Film Printer Buyers Guide


Film Direct Printers Buyers Guide

We get a lot of questions on what are the different options for current model film printers and the pro's and cons of each. We put this brief buyers guide  together from our experiences with the following ink jet printers. It will give you our summary opinion of each printer, but isn't designed to be too technical or in depth. Please feel free to contact us with more specific questions or if you need further info.

Desktop printers -Epson (Current Models)

Epson WF721

This is the only current Epson printer we support. We offer both the multi-black ink kit and the RIP software for this printer. The Epson Workforce printers are entry-level office printers. They were not engineered for graphic printing but we’ve found that when you bundle the printer with our ink kit and the PrintFab RIP software they produce quality film. They will get a more than adequate opaque print with a max d-max of around 3.0 and will hold a dot to around 65lpi. Note of caution that if you are running Windows you will need to turn off the auto software updates. If you update the firmware on your printer the aftermarket cartridges may no longer work.

Epson p400-

We tried to like this printer. When the 1430 was discontinued we immediately tuned to this printer as it worked with most of the common rip software. However after months of testing we concluded this printer required too much maintenance and it just didn’t print film that well. It constantly banded even with Epson ink. The refillable ink cartridges worked well on initial install but after refill the prints would band continuously. And at the time Accuruip didn’t support an all black ink feature. We sell a RIP software for this printer but we don’t sell an ink kit for it.

Epson xp15000

This is the direct replacement to the Epson 1430. However Epson states on their website that this printer isn’t compatible with aftermarket cartridges and the firmware on the printer will render them worthless. We’ve tested some single use cartridges that work ok, but it’s expensive to replace them. The WF7210 was a better option for us. We sell a compatible RIP software but no ink kit.

Epson p800- 

Another printer that will require you to use Epson ink and use a proprietary version of Accurip. We offer a RIP solution for this printer but no ink kit.

Epson Eco-Tank 16500

This printer has potential. It’s an Eco-tank printer so there are no cartridges. You just pour the ink into the machine. We sell the RIP software and ink for this machine. Only downside we found was the price as it lists at over $1000 without the software or ink. It’s also an all in one printer so you have to load a single sheet at a time. Please note if you purchase this machine do not install the Epson ink in the machine first. Our ink and the Epson ink will not work together. You must install our ink into a new machine.

Canon Printers

Canon ix6820

This printer is Canon’s entry-level 13x19 graphics printer. This printer really shines when combined with our dye black ink and the printfab software. You can achieve solid dark prints and clean halftones. And for the price it’s hard to beat. We like it a little better than the Epson WF7210 as it’s easier to load film and it has a smaller footprint. This is a great printer for a lower volume ship or as a backup printer.  It’s not the heaviest duty printer so if you produce a large volume of film don't plan on it lasting more than a year or two. Maybe take a look at the Canon pro-100 or the Epson t-series. We offer both he ink kit and the RIP software for this printer.

Canon ip8720

From what we can tell this is just a 6-color version of the ix6820. It may be slightly heavier duty than the ix6820 although I think most of the components look to be the same. It’s a little more expensive than the ix6820 but overall it prints more or less the same. They both utilize the 251-cartridge set. We offer both the ink kit and RIP software for this printer as well.

Canon Pro-100

This is Canon’s heavier duty 13x19 printer; it’s literally a heavier printer. It comes in at over 45 lbs compared the 18 lb ix6820. It just feels better built than the ix6820. It has a very high detail print head and really shines for users that need to hold small detail such as small fonts in the 4 to 6 pt range and high lpi halftone dots. I think the print quality of this printer rivals some of the more expensive printers we’ve tested. We print a lot of our process film on this machine. With that said this machine is a little more maintenance and requires a little more hand holding than the ix6820 and ip 8720. The cartridges will most likely drip for a few prints after you refill the cartridges. We suggest running some test prints on paper after a refill or refill at the end of the shift and let it settle overnight. Don’t let this scare you away though, because it does do awesome prints and once you use it for a little while you will get the hang of it. We’d recommend this printer for shops looking for high detail film or higher print volume. This machine likes to run. If you don’t do much detail prints or do a lower film volume you can’t go wrong with the ix6820 or ip8720.  

 Large format Roll printers

Epson T-series-

This is our favorite all around film printer. It prints 13", 17" and 24” rolls, and the T7270 prints up to 44” film. It has huge 700 ml cartridges so you won’t have to replace them very often. And the one of the best features is the speed. It will print a six color oversized 17x22 film job in a few minutes. If you run over 20 sheets a day this is the machine you need. It has a built in cutter so it will print and cut after every sheet of film so you waste less film. We print 90% of our film jobs on this machine. It’s not the highest resolution printer we’ve seen as it was designed for speed. But for most apparel applications it is more than adequate. We sell both single use and refillable cartridges for this machine. We prefer the single use cartridges, as there is less chance you will run out of ink. If you forget to refill a refillable cartridge and run it dry you will most likely damage the head. Also there are no chip re-setters for this machine. So upon refilling the cartridge you will need to replace the chip at the same time. The cost saving isn’t that drastic between pre-filled and refillable cartridges so we lean toward pre-filled for ease of use and less maintenance. Our RIP does not work with this printer at this time. You’ll need Accurip or Wasatch.

Epson P5000

Great printer but you will have to use Epson ink, as there are currently no aftermarket solutions for this machine. Epson is making it more difficult to use aftermarket ink and cartridges in their machines.

Epson T1370 

This is an interesting printer. It’s a tabletop 24” printer. Currently there are no aftermarket cartridges or RIP software available but we will be keeping an eye on this one as the low price point and large output capabilities make it a potentially attractive option.