Epson 3880 Pizza Wheels 2012: Any Breakthroughs?

Started Jan 16, 2012 | Discussions
JayMitch
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Epson 3880 Pizza Wheels 2012: Any Breakthroughs?
Jan 16, 2012

I've noticed the classic "pizza wheel" marks on prints on and off over time. Generally limited to areas of dark tone with little texture. But they've recently come to frustrate me more in some darker prints and a series with large areas of black. I've researched here and elsewhere and found suggestions like...

1) Increase drying time
2) Increase platen gap
3) Use front feed
4) Remove the roller wheels

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1003&message=31298944&q=pizza&qf=m

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1003&message=33704393&q=pizza&qf=m

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1003&message=33784432&q=pizza&qf=m

None of these work. On the same dark print (not underexposed - dark by design sports portraits) I see the marks on Epson Ex Fiber, Epson Premium Glossy, Epson Luster, Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique, and Canson Platine Fibre Rag (among others). It's not a paper issue, it's a machine issue.

Drying time on its face makes sense. Drier ink = harder ink = less susceptible to marks. I ran an 8 1/2" x 11" test yesterday on Exhibition Fiber with high speed off, 20 second dry time. Took over 10 minutes to complete... and had marks.

Platen gap is for head strikes (no issues), not pizza wheels. Those wheels press against the rubber feed rollers below them the same way regardless. Have tried Wider platen, and even cranked the paper thickness to its max 15. Result? Pizza marks and a fuzzy print.

The front feed. That it becomes a suggestion in order to bypass a fundamental flaw of the machine is frustrating on its own. Thanks to Eric for his insight, but while this does in fact bypass the rollers and eliminate any marks it comes with some important and deal-breaking caveats. First, aside from letter-sized prints my desk doesn't have the requisite space behind the printer to allow feeding anything longer. Second, with the front feed comes a larger minimum margin on the short/leading edges of the paper, up to 0.79" from 0.12". For this particular set of prints I was working with a 0.5" margin so the image was cropped. It would preclude printing a 12x18" image on a 13x19" sheet where 0.5" margins are needed all around. And, if I read correctly in the ops manual, the maximum width of the front feed is 16" and you are directed to use the top/rear feeds for wider papers. So, ignoring the other issues, there would still be no solution for 17x22" papers.

Out of desperation I took a crack at removing the rollers. After inspecting the mechanism for a few minutes I realized it would not be too difficult. There are three separate "wheel plate sections" that each need to be removed. They're held in place by little plastic anchors that poke up from the bottom, 3 or 4 per section. With a small screw driver or paperclip you can simply (and gently) push the anchors down so they clear the metal chassis. With all out of the way the plastic section holding the rollers slides out. This is most easily accomplished with the front feed popped out giving you better access.

So with the wheels out I popped in another sacrificial sheet of Ex Fiber 8 1/2" x 11", set up the print job and this time defaulted everything for the paper and lit 'er up at 2880dpi. Started off fine, but then at the end of the print with no support from the wheels to hold in place the paper skidded around, the head oversprayed, and that was game over for this plan. Had to clean up some errant ink and of course replace the wheels. Tricky but not a big deal. My original plan was to somehow place a spacer under the housing to reduce the pressure of the wheels on the paper (each wheel is softly spring loaded but there is obviously still to much pressure exerted). Havent' figured out how that might work - would take very little - so if someone comes up with a solution I'm all ears.

In my mind this is a fundamental design flaw of the 3880 (and 3800 before it). Those thin, metal wheels have sharp edged spikes to them. At what point during development did it make sense to roll hundreds of little pin points across a delicate surface? If these were solid plastic with a nice, rounded cross section - like little beads - that barely made contact with the page I can't imagine this would be an issue. I have to think the minimal surface area of the spiked wheels coming in contact with the print surface was the compelling design motif, but the results are not what should be expected by a pro-level fine art printer. To this end I bet somebody could make a buck or two developing replacement inserts that would have softer, smooth wheels in place of the cowboy spurs.

