Solved: Maintaining a new 3880


I’m the guy with the totally unmaintained R2400 bought in 2005!

My new 3880 arrived last week (with the 150C fault but an engineer is coming to fix that this afternoon!).

I’ll run it on OEM ink to iron out any other oddities and then move to your refillable cartridges.

Tell me what I need to do to keep it serviced to Cone standards. The Epson manual says nothing about keeping the machine clean - maybe they like them to clog up!!.

I’ll do what you say and hopefully order my cartridges in the not too distant future.


Hi Tony~ What is the “150C fault” your new printer had? Is this the error with the APG sensor or motor?

Yes, you should always make sure a printer works perfectly with OEM inks before installing any third-party inks/carts. This is true even with brand new printers, because they can occasionally have issues right out of the box (as you experienced).
Epson doesn’t provide any cleaning procedures because they’d prefer if you keep buying new printers instead of maintaing a machine to last several years like we do. With regular maintenance and proper use, printers can last significantly longer than without.

The general maintenance routine I recommend for any printer model is:
*Agitate ink cartridges every 1-2 weeks to maintain in-suspension pigment and use printers at least once a week to avoid settled ink in the pro model internal ink lines and to keep the print head moist.
*If a printer will not be used for a month or longer, we recommend installing a set of carts filled with PiezoFlush and purge ink from the printer before turning it off for safe storage. Keep in mind, with printers that have two black channels, only the one that the printer is in the mode of will be effected when you do cleaning cycles or flush a printer, so to flush the second black line, you must do a black ink change. If you only print with one black and not the other, you can install PiezoFlush in the unused black position to keep it from clogging and drying out, so it’s available in the future if you want to use it.
*Keep printers clean by cleaning waste ink build up from the capping station, flushing box and wiper blade every few weeks. If there are any problems such as mis-firing nozzles, stubborn missing nozzles or ink smears/drips on the paper during printing, gently clean waste ink build up from the bottom of the print head (I have included our video link and written instructions for some of these procedures below).
Use humidifiers in the Winter and AC in the Summer if needed to maintain humidity levels between about 40-60% for the best function of printer, inks and paper.

I hope this helps!
Best regards and happy printing~ Dana :slight_smile:

NOTE: Please watch our YouTube video on small format printer maintenance to see these two procedures preformed (as well as other cleaning procedures), here:

Clean the capping station
This tip is easy to perform and often highly effective in fixing not only missing nozzles, but also any residual color you may see in a print shortly after installing a set of Piezography inks in a printer for the first time. This tip is especially helpful if you see a nozzle check pattern become worse after running more and more cleaning cycles.*The capping station should be cleaned 1-2 times a month (depending on frequency of printing and the amount of cleaning cycles done) to keep the print head clean and working well.

The capping station is a rectangular flat sponge surrounded by a raised gasket. When the print head is in the “parked position,” at the right side of the printer carriage, the gasket of the cap presses against the print head, sealing it. One purpose of this is to keep the print head from drying out due to air exposure. The second reason is that the cap is used as part of cleaning cycles: the sponge in the cap is porous, connected to a small vacuum pump underneath. During cleaning cycles, ink is pulled or printed out of the print head, and the ink drains into the sponge, with help from the cap. The ink is then deposited on an absorbent waste pad inside the printer. Sometimes the sponge will clog up, due to dried ink, or due to paper fiber in the sponge, and this keeps the ink from draining out properly. The excess ink will then make contact with the print head, and transfer onto the print head’s nozzle surface. This can cause blocked nozzles, or can even cause the printer to print the wrong color, if leftover color ink is pulled back into the nozzles and printed out again.*
Cleaning off the sponge and gasket of the capping station allows the print head to stay clean. This can often make an ink jetting problem disappear instantly. The steps for cleaning the capping station are listed below. Please note that certain printer models have two caps.*Pro model printers also have flushing boxes, which are square pads located to the left of the capping station- this pad should also be cleaned as waste ink is deposited there during cleaning cycles and drains down into the waste ink tank. If the flushing box pad is blocked by waste ink build up or dried ink, the ink will not drain thru correctly nor will cleaning cycles be as effective because the suction on the print head is restricted by the dirty pad. Flushing boxes and capping stations should be replaced every few years to get the best function and longest life out of your printer.

