Good inkjet printer for cardstock?

Discussion in 'Peripherals' started by Mike64, Nov 22, 2017.

  1. Mike64

    Mike64 Golden Member

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    Another thread reminded me that I keep forgetting to post this, so here goes...

    Does anyone have any experience with inkjet printers that handle heavy-ish cover/card stock well? (Full letter-size sheets would be a good start, but being able to deal with "unusual" sizes and shapes like small round, and rectangular invitation/announcement-type cards with scalloped edges, and their appropriately-sized envelopes would be a very big plus.) It wouldn't need to handle "photo-printing" particularly well, I'd want it mostly for printing text and line-type images without much fine detail. Good, even color coverage over fairly wide areas would be important, though.

    I've had a lot of trouble finding reviews that even mention the specific paper path a given printer uses (which seems to be the biggest issue with printing on heavy material) much less reviews that so much as touch on the sort of specific usage I have in mind. I really don't even have an idea what such a thing would cost, so I while I wouldn't be willing to spend Real Money on it in any event, I don't know if it's realistic even to idly ponder actually getting one at some point...
     
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  3. CZroe

    CZroe Lifer

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    The units that can handle particularly thick cardstock should have a "flat path" paper tray option.
     
  4. Mike64

    Mike64 Golden Member

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    Yep, that's what I was thinking of when I mentioned that reviews rarely even mention that much (and whether you have to be able to access the back of the printer to use that functionality which seems to be fairly common among printers that can do it at all). I guess it's an uncommon enough usage that "most" more serious reviewers and user reviews rarely touch on it all, much less discuss the printer's overall handling of heavy-basis printing in any detail.:(
     
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  5. corkyg

    corkyg Elite Member<br>Super Moderator <br>Peripherals
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    Yep! Avoid the U-turn paper path.
     
  6. mikeymikec

    mikeymikec Diamond Member

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    I bought a Brother MFC-J985 (DW?) for a customer recently and I believe the documentation noted that the rear paper feed can handle up to 300gsm paper/card. I wasn't buying it for that reason so I didn't pay a great deal of attention to it at the time.
     
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  7. CZroe

    CZroe Lifer

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    Well, exactly a week after posting here I came across just such a printer at Goodwill: an Epson Stylus Pro 3880. MSRP was originally almost $1,300 and Fry's is still asking $777 on clearance but this puppy cost me all of $10.69 after tax (rounded up to $11 for charity). If I wasn't clear before: I was also interested in printing on heavy cardstock (actually, posterboard), which was why I was researching it before the OP asked.

    Where things stand as of last night:
    https://youtu.be/lInPCHhxSVY

    I expected to find the printhead hopelessly clogged but the extra ink alone was worth over $150 on eBay (included four unused cartridges). I did a nozzle check and all the colors that worked, worked flawlessly. As my wording implies, of course, one color didn't work at all: black.

    Light Black (LK) and Light Light Black (LLK) both worked, but Photo Black (PK) and Matte Black (MK) did not. Those two share the same nozzle which you can manually select. I switched to MK and it also didn't work. The relevant ink lines actually looked empty. Uh oh: It would cost hundreds to purge and refill all lines and they can't be done selectively.

    The "full" waste ink tank (Maintenance cart) locked me out of further troubleshooting just as I was running out of Yellow (Y) and switching back to PK. This prevented me from accessing the ink cartridges (electronic door) or doing any further test prints/cleaning cycles. All the other carts were reading nearly full so I ordered new Y and Maintenance cartridges along with a chip resetter. In the mean time, I cleaned the wiper and flushed the purge pad (Pump Cap).

    After installing the Maint cart I regained access to the ink carts and found that PK was completely empty even though the printer reported that it had nearly 70% remaining. It weighed 60 grams, which is BONE dry (should be around 80g "empty"). I soon discovered why when I put in a new one and switched back to PK: It was dribbling out onto the page when the carts were pressurized.

    It seems that the switching valve gets stuck open when PK is selected. Luckily, this problem also allowed the cart pressurization to prime the empty lines without dumping 40% or more of my other inks, so I was able to switch back to MK and print normally. All the nozzles are firing!

    Luckily, it seems that Epson's printable "Enhanced Matte" posterboard uses MK instead of PK, but now I have a new problem: they don't seem to make it in 16" wide sheets for the posterboard tray (only 24" or 30" sheets for their larger floor-standing printers). That's weird, since no one else seems to make printable posterboard and they have several 17" printers with the 16" posterboard tray. Why engineer it if they aren't going to support it?

