Continuous Ink Systems: Yay or Nay?!
Continuous ink systems aren't new on the market, but it's something we're asked about from time to time. Online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay have lots of vendors selling these aftermarket systems for many different inkjet printers. They seem like a great idea, would save you money and might be better for the environment... so should you go for it?
What is a Continuous Ink System?
A continuous ink system is a method for delivering a large volume of ink to an inkjet printhead. Business and professional grade printers often use this method to deliver large quantities of ink for industrial printing. We are referring here not to the professional models built this way, but to the aftermarket systems created to retrofit your home printer into a continuous flow system. The designs vary based on the manufacturer and printer model, but most use a constant level barometric pressure design. This means they deliver a smooth flow of ink to the printhead as needed using a pressurized system.
What are the possible benefits?
They may allow users to print at much lower costs for ink or use specialty inks like t-shirt transfers and those designed for black and white printing. A user won't run out of ink quickly, should have a continuous flow of ink for some time and will save money too. Heavy users like medium or large-sized businesses and industrial operations will likely benefit from systems like this since they need a high volume of ink at a reasonable cost. There is less waste produced with this system for heavy users, so it's an environmental benefit too!
What are the possible problems?
These systems meant to retrofit your printer might be difficult or near impossible to install. There must be room for the flexible tubing to connect to the printhead and allow it to move back and forth. This makes jamming more possible and you may need to modify your printer to make space for the system to connect and function properly. Please remember that modifying your printer WILL void your warranty and you will not be protected from any manufacturing defects.
Another possible issue is that these systems aren't sold in retail stores. If you do have problems, need to return the system or need service of another kind, it may not be available. These types of aftermarket retailers usually don't have the best service or return policy, so definitely check into that and read trustworthy reviews beforehand.
The third issue we see with continuous ink systems is the pressurized hoses. The possibility that these could become unattached, broken, leak or have a hole in them at some point is something to seriously consider. Again, this is a pressurized system. Any malfunction and you'll have quite the ink leak on your hands! Industrial washable rooms are one thing, but your home is quite another situation.
It's up to you...
We've laid out the benefits and risks for you here, so now it's up to you! What are your thoughts? Have you tried one of these systems before? Let us know what you think or if you have more questions for us in the comments below.