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Introduction To The Epson P5000 DTF Conversion Problems and solutions 6+ Month Update


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This post is a follow up from a previous thread. It will contain information on the P5000 conversion and any issues I ran across in the 6+ timeframe that I have used it with tips and tricks to avoid that.

While what I say here specifically applies to the P5000, in general it can be applied to any Epson conversion. 

Of course just about any Epson "conversion" will work out of the box, specifically this one. But over time, the white ink takes a toll in the machine and causes issues if not properly addressed. Most chalk it up to the machine being " garbage" when in fact is it a lesson on what to do differently to maintain the machine. 

 

I am not here to judge you or help with walk you through it every miniscule step. I would absolutely love to help if you need it, but please do your due diligence. I am also not here to press my opinions or preferences on you or give you recommend a specific product or seller. Everything is from hands on experience first hand by me. If you agree with it or not- or if you put the time into reading what I say or doing your own testing- that is up to you entirely. Everything Is based on my honest unbiased opinion with hands on experience since I started in 2016 with modified printers. While I am no expert (really, who can say they are anyway?) I do have specific experience under my belt with issues and solutions. I am always under a time constraint and may very easily overlook something, please let me know if I did or something I say is not specific enough. I am also not the " best" at writing and photographing everything together. If you would like to see an image of something and it is not included, just ask. 

 

Now that is out of the way, let's get to it!

 

For the P5000, It's a great machine. Right out of the box you can basically load ink with aftermarket cartridges and be on your way. Literally. No removing rollers, No waste tank modifications. Literally, Out of the box ready to roll. I did make some minor easy to do modifications along the way to make life easier though. Something like installing LED lights into the cabinet to see nozzle checks and such easier, as well as creating a spot for me to manipulate the capping station to clean the wiper assembly. 

Some technical things to note: 

1. It uses 220 ML ink cartridges.

2. It has 360 nozzles per channel, with 10 ink channels ( 11 cartridges). 

3. Built in film cutter, perfect for using rolls to lower cost and increase speed for sheet printing. 

4. Built in roll holder that directly fits up to 17" X 325 ( 100M) film rolls with 3" core diameter. 

5. It prints up to 21 12" X 12" prints an hour on 13"/33CM film at it's fastest setting CMYK+W

6. It prints up to 42 12" X 12" prints an hour on 13"/33CM film at it's fastest setting WHITE ONLY ( or black only with no white under base)

7. It has a printhead that WILL NOT suffer from ink spills easily, like the XP-15000. The head cables are connected at the top in a vertical position. I have intentionally shorted the connections with liquid and the printer errored out. Cleaned the cables and powered it back on and it worked flawlessly. 

8. With 2-4 extra channels you can use up 2-4 spot colors AND CMYK+W right out of the box. OR this will work as two additional ink channels if you ever experience irreparable clogging on one channel. 

9. It has a built in fan for suction on the film, so NO MORE head strikes- EVER. It also has a built in Mainboard cooling fan, so it can print constantly- an entire roll of film without stopping without an issue in 15.5 hours CMYK+W or 7.8 hours White/black only. This was a major issue with other conversions. 

 

Yeah, I know. It's a beast of a machine- especially for only $1895 delivered. 

 

Now some downfalls: 

1. You must use a chip resetter on the waste tank. You must swap them/have two waste tanks for this machine to reset them. 

2. It DOES NOT have chipless firmware or ARC chips. It does however have a manual chip resetter which works perfectly and reliably. 

3. It WAS NOT designed for use with WHITE ink( like any conversion). Regardless, There are still things you must do daily and monthly to maintain the machine. Easily avoidable issues with knowledge and experience. 

 

Yep- not a whole lot of downfalls with this machine. Not really any of them that matters. 

 

 

 

Now for my experience from day one to 6+ months of use: 

 

This machine will work great for the first few months, Shockingly actually. Most days you only do one head clean to get going and that is it for the rest of the day. You will notice you never, or very rarely experience nozzle clogging. Now, This all is with the expectation that it WILL NOT be sitting days at a time and printing at least 20 12" X 12" prints a day. Anything less than that or skipping days will alter the outcome below drastically with shortened timeframes. 

