Which printer?
19 October, 2010 by
Which printer?
Jon Cone

Here is a rundown on all the printers which we currently support with Piezography products. Piezography K7 curves have a way of evening out all the printers. We far exceed what Epson is capable of getting out of their own printers. You do not need to spend more money to get better image quality. You may wish to spend more money to get more Piezography features. One thing in common between all the printers we currently support is that they do need to be in top condition.

Piezography does not use the same dithering that the Epson driver uses. We are able to drive a printer at higher resolution by getting rid of all the tiny white spaces between printer dots that the Epson printer driver creates. Instead, we line the printer dots so that they are always immediately adjacent as compactly as possible. One missing inkjet will produce micro-banding. A 100% operating printer will far exceed anything Epson ever imagined for their own hardware. So test your used printers. Look a gift horse printer squarely in the mouth; run the nozzle checks and alignment tools. Even a brand new printer can arrive with defects. We always recommend testing it first with Epson inks.

Note: We have updated this page! The new (and final location) is at: https://piezography.com/choose-piezography-printers



Epson Stylus Photo 1400

Although only a six ink 13″ printer, the Epson 1400/1430 has such a tiny drop size that Piezography K6 looks indistinguishable from the K7 ink set on 7+ ink printers. This printer cannot print non-matte. There are not enough ink positions to run our glossy compatible ink sets. This means no glossy, semi-glossy, lustre, pearl nor even the baryta papers. Stick to fine art inkjet paper and you will be in heaven with this bargain printer.

The paper handling is a little difficult sometimes on thicker sheets and may require some hand-feeding from time to time. Otherwise it’s a fantastic printer for the money and it’s often available at the Epson refurb store for $149.00. New it sells from about $219 to $299 (for as long as it will be available.) Don’t let the fact that its a dye based printer scare you from putting pigment ink into it. Piezography inks are encapsulated, which means each pigment particle is actually encased in a thin-micro layer of acrylic co-polymer to eliminate the ability for the static charge in the pigment to attract any other pigment particle. The result is no clogging; not even in the tiny heads of the Epson 1400.

I created Piezography Special Edition specifically on this printer. It’s most beautiful incarnation is on the Epson 1400. If your aesthetics tend towards platinum/palladium style photography – Special Editions K6 and the 1400/1430 are impossible to beat. However, the printer is such a bargain priced machine that we encourage photographers to buy several, install them vertically on a restaurant rack t save room, and print with several of the Piezography K6 ink sets.


Epson Stylus Photo R1900

The Epson R1800 and R1900 13″ printers were designed around interesting new color ink sets from Epson, so they put 8 print heads in these printers to accomodate them. As a result, we can provide a matte or glossy Piezography solution. Any non-matte papers, including baryta, semi-gloss, lustre, gloss and film require our glossy compatible inks which include a clear gloss optimizer. K7 and GO is unofficially named K8. The two ink sets which are matte and glossy compatible are Warm Neutral K7 and Selenium K7. You will need to perform a black ink change when you swap between matte and glossy. You will therefore need a second black cart as an option. But, why stop there? It is so easy to have two or three sets of carts to run multiple ink choices. That can be said for all our desktop supported printers. InkjetMall sells inexpensive refillable carts.

So these two printers offer more options for the money. But only the 1900 is currently still sold at $349 new. It occasionally comes up in the Epson clearance center as a refurb. You can still have some paper feed issues on the thickest papers with the 1800 or 1900, but keeping the rollers and pick up clean on these printers is not as often a requirement as it is on the 1400.


Epson Stylus Photo R2880

The Epson R2400 is an eight ink 13″ printer which is sometimes available as a refurb in the Epson clearance store.  The Epson R2880 is currently available and represents an excellent build 13″ printer. But, it is pricey at $599 as it begins to approach that of a refurbished Epson 3800 or 3880. These printers do not offer any visual benefit over the R1800 or the  R1900. But they are glossy compatible like them. InkjetMall offers a nine cart Continuous Inking System for both the R2400 and the R2880 that allows you to run either as a simultaneous matte and glossy printer. Both the K7 Shade 1 matte black and the glossy MPS shade 1 photo black can be installed simultaneously. When the matte black is swapped out for the photo black, the user simply places the unwanted black on top of the other carts and lets it ride “piggy back”. The CIS tubing is connected to all nine carts but does not interfere with printer operation. So this system is quite the sophisticated Piezography printer for the price. We also offer refillable carts with dual black options.


Epson R2000

The Epson R2000 is an eight ink 13″ printer which has just been released. Epson describes it as “This robust, 13″-wide printer delivers remarkable efficiency and versatility with high-capacity cartridges, and networking and wireless connectivity, along with flexible media handling.”

As a Piezography printer it will be the perfect K7 system for matte printing, or the perfect K6 matte and glossy printing system. This will be one of the newest Piezography 2 printers which include both matte and photo black ink options along with the Gloss Overprint.


Epson R3000

Epson describes the R3000 with “Unleash your creative inspiration with the advanced features and uncompromising quality of the Epson Stylus Photo R3000. This 13″-wide printer delivers the professional features you desire including high-capacity cartridges, networking and wireless connectivity, plus Advanced Media Handling.”

With auto-switching matte and photo blacks, Piezography takes advantage by allowing both matte and glossy ink sets to be used simultaneously. The only drawback to this printer is the absence of the POWER CLEAN function. If you are replacing color inks with Piezography ink – you will need to use the Windows only utility for INK INITIALIZATION. You can read how to accomplish this on mac or pc in the techsupport section of this website.


