This week Epson technician Ron Ardito focuses on some common issues and maintenance tips for the Epson Stylus Pro 9890 & 7890.
- Ink Sets, Orange and Green Inks, Print speed vs other models
- Buying used printers – what to watch out for
- Setting the printers up and where you store them
- Best practices for keeping them running smoothly
- Printing frequency and best practices
- Frequent maintenance calls and pump unites
- Non Epson Inks
- Most common RIP’s for the 9890 and 7890
Listen in to learn about how to maintain and repair the Epson Stylus Pro 9890 and 7890 Printers
To learn more about Ron you can visit his website http://arditos.com/
Read the transcribe for this episode
To See The Transcript:
You are listening to the ask BC Podcast your print making question answered by the experts.
Justin: Hi guys this is your host Justin. Today’s episode is a special tools of the trade edition and we have a special guest with us today. Ron Ardito is here with us today from ardittos.com. And we are going to talk about the Epson Stylus pro 7880 and 9880.
How’s it going Ron?
Ron: It’s going very well thank you.
Justin: Welcome back to the show. So for context why don’t you tell our listeners a little about yourself, who you are and what you do.
Ron: Again my name is Ron Ardito, I’m an Epson certified technician and we’re a premier service center and we service the full line of Epson Pro graphic machines. Some in warranty and some out of warranty. And I’ve been doing this for say a good 15 years. Started out with the original Epson color and then the 3000 and went on up to the present models.
Justin: So as I mentioned we are gonna dive in and start talking about the Epson 7880 and 9880. So overall what do you think about these printers?
Ron: I like them they are very similar in design and operation if not identical to the 9900 and the 7900 the difference, basically the only difference in those models is the absence of the orange and green inks. The 79 and 99 do incorporate the orange and green inks. That’s basically the only difference.
Justin: Interesting. Speaking in terms of the models that are right before the 80s series like he 7800 and 9800 do you notice any improvements or advancements?
Ron: Tremendous difference the 7880, 9880, 9800, 7800 are great machines when they were introduced. But the difference in performance and color output due to the difference in the mead is substantial. You can actually tell the difference if something was printed on the newer model vs one of the older models. Not only that it will come out substantially faster. About 25% faster on the newer model vs the older models.
Justin: Do they have completely different ink sets or are they basically the same colors. Do you know?
Ron: Different inks sets entirely they are also chrome HDR sets. The HDR inks are Epson’s latest pigment based ink. Again this is an aqueous based ink and is probably the brightest out there on the market at this point. When you do something on this machine using the correct media, matching the media with the ink set you get a very vibrant output. On the models that incorporate the orange and green inks even have a wider color spectrum.
Justin: Oh right. Let’s take a step back and talk a little about some more general tips for these printers. I wanted to talk first about unpacking these machines when you first get them. I understand now a lot of times they are going to be a used unit since they are a bit older. How important is unpacking them correctly making sure they are shipped correctly if you are dealing with somebody that is shipping you something they’ve used. How important is all of that taken into account?
Ron: I can’t emphasize enough how important it is. If you are buying a machine through one of the eBay or online services the probability of the machine arriving to you in one piece is not that great. The way these machines are originally packed they are on a skid they are really really packed well by Epsom. I’m not saying that a machine is never damaged. I’ve seen machines come out of the box that don’t work. But that doesn’t happen too often. Yet I’ve talked to so many people who call me and they’ve just bought a machine on eBay it was shipped to them, it wasn’t boxed it was just semi strapped to a skid and the machine was damaged the frame is bent and now they are dealing with eBay and the customer to get their money back. I really steer away from recommending to customers that they buy anything online that can’t be delivered or they can’t pick up.
Justin: Right so they have control of it. Like leaving the inks in there and things like that can just cause a huge mess.
Ron: With the Epsom machines you can actually leave the cartridges in the machine. You can leave them in, put the ink levers in the up position which will shut off the ink valve at the cartridge. It’s really not necessary to take the inks out of the machine. If the machine is turned upside down it still won’t leak. The only thing you have to worry about as far as leakage is the waste tanks. In the 9880 you have 2 waste tanks one on each side. The one on the right is the one that will leak if the machine is put upside down, which is not to common. But the ink will come out of the waste tanks before it will come out of any other spot.