 

From month 1-3- I had 0 issues at all. None. It printed over 4,875 12" X 12" transfers without a single thing- except daily maintenance and refilling the ink cartridges with ink/resetting the chips. So far, That is a $9,750 return plus time and electric on a $1,895 printer in 3 months. 

 

 

From month 3-6- 

This is when the issues started creeping up. The white ink in the stock OEM system started taking it's toll. I tested various solutions and found a few ways to bypass this. 

Situation 1: 

The white ink can be manually flushed from the ink system. I fill a cartridge with warm distilled water, disconnected the damper hose at the splitter and pushed air into the vent hole of the cartridge with a syringe which in turn pushed the water through the ink bay. I eventually used a small air pump to save time. It look about 400 ML to flush the ink system entirely PER CHANNEL of white. You will NEVER remove the white ink remnants entirely without replacing all of the components. Once this was completed I reinstalled the hose and then replaced the dampers with OEM dampers. The aftermarket dampers DO NOT work well and will cause issues. Seriously, don't risk saving $40 on dampers to kill your investment. The original dampers were filled with white ink "sludge" to the point it was going into the printhead and causing the damper to "stick" closed. IF YOU DO NOT CATCH THIS EARLY- IT WILL DESTROY THE PRINTHEAD ALMOST IMMEDIATELY.  After replacing the dampers I filled NEW ink cartridges with white ink and ran an ink charge TWICE on those channels to get the white ink back to the head. Worked flawlessly as fixing the issue. The DAMPERS on the printhead MUST be replaced in time or this does not work. WHEN you start experiencing white ink channels dropping out entirely- STOP and replace your dampers. Have some on hand. You can also replace the entire damper assembly, They are about $150 delivered.

 

So for situation one it cost me about $200 to replace the damper assembly and the 4 white ink cartridges plus the ink/cleaner usaage flushing the machine. Not to bad after $19,500 worth of transfers printed on a $1,895 initial investment.

 

 

Situation 2: 

 

We are still on the 3-6 month mark here. I run multiple machines and took multiple routes to see what did and did not work based on variables to learn how it all comes together. 

 

Let's say you DID NOT stop to replace the dampers and flush the ink system when you started experiencing white drop out or excessive clogging. This is where it got interesting. I was able to get about another 2 weeks use out of the printer before printhead failure. What I mean by this is when you use the P5000, And everyday one head clean works perfect for months without an issue- When the day comes that it DOES NOT work with one head clean all day, or the white ink drops out at any point- 2 weeks from this point it died permanently. 

 

Why though, you ask? Well it's simple actually. The ink system is pressurized after the cartridges. There are small valves inside the machine the pump up pressure- around 3-5 PSI to the printhead with ink. What this does is allows the printhead to work with ONLY sucking ink from the pressurized damper. So, basically the printhead simply uses the ink in the damper that is at a neutral pressure ( no suction, no pressure). When the ink in the damper is used, it squeezes a valve as the space gets smaller and then fresh ink comes rushing in from the ink lines. The moment right before there is positive pressure, that valve closes preventing any positive or negative pressure. Cool huh? This makes little work for the printhead to get the ink it needs and gives it a ready supply of ink all around. 

The reason the white is having issues is because everyday the white ink pigment falls out of the carrier as it sits- inside the printer. All this sludge gets pushed into the damper eventually as it builds up. There is a small ink hole in the damper about 1/4 inch above the bottom. At the 3-6 month mark this damper has 1/4 inch of sludge in the bottom( where all white ink pigment, or "sludge" ends up). That's right, you guessed it. The printhead is actually started to suck sludge in instead of ink- which is MUCH thicker. The normal ink is thin which flows easily and cools the printhead nozzles. This thick ink is like sucking a milkshake through a coffee stirrer for the printhead- It nozzles get tired quick- and permanently. 

