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Printing with a continuous ink supply system


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I don’t like replacing perfectly workable items if I don’t need to. Ink cartridges are the perfect example. The cartridge runs out of ink, but the components are all in perfect condition and all it needs to be used again is more ink. You can send them in to be recycled, but as we all know, the recycling process is complex and produces greenhouse gas emissions. Reusing is a much better option.

Some printer companies don’t like allowing people to refill their cartridges and work extremely hard at producing cartridges that cannot be refilled. Epson is particularly notorious in this regard. They even change the printer driver software regularly to keep ahead of companies producing cheaper Epson imitation cartridges.

Unfortunately, I had purchased an Epson with cartridges that couldn’t be refilled. Eventually, I got sick and tired of replacing ink cartridges, and decided to do something about it. A friend had sent me an email a year ago about a local shop in Geelong called ‘Ink Again’ which sells printers with a continuous ink system. So I went down to ‘Ink Again’ in Geelong and purchased one of these.

The ink system is produced by rihac. They call it CISS (Continuous Ink Supply System). A CISS is a self-contained unit with its own cartridges that are fed by tubing from a large ink reservoir which sits beside the printer. The system acts like a giant cartridge by feeding ink to the printer when required and can save up to 95% of the cost of using cartridges. I like saving money but especially like it when I am reducing waste and reducing my greenhouse gas emissions. This is the perfect solution.

Rihac make CISS systems for various Epson, Canon, HP and Brother models. Ink Again did not recommend a CISS system for my older Epson as there is the very real risk that my printer gives up the ghost in the near future and I end up with a useless CISS system. They also have found that most second-hand Epson printers generally don’t last more than a couple refills of the CISS system. Furthermore, the Epson printers are much more difficult to hook a CISS into, as the moving cartridges make it more likely that the tubes will jam the printhead. Ink Again favour the Brother printers, which have stationary cartridges. These are perfect to piggy back the CISS into, and their testing has found that when used with a CISS system, the Brothers last at least 5 times longer than the equivalent priced Epson.

So I walked away with a new Brother DCP-J315W printer. The printer is a distinct improvement on my old Epson:

  • It doesn’t have a fax, but my VOIP phone line doesn’t support fax anyway (you can get a Brother model with fax and a compatible CISS system if you like).
  • It scans directly to files, image software (such as Paint) or emails.
  • It prints very quickly (35ppm mono/28ppm colour).
  • I love the small internal paper tray which holds about 100 A4 sheets, as it makes my office much less cluttered.
  • It is connected to my wireless network and now my son can print on it from his bedroom.
  • The menu is on a 5cm colour LCD display – I can now see it without a flashlight!

The total cost for my new printer and CISS system was $244. The CISS system was completely full of ink (no half-filled systems as you get with new printers). This is the same price as four refills of Epson print cartridges (16 cartridges in total) and I have more ink than those four refills. My original Brother cartridges are sitting in a draw ready to be popped into the printer in case I need a service. I’m sure I’ll never need to use them for printing.

The system works beautifully. All you really need to do is keep the CISS system at the same level as the printer.*  The cover for the cartridges also needs to be left at least partially open. I’ve simply used the original Brother sticker to hide the mechanics.

If you need spares, you can get them from, and believe it or not, they don’t take advantage of you in the process. You can get a new syringe and filling needle for $1.50 or a set of six air filters for $2.50.

I haven’t had to refill the cartridges yet, but you get all the tools to do the job (basically the syringe and filling needle) and the manual is very clear. I’m sure it will be a cinch.

* You also need to tell your partner to do so and when you do so make sure he/she is paying attention.  My wife didn't pay attention (or didn't take the warning seriously enough) and put it up high to clean it.  It flooded the printer.  Then my 14 year old son tipped it upside down (over the carpet) to see if there was any more ink left in it and left stains on his top, jeans and all over our carpet.  After purchasing more ink, many print head cleans and various other procedures (including flushing the print heads with Windex), I finally have a working printer and CISS system now.  Rihac were very helpful in showing me how to clean out my printer.


continous ink system, ink, ink cartridges, office, printing, recycling