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I am hoping for some advice on a durable printer. I have been having awful luck with Epson printers: the paper feed mechanism wears out in a matter of months. I print from 400 to 800 postcards a month to promote our business. I use various name brand two-sided paper of 11 to 11.8 mils thick. Usually when I run postcards, I try to print them over the span of a couple evenings at a hundred or so a night.
I was not surprised when the Epson R300 could not keep up with such demand. After barely a month on the job, the feed mechanism died. Epson replaced the unit under warranty, but I realized I needed something heavier duty to keep me in business. In December I moved up to the Epson 2200. The results are quite good, but today: the paper feed mechanism went south. It will not feed photopaper, my card stock or simple old plain paper.
As always, your opinions are respected and much appreciated.
David F. Stein
Bill, this is one of the results of the desktop revolution. Folks are using inkjet printers as if they were printing presses, which doesn't make sense to me. Fine art lithographers like Gardner will be a lost crew, even with water-based printing. How about short run offset at an American Speedy Printing or there are many companies that specialize in just what you do. But I have always thought that the paper feed is the weak link in these machines. Not so much being able to do industrial strength print runs but just needing to be better at catching all kinds of paper, keeping it straight, etc. I expect Epson will develop the sort of printer you are looking for. I would talk with photo studios in the area who run off hundreds of prints when they set up on-site at school events, pix with the Easter Bunny at the mall, etc. Most, I believe, use dye sub printers.
Kinko's. If their printers wear out, it's their problem, not yours.
Socrates and Eugene,
Believe me, when I want quality work nothing beats a commercial printer. I believe desktop publishing is the answer for what I am trying to accomplish. For our postcard runs I find the work run on the Epson is superior to Speedy or Kinko's. On the cost side, if I had to replace a printer every few months it would be cheaper than either; at least in my neck of the woods.
I use an Epson R800 with runs like yours and no problem. I us Red River papers. Finding the right paper/ink/printer combo is part of the dilemma. I use this combo to print note cards in volume and postcards should be no different. Take a look at the Red River stock at their web site.
Kodak, Hitachi & sony makes dye-sub printers for high-volume printing in sizes from postcard to letter size (not to be mix'ed to with in pocket Canon 220 units...). These units is mostly for use in on-site photolabs. Units are expensive new, but pops up on Ebay now & then. These dye-subs is usually print at 300 dpi, very fast, and are continuous tone printers, not dotted pattern. Finished print is very durable (coated), water resistand & fade resistand. Might fit Your requirement. I have a Kodak 8650 (A4+ size) which I am very satisfied wit (using for printing aerial photos). Giving same quality & apparance + surface durability as ordinare RA4 print - practical for print being (ab-)used for planning purposes.
If you have a resale number, try these guys. I do Commercial Design and Photography and use this printer for 90% of my offset work. I have run a few dozen jobs through them (they also happen to be located in my city) and the work is excellent.
They propose to be "trade only" but I have seen jobs run by indies for themselves. Go to site and sign up IF YOU HAVE A RESALE number. You can run as little as 250 postcards for about $110.00, 4/4 color on 14 pt C2s.
All done via website-upload PDF > request PDF proof ($5.00) > and shipping. I will attest to the quality.
I don't sell or represent them, but again, use them alot. They use a stochastic dot screen output, direct to plate, and have an average of 5 working day standard turnaround. If you want it in 48 hours, add 20%. Most jobs always have Aqueous coating as well.
You will be hard pressed to find better pricing anywhere. I've used Modern Postcard in San Diego and they pale in quality to these guys.
I do have the same problem too, though that I don't print that much. It seems to me that all Epson printers have some weakness in the area of the "rubber roller/spring". Time to time try to clean the roller (the one that load the paper) with alcohol on a Qtip to see if it help. It works for me. Also, this problem occurs with the loading mechanism of the CD/DVD tray too (on printers that have this option). Good luck
I thought Epson had a one year next day replacement warranty? If so, even if a pain to box up & send in it would seem this would keep you in a new printer all the time.
It is odd though that these would wear out so fast.
If you do runs like this, it might make sense to buy one of the higher end Epsons.
The Epson Stylus Pro 4000 is 1800 bucks. Yes, that's a lot, but you can stuff the big 220ml ink carts into it, which SUBSTANTIALLY cuts the ink costs from TERRIBLY HORRIFICALLY EXPENSIVE down to merely painfully expensive.
It wouldn't take long for you to recover the added cost of the 4000 over a new 2200 just in savings on ink costs. Those dinky little ink cartridges for the 2200 are way expensive.
The cost for ink for the 2200 is roughly $9 per cartridge, or about 75 cents/ml. The cost for ink for the 4000 is about 112 bucks for 220ml, or 51 cents/ml. That's not to mention the time and waste of having to change ink carts 18 times as often.
As an added advantage, the 4000 will happily print all day long, from roll paper, which is a huge convenience.
And the 4000 is quite a bit faster than the 2200 as well.
Epson replacement policy is they will ship a refurbished unit UPS ground. I should have my replacement by the end of the e. They prepay shipment for returning the original unit. As a bonus, the replacement comes with a new set of ink cartirdges and and I get to keep the partially used cartridges from the orginal unit.
I must admit that Epson has been great on both occasions. I just hate losing production time. In both instances my Epson printers went south when I we had the most work to get out.
I am taking Ted's advice and going with Red River paper.
Later this year I will probably go with Paul's advice and try an Epson 4000. I am curious how an Epson 4000 would handle media good on both sides. For this I would be back to sheet paper.
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