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Is the "clear" nozzle check little diagonal lines or some colored patches. Printer may be able to supply enough ink to print the little nozzle check but not enough to supply all the heads ink under heavy picture printing demands- you might try going into the advanced print settiing (where you can set the actual print dot size:720dp / 1440 dpi / etc and try the highest settiing available) - some people think t uses more ink- it doesn't, but it will take longer to print- giving the printer more time to provide the ink to the printhead- we call the INability to supply ink to the printhead fast enough - Starvation- this may be a quick fix, but not an actual cure for the rea problem
The reason they're slower in high quality is, as the sprays of colored ink are shot from fine nozzles through microscopic holes in the print head, more ink is required to complete each row of vertical pixels which are required in higher resolution ( more dots per inch ) photos.
The larger amount of ink must be dispersed at a slower rate causing the motor which controls the print head to move slower hence taking more time to complete a photo.
Lower resolution ( less dots per inch ) photos can be completed more quickly
because less ink is used and it can be dispersed quickly through the print head.
Printer DPI and PPI Ratings, General
Dots per inch stands for the maximum number of tiny spots of ink that the printer can place in a straight line where the spots are theoretically small enough (i.e. ignoring spreading or smearing effects of ink on paper) that if placed in every other such dot position leaving white space between them, the spots can be individually distinguished.
Pixels per inch stands for the maximum number of unique positions in a straight line that the printer can place an ink spot under control from the outside world, namely from a computer connected to the printer.
Lines per inch stands for how close thin parallel lines can be printed and still be distinguished in the finished printout. The spaces between the lines count as "lines".
Pixels per inch and dots per inch originally referred to the same thing. The printer mechanism was under the direct control of the computer and was physically positioned and placed dots as directed by the computer. Back then, most printer mechanisms were limited to placing dots only in positions suggested by a grid of dots X per inch horizontally and Y per inch vertically, for example 100x100 dpi
Nowadays, many printers put dots "wherever they want" as opposed to in positions suggestive of a horizontal/vertical grid. Still there is a minimum dot size and a minimum dot spacing.
A picture file (image file) represents pixels in a uniform horizontal/vertical grid pattern. And the printer needs to make a finished picture of the size, say 5x7 inches, that the user chose regardless of the number of pixels in the picture file. To simplify the process of relating the pixel count in the picture file to the possibly non-uniformly spaced dots on the paper, the printer or its supporting software may generate a temporary intermediate picture file with a set number of pixels per inch. The printer may have, internally, several choices of ratio of pixels to dots and the published rating can be the largest ratio except that the published rating may not exceed the dpi rating. Therefore there might be three "per inch" values involved at a given time, the pixels of the original picture file, the pixels per inch that the printer works with, and the dots per inch of the printer mechanism.
Pixels per inch is usually not mentioned with printers. All printers come with their own software (including parts called drivers) to install on your computer. Usually the software does not let you exercise control over individual dots using your picture file. Rather the printer takes your picture file or data file and uses its own built in logic to lay down the dots and create the printed output. We are led to believe that a printer's ppi is usually a fraction such as a half or a third of its dpi rating.
When a temporary picture file is created, there are at least two levels of software in use. High level software (which may run in your computer) takes your picture file and creates the temporary file. Low level software runs in the printer, takes the temporary file and controls the dot size and dot placement on the paper.
Sometimes a printer is advertised using a phrase such as "300 dpi 1200 dpi quality". This means that the printer has some way of making dark edges on a light background appear smoother than the first number would otherwise suggest. A printer with 300 dpi 1200 dpi quality definitely cannot resolve alternating dark and light pixels less than 1/300'th inch each. But curved and diagonal lines and color boundaries should not have jagged edges suggesting individual dots rigidly positioned on a grid with a 1/300'th inch pitch.
Print head is probably plugged. With caution (this can ruin your printer if you get too violent) take a Q-Tip wet with rubbing alcohol and touch the printhead where the ink tranfers to the paper. To get access to the cartridge open the cover and when the carriage moves to the center unplug the printer. The alcohol may soften the dry ink enough to get it printing again. If it starts printing again do a print cartrige cleaning with the software included with the printer.
The printer may not be scratching your printout but you may have a clogged printhead. A clogged printhead will constantly miss a spot creating an effect of a scratch printout. Please run an all inks printhead cleaning routine (2 or 3 times) and create a test page. Best Regards
Unless the problem coincides with a change in ink cartridge, my guess is an incompatibility between the ink and the paper.
Could you have changed the paper you're printing on. If so, is the new paper of a different quality? If you're using coated (eg photo) paper, are you printing on the right side?
Check the "paper quality" setting on the printer (or the software you're using to drive it) - it needs to match the specification of the stuff you're printing onto. Photo quality papers are capable of absorbing much more ink than plain paper (which is how you get the colour intensity). If the printer thinks it's using photo paper, it will throw out enough ink to get that colour build - leaving a sticky mess if what is really loaded is just plain paper.