I have been receiving a lot of emails recently about what printers I suggest. My favorite has always been Epson's and I have 7 Epson's in my studio. Why so many? Because I use them in different ways
Well of course I have my largest and favorite is the Epson 7890. Beautiful machine and once you figure out the quirks with printing alternative surfaces it is smooth sailing, a pleasure to watch as it prints and even better are the results. This printer prints 24" wide and is around 225 pounds on the palette when it is delivered, so this or the larger printers take some room and you will need help setting them up.
The 7890 will print a paper thickness of 1.5mm. Epson Ultra Chrome K3 ink with Vivid Magenta pigment ink.
The next one down from that is my Epson R3000 (printing beverage cans in the photo). This is a wonderful art printer work horse. If I don't need the wider width of the 7890 this is my next go to printer. Again this is a beautiful machine and has never given me any problems. It is also the printer I ship to workshops and it has survived students from all over the place and printed constantly for hours at a time in the classroom. I print all my beverage cans on this one and there is no noise that could be scary. Some of the reason I can print beverage cans is the paper thickness. This printer will print a paper thickness of 1.3mm thick around poster board thick. I always measure my paper thickness before printing.
This printer uses Epson UltraChrome K3 with Vivid Magenta- pigment ink.
The Epson R3000 is my choice for entry level art printer. They have sales on this and the other wide format printers from time to time that could save you some money.
The next printers currently on the market are in the stylus photo wide format printer category. I have own one of these printers and do not recommend it at all!!!
The Epson R2880 would be my choice after the R3000. It was the printer of choice before the R3000 came out. It has the same inks that the R3000 has and will print a paper thickness of 1.33mm just like the R3000. The 2880 will take roll paper and print the same as the R3000 13" x 44". So if you want to save some money it would be the one to get.
Next is the R2000- the ink is different then the other 2 R Epson printers. It is Epson UltraChrome Hi-Gloss 2 pigment ink. Again the paper thickness is 1.33mm I have never printed with the R2880, but I own an R2000. From my personal point of view- skip the R2000 printer. I have clients and friends with the R2880 and they have never complained to me about the printer. I think the differences would be with the feel for the printer when you use it. If you are looking for this class of printer that will print 13" wide and 44" long my best is the R3000. The R2880 is a bit less money.
Both the R3000 and the R2000 are wireless and I love that feature on my 3000. One of the nice things about the 2000 over the 3000 is the change from matte black to photo black. In the 3000 to switch from glossy to matte of vice versa, you have to purge the other black ink from the lines. it takes ink and time.
In the 2000 both black inks are ready to use. For paper thickness reasons and the way the front feed is undependable in the R2000 makes it the one printer I DO NOT advise artists to buy. I would rather stick to black matte ink and never purge my tanks to do the switch then use the R2000 every day.
If it were my choice I would choose between the R3000, R2880 and the R2000 I would take either the 3000 or the R2880. Like I said I do know artists that own the R2880 and really like the printer.
The R2000 will not even print a simple thin cheesecloth skin from the top feed. It scrapes the entire time it is printing. I does not have a platen gap, so you can't change the distance of the print heads from the surface.
I have not used any of the printers in the Epson Artisan series. They use dye inks. Dye inks tend to fade. Pigment inks stand up.
If you want to do any type of quality printing on alternative surfaces. Your best bet is to do the entry level of the R3000.
You can always contact me about printers, but right now this is pretty much what I would tell you.
All except that if you notice these are all direct pass through printers. You will definitely need that to print alternative surfaces. And don't forget, whatever printer you buy you will be able to learn how to manipulate it for your purposes.