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My Epson 3800 UV printer conversion


NebraskaTrevor
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After months of reading and thinking about how to approach my project I have finally begun. I dont plan to print on shirts, rather plastic sheets, but the information found here has been invaluable. I selected a very nice, barely used Epson 3800 that was in mint condition, almost too nice to hack apart actually. I am converting it to a flatbed printer to allow me to print on plastic and carbon fiber sheets that I cut into specific shapes for some products that I sell using UV cured ink. First things first though I am going to get it working with stock Epson ink to print on paper and then I will convert the ink system next after the printer is working and calibrated using the OEM ink. I figure there is no sense in complicating the build or muddying the waters with an ink conversion at the same time since it has plenty of challenges on its own. I am using the AIO V2 control board and I will have a moving Platen on drawer slides with a fixed printer and a elevator table underneath to allow for different thicknesses. I am shooting for a print area of 17"x36" Just under what the printer will allow without any RIP trickery. Pictures to follow as I make progress.

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The only progress I made today is to get the stand cut out, glued together, primed, and painted with some hammer tone paint that I hope will compliment the look of the printer when they are paired together. Next I am going to work on the sliding platen, and continue to try to make the sensors happy. I am having trouble with the paper width sensor and the paper edge sensor. For not I cut the sheet feeder down to about 3 inches wide and just let the stepper motor run as it would if it were still a whole printer but hooking the phase sensor back up, but ultimately I would like to eliminate it too since it is kinda clunky, but that can wait.

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Todays progress on the slide assembly for the bed. I will have a 36 x17 inch platen. As it is presently set up I have more like 45 inches of travel so it will likely get cut down just a bit as I refine the setup. Next I need to make some brackets/idlers for the belt to replace the very temporary stuff that I mocked it up with.

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Today's progress. I got the belt mounted along with the idlers. I need to come up with a permanent clamp for the belt. It was cool to see it move in and out and hit the limit switch and actually stop (that took a few tries). Next I will try to get it to move in sync with the printers encoder, that part should be super fun, and likely not easy.

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I also worked on the paper switch, (pe I think) after realizing from some reading that it can be very tricky to get the paper sensor to behave correctly when emulated I decided that for now it will just be activated by the stock switch. I found a very cool trick online that mounts the sensor on a spring loaded hinge to allow it to literally bend over backwards when the plate comes back. This should hopefully behave just like the switch would in stock form.

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I got thigs pieced together enough today to do a first print. To say that I was excited is an understatement! I have a long ways to go before it is considered finished and anything near ready to convert to UV ink but I am getting there. A week ago today it was a stock printer, now it it this Frankenstein! Also the 30W UV led showed up today.

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I wonder if it is a timing of the signal or is it the signal itself?


What if you used a relay triggered by the arduino that uses the epson PE switch wires. You'd still have to figure out the timing but it would be using Epsons own signal back to itself


Not sure if that made sense... it did in my head

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In my observation of the printer both before and after the conversion it shouldn't be hard, but in my opinion.....an uneducated one at that.....the control board really needs to be able to see a signal from the asf, ie hey there I am pulling some paper out for ya now. Then the controller might be able to emulate the pe signal, it just goes 3v high whenever triggered and stays that way until the paper is out past it, without that input though I have no idea how the controller knows to emulate the signal from the or sensor? And it needs to be at just the right time. It will advance twice about .5 to .7 inches, then if it doesn't see a trigger it faults out the printer. I may not be smart enough to figure it out electrically, but this mechanical arrangements seems to be the trick, I printed about 10 sheets today with no problems. I also ordered 4 from eBay in case I snap one off somehow!

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Looking good. I have yet to figure out why it is tricky to get the paper sensor to behave correctly when emulated.

