Epson 3880 Ink blotches on paper. repair or replace?

My Epson Stylus pro 3880 is seven years old and lightly used. Sometimes, I did not use it for several months. About a month ago I was printing a set of photos that came out with black ink blotches and marks near the edge of the paper. I went online and found your helpful video tutorial on “how to professionally clean your Epson 3800 & 3880 printers” I followed the instructions and allowed the cleaning solution sat on the printer overnight but the issue remained.

I then contacted Epson for support; they sent me a set of instructions as follows:

“This issue could be an indication of clogged nozzles of the printer. Please uninstall and reinstall the ink cartridges (or the one recently replaced) and run three head cleaning cycles with a nozzle check in-between. If the nozzle check is almost 100%, leave the printer off overnight then do another cycle of cleaning and nozzle check the next day. This process should resolve the issue.”

These I ran twice and the issue was not resolved. I even replaced the Light Black cartridge and the Maintenance Cartridge. I contacted Epson again over the phone, and applied a series of test including two power cleaning cycles, followed by nozzle check that showed broken lines on the Matte Black column and some black lines on the Yellow column. Their final verdict was to take the printer to an authorized servicer for evaluation and repair, but that will be my last resource.

I would like to keep my printer going, and if possible repair it myself. The question is repair or replace? Any suggestions?

Thank you very much.

Nestor Gonzalez.

Can you post photos of the nozzle checks? It could be a problem with the dampers if you are seeing black getting into your yellow. You may need to do three power cleanings (full flush of the ink lines from cartridge through head) and not normal cleanings to re-prime everything in the right direction.


You are right, l don’t know if it the photos are clear enough, Im getting black ink into the yellow.
Your suggestion is to do three more power cleanings?


So, after looking at this, I think you have a stuck black ink damper switch. Please switch the black ink to the other one than what is currently selected and run a cleaning and see if this fixes it. There is a good chance that the other black ink will not print at a ll and this would also confirm the black ink switch issue. It’s a problem on this model that is fixed by replacing the entire ink supply unit (about $150 bucks and not insignificant labor).


I switched the black ink to matte (the opposite to what I was using), ran a cleaning cycle and the nozzle check came out clean. As the photo shows the issues now appears to be fixed?

After this process the printer run out of the “light cyan ink” which I just reordered. Then I have to wait til Monday to print a photo and see the results.

I want to thank you for the technical support!!

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I had exactly this with my 3880 and did a thorough clean and flush through of the ink station and drain (which were both filthy) into the service pack, which effected a total cure. As I change over to Piezoflush every year before leaving at my French base for 6 months over the winter, the ink station takes a bit of a beating.


if you have a stuck black ink damper switch, as Walker suggests, one common symptom is that one of the black carts has drained. What you can do as a diagnostic is to take the MK and PK carts out and weigh them and see whether that corresponds to the percentage of ink used reported by the printer or driver. OEM carts are about 80gms empty more of less and about 145gms full. Not sure about IJM refillables. If the cart weighs as empty but the chip reads as 50% full for example, that’s not a good sign.

The weight of both MK and PK corresponds to what the printer shows. Is that a good symptom or a bad one? does it confirm the printer have a stuck black ink damper switch?

So, these are the final nozzle checks. First photo was done with “Photo black” and second photo was done with “Matte black” The difference of the broken lines is minor but appears on both images.
Does it that confirm I “have a stuck black ink damper switch.” ?
If so, please indicate the right ink supply unit for this model, so I can order it.
Thanks much!

The fact that the weights of your cartridges correspond to the ink levels reported by the chips means that neither cartridge has drained. This is good news insofaras a drained cart is a sure sign of a failed black ink selector switch and an expensive, often uneconomic, repair. But it is not a guarantee that the switch hasn’t failed. I defer to Walker for further diagnosis.

Thanks Brain, Im waiting on Walker to reply to my last post. I hope whatever the issue is not too costly.

Hi Walker,

Its been a while since my last reply to this forum and I have not been able to repair the printer.
You mentioned “It’s a problem on this model that is fixed by replacing the entire ink supply unit” Attached is an image of the part that I found online, could you advise if this is the right ink supply unit for this model and also where to get the instructions, as I’ll repair it myself. 1607156


this is the correct unit.

I will PM you in a sec,


It seems doable. I see how it goes.

Thank you very much!!