Does this make me regret my purchase? No. It truly does churn out beautiful prints. But I couldn't pass the red-faced test selling one with those marks on it, anymore than if there were a scratch. Because it's not visible depending on how you hold the print doesn't make it less of an issue.

Any other flashes of insight or workarounds here?

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chadderuski
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Re: Epson 3880 Pizza Wheels 2012: Any Breakthroughs?
In reply to JayMitch, Jan 17, 2012

Jay,

Per "removing the pizza wheels" part of your experiment. As far as I know, this is the only working solutions.

To get around the problem of the "skidding paper" ... remember, there is nothing holding the paper at this point of the print ... make an "extender" for your paper.

I saw a person do with by adding 3" off paper to the back of the print held in place with post-it note tape. Seemed to work very well.

Just a thought, and perhaps one more thing you could try.

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JayMitch
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Re: Epson 3880 Pizza Wheels 2012: Any Breakthroughs?
In reply to chadderuski, Jan 17, 2012

That's interesting. I remember playing around with that when I had the 2880 but as a solution to head strikes on Ilford GFS. Might have to dig back in there and give it a try.

chadderuski wrote:

Jay,

Per "removing the pizza wheels" part of your experiment. As far as I know, this is the only working solutions.

To get around the problem of the "skidding paper" ... remember, there is nothing holding the paper at this point of the print ... make an "extender" for your paper.

I saw a person do with by adding 3" off paper to the back of the print held in place with post-it note tape. Seemed to work very well.

Just a thought, and perhaps one more thing you could try.

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JayMitch
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Re: Epson 3880 Pizza Wheels 2012: Any Breakthroughs?
In reply to JayMitch, Jan 17, 2012

I'm also wondering if those plastic plates are available as replacement parts. Could make an interesting project to find a spiked wheel substitute.

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JayMitch
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Re: Epson 3880 Pizza Wheels 2012: Any Breakthroughs?
In reply to JayMitch, Jan 17, 2012

Hello me, it's nice talking to myself.

Looking at this post...

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/946163/0&year=2010#9174478

...and another potential, if not time consuming, solution might be to buff or file down the wheel spikes slightly. No turning back on that, something I'd rather do with replacement parts if they were available. But who knows...

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Paul Concannon
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Re: Epson 3880 Pizza Wheels 2012: Any Breakthroughs?
In reply to JayMitch, Jan 21, 2012

Jay, that was me over on FM. I'm still in the dark as to exactly what went on, but the problem does seem to have diminished visibly - in that I now rarely see the dreaded wheel marks. Contrary to my initial enthusiasm, I don't think the problem has gone away completely, but nowadays I only see the marks in very dark areas and only when I go hunting for it. I don't think it would be visible, even in those areas, to a more casual inspection, unless the lighting were just right (or just wrong, depending on how you look at this).

I also for various reasons switched to Harman by Hahnemumhle gloss baryta for most printing, and don't print so much on GFS any more. The H by H does seem a bit more resistant to this sort of issue than the GFS is/was.

Finally, I did explore the front feeder solution as well. I only print up to A3+, so the size limitation wasn't an issue. I had to turn the printer sideways on the desk it was on to get enough room out the back, but that was do-able. The main problem I had was that in the absence of anything holding down the paper when it's going through the printer, it was prone to ink swelling and getting scratched either on the printer head through head strikes or on one of the oddly numerous bits of sharp plastic that Epson (in their wisdom) seem to incorporate in the print path. I did briefly experiment with trying to tape down the paper onto the backing board that you have to use with the front paper path, but wasn't very successful.

No magic solutions I'm afraid.

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JayMitch
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Re: Epson 3880 Pizza Wheels 2012: Any Breakthroughs?
In reply to Paul Concannon, Jan 27, 2012

I'm still mulling over solutions, still thinking about how I could possibly raise the roller plate up just enough to relieve some pressure off the wheels while also keeping the paper in place at it spools out. Looking at the mechanism I'm wondering how much clearance there is for the print head passing over that plate to allow such a thing.

Can anyone point me in the direction of a parts source for replacing those three sets of wheel plates? Would like to play a bit.

Another thing, spurred by Paul's experience, is that perhaps the spring pressure on those wheels lightens up over time and use. Maybe running a thick blank sheet of fine art paper through the rollers over and over again could help. Overall I still think that the discussion even exists is ridiculous.

Paul Concannon wrote:

Jay, that was me over on FM. I'm still in the dark as to exactly what went on, but the problem does seem to have diminished visibly - in that I now rarely see the dreaded wheel marks. Contrary to my initial enthusiasm, I don't think the problem has gone away completely, but nowadays I only see the marks in very dark areas and only when I go hunting for it. I don't think it would be visible, even in those areas, to a more casual inspection, unless the lighting were just right (or just wrong, depending on how you look at this).

I also for various reasons switched to Harman by Hahnemumhle gloss baryta for most printing, and don't print so much on GFS any more. The H by H does seem a bit more resistant to this sort of issue than the GFS is/was.

Finally, I did explore the front feeder solution as well. I only print up to A3+, so the size limitation wasn't an issue. I had to turn the printer sideways on the desk it was on to get enough room out the back, but that was do-able. The main problem I had was that in the absence of anything holding down the paper when it's going through the printer, it was prone to ink swelling and getting scratched either on the printer head through head strikes or on one of the oddly numerous bits of sharp plastic that Epson (in their wisdom) seem to incorporate in the print path. I did briefly experiment with trying to tape down the paper onto the backing board that you have to use with the front paper path, but wasn't very successful.

No magic solutions I'm afraid.

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ZoranC
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Re: Epson 3880 Pizza Wheels 2012: Any Breakthroughs?
In reply to JayMitch, Feb 3, 2012

JayMitch wrote:

On the same dark print (not underexposed - dark by design sports portraits) I see the marks on Epson Ex Fiber, Epson Premium Glossy, Epson Luster, Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique, and Canson Platine Fibre Rag (among others).

On which paper you see them most often? I have 3880 coming in and want to check how "good or bad" my copy will stack up on this potential issue.

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JayMitch
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Re: Epson 3880 Pizza Wheels 2012: Any Breakthroughs?
In reply to ZoranC, Feb 3, 2012

Doesn't much matter. I see it, albeit faintly but still there, on all the papers I noted above to largely the same degree.

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ZoranC
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Re: Epson 3880 Pizza Wheels 2012: Any Breakthroughs?
In reply to JayMitch, Feb 3, 2012

JayMitch wrote:

Doesn't much matter. I see it, albeit faintly but still there, on all the papers I noted above to largely the same degree.

Thank you! Is your printer older purchase or newer one? I keep being told newer ones allegedly don't show this issue.

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lannyborix
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Re: Epson 3880 Pizza Wheels 2012: Any Breakthroughs?
In reply to Paul Concannon, Sep 23, 2012

This thread dropped off awhile back but the problem discussed still exists. I'm a new owner of a Stylus Pro 3880. I got the printer as an update for my trusty 2200. I was sold on Epson marketing and hundreds of glowing reviews of the 3880 and magnificent black and white prints on Epson Exhibition Fiber paper.

Like the other posters here I experienced the spur wheel scratches on Ex. Fiber, especially in black printed areas. Tried all the bogus solutions from Epson Tech Support: platen gap, front feed, etc., but as you all know, nothing solves the problem. The spur wheel transport damaging or marking the printed ink surface is an unfixable problem. Epson knows it's unfixable but will send 50 new printer replacements anyway.

I'm on my 4th 3880 now. (3rd replacement) Epson traded out the two boxes of EFF paper for 4 boxes of Premium semi gloss. Semi Gloss resin coated paper will go through unscratched but the parallel spur wheel marks are still visible in black ink printed areas when the print is held close to light source and viewed from acute angle.

