Epson’s EcoTank Cartridge-Free Photo Printers

May 5, 2021

By Theano Nikitas

© Epson

Epson just announced its first EcoTank photo printers, the standard sized EcoTank Photo ET-8500 and the wide-format EcoTank Photo ET-8550. Epson’s cartridge-free printers are designed to cut printing costs and will appeal to event photographers and others who need to economically produce large quantities of prints and other creative and business material.

Epson's EcoTank Photo Printers are cartridge-free.
The ET-8550 uses 70ml bottles for filling and refilling the tank.

Epson’s EcoTank photo printers have cost-saving estimates that are pretty impressive: up to 80 percent lower cost by using 70ml bottles for filling the tank instead of running the printer off of individual cartridges. This can cut the cost of a 4 x 6 print to 4 cents versus 40 cents when using cartridges. Of course, the actual savings will vary a little, depending on print resolution and other factors. Each printer comes with a full set of 70ml bottles of ink and although print yields will vary depending on specific output, the initial set of inks should produce about 6,200 color pages. A three-pack of color replacement ink (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow) costs a little over $52 for a trio of 70ml bottles; figure about $20 for a black ink 70ml bottle.

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The EcoTank Photo ET-8500 and 8550 utilize a new 6-color Claria ET Premium dye inkset with Cyan, Magenta, Yellow as well as Gray, Black and Photo Black inks, so you’ll be covered for black-and-white prints, too. As a reference, a similar Claria-based ink has a permanence rating, according to Wilhelm Imaging Research, of almost 100 years when framed and displayed under glass and approximately 200 when kept in albums or dark storage.

Epson's cartridge=free printers are cost-saving oriented.
The ET-8500 and ET-8550 both utilize a print tray and straight-through feed.

Both printers offer versatile paper handling via a print tray and a straight-through feed and can accommodate a wide range of media. In addition to plain paper and standard photo papers, the EcoTank Photo printers are compatible Epson’s Signature Worthy media such as Metallic Photo Paper Luster and Metallic Photo Paper Glossy, as well as Velvet Fine Art. The printers can also handle heavier weight paper such as card stock and media up to 1.3mm thick for posters, invitations and other marketing materials.

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The ET-8500 is capable of producing borderless prints up to 8 ½ x 11 while the ET-8550 can output borderless prints up to 13 x 19. Estimated print speed for a 4 x 6 inch print in draft mode is about 15 seconds. Figure about 16ppm with black ink for text. Automatic two-sized printing is available as well.

Variable size droplet technology (VSDT) produces a minimum droplet size of 1.5 picoliters but instead of the usual three droplet sizes, the new printers utilize up to 5 sizes, promising smoother gradations. Scanning and copying is available via the integrated flatbed scanner and you can print directly onto CDs/DVDs.

Epson's EcoTank photo printers come with an integrated flatbed scanner.
Scanning and copying is available through the integrated flatbed scanner.

Both printers come with the latest bells and whistles for easy operation and convenience. In addition to hi-speed USB, Wired Ethernet and SD card slots, the printers feature a 4.3-inch touch LCD. Broad wireless capabilities include remote print, scan to Cloud, Apple AirPrint, Android printing and voice activation. The Epson Smart Panel app—available for iOS and Android—provides remote printer operation and monitoring. Compatibility with creative apps, such as those from Adobe, doesn’t require any special software to print remotely so you can easily go directly to print from your iPad—whether you’re retouching an image or have sketched out some storyboards that you need to print and distribute.

The ET-8500 and ET-8550 aren’t designed to take the place of your high-end, dedicated pigment photo printer. But they offer enough versatility to provide a combination of high volume/lost cost photo production (and other creative output) as well as standard business printing. One of these models may bring you enough cost savings that it’s worth adding it to your studio or office.

The EcoTank Photo ET-8500 ($600) is available now through major computer, office and electronic retailers, and on the Epson store (www.epsonstore.com).

The EcoTank Photo ET-8550 ($700) is currently available at Office Depot and Amazon, and will be available online on the Epson store and other major retailers in early August. Both printers feature a two-year limited warranty with registration. For more information go to epson.com.