Epson SureColor T500018 Apr, 2013 By: R.K. McSwain
First Look Review: Superb print quality and an excellent price are highlights of company’s first wide-format printer for CAD market.
Epson has long been known for the ink technology that draws professional photographers to its printers. Last fall, the company plunged into the CAD market, debuting a line of wide-format printers designed to meet the needs of those users. It appears the company did its homework: The new Epson SureColor T5000 reviewed in Cadalyst Labs looks as good — and performs as well — as its competition.
A 36" wide-format printer, the Epson SureColor T5000 is one model in the new Epson SureColor T-Series, which also includes the 24" SureColor T3000 and the 44" SureColor T7000. Other than the printing width and price, these machines are virtually identical.
The Epson SureColor T5000 36" wide-format printer comes with a stand and a stacking print basket.
SureColor T-Series printers can accommodate a variety of materials without any special mounting, from inexpensive 20-lb bond and photo paper to 1.2-mm poster board and 1.5-mm rigid stock, according to Epson. They draw on five cartridges of Epson UltraChrome XD pigment-based ink (cyan, magenta, yellow, photo black, and matte black), available in quantities of 110 ml, 350 ml, and 750 ml. They run on standard 120-volt power and include standard USB and Gigabit Ethernet network connectivity.
The Epson SureColor T5000 was delivered on a pallet with a shipping weight of nearly 300 lb. Although the huge package was daunting, the printer was actually very easy to unpack and set up thanks to Epson's detailed YouTube video, “SureColor T-Series Out Of Box Setup.”
It should take a single person two to three hours to unpack and assemble the printer, although you will need a couple of extra people for a few minutes to help move the unit from the crate to the included stand. Installing the optional hard drive and loading drivers on your server or PC will require about another half hour.
The printer holds a single roll of paper and supports 2" and 3" cores. I have used many wide-format printers, and the paper-loading process for this Epson is one of the easiest I have seen. Simply place the roll on top of the printer, insert the roll adapters on each end, slide this assembly into place, and feed the paper into the printer. (This process, which takes about a minute, is demonstrated in the video starting at the 17:45 mark.)
Because the paper loads from the top, you can place the printer fairly close to the wall and not have to move it for media loading. Media length is tracked even if you unload and reload rolls, thanks to a barcode printed on the end of each roll.
Print Speed and Quality
I started off printing a full-color JPG image (4,800 x 3,140 pixels) to fit on a D-size sheet using the Quality setting, and this took less than four minutes. A black-and-white CAD line drawing in Quality mode (720 x 1,440 dpi), sent directly to the printer from AutoCAD 2013, took 1.5 minutes and results were superb. Changing the mode to Speed (720 x 720 dpi) reduced the time to about 50 seconds with virtually no visible change in quality. In my opinion, Epson’s Speed mode is more than adequate for check plots of CAD drawings.