Pages: [1] 2 3   Go Down

Author Topic: Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?  (Read 31860 times)

printbreakr

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 31
Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?
« on: July 29, 2015, 03:10:46 pm »

I'm in the market for my first large-format (wide-format) printer. I've always been an Epson guy so I naturally gravitate towards Epson printers, specifically the 900-series, like the Stylus Pro 9900. I want to print fine-art photography so I like the extra gamut. I also like the relatively open nature of the Epson printer market, both with people taking them apart and third-party options like those for inks. Since this will be a significant investment for me, I am definitely concerned about the clogging issues; however, after reading about maintaining this printer, studying a good amount of the "confidential" service manual I found all over the Internet, and reading some amazing threads on this forum, I'm confident I can maintain it. I have more time than money so maintaining it myself (as much as possible) and third-part ink options matter to me.

Anyway, here's what I'm actually concerned about: I went through all the Epson Stylus Pro series brochures (just to get an idea of how they have improved over the years) and have noticed something a little disturbing. These are the copyright years listed on each brochure:

Quote
Epson Stylus Pro 7000/9000 - 2000
Epson Stylus Pro 7500/9500 - 2000
Epson Stylus Pro 10000 - 2001
Epson Stylus Pro 7600/9600 - 2002
Epson Stylus Pro 10600 - 2002
Epson Stylus Pro 7800/9800 - 2005
Epson Stylus Pro 7880/9880 - 2007
Epson Stylus Pro 11880 - 2007
Epson Stylus Pro 7900/9900 - 2009
Epson Stylus Pro 7890/9890 - 2010

So it seems that Epson has not released a new large-format printer in the fine art category for at least 5 years. Before that, they were putting them out every 2 or 3 years for a decade. This makes me wonder if Epson is giving up on this market OR if the technology has simply matured enough that there is not much else to improve. While I can't think of much else a printer like the 9900 could do, I do know that with electronics, manufactures will often introduce minimal and perhaps useless new features just to sell some more printers. Since Epson doesn't seem to be trying at all anymore, my concern is that Epson might decide they don't want to support an aging product some time soon and there won't be any more parts to service my investment for the next several years.

What do you guys think about this situation? Are these printers just so good there is nothing to improve, is this a category Epson does not see profitable, or is it something else?
Logged

Mark D Segal

  • Contributor
  • Sr. Member
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 12512
    • http://www.markdsegal.com
Re: Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2015, 03:17:38 pm »

I have no access to any company-confidential information so anything I say about this is pure logical deduction on my part. I do not believe Epson is vacating this market segment. The P800 is evidence they are researching improved ink-sets and printing algorithms. Having just recently released the P-600/P-800, I don't think all that R&D would be confined to these two prosumer models. To make it commercially viable there must be a long-run strategy to port new materials and software technologies into the higher-end models as well. I would not be the least bit surprised to see SureColor 24 and 44 inch models down the road, and perhaps even a replacement for the 4900 with the new ink-set. But take all this for what's it is - logical deduction, a.k.a speculation.
Logged
Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....."

dseelig

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 596
Re: Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2015, 03:27:39 pm »

Me with the climate issues dry humidity issues, my 3880 died Epson told me beciase of the dry climate. I would stay away form Epson I use an HP z3200 great pritner and does not drain ink like an Epson does can be left a lone for weeks and then makes a perfect print. If a head does go 50  bucks.
Logged

digitaldog

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Online Online
  • Posts: 20668
  • Andrew Rodney
    • http://www.digitaldog.net/
Re: Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2015, 04:13:27 pm »

Me with the climate issues dry humidity issues, my 3880 died Epson told me beciase of the dry climate.
Pretty dry here in Santa Fe (usually well into single digits). My 3880 can go months without a clog, I don't think I can count on one hand the number of times I've had one. The 4900? Clogged every other day.
Logged
http://www.digitaldog.net/
Author "Color Management for Photographers".

Mark D Segal

  • Contributor
  • Sr. Member
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 12512
    • http://www.markdsegal.com
Re: Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2015, 04:25:09 pm »

Maybe you've seen my story of the friend who inherited my 3800, left it unused for close to two years; we switched it on, and after two rounds of nozzle cleaning (no power clean) it was printing quite well. Considering how far out of date the inks were and all that elapsed time, it was kind of surprising. I nonetheless recommended that he reprofile the printer or update the inks, because not all aspects of colour reproduction were spot-on. But hey....

