In this episode, expert Epson technician Ron Ardito is back to talk about the Epson 4900.
Who is this machine ideal for? How do you set it up, and what are some of the common issues involved in operating the 4900? Find out on this episode of #AskBC.
- Overall thoughts on the Epson 4900 Printer
- Sheet feed issues with the printer
- A must-hear WD40 cleaning hack
- Printer unboxing and how to’s
- Do’s and dont’s on housing the printer
- Tips on printing frequency
- What breaks most often
- Common error codes
Listen in to learn about how to maintain and repair the Epson Stylus Pro 4900 Printer
- For more information about Ron you can visit Arditos.com
- For the error codes sheet mentioned in the episode, click here.
Read the transcribe for this episode
To See the Transcript:
You are listening to the Ask BC podcast. Your print making questions answered by the experts.
Justin: Hey guys this is your host Justin. And this episode a special tools of the trade edition. And we have a special guest with us here today. Ron Ardito is here from arditos.com again. And on this episode we are going to be talking about the 17inch wide Epson Stylus pro 4900. Hey Ron how are you doing?
Ron: I’m doing very well. Thank you Justin.
Justin: Great! To give some of our listeners some context that maybe they have not caught one of our podcast episodes before why don’t you take just a minute to tell us a little bit about you and what you do.
Ron: Well, i’ve been servicing Epson graphic machines for about 15 years. Starting the original Epson color stylus printer and moving up through the line up to currently the 11880, then 9900, and those models. Great machines, good company and continuing to do this. Our location is on long island. We have a little store front and website is ardittos.com
Justin: Perfect. So as I said we are gonna talk about the Stylus Pro 4900 today and hopefully just give some people some insight about how good or bad the printer is. Maybe people that are looking at investing one of these printers or something like that. So overall on the 4900 what do you think about this printer?
Ron: Well I really like it. I like the output. The fact that it has the orange and green ink defiantly adds to the color gamut. The print quality is outstanding. Its paper handling qualities good, not perfect when you get to sheet feed. But I don’t know of any machines that are perfect when you get to sheet feed. Roll feed is great. The manual feed is great. The roll feed on the 49 over the previous machine the 4880 4800 and 4000 it is actually motor driven so you have a much more accurate allotment of paper in the printing mechanism. Very nice design. Size wise it’s a little larger then the 4880 does not come with a stand. The 4880 the stand was an option and it was a beautiful stand. So you have a machine that you have to provide the stand for. You’re not gonna throw this machine up on a shelf. It’s a little to heavy and a little to bulky.
Justin: Yeah it takes up quite a bit of space to on a table I presume.
Ron: Yeah, Yeah it does. As far as ease of operation this machine is easy to operate as the 4880. It’s very quiet. Much Quieter then the 4880. Smooth machine. Output is good. A little bit faster across the board then the machine that they replaced which is the 4880.
Justin: What’s the deal with the sheet feed being a problem on this printer? You mentioned it’s just like a sheet feed on everything else, but is it like a skew problem or a problem in general?
Ron: People who use a matte paper, a lot of matte paper. The coding on the matte paper after time, and you’ve probably seen it on a machine it’s like a white powder. It’s the white powder that accumulates inside the machine around the pump area as well. And these machines have motors in them. Vacuums actually the force to get the paper out, the platinum service is the printing service. The powder gets everywhere even on the feed rollers. So a machine that really came out of the box feeding beautifully a year or 6 months depending on the paper and quality. And the amount of contamination of the service powder can start feeding very erratically. this is not unique to the 4900. This you’ll see on every machine, every printer known to man that is feeding this kind of paper. You know a matte surface with the coating. What will happen is the machine will misfeed. The machine will try to pick up a sheet and the sheet is not picked up fully, it is not forced into the mouth of the printer, the sensors are looking for it at a certain time, doesn’t see it, the printer goes into paper error. You may end up trying multiple times to get the paper into the machine. It’s more say like Epson Enhanced Matte is a thicker paper that is the issue sometimes as well when you get the contaminated feed rollers.
Justin: Right. That just involves what kind of resolution. Is that just kind like an internal cleaning solution for that?
Ron: No you really can’t. Epson has made a cleaning paper. What I prefer is not to do it that way. What I prefer to do is one sheet of the enhanced matte turn it upside down spray about 2inches of with WD4 believe it or not. Hit the paper into the machine. Hold the paper from feeding it to the machine. Let the rollers rub on the WD40. And this actually takes the powered off. Then you can load up some regular copy paper which will absorb the WD40 off the rollers and your back to a clean roller.
Justin: That’s a handy tip. I would certainly wouldn’t have tried that without your recommendation. Spray WD40 with everything near the printer.
Ron: Yeah, But you don’t spray the WD40 to the machine you only on it to the page.
Justin: Got it. Well, let’s take a step back and just talk about some more general tips like you know unpacking the machine when you first get it, where to put it, different things like that.
