align Print Head
  5. Enter the numbers of the patterns with the least noticeable vertical streaks and click OK
  6. Another pattern is printed. This time enter the numbers with the least noticeable horizontal streaks and click OK.

They also have a video that shows how to do it.

  • 1
    I have the exact same issue and the alignment doesn't fix it – AutomatedMike Sep 7 '18 at 15:41
  • @AutomatedMike Start a new question. Provide your printer make and model; tell us what you've tried; include sample printouts (scans are MUCH better than photos) – hdhondt Sep 8 '18 at 6:06
  • @hdhondi Those instructions seem to be out of date, Canon probably did a firmware update. It no longer has an "align heads manually" option. Also the User manual page 174 is no longer relevant. – danio Sep 14 '18 at 9:28
  • I have the same issue as @automatedmike (4 year old MG5550) - I guess the print heads are damaged so it needs to go in the bin :-( – danio Sep 14 '18 at 9:28
  • Low cost inkjets are cheaper to replace than repair. With some of them it's even cheaper to buy a new printer instead of new ink... – hdhondt Sep 14 '18 at 9:54

InkJet printers generally don't last too long, if cleaning the printing head's with new cartridges doesn't work, there's not really too much to do.

You can try asking the manufacturer, but if it's old you don't have much chance getting a replacement, I'm not sure any warranty would cover the print heads after a certain amount of time.

Laser printers are a lot more expensive, but if you print often they can save you a fortune in ink (toner) and also don't dry out anywhere near as quickly. I have a Brother Mono Laser Printer and the last time I went to print something I hadn't used it for over a year and it printed fine on the first page with no problem. Much better suited for Office scenarios too.

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