Epson UltraChrome hierarchy/timeline?

J.Emmett Turner

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For sourcing ink from larger industrial printers, I’m trying to figure out which colors are the same between the different UltraChrome ink sets. Here’s the sum total of what I know so far, edited with contributions from Ink stained Fingers below:

Epson UltraChrome (UC) is Epson’s first pigment ink marketed for typical consumers. It is available in up to 7 pigment colors: Cyan (C), Light Cyan (LC), Magenta (M), Light Magenta (LM), Yellow (Y), Matte Black (MK), Photo Black (PK). The Yellow (Y) pigment is known for fading faster than others.

Epson UltraChrome K3 (UCK3) is the same but adds Light Black (LK) and Light Light Black (LLK). K3 = 3 blacks - get it? ;) The rest of the colors are interchangeable with the previous generation.

Epson UltraChrome K3 Vivid Magenta (K3VM) replaces Magenta and Light Magenta with Vivid Magenta and Vivid Light Magenta. The rest of the colors are interchangeable with the previous and next generation.

Epson UltraChrome HDR (HDR) adds Green (G) and Orange (O) for decreased reliance on Y when reproducing the full color gamut. This also widens the gamut, thus, “High Dynamic Range.” The other colors are interchangeable with the previous generation. The packaging reinforces this by sometimes carrying both logos on the colors shared by both ink sets (never on G and O). Newer packages leave off all logos.

Epson UltraChrome HD (UCHD) changes MK and PK to a higher density MK and PK. It also slightly changes C, LC (?), VM, and VLM to even the gloss levels and reduce bronzing. Y has finally been changed in some way that resists fading better up to a point. Presumably only the LK and LLK remain unchanged and, thus, freely interchangeable without special equipment and profiling. I’m not sure that LC was changed based on Epson’s diagrams. Perhaps it was the reference that the gloss levels of the others were adjusted to so it didn’t need to be changed.

Epson UltraChrome HDX (HDX) adds Violet (V) but is presumably interchangeable with UCHD for the rest of the colors.

Epson UltraChrome GS/GSX/GSX+ These are solvent-based inks. I’ve seen stuff like clear (gloss optimizer?), white, and gold. I wouldn’t expect any of it to be interchangeable with UC, UCK3, K3VM, HDR, UCHD, and HDX.

So, if I’m refilling carts for an UCK3 printer like Epson Stylus Pro 3800 and I am not equipped to make ICC profiles, then it’s obvious that I should avoid VM from the K3VM and up but I can get all the other colors from UC, K3VM, and HDR. I can only get LK and LLK for UCHD.

If I’m refilling for an UCHD Epson SureColor P800 without profiling then my options are really limited. I would avoid C, LC (?), VM, VLM, M, LM, Y, MK, and PK from the previous generations. I could only get these from another UCHD or HDX printer.

If I’m refilling carts for a K3VM Epson Stylus Pro 3880 then I should avoid M and LM from a UCK3 and earlier and I should avoid C, VM, VLM, MK, Y, and PK from UCHD and later.

Just bought a 700ml VLM cart from an UltraChrome HDR ink set for my UltraChrome K3 w/VM printer and I’m hoping my understanding of the hierarchy is correct. Thanks!
 
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Ink stained Fingers

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yes, there are several versions and generations of Epson Ultrachrome ink sets
https://www.epson.ie/innovative-technologies

I'm not sure to understand why you shouldn't use a newer ink set - e.g. HD - in an 3800, you run a profile and just use the available gamut, and if that's larger than before - fine for you.
But there are are differences which Epson does not tell you in more detail, the HD ink set comes with blacks which give you a visibly darker blackpoint than before , and Epson's yellow pigments in the past - not only theirs - suffered a disadvantage that their fading/long term stability is lower than of the other inks - so Epson introduced orange as a separate pigmented ink to reduce the usage of yellow, same with adding a green ink, the yellow pigments got better with the HD inks.
https://www.aardenburg-imaging.com/compare-k3-hd-ex-ink-sets/
The gamut gain of such additional inks is not very significant, just to give you an example withdye inks - adding a red ink
https://www.printerknowledge.com/th...idate-for-refillable.12076/page-2#post-104949
I did a similar test with pigment blue which was part of the R800 inkset, I compared the Epson blue with an ink mix of C and M, the gamut differences are that small that they are just above measuring tolerances.
You have the same with orange, Epson tells you that's better for skin tones, but skin tones are by far not saturated and very much within gamut of regular printers
https://www.printerknowledge.com/threads/pro-100-compared-to-pro-10-color.12716/#post-109447
You just don't need a small gamut extension for skin tones in the orange range.
o.k. - it might be different if the mktg dept. of a cosmetics company photoshops images and drives up saturation artificially you might need that for a poster......
And there are the surface effects - bronzing and gloss differentials - the latest inks do a very good job on Epson papers - I have seen great print output of the P5000 on the last Photokina
exhibition, that printer does not need a gloss optimizer anymore. But ---- as soon as you print with non genuine Epson inks on non-Epson paper it may look completely different, and that's an area where 3rd party ink suppliers still struggle. The output of a Canon P1000 with a Chroma/gloss opt, appears to me more stable over a wider range of media incl. 3rd party suppliers.
 
