Tag: Epson

Epson has an A3-capable EcoTank printer that ticks all the boxes

Article Epson EcoTank WorkForce ET-16500 Multifunction A3+ printer product picture courtesy of Epson Australia

Epson Launches First Double-Sided A3+ 4-In-1 Inkjet EcoTank Printer | PC World

From the horse’s mouth

Epson Australia

EcoTank WorkForce ET-16500 A3+ Multifunction Printer

Product Page

Press Release

My Comments

Epson have previously released a range of piezo inkjet printers that implement their own continuous-inking system. This feature, known as EcoTank, has large-capacity tanks installed on the side of the printer and you add more ink to the machine’s ink supply by topping up these tanks from bottles of ink that Epson makes available. Here, the idea is to do away with the need to frequently replace ink cartridges when they run out.

But now they have refreshed this product lineup with all but two of the low-end models being equipped with auto-duplex printing. They have now taken things further by releasing the ET-16500 EcoTank multifunction which prints both sides on A3, Ledger or Tabloid paper and scans both sides of an original that is of any of these paper sizes.

This printer, which sells in Australia for AUD$1599 also offers the expected multifunction abilities like copying or G3 PSTN colour fax functionality. It also supports Google Cloud Print and can work with the Epson Connect Web / mobile printing subsystem, with it connected to your home or small-business network using 802.11g/n Wi-Fi or Ethernet technology.

It can turn out print jobs at a rate of 18 pages per minute according to the ISO standard and has two 250-sheet trays to hold the paper.  As well, the inks and printing system that Epson use are intended to give a quality equivalent to most laser printers. Let’s not forget that the ink tanks in this model are ultra-high-capacity to allow for increased printing of A3 or similar paper sizes. Some of these features may tempt you to buy the printer and see it serve as your organisation’s small office-based printing press.

But there are certain questions regarding output-tray or ink-tank capacities along wiht the time to print both sides of a page which can call out the issue of having this machine serve as that small-run printing press. On the other hand, you could simply focus the Epson towards signage, short print runs and the like as part of your promotion strategy especially where it has the high-capacity ink tanks and the EcoTank continuous-inking system.

Epson moves away from razor-and-blades model for selling printers


Epson EcoTank ET-L355 printer press picture courtesy of Epson Europe

Epson EcoTank ET-L355 printer

Epson: Cheap printers, expensive ink? Let’s turn that upside down | The Register

From the horse’s mouth

Epson UK

Product Page

Press Release

Epson USA

Product Page

My Comments

Epson is running a lineup of inkjet printers that break the rule of how inkjet printers are sold. Typically these printers are sold at a cheap price with the cost made up in how much you pay for the consumables.

But this lineup of piezo inkjet printers is sold at a premium and comes with 2 years worth of ink along with high-capacity ink tanks. The desktop printers use a box on the side for housing the ink tanks and use a similar pipe system to recent HP OfficeJet, Brother and other Epson printers. It is also driven by Epson’s experience in industrial inkjet printing presses and wide-format printers.

Epson EcoTank ET-L555 office printer press picture courtesy of Epson Europe

Epson EcoTank ET-L555 office printer

Models already available in the UK sell at £299.99 including VAT for the premium ET-L555 office model that has an automatic document feeder and £219.99 for the home model without the automatic document feeder. The ET-2500 will go for US$379 while the ET-4550 which has all the features will go for US$499 in the US.

Personally, I would like to see Epson offer the EcoTank or SuperTank high-capacity printing as a user-installable option for some regular office inkjet printers so that those of us who want to push these printers as short-run printing presses can do so.

Similarly, using the EcoTank system along with quality-optimised printing for promotional material could raise the concept of having that desktop printer earn its keep as an organisational short-run printing press. Oh yeah, you should know where to obtain replacement ink for these printers and refill their ink tanks promptly to avoid airlocks.

Poor print quality from your Epson or Brother inkjet printer? Airlocks may be the problem


Brother MFC-J6720DW A3 inkjet multifunction printer

Brother MFC-J6720DW A3 desktop inkjet multifunction printer – uses piezo printheads rather than thermal printheads

If you own an Epson or Brother inkjet printer, you may end up with a situation where there is reduced print quality for particular colours even if you have just put in a new ink cartridge. The symptoms will be in the form of one colour not appearing in your printout or gaps at regular intervals in the printed output.

This is a problem that I have experienced previously with an Epson inkjet printer that I had earlier on through 2000 to 2004. As well I had run in to this problem when I was reviewing the Brother MFC-6490CW A3 inkjet multifunction printer; and had to run this printer through the cleaning cycle a few times after installing a new cartridge.

The piezoelectric print head working as a pump

Saeco GranBaristo Avanti espresso machine press picture courtesy of Philips

An espresso coffee machine that uses a pump to push the water through the ground coffee – similar to how the piezo printhead in an Epson or Brother printer works

This may be to do with the way these printers work compared to most other brands. Here, the ink is pushed through the printer using a piezoelectric pump mechanism which integrates technology similar to what is used to force the hot water through the ground coffee in a domestic espresso-coffee machine when you make that latte or cappuccino.  On the other hand, the HP, Canon and Lexmark printers use a thermal a.k.a. “bubble-jet” method of pushing the ink drops through the printhead in a similar vein to the way water is pushed through a drip-filter coffee maker.