Ron: Sure. It really depends on where you buy a machine. If you buy a machine from a retailer on the net he’s gonna send you the machine and you’re going to unbox it yourself. If you buy it from Epson Pro Graphics dealer; The real deal. They usually will come, unbox it, set it up, make sure it’s working correctly. As far as doing the networking on it, a lot of them will stay away from other people’s networks. But it’s really not that difficult. The thing to watch for is you look at the box obviously, exam the box for any kind of external damage. Once you get the box open you’ll remove the ink cartridges which are starter cartridge. Which means after the machine runs its initial prime there is not gonna be much ink left. So make sure once you get running one of the first things you do is order a set of inks. Preferably Epson, then you have a backup because the starter cartridges don’t last long at all. Now once you get ink and out of the box you’re going to position it where you’re going to keep it and where you’re gonna use it. A lot of people that I service in Manhattan are using these steal wire racks, I don’t recommend them. Very difficult to move the machine around and get to the machine or barring like in the back of the machine. A nice flat surface at the right level is what I recommend. On wheels sometimes works. But as I mentioned before Epson does not at this make a stand for this machine.
Justin: Yeah I’ve seen some people setting them on those metal racks you’re talking about. I assume and I notice when you print on it, it actually sways back and forth quite a bit. Does that case any issues?
Ron: I see it all the time. I haven’t seen any issues because of the racks. And moving back and forth. But I have accounts where they have 9900 stacked 4 high on the rack. Which when you go to service it is virtually impossible.
Justin: That’s hard to believe.
Ron: What are you gonna get a step ladder? You know a real estate in Manhattan is very expensive sounds lame to me. I mean give me a break.
Justin: I can’t even imagine. I have a few of the 13 inch wide stacked like that on a rack and I can’t even get to the back of the thing to feed a sheet. I have to pull them out all the time. It’s a huge hassle. And I’m rarely ever even printing on these things so I can imagine in a production environment how much of a pain that would be.
Ron: Absolutely from an end users standpoint it makes it more difficult. And from a servicing standpoint it makes it virtually impossible. The machine has to be removed from the rack before you can even take the side covers off obviously.
Justin: Oh Wow. All right anything else about the environment to be weary of?
Ron: We discussed it before but you want to keep the machines no colder then 60 degrees if you’re in a very humid environment you want to have a dehumidifier running. Nothing over 90 degrees. Within that 60-90 the machine will operate correctly. I had a customer bring down 2 machines from upstate New York and they were in his truck over night with ink cartridges in them. And it was very cold up there, I think it was 10 degrees. But even at 10 degrees the ink will not freeze. It’s a glycol based water soluble ink, so that’s not the issue. You just can’t work on the machine until it comes to room temperature.
Justin: Yeah, Yeah sure. Moving on from the unwrapping and storing and using stage. What about just general tips and best practices for the machine to keep it running smoothly? Daily operational things like that.
Ron: Well the key to any of these ink jet printers once you charge them up with ink is to use them. Some of the people who buy these machines will use them on a daily basis. So ink drying in the head is never an issue. If you’re not going to use it on a weekly basis you just have to turn it on. Don’t even have to turn your PC on. Run a clean turn it off. And do that at least once a week if you’re not using the machine. You don’t want the ink to dry in the printhead. The 4900 series if you don’t use the machine for a week you’ll loose every color and you’ll be running extended power cleanings to get them back.
Justin: So apparently once per day if you can ideally.
Ron: If you can. Some of these machines are more sensitive then others. I’ve seen machines not used for a year but they were in an environment that the machine was happy with and the machine one power cleaning later were printing all the colors. I’ve seen machines that were sitting for 2 weeks that did not come back. It really is a [inaudible] when it comes to that.
Justin: I’ve seen the same thing, I think I left the Epson 3000 for one week and it wouldn’t, you know all the colors were pretty much shot and a couple days later I fired up the Epson 7800 which hasn’t run in 4 or 5 months and it was perfect; didn’t even need to clean it. It was perfect right out of the gate.
Ron: Exactly. I can’t explain it.
Justin: Neither could I. Neither could I. So with Epson 4900 do you notice anything that breaks most commonly when you go on the service calls for these types of printers. Or when somebody brings one in.
Ron: Certainly the majority of the calls on the 4900s, just like every ink jet printer, are comprised of the print head and the pump unit. The pump unit being the mechanical pump device that sucks the ink out of the printhead. We all know what the Printhead does, it prints on the page. Those are the 2 most common service calls on that particular machine. Pump or Printhead. once in a while it’s the main paper feed that may break. But that’s usually cause somebody has jammed paper and then forcibly pulled it back. Which will break the gear. You don’t want to do that, you always want to get around to the back of the machine. This is where the wire racks become a pain. Because it makes it more difficult and then you take out the rear paper assembly and hopefully see the paper and pull it out in the direction that it is supposed to work.
Justin: Great. So what doe the pump do exactly? Does that pump the ink from the cartridge to the head?
