Epson borderless printing challenges?
While the Epson XP-15000 had been a fantastic printer for professional photo printing in the past, the ink cost associated with this reasonably priced large format printer can quickly become cost prohibitive. Coming in at $20-40/tank, This six-color tank setup gets expensive, especially considering I used it regularly for 13×19 prints. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about.
The rising cost of ink drew me towards the refillable “super tank” printers. Because of the high quality of the prints coming from the XP-15000, I wanted to stay with the Epson brand. Their Eco-Tank line of printers was interesting, especially the ET-8550, the one that was designed for large-format printing. At twice the cost of the XP-15000, I was really hesitant to make that switch, but from what I’ve seen so far, the much lower ink utilization while still providing very similar quality seems to be working out.
Borderless printing on the ET-8550
Most larger fine art prints aren’t borderless, but many photos in the smaller range (4×6, 5×7, etc.) are commonly printed as borderless. After upgrading the firmware the other day on my ET-8550, I was preparing to run about 20 5×7 prints that needed to be borderless. Interestingly enough, when you switch to “borderless” in the driver, it does state that smearing on the edges can occur. I’ve never seen that happen with my XP-15000, but if you preempt me with that message, this is somewhat of a common occurrence.
After the first couple of prints, I noticed a purple fringe on the pop of the print, but then I also noticed a faint magenta line about half an inch from the bottom border. It almost looked like a reflection of light. I ran more prints of different images, and all of them had the same result. I get that there might be smearing on the edges, but there is a visible line that isn’t anywhere near the edge. To test out some theories, I ran the same prints non-borderless, and there was no trace of either issue. So, what was going on?
I had printed borderless on this printer in the last several weeks without issues. So what changed? I looked at the driver settings, tried some different variations, moved from my PC to my Mac to see if what I was experiencing would happen regardless of the platform, and it did.
This didn’t strike me as a misalignment of the printhead or even a dirty printhead. But to troubleshoot these issues, you need to start from the beginning. I chose to try to run the “Print Head Nozzle Check” under the maintenance menu of the Epson ET-8550. That will print test patterns for each of the nozzles. Where you see breaks in the pattern indicates a plugged nozzle.
After the check prints, you’ll be prompted to choose whether you notice any breaks in the printing. If you select the option on the screen that indicates you see breaks, it goes through a cleaning and generates another report.
Basic troubleshooting prevails again. However, I hadn’t thought I had printed enough that a clog was possible, but running the print head cleaning resolved the issues with borderless printing.