Anyhow Andrew, do you keep your 3880 in a humidified room, or does it sit in single-digit humidity? Epson specs do say a minimum of 20% for these printers.
Logged
Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....."

digitaldog

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Online Online
  • Posts: 20668
  • Andrew Rodney
    • http://www.digitaldog.net/
Re: Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2015, 04:47:23 pm »

Anyhow Andrew, do you keep your 3880 in a humidified room, or does it sit in single-digit humidity? Epson specs do say a minimum of 20% for these printers.
Sits in a room like everywhere else in the house. No added humidity.
Logged
http://www.digitaldog.net/
Author "Color Management for Photographers".

printbreakr

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 31
Re: Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2015, 04:49:10 pm »

I have no access to any company-confidential information so anything I say about this is pure logical deduction on my part. I do not believe Epson is vacating this market segment. The P800 is evidence they are researching improved ink-sets and printing algorithms. Having just recently released the P-600/P-800, I don't think all that R&D would be confined to these two prosumer models. To make it commercially viable there must be a long-run strategy to port new materials and software technologies into the higher-end models as well. I would not be the least bit surprised to see SureColor 24 and 44 inch models down the road, and perhaps even a replacement for the 4900 with the new ink-set. But take all this for what's it is - logical deduction, a.k.a speculation.

Excellent dedications deductions, Mark. Thank you.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2015, 04:57:26 pm by printbreakr »
Logged

hugowolf

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1001
Re: Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2015, 04:49:20 pm »

My 3880 used to run with the RH well below 20% during the winters here in Virginia. I have only ever done two cleaning cycles, and one of those was accidental. Since I got a 44" prints, it sometimes sits for weeks but shows a clean nozzle print.

I now run a humidifier during the winter months, but that is for the 9890, which can clog even in the middle of a print run.

Brian A
Logged

Mark D Segal

  • Contributor
  • Sr. Member
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 12512
    • http://www.markdsegal.com
Re: Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2015, 04:51:23 pm »

Excellent dedications, Mark. Thank you.

I think you meant "deductions" - but OK, you are welcome.
Logged
Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....."

Paul2660

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 4066
    • Photos of Arkansas
Re: Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2015, 04:51:43 pm »

Maybe you've seen my story of the friend who inherited my 3800, left it unused for close to two years; we switched it on, and after two rounds of nozzle cleaning (no power clean) it was printing quite well. Considering how far out of date the inks were and all that elapsed time, it was kind of surprising. I nonetheless recommended that he reprofile the printer or update the inks, because not all aspects of colour reproduction were spot-on. But hey....

Anyhow Andrew, do you keep your 3880 in a humidified room, or does it sit in single-digit humidity? Epson specs do say a minimum of 20% for these printers.

Another great testimony about out of date ink and use.  Epson ink lasts a long time past the expiration date, as long as you keep it indoors.  

Paul
Logged
Paul Caldwell
Little Rock, Arkansas U.S.
www.photosofarkansas.com

Mark D Segal

  • Contributor
  • Sr. Member
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 12512
    • http://www.markdsegal.com
Re: Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2015, 04:52:25 pm »

Sits in a room like everywhere else in the house. No added humidity.

You are doing very well with that Andrew.
Logged
Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....."

Mark D Segal

  • Contributor
  • Sr. Member
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 12512
    • http://www.markdsegal.com
Re: Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2015, 04:54:06 pm »

Another great testimony about out of date ink and use.  Epson ink lasts a long time past the expiration date, as long as you keep it indoors.  

Paul


In a way yes - shows there's huge leeway, but I do think in this case 2 years was a bit of a stretch, and it was causing him some (not huge) accuracy issues.
Logged
Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....."

Nora_nor

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 158
Re: Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2015, 05:19:03 pm »

I was surfing on Epson uk website, and now they have some small printers with ink tanks instead of cartridges. Maybe something for bigger printers in the future? http://www.epson.co.uk/gb/en/viewcon/corporatesite/cms/index/11409?WT.z_an=1187&WT.z_ac=1&WT.z_ap=0
Logged

jrsforums

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1288
Re: Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2015, 05:50:19 pm »

Pretty dry here in Santa Fe (usually well into single digits). My 3880 can go months without a clog, I don't think I can count on one hand the number of times I've had one. The 4900? Clogged every other day.

I also had both.  After spending lots of $$$s (ink), i gave the 4990 away.....after a year that person is dumping the 4900.  3880 keeps cranking.....no excuse to by a P800 😫
Logged
John

ddolde

  • Guest
Re: Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?
« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2015, 08:26:00 pm »

I will never buy another Epson after a failed 7900 that would have cost $1800 for new printheads. And it wasn't that old either.

