Continuous Ink project

CRP_4176

This ancient by internet standards, circa 2002, but its a great read.  [Eddie], frustrated by the high cost of ink cartridges set out to build a continuous inking system. This would mean that the cartridges would be filled from larger, cheaper reservoirs of ink continually. Along the way he transitioned from simple tubes with some putty to more complicated systems. Eventually he had to hack the chips that told the printers the cartridge was in need of replacement.  While the systems he’s using may be difficult to find now, the execution should work on other models. Completely unrelated to the project itself, is that [Billy Mays] as the site favicon? We suspect it is [Eddie] himself.

[via hacknmod]

Comments

  1. tashwold says:

    I thought one of the reasons for replaceable cartridges was that the printheads wore out (or got gummed up or something)…for this reason, i’m not sure how well this would work with modern low cost printers.

  2. CH says:

    I’m sure you need to match the right ink to the print-head nozzle size, so the pigment doesn’t clog it up, though maybe you could clean it with a solvent?

  3. macegr says:

    wait…is that billy mays in hackaday’s site favicon?

  4. LukeS says:

    @tashwold
    Epson printers do not have the print head in the cartridge like HP cartridges. So this is not an issue. Also epson printers print heads last pretty much the life of the printer.

  5. bert says:

    No, you don’t need to replace a thermal printhead that frequently. Yes, they do wear out, but not as quickly as you may think.

    I worked for years with Encad printers which used the Lexmark printheads, we regularly ran 2-3 liters of ink through a printhead before it needed replacing. Contrast that with the 35 milliliters they ship with and you can see that you can go through a lot of printheads.

    When we switched to HP we also regularly ran 2-3 liters of ink before degradation began to set in.

    The best thing for cleaning a dirty printhead I ever used was Simple Green. That stuff is simply amazing. Squirt a bit onto a paper towel and gently blot to remove dried on crud.

  6. philpem says:

    The quickest way to kill an Epson print head is – IME – to let the cartridge run dry.

    I ‘resurrected’ a C86, added an “ink bag” modification to replace the rather full waste ink pad, and refilled the carts, only to blow the magenta head when the tank ran dry half-way through.

    That was seriously annoying. I tried all sorts of things from dunking it in hot water, to the same with isopropyl alcohol, 50/50 alcohol/water, running printhead cleaner (the FixYourOwnPrinter “epson printhead cleaner” which fixed it the first time) through it, and finally pumping low-pressure air through it (which killed the head completely).

    I eventually scrapped the C86 for parts. Got a fairly nice stepper motor out of it…

  7. Caleb Kraft says:

    @macegr,
    wow, took me a sec.

  8. Choscura says:

    I don’t know how well people are aware of this outside of southeast asia, but this hack is commonplace here, on all printer models- and by this I mean, there are shops that specialize in selling, adding, fixing, or upgrading cheap printers with cheap ink reservoirs that look very similar to this. I think the going price on a canon mp140 with an external ink tank is somewhere around 70-100 bucks USD

  9. Josh Lankford says:

    Very cool. So is this guy the pioneer for modern systems? I just got a CIS a month ago, and it’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.

  10. spacecoyote says:

    inkjets aren’t worth all this trouble. ffs just get a laser printer already

  11. Hakimi says:

    hrmm…
    in Asia we use this method widely.. including Auto-reset embedded chip at catridge.. we call it CISS system..
    Continues Ink Supply System.
    it is not the hack..
    is easily available at computer shop…
    it a common…

    http://www.optimusciss.com

  12. eddie says:

    >Very cool. So is this guy the pioneer for modern systems?

    No I didn’t pioneer this.
    CIS existed in 2002 but they were extremely expensive. At today’s prices I would not have gone to the trouble of making my own.
    Eddie,

  13. eddie says:

    A long comment of mine didn’t seem show up.

    People interest in CIS may be interested in a more recent hack at of mine.
    http://nerdipedia.com/tiki-index.php?page=MakeaFake
    Here I replaced all 7 ink chips with one AVR mega-8
    Eddie,

  14. Conino says:

    @LukeS

    Epson print heads last only until your warranty runs out, then it is time to get a new printer as the printhead costs more than the printer itself. At least it is my story with 3 Epson printers. After the 3rd one I switched to Canon and lovin’ it.

