Epson Printer Blues


Look’s like I screwed up my Epson R1800 printer. This is my prime printer for photos. I have an Epson 1280 I use for everyday printing. I have always used Epson inks on my R1800, which uses pigment as opposed to dye-based inks. Buying Epson brand ink, even online is about $110.

Originally, I also used only Epson inks in my 1280. About the time I bought my R1800 and stopped using my 1280 for photos, I began to buy non-Epson ink for my 1280. Doing this cost me about 30% of buying Epson ink. I use this printer all of the time and have had only minor ink clogging problems over the years.

So about about a year or so ago, I began to buy non-Epson inks for my R1800 at roughly 60% savings relative to Epson-brand ink. I began to have significantly more ink clogging problems than before. I was slow to react to the problem, because I was printing less photos than I had been. At times, I would not use my R1800 for two or three weeks.

So about three months ago, I took my R1800 to a repair shop and had it cleaned etc. I had never had it serviced since I bought it, and I figured it was time. I was not very impressed  with the store, and frankly I do not think they did that good of a job. By the way, I basically cannot find a list of Epson authorized service centers by going to their website. If anyone knows of one in the Los Angeles area or the link to Epson’s list of service centers, please leave a comment.

So over the past couple of months, my clogging problems have increased tremendously. Also, I have had other quality related issues with the non-Epson ink cartridges I have been buying. Recently, I have spent (wasted) a lot of money fighting this problem. By the way, the non-Epson ink cartridges I am buying for my 1280 continue to perform about the same as the Epson ink I initially used.

It all reached a head late last week. I could no longer get my R1800 to pass the Nozzle Check Test, no matter how many times I ran the clean cycle and its more sophisticated auto cleaning routine. I was using up lots of ink trying to clean the nozzles. Blue the ink was almost not present, in the print pattern, even though I put in two different blue cartridges, hence the title of my post. Through Google, I found an Epson authorized service center nearby and took my printer in last Thursday. They called me back Friday. So far they have been unable to unclog my printer using special cleaners and syringes.  They told me I need a new $350 print head. I only paid $500 for the printer. They are going to try some more, and call me back on Monday. I fully expect the result will be the same, so I’ll go and pick up my basically worthless printer.

Fortunately, my daughter gave me her R1800. She had a few ink clog problems and got frustrated, so she gave it to me a few months ago. She basically only prints 4×6 and now and now uses an online printing service. A couple of print nozzle cleaning cycles and her printer is working perfectly. By the way, she has only used Epson inks.

So here is my plan. Assuming the repair shop cannot get mine to function properly, I will bring it home and try to clean the nozzles myself. What harm can I do? Nozzle cleaning kits are a hot item all over the internet. I’ve already ordered one for $20 or so. It should arrive in a couple of weeks.

I’ll let you know how this all turns out in a future post. To be honest, I’m not sure I am going back to Epson inks or not. I want to talk more with the technicians who worked on my printer.

So far, I have learned one thing, however. You are better off using your printer than letting it sit for extended periods regardless of the brand of ink you use, especially if it uses pigment inks instead of the more common (but less permanent) dye-based inks.

Stay tuned.

Please leave a comment and tell us about your photo printing experiences.

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3 thoughts on “Epson Printer Blues

  1. I share your frustration. My Epson RX600 never gave me a good print and when I used a third party ink to printed like the paper was 40 grit sandpaper. Now with the upgrades in my computer I can’t find a driver that works. I’ll have to call Epson and see If this printer can support Snow Leopard. The Rep said only use Epson ink or you will have trouble. I have a epson 260 that I use to print on DVDs and its ok for that . Any prints that I need long lasting quality I send out to print. I don’t print that much at this time so sending it our is my best bet. If you get another printer let me know which one you buy.

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    • Ed,
      Ever since I bought my first Epson printer in the mid-nineties, I’ve read that you should only use their ink. Early on, they said you would automatically invalidate the warranty if you did use other ink. There was a lawsuit many years ago now, and I believe they had to at least soften the warning somewhat as a result of it. Later Epson introduced electronic chips into their cartridges. At first, non-Epson cartridges without the chip would not even work. That changed later, also. However, to this day, my R1800 warns me when I insert a non-Epson cartridge. All this is strategy razor-blade marketing strategy at work.

      Also, I have read over the years that Epson printers are more prone to clogging than HPs or Canon’s. I have no direct experience with them. But I do know they have their own cleaning routines in their printer drivers. And there are blogs/articles/products on the internet devoted to unclogging their print heads.

      I have always used Epson color printers, because as near as I can tell they are most preferred by professional photographers. I believe that partly because they pioneered the technology. But they also lead in providing and using the right data to allow a full color management workflow to be used. I believe in recent years, Canon has also become quite popular with many professionals.

      Frankly, the jury is still out regarding whether I go back to using Epson cartridges in my R1800. I suspect my biggest problem was letting it sit idle for too long between prints. I believe its pigment inks (regardless of brand) are more prone to clogging, because unlike dye-based inks, they have tiny solid particles floating in the liquid. I will continue to use non-Epson cartridges in my every day 1280 printer.

      Fortunately, I may not have to buy a new printer, since I have my daughter’s. But since it has a couple of cartridges that will need replacing soon, I am going to hedge my bets and buy a set of Epson cartridges for it. What I use in mine (assuming it ever works again) will depend upon what the repair technician tells me.

      When I do buy my next new printer, I will first look for the latest Epson wide carriage model for the consumer. I most likely will be strongly influenced by what professionals are using at that time. At any rate, I’ll keep you posted in my blog.

      Thank you for taking the time to fill us in on your eperiences, Ed.

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  2. Pingback: Printer Blues–The Final Chapter « Don's Digital Photo Corner – Blog

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