Just bought an HP Z5200 44" wide printer with spectrophotometer.  $3200 shipped from atlex.com. You can replace the four printheads yourself for around $70 each.  Fock Epson.

So far it's miles ahead of an Epson and the setup directions were easy to understand and thorough.
Logged

Benny Profane

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 357
Re: Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?
« Reply #15 on: July 29, 2015, 10:19:54 pm »

"So it seems that Epson has not released a new large-format printer in the fine art category for at least 5 years. Before that, they were putting them out every 2 or 3 years for a decade. This makes me wonder if Epson is giving up on this market OR if the technology has simply matured enough that there is not much else to improve. While I can't think of much else a printer like the 9900 could do, I do know that with electronics, manufactures will often introduce minimal and perhaps useless new features just to sell some more printers. Since Epson doesn't seem to be trying at all anymore, my concern is that Epson might decide they don't want to support an aging product some time soon and there won't be any more parts to service my investment for the next several years.

What do you guys think about this situation? Are these printers just so good there is nothing to improve, is this a category Epson does not see profitable, or is it something else?"


Or, maybe there was a worldwide financial crisis around 08, the result of which is much tighter credit, therefore there are a lot of customers making do with their equipment, computers included, until they really have to replace them. Epson knows this, too.

The world of print has also continued to die fairly rapidly as screens have become the new paper, and that has reduced demand dramatically from the prepress industry.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2015, 10:21:47 pm by Benny Profane »
Logged

JETraeber

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6
Re: Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?
« Reply #16 on: July 29, 2015, 11:38:16 pm »

Part economic downturn (out of that now).  Much larger part due to tech advances in general... the better the technology, the longer it takes to produce something significantly better (current crop of printers are very good).  Some unknown (to me) part due to a shift to online and electronic displays (phones and tablets, not standalone digital display devices).  Very unlikely that Epson or Canon or even HP will not have parts and consumables for quite a while into the future.
Logged
The roots of most nonsense are found in the fact that people are more specialized than problems.

Ernst Dinkla

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 4005
Re: Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?
« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2015, 05:47:16 am »

>>
Epson Stylus Pro 7000/9000 - 2000
Epson Stylus Pro 7500/9500 - 2000
Epson Stylus Pro 10000 - 2001
Epson Stylus Pro 7600/9600 - 2002
Epson Stylus Pro 10600 - 2002
Epson Stylus Pro 7800/9800 - 2005
Epson Stylus Pro 7880/9880 - 2007
Epson Stylus Pro 11880 - 2007
Epson Stylus Pro 7900/9900 - 2009
Epson Stylus Pro 7890/9890 - 2010
<<

There has not been serious competition for Epson in this market segment, wide format - water based inkjet for art/photography, up to 2006. In 2006 both Canon and HP launched their new pigment ink inkjet printers systems for that market, HP added one upgrade since on the 12 ink models and more on the 8 ink models, Canon upgraded the 12 ink models roughly twice and introduced some generations 6 and 8 ink models next to this range. HP might not be in the 12 inks race anymore anno 2015 but still sells the Z3200-PS and fast 8 ink models. Consider something else; both HP and Canon see this market as an extension to their sign and CAD printers market where they compete heavily, both are big in the total printing market after purchasing several companies over the last 15 years. Epson had no real market share in that segment but sold inkjet head technology to partners that were active in that market. Roland, Mutoh, Mimaki, and more. Epson also delivered heads to the dry minilab manufacturers like Noritsu and FujiFilm. With real competition in the art/photography market segment, that already had some signs of saturation, Epson decided to enter both the sign and dry minilab market with complete printer systems and by that going into competition with the two giants and several of its inkjet head purchasers. I can imagine that lots of engineers were involved in that move while declining sales in the art/photography market did not call for new printer models in that segment, inkjet technology already meeting image quality demands. Whether the Epson move into that wider market delivered is another question, there have been many jobs cut. Of course the economy in this period was not healthy either. Epson is just one of several piëzo head manufacturers in the sign market and thermal heads entered that market again with the HP Latex printer models.

