9900 vs. 9890 printers: how are they holding up?


#1

My small college will be buying a 44" printer in the next budget cycle. We currently own two 3800 (excellent, generally) and a 4900 (finicky, and troublesome). We believe that the differences in print quality between these two types, two generations apart, are tiny enough not to matter to our users. I doubt whether we’d be concerned about the difference in print quality between the X890 and X900 printers, either. We now know that we have to flush the 4900 for storage at the end of each term, but it’s still more likely than the others to develop clogs. We wouldn’t buy this printer again. We remove and shake all our inks about once a week.

I don’t hear good things about the other X900 printers, either, in terms of clogging especially. If we buy one, I will specify the extended warranty thing, and pray. I would love to hear people who actually own 7890 / 9890 printers, and 7990 / 9900 printers in respect to reliability or maintenance, and whether you have a controlled environment to operate in (humidity / temperature) or not.

Thanks for any perspectives you have!


#2

Hi Jonathan~

I hope others chime in with their experiences with these printer models, but I can give you feedback based on my experience with our 7900, 4900 (both died), and current 9900, as well as my perspective from answering support questions for our customers using these and other model printers.

We got the 7900 when they first came out a few years ago. The Epson techs had to come out three times in the first month of it’s life to get it working right- they replaced the print head (TWICE!), ink selector unit (damper unit), cleaning unit (capping station, wiper and flushing box unit), and even the main board. It worked well after that for about two years (there were usually missing nozzles each morning, but they cleaned up after a few regular cleaning cycles, then it printed well all day). After about two years of regular use and decent results, the light cyan channel suddenly stopped printing the middle section. I did everything I could, starting with cleaning the capping stations, wiper blade, flushing box and bottom of the print head, as well as power clean cycles and installing PiezoFlush carts then doing an initial fill cycle- but the results were the same. I then replaced the dampers and flushed the print head (I actually tried cleaning the print head several times by taking it out, and carefully flushing it with PiezoFlush- which seemed to do the trick, since all the LC nozzles were firing after a few flushes), but after putting the printer back together and doing a few cleaning cycles/nozzle checks- the results were actually worse than before. I researched online for cleaning/repair tips, and found http://myx900.com/, which offers lots of helpful (and funny) information/videos about working with these printer models, including dissection and microscopic views of the print head- which made me realize the print heads in these models don’t respond well to flushing like previous model heads, so we ended up trashing that printer (though I did learn a lot while working on it).

We got a 4900 shortly after they came out, and initially tested it with the Epson carts to learn about the printer (as we do with every printer we get). After a few months, it started having clogging/flow issues, and Epson sent us a replacement printer. We used the new printer with Epson carts for a while to make sure it worked well, then installed Ink Thrift dye ink and our refillable carts to test the ink and carts, and make some profiles for this printer/ink combination. After testing/profiling and having pretty good results, we had to move onto other projects, so flushed the printer and let it sit for a few months. When we went to use it again, the nozzle check was missing sections, and got worse after every cleaning cycle until nothing was printing at all. I thought maybe it was because that printer was not in a room where we normally control humidity, and it had been very dry, so set up a humidifier in the room, and continued cleaning/working on the printer. Of course by the time I called Epson for service, it was a few days past the warranty period based on the purchase date of the first 4900, so the were no help other than to say we could pay for repair. Based on our experience with the first printer, and all the reports we’ve received from other 4900 users struggling with constant problems, we decided it wasn’t worth spending $ to repair, so trashed that printer too…

Our 9900 is newer (we did get the extended warranty on this one), and has been working pretty well as a production printer in our studio (with our refillable carts and ConeColor ink), but like the 7900, often has missing nozzles in the morning, though they usually clean up after one regular cleaning cycle, then it prints well for the rest of the day. After our experiences and overwhelming amount of problem reports we’ve received from other users (and what we’ve read online from when others have posted about their experiences with these models), we constantly cross our fingers and hope it works every day, not knowing if/when it will suddenly quit (which is pretty uncomfortable). As with all the production printers in our studio, we carefully maintain the humidity and temperature levels, as well as clean and use printers regularly to get the best results and longest life. I don’t believe we’ll get any more x900 or x890 printers when this one goes…

The x890 and x900 printers are very similar, and use the same print head technology and ink systems. The 7890/9890 models are essentially just 7900/9900 models without the orange and green channels.

When people ask for my opinion on what pro model Epson printer they should get, I can’t honestly recommend the x890 or x900 without explaining what I said above, and tell them if they get one of these models, to protect themselves by getting the extended warranty. My personal opinion after working with a wide range of Epson printers over the years, is I LOVE the 7880/9880 models, and wish Epson didn’t discontinue them… they’re solid, consistently work well (we have 6 in our studio, and all have been working fabulously for over 5 years with very little maintenance), can be worked on and cleaned as needed- overall are very reliable, and produce excellent print quality. We wish we could get a few more, but they’re not easy to find, and people who have them don’t want to get rid of them.

