Epson Ecotank ET8550/8500 with Archival Pigment
After having run pigment ink in this printer for over two years, we have proven that it is practical to run pigment ink in the ET8550.
Why pigment ink? Pigment ink remains the exclusive type of ink that Epson provides on their PROFESSIONAL line of photoprinters. It is the one and only type of ink that can provide reliable results for ARCHIVAL purposes. OEM and All aftermarket dye inks do not come close to pigment in todays harsh environments. Today Fade is primarily caused by ozone and oxidative gases in the air and the quality of air in the world is NOT improving anywhere.
If you decide to use pigment ink, you must start the printer with this ink or remove as much of the existing dye ink in the printer by disasembling it as shown in Youtube. I recommend starting with a new printer for most people.
With this pigment inkset, the ET8550/8500 retains the functionality of an everyday document and text printer producing all output with permanent pigment ink. This aspect alone is necessary for some uses.This special pigment inkset will produce neutral looking documents on plain paper. So one can use the printer without any special color corrections on standard plain paper.
However when someone wants a quality archival print with pigment ink, they can also produce that with the 8550. The quality of ouput will not replace an Epson K3 printer ( one using 9 inks). However it can become a 13" pigment ink printer. In order to maximize the output quality printer profiles are provided for this inkset.
When using Epson pigment ink printers it is well known that Glossy or High Gloss papers should be avoided because of gloss differential. That same rule applies and especially so since there are limited ink colors used. So one should always ideally choose low sheen luster, satin, semi gloss, fine art and matte papers for best results.
So how does this ecotank machine compare to professional pigment ink printers? If you are sensitive to gloss differential or want to use glossy papers, then perhaps the only current printer for you is the Canon Pro-1000 and 300 which clearly sets a standard that Epson cannot meet.
If you want the best possible output, then this machine is not for you and the only options are expensive or you choose to refill small tanks on the Canon 300. This machine with pigment can produce output that the average person will not be able to discern the difference between it and say the Epson P800 or P600. Looked at carefully with trained eyes, there are minor notable differences in the very dark shadow areas. However we are dealing with an affordable easily refillable 13" pigment ink printer. No such printer exists off the shelf because "affordable to own" 13" pigment printers simply do not exist anymore.
So what do we have here? Easily refillable tank printer. Check. Everyday use with normal documents. Check. Quality photoprinting that gets close to the best. Check. Affordability. Check. Included ICC profile support. CHECK. Reliability. CHECK. Pigment ink printer for small business commercial work in small volumes. CHECK. Afforable archival output for the starting out artist. CHECK.