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[BKARTS] epson stylus pro 3800

Dear All,

Many thanks for keeping me inspired, informed and entertained over the past few years.

Here is my experience with a large format printer which I hope you will find useful.




I have been playing with an Epson Stylus Pro 3800 for the past few weeks, experimenting with its capabilities for my needs as a book artist and printmaker. 


I have found the 3800 user-friendly, versatile and adaptable. After a few hours setting it up and familiarising myself with it, I was able to make some first tentative prints using Epson's archival matte and premium photo papers. Getting used to the three paper feeding paths took some practise and before long I learned to review the print set up each time I printed with a slightly different size or paper. The clear prompts and instructions helped me find my way to the by trial and error to the correct settings and appropriate feed paths. In the few weeks I have been using the printer I haven't used the front feed path - mainly because I have found no need. 


At almost 20 kilos, the machine is sturdy and carries nine x 80ml ink cartridges (eight colours and an alternative black) of pigmented archival inks. It is capable of printing up to A2 sheets of gloss or matte papers weighing up to 325gsm. 


Really it is a professional printer, but despite its price ($A2195 RRP including GST) and size - 684mm (W) x 376mm(D) x 257mm(H) - it can still be considered a 'desktop' printer suitable for a home studio or study. Its capabilities as a state of the art large format machine are ideally suited to book artists who need large prints but not necessarily a big production.

Epson states that all brands of printing papers other than their own (Archival Matte, Premium photo papers and Fine Art Paper) are not wholly compatible with the printer. This may be true for photographers or other artist attempting to match colours but I have had interesting and exciting results using a variety of different papers. Using the rear feed path or the sheet feeder, I successfully printed on numerous papers weighing up to 285gsm (I didn't have anything as heavy as the weighty 325gsm). I have printed on everything from Shin Hoso rice paper, Tartan transfer film, handmade plant and rag papers, adhesive backed photo paper, elephant hide, and a variety of middle weight (185gsm) printmaking papers including BFK Rives, Fabriano, Favini and Arches. The results were happily diverse, and every time I felt excited by the versatility of this amazing machine. 


The Epson Stylus Pro 3800 also produced a meticulous and fast run of text on the sheet feed (up to 120 sheets of plain paper per run) without any hitches, which shows me its enormous potential for producing limited editions.


The pigmented archival inks aren't as bright or dense as my everyday inkjet prints but I can see endless possibilities for me to adapt my graphics to a softer and more organic style. Colours and black on the Premium Luster Photo Paper are superb and my prints came out clear, sharp and accurate to their source. 


The larger ink cartridges holding 80ml of ink cost $A99 each (which seems a lot when you have to buy nine). But on closer inspection, the 3800 cartridges are cheaper to use than the R2400's which cost $A21 for 15ml and I was happy with the run for money.

The automatic change over from photo black to matte black (a new feature) saves time, trouble and technical knowledge, with the decision being made for you by the printer.


The greatest advantage with the 3800 and most thrilling part for me, is the large format. As well as producing excellent A2 prints, I was able to print sheets up to 90cm long. Perfect for concertina books!


Expanding the print size has certainly expanded my possibilities - and being able to do this in my own home, with top quality prints and archival inks, opens up unlimited new worlds for my book designs. 


Marama Warren

Milton NSW Australia

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