My Epson 3880 seems to be giving up. I had purchased it from a known Canadian vendor with an extended warranty. Last Summer I started experiencing incomplete test patterns. Did many cleanings, the problem went and came. After consulting here and elsewhere I was told the problem was likely a bad ink pump or motor. So I used my warranty and sent it in. That was a mistake. It took six months. I got it back yesterday. It gives a "SERVICE CALL ERROR 1404 / PLEASE CONTACT TO THE REPAIR CENTER" when I boot it. It also looked banged. I don't think the vendor ever sent it in to Epson. I'm going to have to fight with the vendor to get reparation, but that's not the point of this thread. The point is the 3880 needs replacing.
At first I looked at the natural successor, but it appears the P800 isn't 3rd party friendly. I also want to use rolls, and the P800's extra add-on attachment ($$) is said to be cheap and flimsy. Finally, the ink cost is astronomical compared to what I am used to with my 3880.
Then I considered the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000. Read a lot on it. I like that the MK/PK each have a dedicated line. The wasteful switch in the current Epson design is an obvious cash grab and a major annoyance that also leads to clogs and time wasting. But I'm not familiar with the Canon landscape and don't know of any reputable 3rd party ink provider.
So I am now seriously considering a 4900 as replacement. Despite its age, and the awful clogging problems.
Cone INK, Red River paper and a ColorMunki colorimeter have allowed me to cut costs considerably. I'm a wedding photographer and print a lot of 16x20 and 12x18. I'd like to start doing 16x24. A lab here charges $18 for this, whereas my cost with a 4900 would be around $3.
Everyone raves about the quality of the prints, and it seems to be the only wide format printer I can still buy new and get quality 3rd party inks for. I am ready to dedicate a room the 4900 with controlled humidity (I hear 50% is a sweet spot) and commit to a daily printing ritual to ensure the print heads remain clog free.
However, should I go away on vacation, could I use PiezoFlush to clear the heads, put the 4900 under a heavy duty cover to ENSURE with 100% certainty it wouldn't clog in my absence? Replacing print heads prematurely would definitely outstrip any cost savings.