  15. KelvinAlf says:

    NOT BILLY MAYS lol: http://eddiem.com/mug.gif

  16. Dan says:

    Look on eBay. You can buy full kits to do this for 50 bucks including the ink. Unless you like having multi colored fingers, I would stay away from the muck and hastle of even doing this. Good hack for the time though as these systems were not available at the time.

  17. KayDat says:

    @tashwold
    Like many of the people already said, it depends on the printer. Some have the print head build into the cartridge (HP I believe does this), and some in the printer. The main reason why ink is so expensive is because that is how the companies make money. They sell the printers at a loss–a loss leader, just like most console developers. They make the money back from the ink cartridges, which explains why they are usually against cheap cartridge replacements and CIS systems, just like how the console companies are against games piracy.

  18. maddog007 says:

    did they already doing this in Asian?
    last time I was in Taiwan and China,
    they are doing something like this everywhere.

  19. jim says:

    im glad to see a pro like eddie getting some attention here, he has some inspireing ideas on his site’s, i modded an old epson c40 with a continus ink flow after seeing his work, and it worked great for years untill i forgot to refill the black bottle and ran dry, it never worked right after that:(

    he wrote a great fiction book to, i recommend for a read

  20. Life2Death says:

    With canon’s non “throw-away” printers, the print head is removable and the same exact head thats in their $15k ‘plotters.’

    I own two i850’s, and my dad has a i950, and we’ve never, ever once had a single problem with them. We’ve gone through a ton of HP’s and Epson’s that die or crap through expensive ink all the time.

    I also own a HP LaserJet IIId thats still kicking, and a HP 1200C or whatever for wide format printing, and a HP Pen Plotter that i’ve been meaning to hack, though it still works beautifully, being 23 years old.

  21. LukeS says:

    Why do you need to hack the level sensing chip if you are dumping more ink into the cartridge (so the level will never be low)

  22. Zortslowski says:

    I have had one of these on my canon pixma mp830 for the past year.

    I paid $50 for the kit, installed in then 11 months later paid $20 (shipping included) for a refill.

    I love my CISS!

  23. David says:

    As others have posted here, this is very common here in Asia. You can get a printer outfitted with big ink silos stuck to the outside case. The ink reaches the cartridge via tubes. I’m surprised you haven’t seen this in the U.S. Oh – right, trial lawyers in the U.S. will get you…

  24. nubie says:

    Niiice, show those greedy printer companies* who is boss. (*I mean ink companies that give away free printers.)

    For pity’s sake this should be a $50 option to any printer above entry-level (all ~$80 and up printers).

    I especially like how he hacked into the stupid chip. Very nice.

  25. rak0ribz says:

    lukes:

    The ink-level-sensing chip, iirc, doesn’t actually sense the ink level. They just have a counter that keeps track of how much ink has been “requested” from the print head. The chip typically runs out before the ink’s totally gone. If you’re not very cynical, you could say that this is because of a combination of uncertainty in their measurement method and the desire to maintain uniform quality as long as the cartridge is viable. On the other hand, new cartridges cost $35…

  26. Kirk Duncan says:

    This is Great and Green too

  27. roens says:

    It’s also popular to use this sort of setup on printers modified for printing etch resist onto copper clad for making PCBs…

    http://www.cnczone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=30951
    http://techref.massmind.org/techref/pcb/etch/c84-st.htm

  28. James says:

    So I *was* going to say that this would be great for the old Canon we had, but then I remembered that like 2 months after the warranty was up the feeder went and we had to give it one sheet at a time (or else it’d suck up the whole stack of pages at once). That was the final straw that drove us to lasers, and we never looked back. With color lasers below 200 bucks (though I grant you you’ll spend another 200 on toner after you blow through the “starter” cartridges in a month), it’s just a better idea in the long run.

  29. conundrum says:

    hmm.. had a good idea, what about using the old epson chips to build musical “recycled” cards.. use the small speakers from toys, and a 10F200 as the controller…

    :)

  30. Useful info. Hope to see more good posts in the future.

  31. The only way to REALLY save money on ink is with a Continuous Ink Supply System (CISS)….

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