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Best 13" printer, for fine art prints??

Josh C , Aug 12, 2009; 06:14 p.m.

I figured this is the best place to ask as all the people here have the most experience with these printers.
I am starting a small printing business, just printing up limited edition runs of prints based on paintings and drawings. I don't need a printer that will make anything larger than 13". All of the prints will be on a fine art paper, Somerset velvet, or hahnemuhle fine art paper.
I have been told to get either an Epson 1400 or 2400. But after reading around on these forums, it seems like both printers have problems. I'm not looking forward to dealing with clogged prints heads and printers that waste ink. I also can't afford that, this is just a small *fun* business.
What printer would be best? One that uses dye based inks? I also plan on buying one of the continuous refill systems, unless I should stay away from them?

Thanks, any help would be great.


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Stephane Bosman , Aug 12, 2009; 07:31 p.m.

I have a 2400. The ink consumption using Epson driver and Epson cartridges is horrendous. Firstly the driver is programmed to use as much ink as possible while still getting an acceptable result, instead of using just as much as needed. Secondly when a cartridge is signaled as almost empty by the blinking light, it is so far from being empty that you will not want to change it at that time. The problem is that when it is deemed empty by the printer, it will stop in the middle of a print. In that case, you cannot change the cartridge and have the print resumed. No, you have to throw that print away. Thirdly, after each cartridge change, the printer will run a priming/cleaning cycle that will pump ink from all the cartridges, bringing other cartridges to the point where their led is blinking. Or if you already had nearly empty cartridges, they will be emptied by that cleaning cycle, so you have to change them, triggering another cleaning cycle, pumping more ink from all cartridges, and so on. It drove me mad.

I still use that printer, but with a continuous system. I got the Ink Republic one. I have used several systems on different printers and I find the Ink Republic ones too be the best. For the ink I use MIS (www.inksupply.com), but I only print black and white, so I use one of their B&W inksets. For colour, I'd suggest to get both the CFS system and the ink from Ink Republic. I don't use the Epson driver either, I use a specialized B&W driver. I am not sure there is any practical alternative to the Epson driver for colour.

Alan Goldhammer , Aug 12, 2009; 08:59 p.m.

The R2400 is no longer in production, it has been replaced by the 2880. The 2880 does not pump all cartridges when one is replaced; only the new cartridge is primed. I have never had a problem noted by Stephane above about the printer stoping in the middle of a print. I let the cartidges run down until I get a message that it is empty on the screen and don't pay any attention to the blinking light (found that I can usually get at least 5 more letter size prints out once the light is blinking depending on whether it is a primary color or not). I find the Epson drivers give wonderful results for both color and B&W and have not found any need to get 3rd party inksets or drivers. If ink use is a concern get the 3800 which is a little more expensive but the ink cartidges are about 5-6 times greater in capacity.

Stephane Bosman , Aug 12, 2009; 09:02 p.m.

Good news they have improved the matter with the 2880. Maybe the competitive pressure from third party ink suppliers and Canon and HP printers behaving much better in that regard helped.

G Dan Mitchell , Aug 12, 2009; 10:27 p.m.

The answer you'll get most likely varies depending upon what printer the person answering uses. Certainly the Epson printers in the 2XX0 series (mine is a 2200 and the 2400 is in the same series along with the 2880) can do a wonderful job if you know what you are up to. HP also makes some excellent photo printers that some people prefer, while others get good results from the Canon printers.

Ray House , Aug 12, 2009; 11:26 p.m.

I too use the 2200 and have come to the conclusion that most problems are overstated or due to user error. If my printer stops due to an empty cart, it resumes printing when a new cart is installed. The top manufacturers all make very good printers and if you educate yourself on how to use them you shouldn't have much problems. I will suggest you take a good look at the epson 3800.

Michael Elenko , Aug 13, 2009; 12:50 a.m.

Josh, it would better serve you if you better articulate your requirements. Are you outputting reproductions of artwork, rather than photographs? If the former's the case, then you should be dealing with a production printing press and not a consumer/prosumer printer--I'm not clear about your product.

Are you going to be printing color or black and white? Glossy, pearl, or matte paper? How archival do you need the output to be? Are you going to be framing the prints under glass or just matting them and letting customers provide their own frames? How saturated do you want the colors to be? Should they be accurate or super-rich and glossy?

Each of these may lead to a different recommendation.


Patrick Lavoie , Aug 13, 2009; 07:49 a.m.

forget the 1400 and the 1900..they are not made to handle heavy or artistic paper. You need at minimum at old / used / refurbed 2400 (excellent printer) or a newer model like the 2880. I will suggest a 3800 as i find it handle the heavier paper more correctly, or even a 4880. I had (and a lot of people around me that i know) seem to have some difficulty loading thick paper on the 2880..many time you have to push it manually or reload the sheet 3-4 times. Depend of your budget, from 800$ to 2000$ ; )

Alan Goldhammer , Aug 13, 2009; 10:37 a.m.

Patrick, funny you should comment on the reloading of the paper 3-4 times. Yes, that is a problem with the 2880 but it usually happens only for the first sheet of a run for some reason and then subsequent sheets print the first time. go figure! If I had to do it all over I would buy a 3800 and will probably upgrade to it or its successor when the 2880 gives up. I'm very satisfied (as are those who have seen my work) with the Epson printer

Josh C , Aug 13, 2009; 06:33 p.m.

So just to clarify. I will be making reproductions of paintings and drawings. No photography, well at least none that is planned. All of the prints will be on matte paper, no gloss.
The prints will be sold unframed, that will be left up to the buyer. I know a few galleries that make their prints on one of the super wide epson printers, and they look great. I have no room for a printer that big, and I only want to specialize in smaller prints. So the 3800 making 17" wide prints is a waste for me.
Im not planning on making prints that last forever as well. These prints will be small, fun and most importantly under $50 a pop.
I know a few artists that use the Epson 1400 and 2400 only and have great results, customers are always happy. But they complain that the printers are hard to keep in check.

For a good example, I am creating a shop a lot like Tinyshowcase.com They sell small prints, limited to 50-100 all for like $20-25 a pop. They always sell out the editions. So I am going to do similar, with a different crop of artists.

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