How best to get fresh ink through the dampers of an Epson 3880

In an Epson 3880 printer, what is the best way (least ink wastage) to make sure that the ink in the dampers is still optimum i.e. has not “settled”? I am sometimes unable to print for 2-3 weeks. The printer has no clogs and works perfectly. I can shake the cartridges to make sure the ink in them is in suspension but I do not know how much ink resides in each damper, or how much printing is needed to get good ink to the paper. Do I need to print QTR-flush page for each ink (I’m using K7 NU), is one or more pages of QTR-8-ink-purge.tif sufficient, is it most efficient to do a power clean? Any help is appreciated. Thanks,

To tell you the truth, with this printer and that ink you really won’t have any troubles ever. The dampers (ink supply unit) will need to be replaced in a few years but possibly up to 5 or 6 years.

This ink is incredibly kind on Epson heads and dampers. We filter the particles down well below Epson specs and they do not agglomerate at all compared to color pigments.

If the printer has no clogs and works perfectly, you are fine. If you notice it starting to clog at all between usage, then it’s time to clean the flush box and cleaning unit/capping-station. If you notice it clogging during printing, then it’s time to replace the ink supply/dampers.


The question was phrased in terms of dampers, but it reads to me as actually being about sedimentation of the ink in the ink lines between the cartridges and the print head - how to prevent it, and how to deal with it should it occur.

It may not clog but it won’t be linear. If you don’t print a lot with a 3880, you will get sedimentation in the ink lines. That is why I abandoned the 3880 for an R2000 and P2. Here’s the long thread discussing it: Swapping inks and dealing with the residual in the lines

Both Brian and Jeff’s statements hold true. And is true of all wide formats. If you don’t use them, they won’t be very linear, but if you suspend carbon again, you’ll get your linearity back. Carbon sediment will not agglomerate beyond the point of getting through the damper filters so a few maintenance cleanings will get rid of it.

We put our printers on wire racks at Cone Editions Press. Every few days if a printer hasn’t been used, we just give the whole rack a shake and that does the trick :wink:

With the bottles, Jeff Gaydash told us a nice little tip. Keep the bottles on their sides and just flip them every few months by 90 degrees (they are square so that works). The ink will stay is suspension for years and years that way.


Thank you, my printer anatomy is lacking but it is indeed the ink lines that I am concerned about, as Brian said. My concern is print quality (linearity and slight color shifts), and best practice to minimize these drifts. I can’t easily shake my printer but, again, do you think weekly printing a page or two of a target that prints all inks push enough ink through the lines to prevent drifts and sedimentation?

Yeah, weekly printing will keep it ok.

The head movement actually keeping the ink in the dampers and ink-lines agitated.


Although it’s quite a long thread, I think it’s worth Wayne’s time reading Jeff’s thread, not least because my recollection is that his experiences ran counter to some of the information provided here.

The point of agreement is that regular printing combined with aggitation of the cartridges is the best insurance.

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Here’s a quote from Jon on the subject of shaking in the thread:

On the printer shaking - we do shake large format printers because the carts have a very large volume and about 10 inches of length for the ink to travel and slosh back and forth with the gentle shaking of the printer. On an 38XX you would have to shake it too violently to get the same effect. So, its a better practice to remove and shake gently. Were you to do the same gentle shake with a printer in hand as you would with the cart - it would be quite a violent shake. Rolling a pea back and forth at 20 revolutions per minute - or rolling an elephant back and forth at 20 revolutions per minute - are not the same. The former would be a gentle experience - the latter quite violent. It’s just a matter of scale in regards to the contents of the cart. So you would really have to shake the beejeezus out of an Epson 1400 to stir up the contents in the carts. You would appear as a mad man seething with rage. Were you in the USA you would probably be gunned down by neighbors. Certainly you would be subdued and held down until the EMT arrived to sedate you, move you to a psych hospital, and begin your evaluation. That little bit of time savings in removing the carts could cost you three months from work, alienate you from your pets and family, and subject you to poor hospital food, as well as a possible lobotomy. We’re a little cautious here in the USA, so we suggest removing the carts and shaking them.

Has this changed? I’m just a mite confused.

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I’ve finished reading the thread that Brian referenced above, and that Jeff started, and I have a better understanding now of this issue. Thanks Brian for pointing me to it. Jeff, what printer are you now using? Shaking the 3880 carts weekly is the easy part. How much (quantity and frequency) to print to keep the system linear and drift-free, as I understand it, depends on the user’s tolerances and finances. Three power cleans if not used for 2 weeks might be ideal but hardly cost free- but it is helpful to know this practice is one end of the user’s range of possible solutions. Thanks to all who helped here.

Wayne, I’m now using an R2000 running P2. Brian mapped the 3880 P2 curves to the R2000 and I then linearised them for the R2000. Jon has stated that K6 and K7 are indistinguishable so I lost nothing as far as prints go. I can now switch between gloss and matte with no ink loss.

