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Cost of Inkjet Printing Report Epson 3800 3880

How much does it cost to print with the Epson 3800 and 3880?

Unlike previous reports that depended on cartridge usage calculations and some assumptions, this report relies on the ink usage reporting provided by the Epson 3800. We printed 10 full coverage 8”x10” image targets using three different media settings. The printer generates a report that details the amount in mililiters of each ink used for that job.

Cost of ink by print size for the Epson 3800

Cost of ink by print size for the Epson 3800

Media Setting UsedCost/SqInchCost/SqFoot
Premium Luster$0.0062$0.89
Enhanced Matte$0.0071$1.03
Costs by Media Type / Size4x65x78x1011x1413x19
Premium Luster$0.15$0.22$0.50$0.96$1.53
Enhanced Matte$0.17$0.25$0.57$1.09$1.75

Cost of ink by print size for the Epson 3880

Media Setting UsedCost/SqInchCost/SqFoot
Premium Luster$0.0066$0.95
Enhanced Matte$0.0081$1.16

Testing Methods


The “true cost of inkjet printing” is a source of constant debate in the media and on web forums. Luckily for wide format inkjet printer owners, the mystery is made clear by self reporting ink usage tools included with their printers. This report looks at the cost of ink per square inch for two Epson printers. The goal is to determine the cost for various popular print sizes, and to report those numbers. We have been encouraged to pursue this report even by owners of the Epson 3800 and 3880 because they have expressed a) the desire to see the numbers presented in a clear manner, and b) because of Red River's reputation for honest and informative reporting.


Ten 8" x 10" prints of the image at right were made using two different media settings: Premium Luster Photo Paper and Enhanced Matte Paper. All prints were made using 1440dpi print quality with high speed turned off. The Premium Luster setting utilizes the Photo Black ink while the other uses the Matte Black ink installed on the printer.

After each set of 10 prints (all one under one print job), we printed the Job Information report under the Test Print menu at the printer's control panel. The report details the amount in mililiters of each ink used for the job.

Data and Calculations

Ink Cost Calculation

80ml Tank costs $54.99 (Red River Paper current price)

Ink cost = 68.7¢ per mL

Media Used

Each test used 10 sheets of 8.5x11.
Printed area was 8" x 10" for a total of 800 square inches printed per test


mL ink used x Ink cost per mL = Cost of Ink Used

Cost of Ink Used / 10 = Cost of an individual 8x10

Cost of 8x10 / 80 sq.inches = Cost per square inch

Cost per square inch x 144 = Cost per square foot

Cost and Usage Data for Epson 3800

Media8x10 PrintsmL Ink UsedCost Ink UsedCost/8x10Cost/SqInchCost/SqFoot
Premium Luster107.23 mL$4.97$0.50$0.0062$0.89
Enhanced Matte108.32 mL$5.72$0.57$0.0071$1.03

Cost and Usage Data for Epson 3880

Media8x10 PrintsmL Ink UsedCost Ink UsedCost/8x10Cost/SqInchCost/SqFoot
Premium Luster107.7 mL$5.29$0.53$0.0066$0.95
Enhanced Matte109.38 mL$6.44$0.64$0.0081$1.16

Ink Cartridge Usage Data

Epson 3800

Media SettingBlackLKLLKCMLCLMY
Premium Luster0.36ml1.61ml1.87ml0.23ml0.44ml0.93ml0.93ml0.86ml
Enhanced Matte0.76ml1.77ml0.50ml0.58ml0.66ml1.00ml1.65ml1.40ml

Epson 3880

Media SettingBlackLKLLKCMLCLMY
Premium Luster0.78ml1.48ml1.35ml0.15ml0.40ml1.08ml1.54ml0.92ml
Enhanced Matte2.06ml0.64ml1.65ml1.05ml1.08ml0.45ml0.59ml1.86ml

Sources of Error

We acknowledge that there are potential errors in testing and calculations. They are listed below:

  • Inaccuracy of the remaining cartridge usage figures – The accuracy of the Epson Status Monitor could be called into question. From observations during the printing phase however, the display was consistent in its changes downward. Also, the printer stops immediately or very soon after the display shows no ink.
  • “Real world” variables – The types of images printed can make a difference in the overall ink usage. Also, how often a printer is used will change ink usage slightly. Long periods of being left on, automatic cleaning, and manual cleaning cycles all play a role in overall ink usage.

Given possible sources of error, it is fair to attach a margin of error of +/- 10% to our results.