Epson Pro 3800

Epson 3800 / 3880. These two 17″ printers are for all practical purposes the same hardware. They are often both available in the Epson clearance center as a refurb from $749 to $949. These printers are the only printers which are matte and glossy at the same time with a glossy compatible ink set. These printers have nine cartridges installed so you can install both matte and photo blacks, with six additional progressively lighter shades, and the gloss optimizer. So this is really the best possible choice of a printer for convenience. The other glossy compatible printers (with the exception of the CIS powered R2880) require black ink changes to go between matte and glossy. This is one of the best handling paper printers ever. Seems to just load everything without a complaint. We have several of these printers at InkjetMall which we use for online printing services. Between the 3880s and 7880s, we handle 90% of the online print requests. With three 9880s we have it all covered. Pro printers are built exceptionally well. You do get what you pay for when it comes to the Pro line.

EPSON PRO 4000 AND PRO 4800 AND PRO 4880

Epson Pro 4000

Epson 4000, 4800, 4880 are different generations of the same 17″ printer. The 4000 is old but these are very strong printers and often available as refurbed in the Epson clearance center for only $595. These printers can all be configured as glossy compatibles because they have 8 ink cartridge positions. I wish their paper handling was better. They can sometimes be a bit frustrating when thicker paper is loaded in the tray. But, they are built well.

The other benefit of these printers is that they are desk mounted rather than stand mounted. You can easily stack several on a rolling restaurant style wire rack system, and run a small print shop in a compact space. We run three printers on one rolling rack. We even have room on the top shelf for our 17x22 paper boxes.

EPSON PRO 7000 AND PRO 7500 AND PRO 9000 AND PRO 9500

7000 and 7500 24″ printers are simply too old unless reconditioned or refurbished. They make excellent K6 printers if they are in top shape. The 9000 and 9500 are 44″ versions of the same hardware. The main distinction is that the 24″ printers can be run with refillable carts. The 44″ printers can only be used with pre-filled carts because of the recessed cartridge holders on the larger printers.

EPSON PRO 7600 AND PRO 7800 AND PRO 7880 AND PRO 9600 AND PRO 9800 AND PRO 9880

Epson Pro 7880

The 7600 24″ printer is a seven ink printer that has a very strong pump and has always been very reliable. It can only be set up as a matte printer. The 7800 and 7880 24″ printers offer 8 ink carts and can be configured as glossy compatible. All of these printers handle paper the way you would expect in an Epson “Pro” printer. The 9600, 9800 & 9880 printers are 44″ versions with the same characteristics as their 24″ counterparts. These printers can all be run with refillable carts.

The 7880s are work horses at Cone Editions Press. We are able to fit 5 side by side in a small area. For our glossy work, we keep a printer dedicated to Gloss Optimizer installed in all of the positions. We run the GO printer at higher speed, and we keep both matte and photo black Piezography inks installed in the 7880s so we can switch between printing matte or glossy without an ink change. We supply custom curves to customers to imitate this. Some have an old beat printer with one or more bad heads – and we map these out with a custom curve. We even keep an old Pro 9500 around for a GO printer on 44″ wide glossy prints.

4900, 7900, 9900, 7890, 9890

Epson 7900

All of these printers are fully supported now in Piezography! The 7890 and 9890 printers have one set of install curves and the 4900, 7900 and 9900 printers have a separate set of install curves. The 4900, 7900 and 9900 printers are unique in that they have eleven ink slots so that a full matte/glossy/digital negative system can be installed at one time. If you are not using the digital negative system – the two extra slots are unused.

However, the 4900, 7900 and 9900 printers are unique for another reason. This is the first printer generation in years from Epson that appears to have an extremely short print head life. Many Epson ink users are routinely complaining of print heads becoming utterly clogged within a short time after the warranty expires. The 7890 and 9890 do not appear to share the same problem. We recommend extending your 4900, 7900 or 9900 printer warranty. in the USA, Epson can not deny you warranty for using 3rd party inks. With a print head prone to failure with their own inks – this may be the first printer generation to offer an excuse not to use Epson branded inks. So far, no reported failures of these printers that have been purchased to start off with ConeColor or Piezography inks.


12 ink Piezography!

Roland FJ and SJ printers. These are Epson “print-headed”, commercial quality build printers varying in width from 54″ to 110″. They come with either 8 or 12 print heads, configured as either an eight ink printer or a six times two printer which uses the same ink in two heads to improve speed. However, a supported 12 print head Roland printer can be converted with ErgoSoft D’Vinci software RIP to make a true 12 ink printer. The Piezography options for the 12 ink printer are imaginative to say the least. Even with eight inks, there is a way to use legacy PiezoTone inks to run two different ink sets in one printer. These printers are pricey at +$20,000’s new and about $3,500 to $7,500 used. They have the distinction of being extremely easy (and fun) to work on.

The heads move over to park in a place where they can be manually cleaned. They can even be replaced easily. Dampers and capping stations as well as the wiper blade are easily replaced. These can be dream printers. I use them extensively for my experimental printing. But, Epson who licenses the print heads and inks to Roland have now stopped Roland from making printers which can be converted from six times two to twelve times one.

You can not use the replacements for the original FJ and SJ lines. What a shame that corporate interests have put an end to the most imaginative printmaking machines ever. I used two 110″ Roland printers to create the Ashes and Snow Nomadic Museum exhibits which have been seen my more than 10 million people world-wide. I could not have made those prints without formulating a complete 12 ink custom solution. Each sheet of 8 x 14 foot paper weighed more than 20 lbs and yet was easily pulled through with the superior Roland paper feed system. I raised the heads an additional 1/8″ and was able to drill and install paper guides for the tremendously feathery deckles on the thick handmade Japanese kozo/cotton sheets. I used the AJ1000 heated printers in order to put an unusually large amount of ink on pre-heated paper.

Which printer?
Jon Cone
19 October, 2010
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