The reason you flush the ink system is so the NEW dampers DO NOT get quickly filled with this " sludge". I tested this too though.  After 7 days BRAND NEW dampers were filled up to this 1/4" mark on the damper without flushing the ink system before replacing them. So, This is why you flush the ink system and why it is VERY important. Plus, who wants to waste $80 in dampers every week?

 

Since the ink system CANNOT be fully flushed ( even when clear water is coming out there is white ink remnants in there) the dampers and ink assembly now should be replaced every 3 months. Do this like clockwork and you'll be fine. Don't do this like clockwork, Prepare to buy a new machine the moment you don't. 

 

Situation 3: 

Again, still on the 3-6 month mark here. Let's say you decide to take an alternative route and bypass the OEM ink system entirely when you run into these issues instead of doing the above two options for whatever reason. It's rather easily done actually. When testing, I ONLY did this to the white ink. I left the CMYK ink as stock. Basically, I made an adapter and left the ink cartridges in the printer ( for the chips) and disabled the pressure pump on my white ink side. I then removed the hose and attached my adapter into the ink splitter. I then purchased a 2 liter ink tank and some hose/clamp and attached this to my adapter. 

 

Basically what I have done here is left the CMYK ink STOCK on the left side where my 2 extra channels are. So here I can just fill like normal with my stock pressurized ink cartridges since CMYK doesn't have an issue with this ink system. I disabled the right side and hooked up a bulk ink white tank. I did this because who wants to run a 5 color ink system and waste that space when not necessary? I don't. I didn't. 

To paint a picture, I have one ink tank attached ABOVE the printer on top of the printer. One hose runs down into the printer and connects to my adapter feeding the printer WHITE ink to all the channels. The adapter converts the 6 channel hose into one channel and feeds the printhead in stock form. All I am doing here is bypassing the right side ink bay. I then installed a 2 PSI pressure pump on the ink tank. That's right, So it's ABOVE the printer AND has a 2 PSI positive pressure. This results on 3-5 PSI at the printhead, very much like stock. 

Everyday I come out and shake my white ink tank ( I opted to use one without the white ink mixer, it's a waste of time to me, they don't work well at mixing the ink). Turn on the pressure pump and release my hose clamp to allow flow to the printer. I also installed a Y splitter at my adapter with a return hose. It has a valve on it to turn on/off. All I have to do is turn on the valve every morning and the PRESSURE from the ink tank pushes all the settled white ink out of that hose for re-mixing and reusing cycling fresh ink from the tank to my adapter.  Simple, no ink pumps, no crap to break. Takes 10 seconds to do manually and you don't have to worry about it. It's a basic foolproof white ink recirculating system- just use air pressurized from the tank instead of a separate pump and filter. One could easily install an in-line filter, but, I don't like the size of them and it's just too much settled ink in there just sitting to go bad. For me and the hundreds of dampers I have disected, White ink very rarely has ANY debris in it, especially for a white ink filter. The dampers have small filters and when the sludge is in the bottom and they need replaced, the filters are still clean on OEM dampers. In my experience, OEM dampers filter out MORE than aftermarket as well. 

 

That's it, Now I don't have to flush the OEM ink assembly or replace my white ink cartridges ever again. Yes, I could have went full aftermarket ink system but find it to be a bad idea. I know EPSON quality and aftermarket dampers quality varies. Epson dampers are " the bees knees" or "Cadillac" of parts. I have tested and tested and find this always true. Plus, the CMYK usage is very low, I only fill those cartridge's maybe 3 times a month, compared to the white cartridges twice a week. I find this great for my use, for my setup. 

I will still need to replace my dampers at an unknown interval, I am going with 4 months to play it safe, or until there are signs they need changed. 

 

So it's about $80 every 3-4 months to replace only the dampers, or to keep it simple and a 5 minute job, the entire damper assembly is about $150 delivered. I have a spare one so I can swap in a new damper assembly, Refurbished the old one with new dampers and clean it for the next swap. That's it. So about $80 every $20,000 in profit for this machine so far. I feel like the capping station will need changed yearly, which is about $150. Beyond that, the printheads in these are beasts in comparison, never clog, never anything but perfect UNLESS you neglect the printer. 

