Removing "Pizza Wheels" (star wheels) Epson Pro3880 prevent scratches Jon Cone Type5

Dana et al,

Any suggestions or advice for removing the “Pizza Wheels” (star wheels) on the Epson Pro 3880? Anyone done this? Have any experience removing the wheels?

I know I’m not the only one… I’ve scanned all I could find on the net looking for solutions to the “Pizza Wheel” scratching issues with the Epson Pro 3880. When printing with Jon Cone Type 5 (or other glossy papers including Epson’s own glossy papers) the scratches are a BIG problem in the dark areas of the print. Scratches in the lighter areas, for the most part, virtually disappear after the GO coating is applied to the JCS Type 5.

I’ve tried all the easy work-arounds I could find (extending print delay, spacers, spring tension, paper thickness adjust, platen adjust, ink density, etc.), but none of them have eliminated the scratching from the wheels in dark areas. I can’t use the front load option because I need to print 17"x22" paper.

As a last resort, I’m thinking about removing the “pizza wheels” entirely. I’m willing to sacrifice an additional inch or so of image length without the wheels (by not having the “pizza wheels” pull the paper beyond the back rollers) in order to eliminate the scratching. JayMitch on the DPReview forum Jan 16, 2012 “Epson 3880 Pizza Wheels 2012: Any Breakthroughs?” reported that he successfully removed the “pizza wheels” and was able to print OK, albeit with the length reduction I mentioned and paper not being fully ejected after the print… both of which are not major issues for me.

BTW… I do have the official Epson Service Manual for the Pro3880 and I have contacted Epson support regarding this. Epson has long known about the issue (with the Pro3880 and other Epson printers with the star wheels) but offers no definitive fix for it… short of buying one of their other printers that do not have the “pizza wheels” or printing on media that doesn’t scratch or show the wheel marks.


…Just a quick update to my earlier Epson Pro 3880 “pizza wheel” replacement dilemma posting. I think I have a reasonable (at least for me) work-around that won’t require removing the “pizza wheels”.

When using the Front Manual Feed Slot on the Pro 3880, the “pizza wheels” that cause the scratching are moved up and away from the paper… they are not used. I trimmed about ½” off the width of the Jon Cone Studio Type 5 (17”x22”) rendering it 16.5”, the same width as A2 sized paper, which is the maximum size the Pro 3880 can use in the Front Manual Feed Slot. With the “pizza wheels” completely out of the way when using the Front Manual Feed Slot, the Type 5 paper now prints great without any “pizza wheel” scratches or gouges.

With the row “pizza wheels” retracted on the post-ink side of the “print zone” (where the ink is applied, where they were scratching the paper right after the ink was applied), there is now just one row of wheels holding the paper as it enters the “print zone”. The rear rollers support the paper as it goes into the “print zone” but there are no “pizza wheels” on the opposite side to keep the paper perfectly flat as ink is applied in the “print zone”. This appears to result in occasional head strikes on the paper while printing. Measuring the thickness of the paper, the “wide” platen gap setting should be sufficient to prevent head strikes.

Keeping the paper supported in a relatively flat position off the back of the printer during Front Manual Feed Slot use appears to prevent head contact using the “wide” platen setting with JCS Type 5 paper. It appears that a small amount of bend (or bend memory) in the paper is enough to cause it to occasionally come in contact with the print head while printing without the second row of “pizza wheels”.

So… bottom line, using the Pro 3880 Front Manual Feed Slot with 16.5” wide paper eliminates the “pizza wheel scratches” on JCS Type 5 paper (and other glossy papers), and supporting the paper off the back of the printer helps prevent the print head from coming in contact with the paper while using an optimal platen gap.

Hope this helps someone else with the Pro 3880 “pizza wheel” blues.



Hi John~

Thanks for the information. We do recommend our customers using glossy papers use the front paper path to avoid pizza wheel marks, but as you pointed out, this path only accepts paper that is 16.5" or smaller (which doesn’t work for people who need to print on 17" paper).