Btw the posts that you and one other member have made concerning the 3800/3880 have been very helpful. It was good to know before starting that it was possible to work with this printer. Did you ever come to a final solution as far as the paper width sensor in the bottom of the print head carriage? I have to reinstall part of the tray that fed paper every time before I start the printer up or it faults out during its self checks. I have tried tape over the sensor, both silver and black, and I have tried laying a black or white strip of plastic below it with no luck. I have the paper width check turned off in the menu so it will print OK without that part of the tray in place but I cant pass the startup checks without it. Not the end of the world, but not very convenient either. Thanks for the inspiration.

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Looking good. I have yet to figure out why it is tricky to get the paper sensor to behave correctly when emulated.

Btw the posts that you and one other member have made concerning the 3800/3880 have been very helpful. It was good to know before starting that it was possible to work with this printer. Did you ever come to a final solution as far as the paper width sensor in the bottom of the print head carriage? I have to reinstall part of the tray that fed paper every time before I start the printer up or it faults out during its self checks. I have tried tape over the sensor, both silver and black, and I have tried laying a black or white strip of plastic below it with no luck. I have the paper width check turned off in the menu so it will print OK without that part of the tray in place but I cant pass the startup checks without it. Not the end of the world, but not very convenient either. Thanks for the inspiration.

 

Glad it helped you. I found that if I have the audrino on before I turn on before I turn on the printer I don't get an error. If the audrino is off when I turn on the printer it will error out during start up. That is a nifty dohicky you have going on with the sensor do you have instructions on how to build it or what materials were used ,maybe links or a parts list?


Thank you.

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Looking good. I have yet to figure out why it is tricky to get the paper sensor to behave correctly when emulated.

Btw the posts that you and one other member have made concerning the 3800/3880 have been very helpful. It was good to know before starting that it was possible to work with this printer. Did you ever come to a final solution as far as the paper width sensor in the bottom of the print head carriage? I have to reinstall part of the tray that fed paper every time before I start the printer up or it faults out during its self checks. I have tried tape over the sensor, both silver and black, and I have tried laying a black or white strip of plastic below it with no luck. I have the paper width check turned off in the menu so it will print OK without that part of the tray in place but I cant pass the startup checks without it. Not the end of the world, but not very convenient either. Thanks for the inspiration.

 

Glad it helped you. I found that if I have the audrino on before I turn on before I turn on the printer I don't get an error. If the audrino is off when I turn on the printer it will error out during start up. That is a nifty dohicky you have going on with the sensor do you have instructions on how to build it or what materials were used ,maybe links or a parts list?


Thank you.

 

No instructions for the switch, I just looked at this very helpful video and went from there. It probably uses less than 5 bucks worth of parts. As for the paper width sensor problems I do always have the controller on first, in fact I must otherwise I get a different fault (1226) that I believe has something to do with the encoder signals as they relate to the controller. Once powered it works, but when powered down I get the fault without fail.

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I continued work on the printer today. I made an adjustable Platen from some 1/4" MDF. It has about an inch of adjustment for thickness. My idea is that rather than have a platen which somehow has several inches of adjustment to make several that can just drop in place and accommodate materials of different thicknesses. This one can do stuff up to about an inch thick which should cover about 98 pct of the items I plan to print. I may have to make another to hold a shirt frame. My primary use will not be shirts, but I am sure I will want to make myself a few.

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Here are my first few prints on some cardboard, some 1/4" MDF, and some old t-shirt. I also tried some artists canvas but it looked horrible. All of these were done with the stock epson ink which I will continue to use until I get the printer mechanically 100% nailed down before beginning the next phase of converting it to UV ink, but I am sure starting to think about ordering some.....the 500 bucks and limited shelf life has me holding off until I really need it. To say that I was excited today is an understatement. I cant believe how well it prints on MDF, or rather how well MDF receives the ink. Almost a good as plain copy paper. I also have my registration perfect. I can send the platen back in the printer and print a second time and it is absolutely perfect, that will be great someday when it comes to printing a white under base below colored top graphics.

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