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Thread: Ink cartridges

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    RetroSteve! My location

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    Ink cartridges

    I think I asked this before, but quite a few years ago.

    If you have an inkjet printer, what ink cartridges do you use?

    I use my LaserJet 4M+ for most printing these days, but still have the Canon Pixma IP4000 which I got in 2005 (nearly 7 years ago ), for printing photographs and colour documents. Its ink cartridges, which I put in in 2009 finally ran out a few months ago, and I just got round to replacing them. For the last few years, I used Canon genuine cartridges and have been very happy with the quality, even if they are a bit expensive. I did for a while, use some cheap unbranded ones and thought they were no where near as good.

    I remember on my old Epson Stylus Photo 750 (which I think still works), we used cheap cartridges in that for years, and I'm pretty sure the print quality deteriorated over time. Maybe if I can find some genuine cartridges at a decent price I will get the printer fired up again just for the sake of it. It was never too good at printing text I though but it was pretty good at photographs.

    As for the Laser printer, the toner cartridge in that has been in since 2008.

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    For general printing I've got a Samsung ML-2525 A4 laser printer. Was amazing value for money at about 50 including a full toner cartridge, which is said to last about 40,000 pages, I've had a while now and have printed a lot with it, and it still shows over 80% toner so in the end will prove much cheaper than using any ink jet printer. For text printing you will agree with me that you really can't beat a laser printer. And for speed of printing it is brilliant too. After the initial page, which obviously takes a couple of seconds from clicking print, for the printer to warm up and get up to speed, it then turns pages out as fast as it can pick them up from the paper tray. Highly recommend everyone get one of these cheap Samsung laser printers if you don't have one already for general purpose printing.

    For more specific colour printing I've got an A3+ (B3) HP B9180, which is a professional colour pigment printer. It is quite a monster of a machine but outputs amazing studio/gallery quality prints. It has some great features such as automatic self calibration, self cleaning heads, and 8 very large ink tanks. Each replacement ink cartridge is quite expensive but because they are so large they do last quite some time, although the printer's daily head cleaning/nozzle clog checking cycle does slowly deplete them too.

    The B9180 also supports fine art papers, and whilst the cheapest glossy photo paper produces great prints, it is the matte papers that really show what the printer can do, and with 2 dedicated black inks and a light grey it also produced some amazing black and white prints, which a lot of colour printers struggle to do due to having to mix colours to generate the complete b/w tonal range.

    I would never use third party cartridges in the B9180, although the continuous ink systems available have been tempting. What these do is replace the ink cartridges with their own dummy cartridges which have feeder tubes to much larger external ink tanks which can just be topped up as and when needed, so the printer never runs out, never needing to replace the cartridges. The initial cost of a continuous ink system is about the same as a full set of 8 inks for the printer (160), but after that investment just buying ink to refill the tanks is much cheaper, so if I were doing a large volume of printing I would definitely invest in one. But at the moment I'm probably only replacing single cartridges when they deplete a maximum of once a year at most.

    Another cool feature of this printer is the special media trap. You open out the back of the printer, and then fold down a section of the front (above the main output tray), then you can feed whatever you want through the printer in a straight path, so it can print on pretty much anything, and as it is pigment based ink, rather than dye, it will print onto any surface.

    Regarding third party ink cartridges. I would avoid them. They might seem a great deal at the time, but they will slowly destroy a printer's printhead as the ink is not the same formula as the genuine inks. The makers develop the inks for the specific ink jet nozzle sizes to stop them clogging, and also to create the best output. Third party inks are thicker and won't produce the same results. They are also not the same consistency so run out much faster. False economy.

    The only time I have used third party inks is for an old HP all-in-one printer we still have. We were given a load of compatible cartridges free so thought we would just use them up as we had replaced the printer for proper office printing, and actually that has so far been running fine with the third party inks and is mostly just used as a photocopier these days.

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    Harrison, do you have any recommendations for photo paper?

    I have used Canon Photo Paper Plus Glossy recently, and that is really nice, but very expensive compared to others. I did do some 6x4 prints on some Epson paper which was included with my Mum's Epson printer a few years ago and they came out nicely on the Canon printer.

    I do want some decent quality paper, as I have used lower quality photo paper and found it to be not very good.

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    Last time I bought some new cartridges, the Yellow was a nice orange colour, and the old yellow one had gone a funny colour.

    Now that that new cartridge has got old, it too has turned a weired colour. Printouts seem to be fine so I'm guessing its not something to worry about.

    I wonder if it just goes off after a while.

    STA60077.jpg

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    It might be that as the ink is used up the real colour of the sponge holding the ink is that dirty colour.

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    Hmmm, not sure, as the ink in the current (old ish) cartridge is that funny colour, not just the sponge.

    Anyway, it seems to have printed a few photos out nicely.

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    I just seen watchdog on the TV and was amazed at how much ink costs hp was coming in at 2100 p/l and canon at like 1700 p/l Also over the last few years they have been reducing the internal sponge meaning reduced quantity of ink. They said you could buy the parts to make your own ink carts for 30p and a good quality ink at 15.10 p/l

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    Not surprising. Ink prices have been getting worse as time goes on. The general purpose Espon all-in-one printer we have in the house for day to day use gets through its ink carts really quickly. They only cost about 11 for the black and 14 for a set of the colour carts, but they are really small, and I reckon printing A4 images they would be empty after 20 sheets.

    My professional HP A3 printer was also starting to cost way too much to run. It takes 8 ink cartridges, and a whole set of 8 would cost at least 160. They are however very large cartridges and would easily print 100's of photos before needing replacement.

    But the printer also eats the ink even when not being used as it is required to be left on all the time, and performs a daily cycle to run ink through the print heads to keep them clean and unclogged. Over a 3 month period when I wasn't using the printer much it managed to empty 2 of the ink cartridges, so it cost over 40 when not even being used! As you can imagine I've stopped using it for the moment.

    I might upgrade to a different A3 printer; maybe a Canon. Or look into continuous ink systems for the HP.

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    Harrison, why does it have to be left turned on?

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    Look up the HP B9180 printer and read a bit about it. It basically performs its own maintenance every day so it is fully functional and always ready to use. It never had a clogged nozzle, and actually has a bank of reserve ones if it finds one is defective. If you don't leave it switched on, when you do switch it back on it requires a full head cleaning and checking cycle which can use up a 1/4 of the ink! Mad.

    Canon pro A3 printers by comparison park their print heads in a seals area, so they don't need to be left on, and don't dry out and clog.

    If you haven't played a classic game in years, it's never too late to start!


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