As a pro I expect a pro product when I pay for something marketed as Pro. The 3880 doesn't measure up because of this spur wheel issue. The print quality is fantastic and a big improvement over the 2200, but with visible marks across the entire surface I hesitate to sell the otherwise quality prints.

Since I'm beyond 30 days from purchase date, I can't get a refund. I can't make prints on the best papers. I'm not a happy camper.

Has anyone here found a fix yet?

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Pete Berry
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Re: Epson 3880 Pizza Wheels 2012: Any Breakthroughs?
In reply to lannyborix, Sep 24, 2012

I'd recommend that you cut your losses after a 4th (!) try with replacement 3880's and go to a true pro 17" printer such as the iPF5100 or the 4900. Both have vacuum hold-down transport and roll feed option. The Cannon has full time photo and matte blacks and user-replaceable print heads with huge nozzle redundancy and auto re-mapping for failed nozzles.

Pete

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JayMitch
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Re: Epson 3880 Pizza Wheels 2012: Any Breakthroughs?
In reply to Pete Berry, Oct 2, 2012

The 4900 is a dramatically different proposition, though. Tough switch to make.

I agree this is a fundamental design issue and am amazed it hasn't received more attention. Moreso when Epson feeds the BS excuses about 3rd party paper - should be irrelevant, although a moot point as it affects Epson papers as well. At least glossy - don't think matte has the issue.

I think this is something that be easily addressed with a set of replacement "spur housings" that changed...

1) Spring pressure on the spurs
2) Edges of the spurs - round off the points

And while not ideal, the previously recommended solution of running the paper through the front feed (with a scrap framing matte or poster board underneath) does work. Except doesn't fit wider than 16” in which case might as well get a f'g SP R3000.

Anyone have a lead on where replacement parts can purchased? Would experiment onthe springs but not with the original.

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JerryG1
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Re: Epson 3880 Pizza Wheels 2012: Any Breakthroughs?
In reply to JayMitch, Oct 3, 2012

I've been lucky. I bought my 3880 new in February 2012 and have yet to see any wheel marks. To me this means that it is possible for the standard issue wheels to enable the printer to work as it should. My guess is some manufacturing tolerances are too large to ensure good performance from every machine off the line, but when the stars align (pun intended), all goes well.

I wonder how tightly controlled the wheel spring-tension is from unit to unit?
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JayMitch
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Re: Epson 3880 Pizza Wheels 2012: Any Breakthroughs?
In reply to JerryG1, Oct 7, 2012

Have you made prints with dark, solid areas?  Have you viewed them horizontally with light coming from an acute angle?  For a period I thought I didn't have this either.

That said you make a good point - spring tension variance could be a culprit.  This is why I'd love to find where I could buy spare parts to test.  The housings are fairly easy to remove, but they can't be simply left out as the end of the feed gets completely borked without something to hold down the paper.  I even tried attaching a dummy end to the page to hold it longer from behind the print head and didn't work.

JerryG1 wrote:

I've been lucky. I bought my 3880 new in February 2012 and have yet to see any wheel marks. To me this means that it is possible for the standard issue wheels to enable the printer to work as it should. My guess is some manufacturing tolerances are too large to ensure good performance from every machine off the line, but when the stars align (pun intended), all goes well.

I wonder how tightly controlled the wheel spring-tension is from unit to unit?
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JerryG1
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Re: Epson 3880 Pizza Wheels 2012: Any Breakthroughs?
In reply to JayMitch, Oct 13, 2012

JayMitch wrote:

Have you made prints with dark, solid areas?  Have you viewed them horizontally with light coming from an acute angle?  For a period I thought I didn't have this either.  

Yes.  When I first bought the printer I was aware of the potential problem so looked  carefully on  prints made on Ilford GFS and Epson Luster.  I owned an Epson 1270 that had the problem so know what the marks look like.

Sorry for the delayed response.  I've been tired up posting on a nasty clogging problem with my previously non-clogging 3880.

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