Color shift issues (but no clogging) with an Epson 3880 that sat idle

My 3880 with Epson ink has never been prone to clogs in the past, so I’ve often let it go pretty long between uses with no ill effects that I could detect (I now realize how bad that can be). Recently however, it sat idle for a year or so and I just made some prints and what I am finding is that they don’t match older prints I made. These inks are old and have been in the printer for years but there were no clogs, etc… when I turned it on. Also, this printer has been lightly used over it’s life in general so it’s not been worked to death I don’t think.

What I find now is that color prints I make are a bit less vibrant or saturated and subtly color shifted toward warmer tones. B&W prints made using ABW mode are noticeably warmer toned instead of the neutral tone they used to be.

I’ve done nozzle checks, tilted the whole printer to agitate ink, removed and rocked cartridges, went over my workflow extensively and ensured no driver, profile, or software changes. I’ve probably gone through 5-10ml of each ink cleaning and making test prints this week yet it just prints differently than it used to. Again, this is directly comparing old vs. new prints where the old prints where carefully stored. Same paper stock, etc…

So my best guess is either settled pigments and/or evaporated solvents, breakdown, etc… that have changed the inks. There’s not a whole lot left of this ink set and I’m not overly worried about tossing it. I have a brand new set here but I am wondering if I should get a flush kit or should I just load the new ink and maybe do a power clean to flush the old out (and if so, how many cycles?).

I am also wondering if I shouldn’t get a flush kit setup for the times when I do need to leave the printer idle for longer times down the road (realizing I would be tossing ink but that’s better than a mucked up 3880 that sat for too long).

So, would flushing before loading the new ink be overkill given that I have no apparent clogging? Or should I just load the new ink and starting printing? I would hate to waste a new ink set on a problem that isn’t ink related (i.e. a printer that instead needs repair/replacing).


I believe this is settled pigment, specifically in your dampers and filters. This settled pigment may have been evacuated from the printer during your first maintenance run before agitating the cartridges outside of the printer itself.

Before doing anything else I suggest printing with our new set of “HD” profiles here:

You may be pleasantly surprised as these ICCs work on a wide array of papers (very different profiling tech).

If things are still wonky, you’ll want to empty your carts of old ink, refill after agitating our ink bottles, and then do 3 power cleanings in a row to clear the system.


Thanks. Note that I am currently not using refillable carts - I am using Epson inks.

Just so I make sure I understand this, if it is settled pigments that have not yet been evacuated by the multiple head cleanings I’ve recently done, you’re saying that doing a series of power cleanings with new ink might be enough? I.e. no PiezoFlush kit needed. I guess either way I will be pushing through whatever is stuck in there one way or another.

If that doesn’t work (or it makes things worst), I am guessing that i’ll need to replace my dampers, etc… Or should I maybe try PiezoFlush first before pulling everything apart?

I’m just not sure how much extra I should do before I load the new ink. All the info I find online starts with trying to unclog a clogged head, which I don’t have (yet).

Try 3 power cleanings with new carts and check. Look at the expiration on the carts though. Usually they give you 2 years.

You may need to ink if it doesn’t work in which case a PF would actually be advised as a half-life maintenance step for this printer.


It’s also highly likely that you will encounter the black ink swap issue after the printer has been sitting unused for a long time. Unless you never swap K, I would do a K swap first before you waste a lot of ink. Replacing the ink system is not a cheap exercise.

This is a further concern I now have. I don’t use the matte black ink at all - haven’t had a reason to swap in a long time and likely won’t either. So that’s probably not good that the matte black has been sitting unused for so long. When I bought the new ink set I didn’t even order a new MK.

I am wondering if I could swap out the matte black for a cart of PiezoFlush, flush that channel through (maybe with QTR), and then just leave it maybe? Or would I risk it leaking/mixing with real ink and further screwing with my prints.

What do people do with their 9th ink cart if they only use one of the black inks?

If you never use MK, it would be fine to put PF in there. I wouldn’t worry to much about it being broken though. Should be fine, :slight_smile:


Just wanted to leave an update in case anyone else ends up with similar problems. New ink and a power clean has resolved the color-shift issues for me, both color and Advanced B&W mode.

Note that prior to the new ink I could not do a power clean as the printer told me not enough was left so I had to wait for the new ink and a new maintenance cart. I wasn’t too thrilled with pumping more of the old ink through anyway, just in case. It only took one power cleaning to fix it though, which I suspect means I’ve got a blend of new and old ink at the moment until I make more prints. Still, the prints that are coming out now seem to exactly match prints from a few years ago.

Thanks for the help and tips of preserving the life of my printer. I’ll pick up a PiezoFlush kit for the next time I need to have extended down time.

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