Justin: Those are good tips for anybody looking to buy any of these used units. More or less the moral of the story is to try to buy one that you can pick up yourself or something really local.
Ron: Yeah you really would like to see the machine operate. A lot of people will tell you it’s running perfectly but when you run a nozzle check you see that it isn’t. And again as we discussed in the past the print heads are extremely expensive for these models.
Justin: Defiantly, Let’s talk about setting them up after your received it, where to keep it, and how important the environment is that you’re printing in.
Ron: The environment is important, you want to keep it in an area that the humidity is not so high that droplets are forming on the machine. You don’t want it freezing and you don’t want it to hot. Heat and humidity affect the paper more then it really affects the machine. Because paper absorbs the water and the water dilutes the ink then you have an image that is not exactly what you wanted. So you want to keep them in an environment where the humidity is maybe 60% high is where you want to go. Temperature nothing over 80. The machines can freeze without damaging the unit. The inks are glycol based and they don’t freeze. I’ve had machines in my garage in the coldest days of winter and you pull the cartridge out and shake it and it’s not frozen. So that’s not an issue. But no body in their right mind is going to print in those conditions so you want to just make sure you’re in an environment that is conducive to the machine and yourself.
Justin: Do you have any figures in terms of temperature and humidity that are ideal for these?
Ron: I’d say no more then a humidity level of 60% Temperature nothing over 75 nothing below 60.
Justin: Let’s talk about tips to keep the machines running smoothly once you have them operational. What are some of the best practices in that regard?
Ron: Well on these machines if we are dealing with the 7800 7880, 9800, 9880, it’s mechanically quite a bit different then the newer models. Incredibly different because the older machines have barring that carry those back and forth. One of the things to look at it if you have the opportunity to test the machine that you’re buying used is the amount of noise that is coming from the carrier while it is moving back and forth. A lot of noise will indicate that the barrings are worn and possibly on the fail road relatively soon. I see a lot of that. Carriers going back and forth smoothly and relatively quite you’re in good shape. You don’t have that on the newer models because they are running on highly polished steel tube rods that go back and forth. You want to keep them lubricated of course but it’s not as critical as the machines running on barrings.
Justin: What about the barrings, is that a user serviceable item?
Ron: No, it’s not user serviceable, you actually have to take the carrier out of the machine, take the right end of the machine off, take the pump out, and then remove the head, the damper unit, the CR belt, all the connections, all the wiring that go into that. And then slide the carrier out the right hand side. If you can do that I’ll hire you.
Justin: Seems pretty involved.
Ron: Yeah from start to finish it takes me a good hour to do it, hour and a half sometimes.
Justin: So something good to keep on eye on especially if you’re buying it new. I guess it could be hard to tell what it is supposed to sound like.
Ron: Exactly a lot of the people are experienced they have more than 1 machine so they should know what it sounds like. Eventually the barring does collapse. They fall apart and they collapse and you go into a CRM error because the machine can no longer move the carrier without a lot of resistance.
Justin: So that’s kind of worst-case scenario if you don’t keep them properly maintained it’s just gonna kinda shut down on you.
Ron: Yeah for sure, if you’re not aware of it that’s true.
Justin: So aside from the carriage bearings; what else?
Ron: Well you want to keep the ink flowing, which means you use the machine. Use it for what you bought it for, and that means keep it printing. I have some photographers who go out of the country for long spells to do shoots. And what I tell them to do, is before you go run the machine, not so much a power cleaning but run a cleaning. Get somebody in there at least once a week to turn the machine on and just hold down the button for 3 seconds and let it run an abbreviated cleaning. By all means do that. If you are going to be away for a month, 2 months, 3 months, when you come back you’re going to be forced to run more then one power cleaning. Usually that will take care of it. Usually the lifespan of the printhead will be based on how long you are away if it will impact the printhead and need the cleaning.
Justin: Ok. I’ve heard of some kind of automated program that will send a print job daily, or you can set up kind of a timeline of when it will send a job. Have you ever heard of anything like that?
Ron: Yeah I have. Then you are forced leave the machine on all the time and your PC on all the time. Some people will do that, if you can get somebody in there to do that for you I like that better. I don’t like leaving any equipment on unattended.