Best regards and happy printing~ Dana :slight_smile:

Hey Dana,

There’s one more chapter to the Epson Pro3880 “pizza wheel” saga… The Epson Pro3880 doesn’t seem to be capable of using the Front Manual Feed Slot for printing a GO coat. The optical sensors on the print head see the image on the print and interpret it as a Skew error. So, while the Pro3880 can indeed make a “pizza wheel-less” print using the Front Manual Feed Slot, it does not seem to be capable of using the Front Manual Feed Slot with a print for the second pass to lay down the GO coating.

I have two Pro 3880’s, about one year different in age, and they both reliably produce Skew errors with the Front Manual Feed Slot when attempting to feed in a printed image for a GO coat. If I use a blank sheet of paper, both 3880’s load right up with no Skew errors.

If you know of any method to override or defeat the optical Skew sensors on the print head when using the Front Manual Feed Slot on the Pro3880, please let me know.

So… Here’s my current work-around workflow for printing Jon Cone Studio Type 5 on the Epson Pro3880’s to eliminate “pizza wheel” tracks and print head crashes (the Type 5 paper warps a little with various ink loads)… it’s been working reliably on my last dozen or so prints yielding good results:

To Print JCS Type5 on Epson Pro3880 without “pizza wheel” marks:

  1. Perform head clean and nozzle check to ensure clear nozzles and no residual ink on the head
  2. On printer control panel, Set Custom Paper to Fine Art, and Platen Gap = wider (standard -> wide -> wider)
  3. For 17x22 paper, cut paper to 16.5" to 16.6" width… then dust paper thoroughly to ensure a clean print surface
  4. Use Front Manual Feed Slot load procedure, using the right-hand edge alignment stop and front edge alignment line
  5. In QTR-Print, size and position image to allow a 1.5" margin on the bottom of the image… this is necessary to ensure that the rear feed rollers will hold the print throughout the printing because only the rear feed rollers are used with the Front Manual Feed Slot
  6. Print the image
  7. After printing has completed, press the paper feed button (as prompted by the display) to release the rear feed rollers before removing the print
  8. Dry the print thoroughly before moving to the GO coat

To GO coat JCS Type5 on Epson Pro3880 without print head crashes:

  1. Perform head clean and nozzle check to ensure clear nozzles and no residual ink on the head
  2. On printer control panel in Custom Paper set paper type to Standard… return to main menu
  3. On printer control panel, In Printer Setup, Set Platen Gap = widest (to help prevent print head crashes if Type 5 is mildly warped in places)
  4. Ensure print is dust free
  5. Feed print into Rear Manual Feed slot (using normal procedure for rear manual feed)
  6. “Print” GO coat

So… I hope this is the last chapter in “getting the Epson Pro3880 to print on Jon Cone Studio Type 5 paper without pizza wheel scratches and print head crashes” saga. I really like the results I get with the JSC Type 5 with GO… very bright highlights and lots of deep dmax on the low end… excellent!!

Hope this will help others with Pro3880’s wanting to print on JCS Type 5.


Thanks for your input John! Many pro model printers have a sensor that can detect printed area and cause errors when loading a printed sheet back into the printer to print the GO Layer. This is what we have been telling people:

If the printer detects printed area, it will give a paper feed error (I don’t understand why it won’t let you print over a print if you wanted to). There are two ways to get around this: you can either leave about 2 inches at the top margin when printing the ink image, or what I do is attach a 2" strip of paper (a scrap of the same paper so it’s the same width and thickness) to the leading edge of the printed sheet (using painter’s masking tape attached on the back so it sticks but doesn’t tear the paper when removed). Make a custom page size to include the additional 2" length, then select this paper size, feed the print into your printer with leading strip edge first, then hen the printer is “Ready” select the white image and GO curve to print over the maximum printable area of the sheet. You can also attach a strip to the tail end of the sheet (and make a custom page size to include both the top and bottom strips) to avoid the unprinted .58" GO margin at the end of the sheet.

Best regards and happy printing~ Dana :slight_smile:

Great advice Dana. I’ll try the 2" strip on both ends of the paper with a custom paper size to help with both the initial printing process lead out on the tail end and the skew issue on the leading edge when feeding the paper back in for the GO coat.



