The Canon ipf5100 printer I use for creating my limited edition prints is fantastic. It uses the highest quality archival pigment inks, it takes rolls of paper rather than sheets allowing me to use the thick cotton photo rag I love, and it produces images with great detail and wonderful color. It is, however, the size of a small piano and costs around 2000 dollars.
As anyone with a exotic sports car will tell you, the high initial cost is not the only concern, the running costs are just as significant an issue. The ipf series printers have two print heads and 12 ink cartridges. Print heads cost around 400 dollars each, and probably will last you several years. Ink cartridges are around 70 dollars each and their longevity will depend on a combination of how often you print and how often the printer needs to run the cleaning mode.
If you are an occasional printer, this is going to make running the machine very expensive. Every time you turn on the printer it will run the cleaning mode which uses ink. If you then make a single print and turn it off, you may be using more ink cleaning than printing. If you simply leave the printer on, the printer will automatically run the cleaning mode when necessary, slowly using up that 740 dollars worth of ink (70×12). As I produce my own prints for both exhibitions and sales I am using the printer enough to justify the running costs.
The next issue is that of servicing. Again owners of Italian supercars who don’t live in Maranello or Sant’Agata will be aware that this can be a bit of an issue. Not only do you need to order non-standard parts but you also need specialist engineers. Which brings me back to my printer…
On February 2nd I put up the blog post E161-403F? which included the line “Slow realization that this will be a frustrating and expensive experience.” How right I was.
Talked to Canon on the phone who told me it was a problem with the left print head. I ordered the print head and they sent over a Canon Okinawa engineer to fit it. The engineer could not install the new print head, but bizarrely also removed the right print head. He put it on the top of the printer leaking ink onto the printer and possibly damaging the jets of the print head. He left saying he may have to order more parts (I wasn’t charged for the visit). I phoned Canon Japan and tried to explain situation. The Okinawa Canon engineer then phoned back to say they would replace right print head he shouldn’t have removed with a new one. He would also order parts he may need to fix the printer. The Canon engineer returned a week later and managed to fit both print heads and happily there was no need for any replacement parts. (Engineer labor cost about 150 dollars).
When you replace a print head you need to fill the new print head with ink. I had to do this with both print heads. I needed to order 8 new ink cartridges and a new maintenance cartridge (the previous one now filled with wasted ink). It will have cost close to a thousand dollars to get things back up and running again, but you roll with the punches.
There was one final sting in the tail. When I ordered a couple of the ink cartridges online I made a mistake and ordered PFI-101GY rather than PFI-103GY and PFI-101PGY rather than PFI-103PGY. As soon as they arrived I phoned the online store, explained the mistake and asked if I could exchange the unopened ink cartridges for the correct ones. They said that as they had special ordered them from Canon they didn’t do exchanges or refunds. I closed up the box they arrived in, sent them back to Canon and asked if they could exchange them. A few days later the box arrived back in Okinawa with a note saying that as I had not purchased them directly from Canon they would not exchange them.
So if you have a Japanese Canon iPF5000 printer (ink tanks are chipped to only work with printers from the same country) then drop me a line and I’ll send you a late Christmas present.
As for my printer, once a final blue ink cartridge arrives it should be up and running. Apologies to those people who are waiting for prints. I give Canon five stars for their product, but just one for customer service.