The next steps in inkjet technology will aim at printing speed. Page wide heads have been used in dry minilab printers and label printers to widths of approx. 17" so far. Either piëzo or thermal inkjet heads. It looks like thermal heads in page wide arrays above that size have an advantage in their way lower production price per nozzle. Substitution of failing nozzles during print runs is an advantage too of high density nozzle heads, hard to achieve that with piëzo head technology. HP and Canon (Océ) have several models of roll to roll (web) page wide inkjet head printers in that market, already competing with offset printing. After Memjet (dye), HP introduced A4 page wide office printers (pigment) that are very successful in the market. In 2014 Epson announced a model like that too but it was way more expensive, unclear whether it is distributed yet. To get an idea about page wide inkjet heads and their capacity + image quality for web printing in competitione with offset printing: http://whattheythink.com/articles/72283-hp-high-definition-nozzle-architecture/

Canon (Océ/Memjet) and HP have some page wide, wide format models more or less as prototypes as I understand it, more CAD market aimed. It has to be seen whether this art/photography market segment needs page wide inkjet heads. I guess reliability and image quality in intermittent use is a first priority and Epson should address the former in its 360 nozzles per channel heads first, give it the same reliability the 3880 head (180 nozzles per channel) has. Epson seems to have learned something about the longevity of its inkjet inks and changed the yellow ink in the P600-P800 model accordingly. It is possible that the thermal head competition for Epson piëzo heads is less fierce in this segment of the market than in any other inkjet market and Epson has goodwill in this market. However if page wide heads become the norm then Epson will have a hard time to compete on printer price. Maybe something in between dry minilab and the 4900/ipf5100 market could get page wide heads as a first trial, possibly with less ink channels and using dye inks like Claria or Vivera (dye). I actually do not see the 4900 replaced with a similar new model and it was the last one appearing of the x900 range. The 3880 - P800 range is capable enough, if not one than two of them. Canon's iPF5100 has not been upgraded since 2007?, HP never had a similar sized pigment printer in this market, the older HP Designjet 130 etc dye models did not get a successor either. Looks like a small market segment.

For the future of page wide head wide formats in the sign printing industry:
http://www.fespa.com/news/features/what-is-the-potential-for-single-pass-digital-heads.html
is as unsure.

Met vriendelijke groet, Ernst

http://www.pigment-print.com/spectralplots/spectrumviz_1.htm
December 2014 update, 700+ inkjet media white spectral plots
« Last Edit: August 03, 2015, 10:03:28 am by Ernst Dinkla »
Logged

deanwork

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2400
Re: Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?
« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2015, 08:58:30 am »

Epson has paid Wilhelm to do tests for their new HD inkset and seem to be promoting their greater longevity. Interesting they are placing emphasis on the stability of the gray and black inks, which have performed quite well in the HDR and previous inksets. It's odd he isn't saying anything about the yellow channel yet, which is the weak link. He's not being very specific about what the differences are between the HD and the HDR inks at this point.

http://www.wilhelm-research.com/epson_uchd_nr/epson_uchd_nr.html

I can't see why they would develop an entire new inkset just for this recent desktop printer, unless it is just some marketing ploy, where they think they need to come up with a new inkset every few years. I suspect they will update the LF printers shortly with this new inkset. The real question is, have they solved their ink delivery cart/pressure/head problems with this new line, or will it be more of the same. I personally don't know anyone who would go back to investing in Epson for photo art work unless these issues are seriously addressed. Probably the fall would be the time they would announce a new line if they are going to do it.

john
Logged

Mark D Segal

  • Contributor
  • Sr. Member
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 12512
    • http://www.markdsegal.com
Re: Has Epson Stopped Developing Large-format Printers?
« Reply #19 on: July 30, 2015, 09:14:33 am »


Probably the fall would be the time they would announce a new line if they are going to do it.

john

John, I wouldn't be at all surprised if there were no announcements this Fall, however, that wouldn't necessarily mean there will be no new models over the horizon. As a betting man, I would still expect that some time within the next year or so we will be seeing the new inkset ported into pro models beyond the P800 - or at least an announcement thereof - again pure logical deduction on my part - I have no inside information.

Regarding the inkset and the Blacks, much as I am very skeptical about what appears like marketing hype - recall Michael's interview with an Epson rep in which the word "new" appeared so many countless times it kind of ended-up wearing rather thin - the fact is, based on my testing reported in my P800 review, the P800 produces the blackest blacks I've seen from any inkjet printer I've owned or used over the past 15 years. So there is something real to it. I forget where, but I've also heard or read that Yellow longevity is improved. But on this score, I'd really like to see OEMs porting their longevity testing beyond one lab; for example, I think the approach Aardenburg brings things to the table and reports in a manner that at least complements the material from Wilhelm-Research.
Logged
Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....."
Pages: [1] 2 3   Go Up