    The closest I can find on the generic/third-party market is 88lb Polar Matte heavy cardstock from RedRiver, even though it's currently not available in 16" due to "quality issues." That's about half as thick as I'd like, ideally. :( It would probably fit the OP's requirements, however. I was hoping for 110lb at least.
     
    #6 CZroe, Dec 5, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
  8. CZroe

    CZroe Lifer

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    Another option for the OP wanting to print on odd sizes and shapes is a "print then cut" die cutter machine like Cricut Explore or Silhouette Cameo. I'm very disappointed with the Cricut software's print then cut size limitations (much smaller than the maximum cut area) but there are work-arounds for some kinds of projects (videos on YouTube). Because you aren't looking for a high-end photo printer you can probably get away with any office inkjet that handles cardstock.
     
  9. Mike64

    Mike64 Golden Member

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    Both are interesting, but unless I happen to get almost as lucky at Goodwill, even a "comparatively inexpensive" Cricut machine is well beyond what I'd be willing to spend, since I really don't have any sort of ongoing/regular "need" for it, it'd basically just be a toy I'd play with now and then. And while I don't necessarily need a printer that can handle as much as the 300 gsm basis weight mikeymickec mentioned (though that would be preferable), 55 lb stock would be kind of low for my purposes, though that depends on exactly which category of "card stock" "55 lb weight" refers (unlike the uniform "gsm" weights, all of "tag stock", "index stock", and "card stock" rather annoyingly have their own basis weight classifications...)
     
  10. CZroe

    CZroe Lifer

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    Speaking of getting "almost as lucky at Goodwill" for a Cricut: Is that so far fetched?

    Barely a month ago I got my Cricut Expression...

    ...at Goodwill...

    ...for under $13. ;)

    [​IMG]

    More:
    https://imgur.com/a/2isvP

    I got it even though I already had a Cricut Explore Air since it was the older kind which allows you to use 3rd party software for fewer limitations (Sure Cuts A Lot; Make The Cut, etc). The older ones can really only do the work-around method for print then cut though, which does not use optical registration marks and, thus, can't cut out intricate prints as precisely.

    The next day some guy I frequently run into at Goodwill (always beats me to the retro game stuff) was selling one exactly like it on Craigslist for $60.

    It sounds like I'm there every day but it's really more like twice a week on my lunch breaks.

    I got my Cricut Explore Air a year before that by setting up a Deal Alert on SlickDeals.net and biting when I saw a good price. I regretted it instantly when I discovered that it's really only suited to general crafting since it blocks 3rd party software and has a severely limited cutting area for the print then cut feature. If it ran native software it wouldn't have a limit but they force you to use a browser plugin which has different printing size limitations for different browsers and operating systems. Oddly, iOS seems to have the largest area for print then cut but none of my printers support AirPrint.

    For lb/GSM, I've had a lot of trouble finding useful paper weight conversions. I just figure that typical office paper is 28lb, heavy paper/light cardstock is 60-80lb, heavy cardstock is 90-110lb, light posterboard is 120-150lb, and 200-220lb is getting to what everyone thinks of when they think of "posterboard."

    Good luck finding something that works for you. If I come across anything else that seems appropriate I'll remember to come back and mention it. :)
     
  11. Mike64

    Mike64 Golden Member

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    As far as Cricuts go, I mostly I really have no use for one, though I suppose I'd buy one for < $20 as an occasionally-used toy... But what I'm really looking for is something to print oddball cards (A2 size with scalloped edges, round ones, etc) and their envelopes, and letter-sized stock I already have, like Avery products (tent cards, etc), and printable folding zūmiboxes I've picked up here and there on clearance. All stuff I I wouldn't even consider paying real money for except for business/profitable purposes, which for me are blue moon occurrences, but which a mild fondness for playing with paper and other textiles prompted me to buy for literally pennies on the dollar...

    So really what I had (idly) in mind was a general purpose (probably not photo-quality) printer with relatively low maintenance costs that would work on the heaviest cardstock possible at a price I'm willing to pay. The low maintenance cost being an issue largely because I imagine I'd end up having replace cartridges more often than ideal due to lack of use...

    All of which is admittedly very vague. But I did think I'd made it pretty clear in my OP that I really had no idea what my options might be and am not dead set on buying anything at all if the price isn't right. Which it's looking like may well be the case unless I can find something at Goodwill. I'll have to keep an eye on their website, and see if I can get lucky. For whatever the reason(s), the brick & mortar Goodwills I've been in here in NYC tend to have overpriced (relatively speaking) crap, and none are close enough to my regular travels to make stopping by frequently in the hopes of catching the occasional "find" practical....
     
    #10 Mike64, Dec 11, 2017 at 12:14 PM
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017 at 12:21 PM