 

 

This is where I am at with it at the 6+ month mark. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Here is a little bit of a cost breakdown: 

 

P5000- $1895

Printhead- $1,000

Dampers- $80

Damper Assy- $150

Capping station- $150

 

21 12" X 12" an hour. 

 

Chinese 2 head machine: 

$10,000+

Printheads ( it takes two 4 channel heads) $3,000

Dampers- $20

Capping station pumps/ cap top- $80

30 10" X 10" an hour. 

 

Aside from obvious size and print quality differences as well as alignments and other issues- Basically the ease of use and printing day to day. You do the math and figure out what works for you. You know what choices I have made. 

 

I will follow up with this as things progress, I am also waiting on my P6000, which is the 8 color 24" version of the P5000 in terms of speed. I project it will do 40 11" X 11" an hour. I also have a bypass for ink chips and resetters situation. So for $800 more than the P5000 you can get the same thing minus 2 extra ink channels but in 24" form. 

 

The P7000 is after the P6000, which is the 24" version of the P5000 with the 10 color head. But that is too far away to get into yet. 

 

 

 

Edited by johnson4
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  • 4 weeks later...

After messing around with a 1430 and R1800, I am really leaning towards the P5000.  Like everything else with DTF, it seems like there are suppliers all over the place and it's hard to tell which are reliable. Curious where you source your cartridges, waste tanks, and chip resetters for the 5000? 

Also, based on some of your other posts it seems that you use the dtfsuperstore cmyk and white ink. Is that right? 

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4 hours ago, brianjw4 said:

After messing around with a 1430 and R1800, I am really leaning towards the P5000.  Like everything else with DTF, it seems like there are suppliers all over the place and it's hard to tell which are reliable. Curious where you source your cartridges, waste tanks, and chip resetters for the 5000? 

Also, based on some of your other posts it seems that you use the dtfsuperstore cmyk and white ink. Is that right? 

I do use DTF superstore supplies. Everywhere else I have tried causes issues and QC is “so-so”.

 

i purchase everything aftermarket part wise overseas directly. 
 

The P5000 can have 4 1430’s sit on easily. It’s huge and heavy. But it works. It’s still susceptible to the same issues as other machines though, maintenance maintenance maintenance. 
 

I’m about to finish the P6000. Its fully converted over. Right now the P6000 is only $148 more than the P5000. 

Edited by johnson4
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Great thanks. I figure the 5000 is probably around the size of my f2000 dtg machine. Seems like it is has the same type of print head and the ability to run cleaning on specific channels as well, which is a major plus. The vacuum media handling is also very desirable. 

I'll have to try the dtfsuperstore ink.

I also saw the 6000 and that the price wasn't much more. Would you choose it over the 5000?

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12 minutes ago, brianjw4 said:

Great thanks. I figure the 5000 is probably around the size of my f2000 dtg machine. Seems like it is has the same type of print head and the ability to run cleaning on specific channels as well, which is a major plus. The vacuum media handling is also very desirable. 

I'll have to try the dtfsuperstore ink.

I also saw the 6000 and that the price wasn't much more. Would you choose it over the 5000?

It is. The F2100 is built from the same bones as the P5000. 
 

I guess it depends on what you are after. I am after 24” print width. If you are not, I don’t see the benefit. The p6000 does require a bit more modification than the p5000. The P6000 having unlimited ARC chips with the p5000 needing them reset with a resetter. 
 

overall its the same technology in all three machines. If you don’t need the print width, then the P5000 is the best in my opinion. 
 

for the 6000, I just started with it, haven’t printed with it yet. The 6000 can produce more prints per hour based on what I know so far. 23 11”x11” an hour on the p5000. In theory the P6000 will do 40+ 11”x11” an hour. 
 

so we’ll see, just waiting for the shaker. 
 

this will be my last model Epson conversion that I do. (The P6000). 
 

I think all said and done cost wise, you’ll be in the P5000 about $2,300 print ready, the P6000 about $2,600. That includes everything but the ink, film, and RIP. 

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