What I did lose was the ability to print larger than SA3. Carts are more problematic with the desktop printers but it looks like IJM is about to solve that with their new ones. The smaller carts mean that you are going to spend more time reloading them than with a 3880. If you do a daily nozzle check, the carts will get a shake.

I’m sure that Brian will chime in when he gets off the plane, but I’m very happy with the R2000 now. I have had problems with carts which, thanks to Walker and the suggestion to only have a needle sized hole in the air vent, have mainly gone away.

Using a 3880, or any printer with ink lines, and only being an occasional printer left me feeling like a prisoner of my printer. Using a desktop printer is a no-brainer to a simple minded user like me.

I am between planes - off one and about to get on another.

I would dearly love to have a 3880 running piezo. 13" is not very large, esp on a gallery wall. Even 17" is not that large nowadays in this age of humungous print sizes, but it’s better. And for smaller prints it would be fantastic to avoid the first and last inch microbanding problem that occurs with desktop printers.

I almost bought a 3880 for piezo a couple of years ago, after Jeff’s initial successes. The problems in that thread occurred just in time to stop me.

I’ve written a blog post with a summary of my views:

Because it’s not just the “prisoner of the printer” issue, there’s also the regular MK/PK switch issue, the cost of which adds up over time of you’re only doing it to prevent sedimentation. Although as I mention in another blog article, you can solve that particular problem by running P2 rather than K7.

There are plenty of people running ink-lines-and-dampers i.e. Pro printers with Piezo, so it can be done. And I believe that the benefits of Piezo are better seen the larger you print. You just need to make sure that you jump in with your eyes wide open. Perhaps also your wallet, but with a LF printer that’s probably true no matter which inkset you run.

I’ve printed with 5 or 6 3880s for over a year now (some sitting quite a while) and have not seen issues in settling and linearity. I think the printer shake method is sufficient or even a simply maintenance cleaning, but if you want to ensure it works, a page a week and a gentle pull and agitate of the carts would not hurt.

I personally think the 3880 is the best Epson printer ever made (with the 9880s a close second).


Agree re the 3880.

How long is “quite a while”, because I can get noticeable deviations in linearity in desktop carts within two months, and I’d have thought that the Pro printers wouldn’t be any better? Somewhere (I think it was in Jeff’s long thread), Jon recommended agitating the carts and doing the MK/PK switch every 2-3 weeks.

What’s interesting about the 3880 is the back/forth push/pull of the ink during the movement of the head. This works quite well at maintaining agitation in the printer (simply by printing a sheet every once and a while). It seems to agitate much more during the printer process than even the cart-over-head small formats ironically.

Ideally Epson would make printers like Canon with ink agitators built into the printer itself . . . .


Quite a While as in well over a month.


This is one of those posts that upends conventional wisdom, and Jeff and I have been puzzling over it:

What’s interesting about the 3880 is the back/forth push/pull of the ink during the movement of the head. This works quite well at maintaining agitation in the printer (simply by printing a sheet every once and a while). It seems to agitate much more during the printer process than even the cart-over-head small formats ironically.

In a couple of posts in the above-mentioned thread from 2015:

Jon said:

BUT - if we let a printer sit for 3 unexpected weeks whether Epson OEM, or ConeColor Pro, or Piezography inks - we do not hesitate to run an INITIAL INK CHARGE or three Power Cleans (on X880 printers). Why? Because of our high standards. That is the best practice.” and “With this in mind - you would want to shake your carts every two weeks. You would want to print with a large format printer regularly so that ink does not remain in the ink lines for more than two weeks.

I’m not trying to be a smart-alec here, pointing out apparent contradictions. This is an important point. Conventional wisdom has been that the head going back and forth on a carts-on-head printer was enough to keep the pigment in suspension and prevent sedimentation (although even then there are limitations in my experience), but not in an ink-lines and dampers printer. Nothing in Jon’s posts two years ago suggested that print head movement in an ink-lines-and-dampers printer alone prevented sedimentation. If it did, then Jeff should not have had sedimentation in his dormant PK line.

Are we missing something? Is this a change of position?

I’m not trying to contradict conventional wisdom. All I’m saying is that periodically printing with these printers is a viable solution and is an alternative to more drastic measures. In short, these printers respond very well indeed to actually being used. More so than other printers.

If you take this printer and run a print (real print gradient from dark to light) or ideally 3 prints a week, it will keep it exercised and fresh in a much more seamless way, and running prints regularly will keep the inks agitated sufficiently.

This is only my observation.


ps: Related to Pro ink, I have seen linearity maintained over a 2 month span with zero movement of the head and zero cleanings/shaking. So this conversation is more related to K7s. Pro is an entirely different carbon.