Epson 3880 Ink Smudges PK Prints Only PK/MK Switch?

This has probably been addressed, but have Epson 3880 that’s 7 yrs. old, always covered with Tumi cover. ~1100 prints, nozzle check is fine, but getting ink streaks on prints after a period of not using the printer. Switching to MK & printing on velvet paper there are no issues. Switching back to PK & printing on Epson Premium Luster the streaks return and are on front of print only. (Vertical & horizontal along edges). Performed a thorough cleaning with the PiezoFlush Preventative Maintenance Kit, which likely improved the nozzles from clogging, but I assume this is a MK/PK switch issue?
Pulled all the carts, shook them, weighed each & weight correlates with what printer control panel indicates percentage wise. Likely going to upgrade to P800, but would prefer to keep this one going. Any input appreciated.

The ink switcher is broken. Common problem with this printer. Sadly the ink supply unit is no longer available from Epson parts dealers. You can get the P800 and still use the same carts though,.


I currently have 4 3880s, 2 of which have bad black ink switches just like yours. If using Piezography inks, it is quite possible to keep a printer in this condition running with a P2 ink layout by putting it in MK mode and never changing back to PK. (It always seems to be PK that leaks in my experience and from what I can remember hearing from others.) I put PiezoFlush in the PK channel so that there won’t be much of a mess if I accidentally invoke a black ink change, but that hasn’t happened in going on 2 years for the 1st and about 2
months now for the 2nd.

I know that Compass Micro doesn’t have the ink assembly (or many other parts for the 3880) in stock anymore, but I did come across a place I was previously not aware of recently when looking for replacement wiper blades:

I did replace the ink supply assembly on a 3800 back in 2012 or 2013 and reported on the adventure here in the forum. It was successful and ended up giving it to a friend and it kept running with no further problems until last year. It can be worth the effort if you have the patience for that sort of thing.

If I wasn’t on such a tight budget these days I’d probably go for a P800.


Since I may need one of these myself one day, is alibaba a viable source?

I have enjoyed the 3880 a lot & the prints are exceptional. Given how little I’ve used the printer it’s unfortunate to have this switch problem. I suppose I should adhere to a maintenance schedule & change from PK to MK on occasion. I could attempt installing an ink assembly, but probably just best to buy a P800. The Tumi cover I have apparently fits the slightly smaller P800 as well, so that’s good news. Thanks for the input.


3880 carts are almost depleted & not worth the expense of replacing. I’ll likely buy a P800 as It’s not worth repairing the 3880. I’d be reluctant to use older K3 inks with the P800. Thanks for confirming the switch. I rarely printed in MK mode, so I guess the lack of using the switch caused the problem.

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That’s a good question. I’ve always found it amusing on the Epson Wide Format forum how so many seem to get their kicks from disparaging anything made in China, seemingly oblivious to the fact that just about everything is made in China, including these printers and most if not all of the parts in them.

I’ve ordered parts for several printers directly from China a few times over the last 12 or so years with never a problem. In fact, they often arrive faster than things ordered within the US. With the current virus scare and travel situation, that may not be the case until things stabilize.

Alibaba being more or less the Amazon of China, I’d be a little wary of ordering printer parts from there given the trouble Amazon in having with counterfeits and such, but who knows. Is Aliexpress the same as Alibaba?

Here are some other options:

It’s been a while, but I’ve ordered from all of these (and a few others I can’t remember the names of) in the past, sometimes through eBay, with never a problem.


Thanks for that Keith. I’m aware that many things are made in China and I have ordered a few things direct from there in the past. What has me a little nervous about printer parts was a report by Jon and Dana of a trip they made about a decade ago searching for a reliable supplier of refillable cartridges. That blog article doesn’t appear to be online any more, but my recollection is that they found that quality varied enormously.

Refillable carts are a slightly different case to spare parts, but all the same the report left me a bit wary about quality variation. I’m currently in the market for a part for my sick R1900, and there are a number of Chinese suppliers, and what has me balking is knowing to what extent quality is an issue and who to trust.