The worst ink management system I’ve ever dealt with

Richard Charpentier Notes from Rich, Printers 8 Comments

I was actually going to write the worst system in the history of history, but that might be going too far.  There’s got to be something more vexing out there, it’s just I haven’t run into it yet.

Now, what am I talking about?

Several months ago Ian decided that the gallery would do well to start producing images on tile.  He’d been purchasing reproductions of his work from his former printer on tile for a while, and people really liked the results.  So, he did a little research on the matter and found the Artainium system by Sawgrass Technologies.  After shopping around a bit he purchase the ink system for dye sublimation from a reseller and we got the equipment in.

The ink feed system and cartridges in question

The ink feed system and cartridges in question

The system is a “hybrid” to be sure.  An ink feed system that is used in an Epson 1400 printer.  The feed cartridges get their ink from an external bank of ink bags, and the cartridges themselves are created not by Epson, but by this particular company.  The system has proved to be a nightmare for me.

When it first arrived the other month we set up the system and could not get the printer to recognize the 3rd party cartridges.  Some would recognize, some would not.  So we put in a call to tech support and got walked through the issue.

First off, we made sure the original Epson inks worked.  They sure did.  Right off the bat.  No troubles at all.

We then put the Artainium gear back in and some cartridges would recognize, some wouldn’t.  Tech support suggested rubbing the circuit boards with an eraser to make sure no junk was on them.  We did that.  No fix.

The thing is, the circuit boards are randomly recognized and then not recognized.  There’s no rhyme or reason.

In total, with our first round of tech support we did the following:

  • Try jiggling the cartridges:  Ok, now others aren’t recognized.  Or maybe one isn’t.  Or maybe two aren’t.  Or maybe all of them aren’t.
  • Use an eraser on the circuit boards:  Same results.
  • Pop the cartridges out and then in again.  Same results.

Finally, after an entire day of my time trying and trying and trying they suggested sending out a new set of circuit boards for the cartridges.  Ok, I didn’t realize they were removable.

Fed Ex brought our stuff the next day.  Everything was swapped……no change.  Randomly recognized and unrecognized cartridges……

It’s at this point that I’ve got to say, I’m no technology feeb.  I’ve been in tech for nearly two decades now (wow I’m old).  I’ve run multi-million dollar switching centers, multi-billion dollar networks, etc.  And you know, when I’ve run into issues I’ve never had tech support suggest jiggling things or rubbing an eraser on them.  It was pretty new on me!

In total I spent 3 full days turning the printer on and off, changing circuit boards (3 new sets in total).  Nothing worked.  Finally we called support once more, I described the issues, and turned the printer on once more…….and the damned thing finally worked!  Randomly.  Totally randomly!

I instructed Ian, under no circumstances are you to turn the Epson off.

That policy worked up until today.  As before, at random the printer reported that some cartridges were not recognized.  Ian was in early this morning to make a few tiles before hitting the river, and the printer wouldn’t print……..!  After more than 100 tiles produced it’s flaked again.  And the same situation.  Here’s the fun, I’ve taken some screen shots for you……

Round one, 4 not recognized

Round one, 4 not recognized

Round 2.  I powered the printer off and on again and now 3 no shows....

Round 2. I powered the printer off and on again and now 3 no shows....

One more power cycle of the printer.....1 works!

One more power cycle of the printer.....1 works!

Another power cycle, we're almost there!

Another power cycle, we're almost there!

And the next power cycle sends me back!

And the next power cycle sends me back!

As you can see, totally random.  Just from powering the printer off and on.  And it’s not the printer.  It’s the cartridge & ink system.  And it’s infuriating!

I’m happy to say that my HP Z3100 has had no such issues.  Right off the bat I was printing wide format without any hitch.  It just worked.  And it should.  Same can be said for this tile system.  In total I’ve wasted 3 and 1/2 days on the setup and now trouble shooting of the system.  Frankly I hope we ship it back and find a better setup to continue working on the tiles!

By the way, we all know this site is “G” rated.  This tech hiccup has pushed me to the brink, and almost made my site lose the G Rating!  Seriously, I’ve edited out many bad words.  I’m giving up on it today, it’s just a random problem with a flakey ink system that works when it wants to.  If you’re looking to do your own tile printing, steer clear of this system.  That’s my 2 cents as the guy who’s had to trouble shoot it and waste valuable time.

Oh, this is rich…….I just power cycled the system once more and all cartridges are showing up.  Better print those tiles for Ian before it flakes again!  🙂

Comments 8

  1. Post

    I’d like to hook the whole thing behind the Titan and drag it down a dirt road! 🙂

    Hey, I finally got it to work this afternoon, then it flaked again and I’ve given up. So glad my HP is on the money every time!!!

  2. This crazy printer is the bane of your existence! I’ve never seen someone work so hard on something just to have it laugh in their face (then again, I was married so technically…I guess I have 😉 ) And we know how good you are at all the tech seeing as you were able to fix my home Internet problem by just coming over and turning on my computer…

    I wish I had such mad skills…cause I turned on my computer quite a bit and I STILL couldn’t get it to work for me. Let’s hope that you don’t have to come over and turn on my computer every time just to get it to work (although, I’m sure Meena would be very happy about that)

    Thank you for the help 😀

  3. Hello
    Been reading your blog for a while. I’m also a photographer and also have a 25ft Airstream. I live in Lake Havasu City and also like to photograph in ghost towns. If you ever get to this side of the state I will take you to Swansea, a great ghost town. Will spend this summer in Colorado in the Airstream to photo ghost towns in mountains where its cooler.
    Would like to summit a photo in contest. Do I upload just a small file to Flicker, like to the web site, and then how do i contact you? Went to your site but didn’t see a way to contact you and I have no idea of how to post a link to my photo. I have no computer experience , am a darkroom printer and just trying to make peace with my first digital camera. Have learned some photoshop from John Paul Caponigro and have taken his printing workshop but don’t have a printer yet. Have had some prints done in Phoenix for a small color show, a first for me. would like to get over to your gallery sometime.

  4. Post


    I sent along a private e-mail and I’ll look forward to seeing your image! If you get to Prescott pop by. Enjoy shooting CO. There’s a ton of great spots there.


    Thank you so much. When my business partner returns from his trip I’ll pass that along. I will not trouble shoot this system again, and I’d prefer a setup that’s ready for sublimation right off the bat.

  5. Thank you so much. When my business partner returns from his trip I’ll pass that along. I will not trouble shoot this system again, and I’d prefer a setup that’s ready for sublimation right off the bat.

  6. Post

    No problem Tile Printer. 🙂 We got ours working again. I literally turned it off and on several hundred times and finally everything was recognized and we’re up and running again….until the next flake out. I will not deal with the system again…….of course I do have visions of dragging it behind my truck, then dropping it off a rock formation in the Dells. Yes, it’s a big pain!

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