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entering sp4880 printer test modeSwap black ink on the Epson 4880 Printer

Saving ink on the 'official method' Matte to Photo or Photo to Matte

Use this method with care! - use at your own risk

  • Note - Whilst this technique has worked for many, I recently (Aug 2010) heard of a printer going into a full ink charge. This was after it had been updated to the very latest firmware. Whilst I couldn't say that Epson have changed anything, it wouldn't surprise me. Be careful and read -all- the information and warnings below before deciding it you want to proceed.
  • An additional warning after this happned with another newish 4880 (Feb. 2011 and Oct 2013)

An unofficial black ink change technique for the Epson SP4880 A2 printer.

We also have a full review of the 4880 printer.

When we swapped the black ink on our Epson 9600 from Photo Black to Matt Black (Pk to Mk) we used some menu options to reduce the amount of ink used up.

The 9600 trick we used can't be used on the 4880 printer so this trick might work for you.

  • Note - I hear of this technique working for swapping the black inks on an Epson 4800. I've never tried this, so usual caveats apply even more...

How to save on SP 4880 ink costs

It's a common criticism of the larger Epson printers that they waste an exhorbitant amount of ink when you swap black inks.

This has finally been adressed on the 7900/9900 (and 3800) but older printers are expensive to change.

Swapping black inks on an 4880

This method is similar to the 7600/9600 technique

A non chip replacement method (as per our 9800/7800 ink swap page) for swapping black inks. Should cost under $10 in ink and paper.

digital B/WFYI: I've set up a LinkedIn group (~6500 members) for people interested in all aspects of Digital Black and White photography: Digital Black and White

This necessitates going into a service mode for the printer, so should be used with care. As long as the ink warning light isn't flashing, you can use this technique with quite low amounts of ink in the cartridges.

Just remember that messing up your machine by doing something like this won't be covered under warranty!

Use at your own risk

It involves simultaneously holding down the "Pause (II)", "Down (v)" and "Right/Menu (>)" buttons (on the control panel) as you turn the printer on.

entering self test mode for 4880

As this procedure is one we've only recently been sent, we'd appreciate feedback on its use

The ink swap procedure

First make sure the printer is turned off.

Remove the ink cartridge you wish to change (Matte or Photo Black) and put the new different Photo or Matte Black in.

Turn on the printer and make sure to simultaneously hold down the Pause(II), Down(v) and Right/Menu(>) buttons at the same as you turn the printer on.

The power button only needs a short press - hold the other three down until the display appears.

self test mode

The LCD display will show 'SELF TESTING2'.

Wait for the printer to start up fully - paper is not needed at this stage.

Press the Right/Menu(>) button.

The LCD display will show 'Test'.

4880 test menu

Press the Down(v) button to scroll down until 'Parameter' appears on the LCD display.

4880 parameters menu

Press the Right/Menu(>) button.

The LCD display will show 'Initialize'.

initialize parameters

Press the Down(v) button to scroll down the display until 'Update' appears on the LCD display.

update parameters

Press the Right/Menu(>) button.

menu choice during ink swap procedure for 4880

The display shows 'Ink Parameter'.

ink parameters for 4880

Press the Right/Menu(>) button.

update inks

The display shows 'Init Fill' and 'Set'.

setting 4880 update parameters

Press the Down(v) button to scroll down the display until 'Reset' appears on the LCD display.

reset parameters

Press the Right/Menu(>) button

The display shows 'Update param ?'.

update ink type

Press the Right/Menu(>) button

The ink parameters are updated.

4880 printer parameters updated

The display returns to a menu.

4880 printer menu

This is the end of the first stage. You now need to turn off the printer by pressing the power button

switch off epson 4880 printer

printer power off

sp4880 powered down

Turn on the printer as before

Turn on the printer and make sure to simultaneously hold down the Pause(II), Down(v) and Right/Menu(>) buttons at the same as you turn the printer on.

The power button only needs a short press - hold the other three down until the display appears.

entering sp4880 printer test mode

The LCD display will show 'SELF TESTING2'.

Press the Right/Menu(>) button.

The LCD display will show 'Test'

printer test display

Press the Down(v) button to scroll down the display until 'Parameter' appears on the LCD display.

setting printer display

Press the Right/Menu(>) button.

The LCD display will show 'Initialize'

initialize option on printer

Press the Down(v) button to scroll down the display until 'Update' appears on the LCD display.

setting update

Press the Right/Menu(>) button.

The LCD display will show 'InkParameter'

setting ink parameters

Press the Right/Menu(>) button.

The LCD display will show 'Set'

set option

Press the Right/Menu(>) button.

The display shows 'Update param ?'.

ink update option

Press the Right/Menu(>) button.

The display shows 'Updating param'.

printer being updated

The display returns to a menu.

main printer menu

Now turn off the printer with the power button

turning off sp4880 printer

The black has now been swapped, but there is still old black ink in the line to the head.

Note - We have not tried this technique on a 4880 - use at your own risk

  • When we used the similar technique on our 7880. it went into Ink Charge mode when switched on. If this happened on a 4880 (let us know if it's a problem) then I'd look to reset this in the same way as the 7880 (Stage 4). The menu layout is slightly different, but similar enough that I'd expect to follow the sequence. I'd certainly not follow the printer instructions to start the fill procedure - that's lots of ink flushed away.
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Flushing the old black ink

Turn on the printer as you would do normally (i.e. no buttons held down)

You have now swapped cartridges, but there is 'old' ink in the lines leading to the print head. You can flush this out by printing something solid black

On your computer

  1. Open Photoshop
  2. Create a document the width of your paper 17" x 20" fill the page/document with BLACK - RGB 0, R = 0, G = 0, B = 0
  3. Print the document with NO COLORMANAGMENT and at 720 DPI.
  4. You may need to use a custom print size, however you could easily print out on A4/letter sheets of copier paper. Put each printed sheet next to one another and print one at a time. You should be able to see where the black changes after a several sheets.

The amount of ink required to purge the old black depends on your printer.

The SP7880 uses about 10-12ml of ink before the tube is flushed out.

Printing a solid black image of 17"x30" should suffice.

For Mk -> Pk: When you look at the finished print you see that it starts with matte ink as it looks dark and the rest of the print looks a little dull with Pk ink on matt paper. The system is now charged with photo black.

If you consider that an ink change the 'official way' wastes appreciably more ink, you can see why there is such a huge saving.

If you've wondered what over a hundred pounds worth of waste ink looks like - see here :-)

Note -- On our 9600 we printed four 40"x10" solid black rectangles on cheap matt paper to purge the black line. The first 3 were a dark black and the third much lighter as the Photo black ink was used.

Thanks to an industry insider for pointing us to this one!

Cleaning dried ink

You really only need to check out the household products line at your local supermarket ;-)

I've written a short guide about 'cleaning inkjet printers'

Other info pages

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