Ron: Yes it does. It does 2 things. It pumps the ink from the head out of the cartridges into the head. Into the waste tank. The pump also services the printhead by wiping any kind of debris that is gathering on the printhead. The pumps on the 4900 do a great job of doing that then 9900. Much better then the 9880s, 9800s, 4800s.
Ron: So it’s a very efficient pump. The only draw back to the 4900 pump is it’s a very slow cleaning process when you’re running a power cleaning. And there is a reason for that.
Justin: Yeah what’s the reason for that.
Ron: Reason is on the 7800 for instance when you tell it to run a power cleaning, or whatever cleaning you decide for it to run, the cap goes up to the bottom of the printhead and you’re cleaning all 8 colors at the same time. On the newer machines the 49, 99, 79 you have [inaudible 10:52] and your choice to clean two colors at a time. Because it can now selectively go up with the cap unit and just pick those 2 colors. Which is great and is a time saver. The light Cyan isn’t printing correctly but everything else is so let’s just clean the light cyan and saves you ink and it does save time. But on the 4900 when you go to do a full cleaning it can take up to 15 minutes beaus it’s going
Justin: By pairs.
Ron: Yup by pairs.
Justin: Interesting. Do you have any ideas on a copier head what a pump unit and what a print head costs for this model? To replace I mean.
Ron: The suggested retail price and again this is just suggested retail, is $1599. It gets a little hot off the floor. [[inaudible 11:45] The pump unit is $250.
Justin: Oh Wow.
Ron: And there are times that you’ll do both at the same time. Which comes to the great decision do we fix it or replace it?
Justin: Replace the whole printer?
Ron: Yeah which is kind of incredible.
Justin: Just how it goes though I guess. All right let’s talk about some of the error codes that most people that are familiar with print making are more then likely extremely familiar with. Do you see any common error codes that you just immediately know what they are and know how to fix them?
Ron: Well there are 2 classes of error codes. There are service error codes that the end user cannot take care of and there are maintenance error codes that the end user should not be able to take care of but on the internet there are many forums. There’s a lot of information on the internet on how to clear maintenance error codes. And a maintenance error code is this. You have a pump unit which we just discussed in the machine. The pump unit is always revolving, running the motor in there. The system the machine keeps track how many times the pump has been activated and how much it has moved through the system and into the waste tank. The counter reaches the point where you get a maintenance error. I think it is 1004. There are a number of them that will address the same issue, and it’s telling the end user it is time to get the machine serviced. Well, if the machine is working perfectly and it is doing everything it is supposed to do, people don’t want to pay a tech to come in and reset the counter. So they go on the internet and they see what the sequence is on the control panel to get around that. And that works ok. Eventually the pump will fail and if they don’t have the ability to go on the internet and get the codes themselves the machine will eventually stop. Then it will go into what they call maintenance service error and they have no choice.
Justin: It seems like a bad idea patiently to you know do those kind of workarounds if you’re not a qualified technician. Are there some serious things you can screw up by doing things like that or is it relatively safe?
Ron: Not really. There are, you know once you get into the maintenance modes, service man modes on these machines. There are changes you can make that will have an adverse affect on the performance of the machine. You can push enough buttons where the machine is not gonna work any more. There are a lot of things that you have to be very very careful of, if you just follow the steps that are outlined on the internet if whoever provides that information it should just be to be able to clear the counters for the maintenance issues.
Justin: Right so don’t poke around in there to much if you’re not to familiar with exactly what you are doing.
Ron: I don’t even poke around in there to much.
Justin: Right only with a specific purpose.
Ron: Exactly. And in a newer machine the 4900 the end user cannot reset the codes. Or the 99, 79, any of the newer machines can only be done by the Epson adjustment program and the laptop.
Justin: You got to plug directly into it.
Justin: That makes sense. Would it be possible for you to whip up a document for us that shows those most common error codes that you see and even indicate some of the ones that are potientalpotentiallyy safe to just reset if those exist. I’d love to put that together and include that for our listeners in the show notes as a kind of take away from this episode so I appreciate that.
Ron: Oh I can do that and I’ll do that for you.
Justin: Perfect that’s pretty much all I have on this printer model Ron. We’ve pretty much covered the 4900 from front to back. If people want to find out more about you what seems to be the endless knowledge you have where can they go to do that?
Ron: They can go to my website. It’s arditos.com not the most up to date site at the moment but it is there and it does give you contact information and a brief history on the company.
Justin: Well perfect, great. I really appreciate your time and it is always great having you here with us.
Ron: Thanks for calling.
Justin: Well guys that’s it for today’s episode thanks so much for listening. For the show notes you can visit ask-bc.com/4900 don’t forget that’s where we put the list of common error codes for the Epson 4900. And I want to thank Ron again for joining us. And If you have a question and if we choose to use your question we will send you a free Breathing Color Teeshirt.
[00:15:43] End Audio
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