Justin: Yeah I can agree with that. Any other tips or best practices you can think of to keep these machines running on tip top shape?
Ron: Keep it clean on the outside, a little bit of Windex on a nice clean rag wipe it down. You’ll feel better about it. The machine looks nice and clean, some people will take a can of air and spray it in there. Especially if you’re using a matte finish. After a while the matte finish piles up inside the machine and it looks like a white powder. I recommend against that. Because what that does is it spreads it up into the carrier bearings, it gets all over the machine, all over the rails, and you want to talk about a noisy machine. Tremendous noise increases 4-5 times. When I go in on a service call and I don’t have a vacuum with me. That’s the only way to do it. With like copier vacuums. I recommend staying away from it. Do not blow into the machine.
Justin: That’s a good tip, that’s probably very common for people to do. If you can do it to your computer why not do it to your printer.
Ron: Exactly, but really again it’s dependent on the model you’re blowing into but the 78s and 98 series you don’t want to do it.
Justin: Ok so when you actually go out to these service calls what are you seeing that breaks most often. What are you servicing most often?
Ron: The 98 series and 78 series what we are seeing the most frequent call would be on the pump units. The pumps on those machines last 4 or 5 years and now these machines have been on the market for well over that and the pumping and the mechanical device will fail and do fail. When you put your pump back, the hoses break inside the pump, and the pump no longer pumps. When you get that issue you’re not gonna see any error codes what you’re going to see is no print. And that may slowly develop. When you run a cleaning cycle it came back a little bit. You run another cleaning cycle. When you put a fresh pump in the machine you immediately get your print back as long as your head’s a good viable head. But the pump will fail. The other thing that you’ll see a lot of is marking on the page. A customer calls up and says I have marks on my page, little dots, horizontal lines, things of that nature. What usually has happened there is there has been a build up of lint and paper dust on the bottom of the carrier unit, not so much the print head but the carrier unit that the wiper is not wiping. It doesn’t wipe that. It wipes the carrier. So you’ll get that around the paper sensors there and it builds up and it becomes almost like a paint brush and it wipes the page. Clean the head, take it out, and you get to the bottom of the carrier unit.
Justin: I guess that just has to be done, that’s part of preventive maintenance right? But I guess that ties back into the importance of the printing environment we were talking about earlier.
Ron: Without a doubt. If I have accounts on a contract, which I do a lot of maintenance contracts, we’ll go in once or twice a year depending on what they selected and we’ll do a PM on the machine which includes removing the pump, cleaning the bottom of the carrier, cleaning the pump, replacing the pump if necessary. Sometimes you can take a look at one and if the pad on the pump is really starting to solidify on one side and get clogged, then we replace the pump. Other things that we do in a PM is we lubricate the rails, we do the barring as much as possible, reset all the maintenance counters, that’s very important, so they don’t call you back next week because the counter on the pump is maxed out. There are a few other little things we do on it. Obviously a few print adjustments need to be done, we do those as well. To do the right print adjustments correctly all the print adjustments required it could be an hour and half time wise.
Justin: Well anything else you can think of to see that’s really common to happen to break?
Ron: Yeah, on a 98, 78 series again we haven’t really covered use of non Epson inks at this point but if people are using a non Epson cartridge, and I see a lot of this, the chips that are put on to the cartridge are not put on correctly, and they are up in the bottom, they are not seated correctly. So what happens is when you put that ink cartridge into the slot it works .You take out on it’s way out it pulls the prongs, little copper prongs that read the chip, and now you have a situation where that color will no longer work. And then you have to call a technician and he goes and replaces the chip.
Justin: Are third party inks pretty common would you say when you service machines?
Ron: Yeah I would say 75% of the machines I work on do use the Epson ink and the remainder will use a third party ink. And they are doing that, the majority of the people I work with are doing that because they wanted a brighter color solution and they want a dye based ink.
Justin: Ok, is that mostly a high volume print maker thing, or low volume, or does it vary?
Ron: It really varies, the majority of people who do use the dye based ink are in the garment industry and they are going for very bright colors for their garments for the clothing they make.
Justin: Is that a dye supplication you’re talking about?
Ron: Just a dye based form the old days, where older machines were using a dye based ink. Dye based has a wider color gamete. Not much brighter compared to the HRD Epson inks. But bright enough to make the difference. Some people in the garment industries or other industries will go that route because they want the print to be bright. And you’ll get that with a dye based ink. But of course you’ll get all the other things that go along with dye based inks. And there are some big negatives.
Justin: I’m sure there are. I’m not sure how much you know about the print makers software they are using. But do you know if many of your customers are using RIP software to print with these printers specifically?
Ron: Absolutely I would say 85% are using RIP software the rest are using Photoshop or Illustrator without a RIP, but the majority of the people I work with have multiple machines and color matching is very important to them. And they all use RIP. Evolution RIP, Color RIP, AFI, there’s a bunch of them out there that really work well with the Epson. Onyx absolutely.
Justin: Which one’s most common or is just all over the board?
Ron: It’s all over the board.
Justin: I would think Onyx. I think Onyx ships a lot of these printers now.
Ron: Epson was using color verse after a while. I see a lot of different RIPs it really depends on what their needs are. The garment industry, a photographer, they don’t really use RIPs they are using PDFs.
Justin: Right that’s a surprisingly high number 80%.
Ron: Again I’m not work with a lot of homes, I’m working with professionals who are using these machines.
Justin: Right that makes sense. One last thing that I wanted to talk about is error codes on the machine. We kind of touched on this a little bit in our conversation already. But it’s really common for print makers to see an error on the printers LCD and have no idea what it means. I’m sure you’re quite familiar with what I’m talking about and seen a ton of these. Is that right?
Ron: Yeah that’s right. There are a ton of error codes that pop up on the machine. Error codes that mean service, fatal error, etc. You don’t see to many fatal errors. But the error codes are usually telling you there are 2 types of error codes, there’s the maintenance error codes, which are telling you that the machine requires maintenance. And that could be anything from replace pump, replace CR motor, replace ink lines. There’s a whole bunch of them, and I’m going to come up with a list that you’ll be able to refer to of the most popular ones. We use popular. There’s about 10 that you’ll see on a reoccurring basis. The machines that show the error codes in maintenance will work for a while with the maintenance code showing and then they will eventually time out and stop. There are a lot of sites online where you can get the reset codes to clear up some of these error codes on the older machines. On the newer machines the 99 and 79 that series, 7000, 7700, they require a PC running the adjustment program. And that’s the only way those codes can be reset.
Justin: Ok, interesting. Yeah, so if there is a common list of 10 or 15 ones you see most often. If you can put that list together and send it over to me. Yeah I’ll put that in the show notes. Our listeners can download that from the episode page.
Well, great, that’s actually all the questions I have for you today. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us again. It was great having you back.
Ron: It was great talking to you guys again. And if you have any other further questions, please, let’s do this again.
Justin: Well thanks for your time Ron, it was a great deep dive in to the Epson Stylus Pro 7880 and 9880. Ron if anybody wants to find some more details about you and how they might be able to get some of your services, where should they look?
Ron: they can look at my website. The website address is arditos.com
Justin: Perfect thanks Ron, thanks so much of your time. I really appreciate it.
Ron: You’re very welcome.
Justin: Well that’s it for today’s special Tools of the Trade edition episode. Where we covered the Epson Stylus Pro 7880 and 9880 printers. Thanks so much for listening, and Ron, thanks so much for being part of the show today and giving us some of this great information on these printers. Don’t forget to grab the show notes for this episode, where Ron has outlined some of the common error codes on the 7880 and 9880 printers. You can get those show notes by visiting ask-bc.com/9880.
If you have a question you’d like answered on the show, you can submit by visiting ask-bc.com and if we use your question, we’ll send out a free Breathing Color t-shirt.
We talked to Ron today about some printer RIPs such as Onyx, Color Burst, Wastach and few others. If you want to learn more about these, visit our “Tools of the Trade” page, where we cover these more in depth. You can find the Tools of the Trade page by going to the blog at breathingcolor.com/blog and just look at the top navigation where it says Tools of the Trade. Click there and scroll down to the RIP section and you’ll find everything you need to know.
End Audio 18:07