So, I know this isn’t super helpful as far as helping you decide which printer to buy, but is my feedback/experience.
Warmly~ Dana :slight_smile:


#3

Dana…all I can say is, don’t resign from your post as the uber-resource for fussy printers. Very helpful info.—thank you for taking the time to post it.

I wonder if your 9900, being newer, had some (un-announced ) tweaks to the design that improved on the earlier versions. Your 7900 sounds like a total disaster; your 4900 sound quite similar to ours. Tiny clogs show up here and there, and usually clear with one or two cleaning cycles. I would say we have to run some level of head-cleaning on the 4900 3-5 times as often as with our 3800s.

We have no effective control over humidity in our print room, and until recently, we were saddled with extreme over-ventilation as well, for reasons I’ll not bother to explain. We may be able to move our printers to a near-by area where these things could be better controlled.

Our regular routine is: for each printer every day, run a reference print that exercises all the nozzles, then run a nozzle check. If we see gaps in the checks, or lines in the print, we’ll re-test within an hour or so. If problems still appear, clean, then wait, test and clean again if we have to. Once each week or two, I remove and shake the carts, then reinstall—[I]before[/I] I run the morning’s tests. Our printers get very sporadic use, sometimes steady, and then they’ll sit unused for days, except for the tests. The 3800’s survive this crazy situation remarkably well, much better than I would expect. Compared to my personal R1800, the 3800 is about perfect. Our oldest 3800, which I believe dates to '08, never had any service other than cleaning off the surface of the head and carriage, as per your instructions, for all of the six years we’ve had it. I just had a certified repair shop replace the head and ink system on it, and it seems fine now, $600 plus another $100 plus in shipping. I can’t spend time doing such repairs myself, though I’m probably capable.

As you may remember, we now flush the 4900 entirely with Piezoflush, and let it sit during off-term time with your carts and Pf installed, until it’s time to wake it up for term use. All I can say is, it hasn’t died…yet.

If you suddenly find just a single 9880 beyond those that you want for yourselves, get in touch!


#4

I believe that environmental factors play a larger role than many may realize with inkjet printers, and maybe even moreso with Epson’s latest generation of pigmented inkjet printers. I have both an Epson 9900 (color) and a 9890 (K7 B&W) in studio, as well as an old 4800 that just won’t die. I have hygrometers next to each printer and humidity is fairly stable at 50-60%. I have had zero problems with print head clogging (knock on wood!) with my 9900 or 9890. Even if left powered down and idle for a week at a time (rare) my printers rarely need more than a nozzle check to bring back online for printing. Once in a while a paired nozzle cleaning is required, and rarely a normal cleaning. Printers like to be used, and I wouldn’t recommend any wide format printer regardless of brand if sitting idle for extended periods is the norm.

ken


#5

Thanks for chiming, Ken. Since cutting down on over-ventilation in the room where our printers live, I’m seeing less clogging than before. The humidity control may be harder to achieve, but we will try to do it. How long have you been using the 9890 and 9900 units?


#6

The 9890 is well into its second year; the 9900 is well into its third year.

I’m pretty careful about maintenance of my printers aside from just monitoring humidity levels. I inspect/clean the wiper blade every few months, and change it at least once a year. This is inexpensive and easy to do. I use roll media, so I also have a small powerful hand vacuum (Eureka Dirt Devil Scorpion) that I use to vacuum the edges of the media, and around the printer. You’d be surprised how much media dust collects on the deck, and Murphy’s Law dictates it will migrate to the printer head.

ken


#7

Thanks for your input Ken. I’m glad you’ve been having good results with your printers, and agree they work best with regular use, correct and clean environmental conditions, and regular cleaning/maintenance.

~Dana :slight_smile:


#8

Hi Jonathan, I have a 9890 and it looks like my print head has failed. I have only had the printer 2 years. Epson knows fully well about these printers. They tell you not to do over 3 normal cleanings. Yea sure, then what if you still have clogs. On my 9800 and 4800 I kept cleaning until they were clean. My 9800 is a workhorse and I left it at times for over 6 months, came back and ran a power cleaning and voila, I was up and running. My 4800 took upwards of 6 to 7 cleanings but it always came back to life. The more I tried to clean the 9890 the worse it got. Now I have 4 channels with nothing!! $5000 and now I’m screwed! You want to really see how to fix clogs once and for all on these machines, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bf6kOEtgQqE


#9

Dean,

Well, that video may have done a service for all X900 users. And potential buyers… I think that embarrassment and humiliation may be the best motivators for a company with customer service like Epson’s.

If my college ends up with one, it will most certainly buy the extended warranty.