Epson 3880 - Photo Black cartridge is completely empty!

CZM8

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I have an Epson Stylus Pro 3880 printer which has served me well for many years but I recently had a big problem with it. I was about ¾ of the way through printing a large print when I noticed that the blacks (Photo Black) were not printing. This was strange because I had just finished a test print and made a few prints in the days prior and there were no issues with any clogged heads whatsoever. The Photo Black cartridge was also fairly new – only installed a few months ago and the display on the printer showed that it was still about 2/3 – ¾ full. I did a bunch of automatic nozzle checks and power cleaning cycles but still the Photo Black channel would not print. I switched the printer to the Matte Black ink and it printed fine so I thought that maybe the line from the Photo Black cartridge became somehow clogged and that the printer was now garbage.

Yesterday, after thinking about it some more, I decided to remove the ink cartridges and to weigh them. An almost full cartridge weighs 143 grams, an almost empty one 73 grams and the Photo Black a mere 60 grams! That means that the cartridge is completely empty even though it shows as being more than half full! So either the cartridge was defective to begin with and wasn't filled correctly or it was defective and drained into the maintenance tank.

My question is whether and how I can tell if I have a leak somewhere. I'm not really seeing any signs of anything.

Thank you!
 

pharmacist

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Did you check your maintenance tank: is it completely soaked with ink or not despite the saturation on the display says only partially full ?
 

CZM8

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Yes, there is a lot of ink int he maintenance tank but I did a lot of nozzle checks and cleaning cycles thinking my printer had a clog BEFORE I found out that it was in fact due to a mysteriously empty cartridge.
 

wannaby

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I owned two 3880s and each eventually had the dreaded and well-publicized failed (planned obsolescence) dampers for the PK/MK switching mechanism. Apologies if I'm not using the proper terminology and anybody feel free to correct me if necessary. However, a symptom of the failed damper is that the black ink drains into the maintenance cart.

You can either replace the damper if you're handy (which I didn't attempt). You could turn your 3880 into a MK only printer which I did. However, once in awhile I inadvertently printed with the PK ink and that would introduce air into the lines. Then you'd switch back to MK and attempt to purge air from the lines with nozzle cleaning.

If it were me, I'd buy a new printer. Maybe a P900 that doesn't have the PK/MK switching planned obsolescence feature. I was waiting for such a printer, but at the time Epson only had the P800 which is what I own today. Love it and hate it.
 

pharmacist

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The P800 is much sturdier in that aspect: I own 2 P800 printers (successor to the Epson Pr 3800.3880) and finger crossed, until now no problem with the valve switch and what I have read on the internet it is almost none existing unlike the Pro 3800/3880, unlike the Pro 3880 I owned previously. The problem also exists with the Epson R3000 (same print head), that suddenly was stuck in the MK position and I sold the printer for a good price.
 

wannaby

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The P800 is much sturdier in that aspect: I own 2 P800 printers (successor to the Epson Pr 3800.3880) and finger crossed, until now no problem with the valve switch and what I have read on the internet it is almost none existing unlike the Pro 3800/3880, unlike the Pro 3880 I owned previously. The problem also exists with the Epson R3000 (same print head), that suddenly was stuck in the MK position and I sold the printer for a good price.
That's encouraging to hear the P800 doesn't appear to have that problem. How long have you owned it?
 

pharmacist

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At this moment already 5 years now. Fingers crossed: until now no problems with MK/PK switches, maybe sometimes a cleaning cycle is needed to free up nozzles after a switch for the black channel.
 

CZM8

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I owned two 3880s and each eventually had the dreaded and well-publicized failed (planned obsolescence) dampers for the PK/MK switching mechanism. Apologies if I'm not using the proper terminology and anybody feel free to correct me if necessary. However, a symptom of the failed damper is that the black ink drains into the maintenance cart.

You can either replace the damper if you're handy (which I didn't attempt). You could turn your 3880 into a MK only printer which I did. However, once in awhile I inadvertently printed with the PK ink and that would introduce air into the lines. Then you'd switch back to MK and attempt to purge air from the lines with nozzle cleaning.

If it were me, I'd buy a new printer. Maybe a P900 that doesn't have the PK/MK switching planned obsolescence feature. I was waiting for such a printer, but at the time Epson only had the P800 which is what I own today. Love it and hate it.
That sounds like what happened to my printer. I just got a replacement photo black cartridge so I will try it to see if it also self drains. I will weigh it new and also weigh the maintance tank and then then check this every day to see if the weight of each changes. I wouldn't mind doing the repair if I had to I think I'd be up for it... I'd like to get a new printer but unfortunately it's not in the cards now budget wise.
 

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