I’ve since moved on from the 3880’s for K7 printing, stilll use one for ConeColor works great, but I too used the front load method and trimming the paper which did totally eliminate the scratch problem but I also realized that the head gap becomes wider than normal and you can get overspray particularly with dark or black near the edge of the image, such as a keyline or other dark areas this overspray shows up on the white border, it became such a problem that a gallery show I was doing was rejected by the artist because of this problem. When using QTR you no longer have head gap control to reposition the print head so as to eliminate this overspray. Finally gave up and moved to 7880’s problem solved

Thanks much for the information densible. With most of the papers and ink loads that I’m using, overspray has not been a big problem with the “wider” setting. However, it certainly is with some, and it’s frustrating because I know it’s also reducing the quality of the overall image!

On the 7880 is it necessary to use roll feed to have the vacuum active, or will vacuum be active with sheet feed as well? I’m a little nervous about buying a used 7880… not sure if anyone has any advice on this. With Epson’s reliability issues, I probably need to look at a new machine with an extended warranty.

Epson doesn’t seem to mention which of their printers have a vacuum feed in their specs. From other sources it looks like the 7900 has vacuum but I can’t tell if the 7890 has vacuum or not. If anyone knows which Epson models have vacuum, please share.


the 7880’s vacuum in any print mode, it’s very trouble free, a real production machine haven’t had any issues with either machine running k7 inksets and IJM’s refillables. Both of my machines are 09 production and have low mileage they seem to be well built. I’d be afraid of the new machines with the high head failure rate often mentioned. You’re right about the reduced quality of the wide head gap.

I have to pitch in and say my HANDS DOWN FAVORITE Epson printer model that I have worked with over the past +/- 10 years is the Pro 7880/9880. We have five in our ConeEditions Press fine art print studio (each set up with a different Piezography ink tone), and they have been rock solid since day one (they are also 09 models). I still recommend them, though they are not as easy to find now that they have been discontinued- but if you can find one in good working condition- buy it!! You can certainly find them online, here is one of many places:
Unfortunately, I am not so impressed with the new models (7890/9890, 4900 and 7900/9900) due to the alarming amount of problem reports we have received from people using these printers (most are using Epson ink, getting no support from Epson, and contact us for help fixing/unclogging their printers), as well as my experience with our 7900 and two 4900s… (our 7900 has been working well for the last two years, but when we first got it, a service tech had to come out three times to get it working right- which required replacing the head, damper assembly, capping station assembly (twice) and main board!!!) We recommend everyone who gets one of these newer printer models protect themselves with the extended warranty.

Happy printing~ Dana :slight_smile:

Thanks densible & Dana for the 7880 information. Too bad the newer models have so many issues. Maybe I can find a nice used 7880 from a little old lady who just used it on sundays to print a portrait or two of her grandchildren. :sunglasses: I appreciate your comments.

Thanks, John

Anyone know of any good sources for parts (new and used) for Epson Pro 7880’s?


Found a lightly used 7880. Belonged to a graphic designer who took excellent care of it. He was still using the original Epson ink carts that came with the printer when it was new. The vacuum print bed totally rocks… keeps JCS Type 5 completely flat even with heavy ink loads… no print head touches or scrapes at standard platen gap… and no overspray. Very nice!

Thanks Dana and densible for your inputs.


Excellent- glad to hear! That sounds like a great find and should work very well for many years to come!!
Happy printing~ Dana :slight_smile:

Ha! Didn’t see them before, but it looks like InkJetMall is a good source for some new and used Epson Pro 7880 parts. :sunglasses:


Yes, we have dampers, wiper blades, cutter blades and capping stations for several Epson Pro model printers- though they are not currently on our website to order, you can call or contact our sales department to order these parts. Please note, we supply some replacement parts, but do not provide support or instructions for repairing printers, and recommend everyone get the Epson field repair guide or service manual whenever working on their printers. I use the parts we have as needed in the ConeEditions Press printers to keep them in top working condition (as well as regular cleaning and use of all our printers).

Best regards~ Dana :slight_smile:

thanks for this! I just recently posted this same problem. i will try your “fixes”

This write-up may be of particular help: