How to get 17″ Epson printers to feed smaller paper stock
If you have one of Epson’s newer 17″ printers, you may have noticed that it will not feed note cards. That’s because the paper cassette isn’t designed to hold sheets smaller than 8 1/2″ x 11″. Attempting to put stock smaller than that in the cut sheet tray usually results in a misfeed and an error. But there is a way to get around that.
The first thing you need to do is disable the paper size check. To do this, use the front panel menu on your printer. On the SC-P5000 you can find it under Printer Setup. Select “Off”. This won’t harm anything, unless you try to print a 17″ wide borderless print on a letter size sheet. If it’s important to your workflow, turn it back on after your note card printing session.
In your printing software, create a custom paper size that corresponds to your note card. For an A6 unfolded card, this is 6.25″ x 9″. You’ll use this paper size when setting up the image for printing later. This size will feed the short edge, but you may have to swap landscape for portrait in your software. The preview feature should help to get the orientation correct in Print Setup.
Download and install the proper ICC profile for the card stock. Red River has profiles for most major printers, and all of their papers available on their website, here, along with instructions on how to install them.
You may have noticed that the guides in the sheet cassette won’t close any tighter than a letter sized sheet. If you try to insert smaller note card stock, the printer may pick up the paper, but without guides, it will either misfeed crooked, or jam with a paper feed error. To fix this, make a small spacer to take up the extra space and fool the printer into thinking it’s feeding a letter-sized sheet.
I made mine from three or four sheets of 1/4″ foamcore taped together. My stack is higher than 50 sheets of stock, but the height isn’t critical. You do want the spacer to hold the paper firmly so it feeds straight. Measure your stock, and subtract that from a letter sheet to get the dimensions for you spacer. Cut out several identical pieces and use double stick tape or packing tape to stack them together. Then cut off 2-3″ from the leading edge so the printer doesn’t grab the foamcore instead of the paper stock.
Open up the cassette guides. Load paper into the printer in portrait orientation, printing side down. For Red River paper, it ships in the box with the print side down, but if it gets mixed up, the print side is the side with the score indentation. The bumpy part faces up in Epson printers. Then insert the spacer and close the guides to hold stock and spacer firmly.
For horizontal cards, place the back to the right side in your layout. There needs to be a bit of white space for the printer to grab, and that margin won’t print. I usually lay out the card so that the picture is on the left, and the copyright info and logo on the back is on the right.
For vertical cards, make sure the back of the card feeds first. If you lay the card out in right side up orientation, the image will be on the right. To change that when you print, you need to check “Reverse Print Orientation” in the Printer Setup>Print Setup. In Photoshop, click the Printer Setup option. In Photoshop, when printing, make sure that you use the proper profile, and turn off color management by printer. The print preview will tell you if the card is oriented properly to the paper in the printer. Make a test print to check that you’ve put the print side of the note cards in the printer properly, and that it’s feeding correctly before you do a long run.
With the addition of a spacer, I’ve been able to print many hundreds of cards through a modern Epson 17″ commercial printer. I’ve found that Photoshop is the easiest way to create card layouts, but you could just as easily do this in Illustrator, InDesign or Affinity Designer. If this method works for you or you have any additional tips, let me know in the comments below!