Hello, Bill -
I had an Epson Stylus CX5400, which I loved, until a little over a year and 3 months ago. The black foam piece which was on top of the print heads tore off. I found out it was not worth having the repair work done to replace the foam piece. The estimated cost of repair work was about equal the initial purchase price of the printer.
Sadly, based on information I found on CNet.com forums, printers manufactured today are not made to last "forever". Here is one statement which I found (dated 13 Nov 2005, but still valid) which I believe covers the issues:
by though stazi / November 13, 2005
The root of the problem is the low price of inkjet printers these days. Same goes for computers and virtually everything else you buy.
Every commercial company is out to make a profit. When the product becomes commoditized -- like printers and computers -- competition is based largely on price. This means the profit the company is making per unit gets less and less, so they start looking for other ways to cut costs. Moving jobs to Mexico, then China when Mexico got to expensive, and now they're being moved to Vietnam, Nigeria, and other third world countries, because even China is getting too expensive. In addition, every corner that can possibly be cut on production usually will be cut. The quality of parts going into computers since someone started offering a sub-$2000 computer has plummeted along with the price of systems.
The very simple reality, is that the great deal you thought you got, wasn't so great after all. It's just taken until now for some of the non-monetary hidden costs to show up. This isn't to say you always get what you pay for, but typically higher end items will have higher margins on them, and be higher quality.
With inkjet printers, the printers themselves are sold at a loss usually. Printer companies make it up on the back end with inflated cartridge prices. But the printers are still constructed pretty poorly most of the time, so they will break down. Usually the cheapest route is to just buy cheap printers, and then get a new one once the supplied ink runs out. Inkjet printers aren't worth getting attached to.