  1. Access the cap: Move the print head off the cap in order to inspect and clean it.
  • Desktop printers: Push the “ink change” button to move print head off the cap. Unplug the printer then move the print head to the left side to access the capping station on the right.*
  • 3000 printer: Unplug the printer, and manually slide the print head to the left side.*
  • 3800/3880 printer: Turn printer on, unplug printer when print head moves out of the right side during start up process then open the top lid and manually move print head to the left side to access capping station on the right.
  • Large format Epson printers: Turn off the printer and open the front cover. Press down on the spring loaded paper cutter located on the front of the print head, which will unlock the print head so it can easily be moved with your hand (release the paper cutter once the head is unlocked). Move the print head over to the left side to access the capping station + flushing box on the right.*
  1. Look inside the printer case, below where the print head was originally sitting, to find the cap or caps. A cap is a rectangular piece, approximately 1” high by 2” wide (the exact size varies from printer to printer). It is mounted on a spring loaded mechanism.
  2. Look at the cap, using a flashlight if necessary.*
  • It should be horizontal to the print path (depending if it’s a desktop or Pro model printer), not tilted at an angle. If it tilted, there may be a problem with the fixture supporting it. This can cause ongoing problems due to ink drying out in the print head. This problem usually requires the printer to be serviced professionally.*
  • The surface of the sponge must be flat, and sitting below the level of the gasket. Make sure that it does not bow up at all. Sometimes, the sponge will lift up in the center or an edge. When this happens the sponge will always contact the print head, and cause ongoing problems. Older model printers are more prone to this problem. Newer models have a metal grid holding the sponge down.
    4.*Clean the cap. Sometimes you may notice a buildup of residue or liquid in the cap or on the gasket; other times you will not. Use a drinking straw to deposit PiezoFlush solution or warm distilled water, or use the tube from the inside of a bottle of Windex to deposit Windex, onto the sponge. Use your finger to dispense only two or three drops of liquid at a time. The liquid will remain in the cap for a few seconds, but will soon drain out. Repeat this several times. Do not let the liquid spill around the cap, and into the printer, some model printers have important electrical components located under the capping station area and can be damaged by liquid (the 2100/2200 are especially sensitive to this).
  1. Fold a paper towel into a 4”x4” (10cm X 10cm) pad. Press the towel gently on the sponge to dab away ink and PiezoFlush, water or Windex. As you push on the sponge, gently push down and slightly to the right, to protect the spring-loaded mechanism that supports it. Pushing too hard, or pushing to the left can damage the capping station (and hence the printer). After dabbing several times, you will remove much of the liquid, but you can never remove all of it. Make sure the capping station returns to it’s normal position and sits flat for a correct seal with the print head.
  2. Dip a cotton swab (Q-Tip) in water, and use it to wipe gently around the edge of the capping station gasket, to remove dirt buildup there. Again, be careful not to push the capping station out of alignment. Take care not to leave any Q-tip fibers behind on the capping station sponge or gasket.*
  3. Return the print head to the parked position (on far right side), plug the printer back in and turn it on if necessary.* Run one or two print head cleaning cycles then print a nozzle check pattern. If the nozzle check pattern is better, but not perfect, do one or two more cleaning cycles and print another nozzle check pattern. If the nozzle check pattern continues to show missing nozzles, contact Inkjetmall’s support department for assistance.*

Scrub the bottom of the print head
Use this procedure to clean the bottom of the print head, where the nozzles are located. You will manually move the print head back and forth over a folded, wetted paper towel. This procedure can remove a buildup of paper fibers, dust and ink gunk that may not be removed by print head cleaning cycles. Use this procedure sparingly, and understand that it is the most invasive of the tips listed, in that it can damage the print head if performed improperly. A dry paper towel can actually scratch the print head, affecting its performance. Additionally, if there is any abrasive residue built up on the print head, this technique may either scratch the print head or else force a piece of solid matter into a nozzle, permanently closing it. However, if used carefully and in moderation, it can be a very effective cleaning technique, particularly on an older printer, perhaps one that has never been cleaned before, or one that has sat for a long period of time without use.*