Mr. Coffee Smart 10-Cup Drip Filter Coffee Maker - press image courtesy of Belkin

HP, Canon and Lexmark printers use a printhead that works in a similar way to how this drip-filter coffee maker passes water from its tank to the ground coffee

If you happened to fill one of the previously-mentioned espresso machines with water after allowing it to run dry, then decide to make a coffee, it will take a very long time for the coffee to come through. As well, you will hear the machine’s pump initially make a loud noise, then make a softer noise as it takes on the water. The loud noise that you hear initially is due to the pump encountering an airlock. Then the softer noise that you hear is what is happening as the espresso machine’s pump is being primed and airlocks are being removed out of the pipework in the machine. In some cases, you may have to run water through the machine’s cappucino steam-jet as if to make hot water for this to work.

Similarly, what can happen with your Epson or Brother printer is that after allowing an ink to run dry, you will end up with airlocks in the pipework or printhead. This may be more so if you try to “run it out” beyond the “out-of-ink” warning so you could get those last few pages printed. This same situation tends to happen with newly-purchased printers because you have to establish a constant flow of ink through the pipework and printhead.

What can you do?

The cleaning cycle

Main menu on Brother MFC0J5720DW printer

Newer Brother printers represent the settings menu with “tools”

If this happens, you may have to do one of two things. One would be to run the printer through the “cleaning” cycle a few times as this will “prime” the printhead pumps. You may have to do this after you install a new ink cartridge.

Brother MFC-J5720DW settings menu

Maintenance menu in Settings menu

In most of these printers like the previously-mentioned Brother printer, you will need to start the cycle through going to the “Maintenance” or “Setup” menu on the printer’s control panel, then select the “Cleaning cycle” function. Recent Brother printers use a “tools” icon for access to the Settings and Maintenance functions.

Brother MFC-J5720DW head cleaning menu

Head cleaning menu under Maintenance menu

Older single-function printers and some Epson multifunction printers may have a dedicated “cleaning cycle” button or require you to hold down a button like the “Paper Eject” button to start this cycle. To be sure, check the instruction manual that has come with the printer or the manufacturer’s Web site concerning how to activate this cycle.

Creation and use of “printer cleaning sheets”

Another would be to prepare a “printer cleaning sheet” for each colour. This would be a drawing that has a rectangle of the specified colour (black, cyan, magenta or yellow) that covers at least 50% of an A4 or A3 sheet of paper. You could create this with your favourite graphics, presentation or desktop-publishing program. Even a “paint” program like Microsoft Paint could do the job. Then make sure you save this as a file. If you created a multi-page file such as the PDF file that I have created and made available for you, you have one page per colour and print this page out for the colour that needs attention. Otherwise, print out the file pertaining to the colour that needs attention. You may have to print this a few times to prime all of the pumps in the printhead.

The idea behind creating and printing these sheets of paper is that the printer has to keep running the pumps continuously so they are primed and the ink starts flowing through all the nozzles properly. As far as the paper is concerned, you just then use the blank side of these sheets you printed out as notepaper, such as to keep beside the telephone.

How do you prevent airlocks from getting in to your printer?

The only way to prevent airlocks from appearing in your Epson or Brother inkjet printer is to make sure you have a spare ink cartridge on hand and ready to install when the ink cartridge in the machine is running low. Here, your machine will notify you of this with a warning message on its display or a flashing light. As well, the print-monitor utility on your computer that comes with the machine’s drivers will flash up a “low-on-ink” warning.

Similarly, if you anticipate large print runs you may find it a good idea to stock up on ink cartridges and/or purchase the extra-capacity cartridges. This may be more so if you are doing campaign-driven print runs; frequently printing on A3 using your A3-capable inkjet printer; or using special media like glossy paper.

If you do use generic-brand or third-party cartridges, you may have to keep an eye on the ink level because these cartridges may not work as accurately as the manufacturer-original cartridges. In some cases, you may even have to run the cleaning cycle every time you change these cartridges.

Those of you who use an aftermarket continuous-inking system may need to keep an eye on the bottles associated with these systems so that you know when to replace the inks. As well, you need to make sure that the system is in good order with the pipes secured properly and full of ink. This also applies to those of you who use an Epson EcoTank printer that has user-refillable ink tanks mounted on the side of the printer. Here, you need to check the ink tanks on the machine’s side to make sure your machine isn’t getting too near the “empty” mark.


Once you know how to use the cleaning cycle and / or create a “printer cleaning sheet”, you can be able to avoid an unnecessary service call or product return concerning your Epson or Brother inkjet printer.

Note: This article was originally published on March 2011 but has undergone a major revision in 2015 to illustrate the different types of coffee machines and to encompass the newer Brother printers. It has been revised in August 2016 to encompass Epson’s EcoTank printers which use large user-refillable ink tanks.