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J.Emmett Turner

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Thanks. I recalled that the inkset for a particular UltraChrome HDR printer sometimes has UltraChrome K3 Vivid Magenta logos on the carts except for the colors exclusive to HDR (O and G). So I went ahead and pulled the trigger on a ton of other T636 carts (well, 10.5 liters ;)). Actually, they eventually stopped putting either logo on them but they were both there on the older carts except Orange and Green, which only had HDR logos.

Yeah, by “avoid” I really just mean “avoid if you want it to work normally as it would before without doing all that profiling stuff.” ;)

Since then I have realized that UltraChrome GS, GSX, GSX+, etc are solvent-based inks. Seriously doubt they can be used in non-solvent printers.
 
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Ink stained Fingers

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well, 10.5 liters
I guess you are covered for the next time....

It's not easy, and Epson does not really help there to understand the Ultrachrome ink generations and versions, and there are more like solvent inks and sublimation inks and even dye inks D6 for the photo printers like the D700
 
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J.Emmett Turner

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I guess you are covered for the next time....

It's not easy, and Epson does not really help there to understand the Ultrachrome ink generations and versions, and there are more like solvent inks and sublimation inks and even dye inks D6 for the photo printers like the D700
LOL! Not keeping nearly all of it but I will have one 700mL cart for every K3VM color as a result... and then some (spare 80mL carts). Maybe I should’ve just bought the printer these carts were intended for! ;)
 

adrianlambert

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I came across this thread a few weeks ago and found it very very useful in starting my journey with refilling 3880 carts with ink from larger carts, so firstly thank you for your work and setting it all out so clearly. One thing though, as I just stumbled on a reference to another difference between K3VM and HDR inks in the following document testing HDR inks.

http://www.wilhelm-research.com/epson/ESP4900.html

In summary they dropped in some K3VM permanence results whilst some new tests were underway and stated that the black inks were updated to be "highly stable carbon pigment based black inks" which they anticipated based on ongoing results would lead to significant increases in permanence when using ABW mode.

My question therefore is has anyone successfully used HDR inks in their K3VM printer?
 

Ink stained Fingers

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Since you are looking to drain larger cartridges you may have a look to this test report with the latest HDX inks vs. older K3 inks
http://www.wilhelm-research.com/Can..._and_Photo_Papers_Final_Report_2020-06-01.pdf
I wouldn't see a problem using such inks on a 3880 at all, you just may have to create - or get created - matching icc-profiles for these inks and the papers you are using, only this would let you exploit the gamut of these inks the best way.
 

adrianlambert

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Since you are looking to drain larger cartridges you may have a look to this test report with the latest HDX inks vs. older K3 inks
http://www.wilhelm-research.com/Can..._and_Photo_Papers_Final_Report_2020-06-01.pdf
I wouldn't see a problem using such inks on a 3880 at all, you just may have to create - or get created - matching icc-profiles for these inks and the papers you are using, only this would let you exploit the gamut of these inks the best way.
Thanks for the response. To clarify are you suggesting switching over to HDX inks should also work ok? I’ve seen people suggest that they are likely to clog the head and should be avoided.
 

Ink stained Fingers

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I’ve seen people suggest that they are likely to clog the head and should be avoided.
I consider such general statements as quite meaningless unless they are supported by details and circumstances, I won't exclude that clogging happens - but there are more variables like the printing frequency , the technical condition and age of the hardware/printer, prior use of other inks and more.

What are you trying to acheive by switching to another ink than originally used in the 3880 ? Wilhelm research is testing inks for longevity but not for other parameters like gamut size or gloss behaviour and bronzing which depends very much as well on the papers you are using , Did you use other non-OEM inks already in the past ? Just switching to a newer generation of inks may not give you anything .
 

adrianlambert

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I consider such general statements as quite meaningless unless they are supported by details and circumstances, I won't exclude that clogging happens - but there are more variables like the printing frequency , the technical condition and age of the hardware/printer, prior use of other inks and more.

What are you trying to acheive by switching to another ink than originally used in the 3880 ? Wilhelm research is testing inks for longevity but not for other parameters like gamut size or gloss behaviour and bronzing which depends very much as well on the papers you are using , Did you use other non-OEM inks already in the past ? Just switching to a newer generation of inks may not give you anything .
Initially it was merely to up my print output at reasonable cost given that I don’t sell prints in earnest. I am however a professional commercial photographer and therefore am slightly cursed with a need to achieve a certain level of quality when printing, particularly with regard to longevity and colour management workflow accuracy. I’m not bothered in the slightest about a sniff of extra gamut, in fact I don’t like my colours to be too acidic on screen or paper so I definitely won’t make use of that. Availability of genuine ink at a good price is important though, so having the flexibility to use several types of genuine ink is good thing given certain UC K3 colours haven’t been as easy to source as others and the prices reflect this. But now with the permanence benefits added into the mix it certainly feels enticing to try these newer inks. I think what I’ll do is run down my K3 blacks then switch them all together to the HD set along with the yellow ink then re-profile my papers. I guess I’m feeling ok now with taking the risk on killing my 3880 seeing as it has in my head gone from very likely to reasonably unlikely.
 
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