  1. Get several Bounty paper towels and a glass of warm distilled water or a bottle of PiezoFlush. We recommend only using heavy duty paper towels when cleaning the inside of your printer because cheap ones easily tear and leave behind fibers, which can cause more problems.*
  2. Unlock the print head from the far right parked position:
    Desktop printers: Push the “ink change” button to move print head off the cap. Unplug the printer then move the print head.
  • 3000 printer: Unplug the printer, and manually slide the print head.
    3800/3880 printer: Turn printer on, unplug printer when print head moves out of the right side during start up process then open the top lid and manually move print head.
    Large format Epson printers: Turn off the printer and open the front cover. Press down on the spring loaded paper cutter located on the front of the print head, which will unlock the print head so it can easily be moved with your hand (release the paper cutter once the head is unlocked). Move the print head over to the middle of the printer to easily clean.
  1. Cut a paper towel in half and fold it lengthwise until the strip is about 1” (2.5cm) wide, by about 8 inches long.
  2. Lightly dampen the folded towel with Windex or PiezoFlush solution and flatten it between two fingers or on a table top.
  3. Push the moist folded paper towel strip in the black plastic channel beneath where the print head travels back and forth when printing. Push the edges of the paper towel down, especially the right end so the head doesn’t catch on the towel when slid over it.*
  4. Manually slide the print head over the right edge of the paper towel, trying not to slide or drag the towel as you do so. If it doesn’t slide over easily, don’t force it- move the head back to the right and flatten the towel edge to try again.*
  5. With the print head over the center of the folded moist paper towel, lift the two sides of the towel and gently slide it back and forth to clean the bottom of the print head- like shining a shoe.
  6. After two or three passes of the paper towel, let go of the paper towel and slide the print head to the far right, remove the towel, and if more cleaning is needed replace it with a new one, following steps 3-7 above. Two towels are generally enough to remove the majority of the debris on the print head. Additional towels will continue to turn black, but this is mainly due to ink from inside the print head, wicking onto the towel by capillary action.*Make sure not to rip the paper towel with the print head, as that could cause fibers or pieces to be stuck onto the print head.
  7. When you have finished scrubbing the print head, slide the print head to the far right and remove the moist towel, then use a clean, dry paper towel and Q-tips to clean up any liquid remaining in the black plastic channel.*
  8. Plug in the printer and run one or two cleaning cycles to remove any remaining paper fibers from the bottom of the print head. Then verify you have a perfect nozzle check pattern before printing.


Those instructions are fantastic. Thank you so much.

You asked “Hi Tony~ What is the “150C fault” your new printer had? Is this the error with the APG sensor or motor?”

It seems that a batch have come into the UK with inadequate lubrication on those white plastic cog wheels at the right top of the machine. What my man did was to put some white ‘grease’ on to the cogs - I’d guess there were about six. He said he had done quite a lot in London and nearby. He was able to spot the problem by turning on the printer and letting it do its initial cycles. When it had finished and was waiting to print the two lights on the control panel illuminated. Had I sent the machine a print I would have got the 150C message. According to the UK help desk you can sometimes clear the message by removing the mains for about 30 seconds. All this does is to reset the chip that points up the error. It is not a cure as, until the cogs are lubricatated it will happen each time you power up.

When I asked the engineer what was the most common problem that he had to deal with he said it was lack of use rather than over use. Dried ink, it seemed is the biggest danger. Yes, some parts wear out in time - but that is the least of his problems it seems.

He said that quite few customers, when they are not using the 3880, take out the maintenance cartridge and replace it with a damp sponge on some sort of tray. This keeps moisture in the area and reduces the drying up. He uses plain water to damp the sponge. The tray is merely to support the sponge and keep the bottom of the slot dry.

Maybe another caveat relates to the fact that the auto feed is only intended to take paper up to 250gsm. I had not realised that as I had not regarded my Ilford Smooth Pearl, at 270 gsm, as being all that heavy.

That’s about it as regards the machine. My man was here on Monday and since then the machine has powered up with no problem - so hopefully his little pot of ‘grease’ has done the trick.

Thanks again Dana. Now I know how to keep my machine clean. Probably the first thing for me to buy from you, before I start using up the ink I bought a month ago, is a set of flushing cartridges. I’ll be in touch.


Thanks for clarifying the problem you were experiencing with your new printer, I hope it works flawlessly now after being repaired!
Best regards and happy printing~ Dana :slight_smile: