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Continuous ink systems CISS

Continuous ink systems (CISS)                                                                         

Canon CISS


Epson CISS

Do you print a lot? Tired of constantly replacing or refilling your ink cartridges? 

Continuous ink supply system (CISS) could be the perfect solution for you. CISS printers don't use traditional ink cartridges, which need replacing, or refilling when the supplied ink runs out. Instead, CISS printers are fitted with large external ink reservoirs and the ink cartridges are topped up with ink automatically - as you print. 

Sound good? Find a CISS for your Canon, Epson or HP printer, buy a CISS + printer combo or get CISS parts to build or repair your CISS by clicking the respective link, or one of the pics above.  ...or read on for some CISS tips and information.     

What is CISS?

Typical CISS (also referred to as CIS or CFS) consists of purpose built cartridges (ink tanks), connected via flexible plastic ribbon tubing (one tube per colour) to large ink reservoirs, positioned outside the printer. One end of the tubing travels with the "CISS" ink cartridges, while the other end is stationary, attached to the ink reservoir. There are many variations of continuous ink systems, but most are based on this design.  

How do CISS work?

CISS operate on a very simple principle of pressure balance. The whole CISS system is usually sealed, except for a breather (vent) in top of each ink reservoir. As soon as the printer starts using ink (eg printing, priming, cleaning), negative pressure starts to build up in the cartridges, which in turn "pulls" the correct quantity of ink up from the ink reservoir. This keeps the cartridges topped up all the time. There are no motors or pumps - the printing "action" does all the work.

When ink in the reservoir is depleted, more can easily be added, using a funnel, or with a large syringe. InkBank CISS come with either 60 or 100ml ink reservoirs, which is equivalent to 10+ typical ink tanks (per colour). In other words, CISS can extend your printer ink capacity by 10 times between refills. The external ink reservoirs are clear and it's easy to see how much ink you have left.       .     

Why continuous ink?

CISS combine the low cost of refill ink with the added convenience of ink cartridges that never run out, or need replacing. A suitable ink printer, properly set up with a quality CISS is hard to beat for convenience, ease of use and low running costs. CISS printers regularly achieve 90% cheaper running costs than their non-CISS cousins, so the conversion can pay for itself very quickly (if you print a lot).

If you are considering buying a colour laser printer to save money - don't!. A good CISS inkjet printer can not only be cheaper to buy, but easily 90% cheaper to operate, than most recent colour laser printers.  

What's the catch?

Unsuitable printer, or one fitted with a "cheap" CISS, set up wrong, or not used enough, is a recipe for disappointment. If you don't print much, aren't prepared to buy a decent CISS system / ink and maybe a new printer, you might as well give continuous ink a miss. Take a look at refill kits or a refill friendly deal for your printer instead. Continuous ink is for medium to heavy ink users and converting a printer that only gets turned on every now and again, is neither economical or practical. Unless you print minimum 100-200 colour pages per week - you don't want a CISS.  

Even some good printers fitted with quality CISS and running premium ink can be unreliable, if not used enough. Infrequent users may find continuous ink to be more trouble than it's worth.

Can any printer be set up with CISS?

In theory, almost any ink printer with adequate space around the ink cartridges to connect up the ink tubing, could be fitted with CISS. In reality, only some Epson, Canon and HP printers can be converted (and work ok).

Note: Being able to find a CISS for your model printer "somewhere" is no guarantee it will actually fit, or work properly with your printer. Most CISS are designed and built in China these days and compatibility can be marginal at best of times.     

Minimum requirements for a (reliable) CISS printer:

                                        1) separate print head (not part of cartridge)
                                        2) enough space & clearance for ink tubing to run freely
                                        3) good print head cleaning mechanism
                                        4) CISS compatible cartridges available (genuine might be ok)
                                        5) CISS ink chips available (if chipped) or possible to disable ink monitor

In addition to this, any potential CISS printer should be fairly new and in perfect condition. There is no point converting a printer that is half worn out already. New printers are relatively cheap and in most cases it is more economical to buy a new printer, than to convert an old one. There are exceptions to this and sometime an older printer might be worth hanging onto.

Most A3 printers are heavier duty than A4 models and well worth considering, if you need a reliable work horse. They take up more space and cost more to buy, but are built to last much longer than equivalent A4 models.   

If you are looking for a suitable printer to CISS, models with remote print-head are easier to convert. In these printers, the cartridges don't travel with the print head (when printing), so accurate placement / routing of the ink tubing is not an issue. Just plug the cartridges into the printer...and start printing. Some examples: Epson RX700, TX810, HP OfficeJet K series etc.

How to buy CISS..?

The most convenient way is to buy a complete printer + CISS + ink package at InkBank. All you have to do is - unpack the printer, plug it in, install software...and start printing. If you have any special ink requirements, please specify ink type (dye, pigment, archival b&w, thermal transfer, heat resistant etc) when ordering.       

If you already have a "CISS suitable"printer and are keen to do the CISS conversion yourself, InkBank can supply fully assembled CISS kit for many printer makes and models. Specify preferred ink type (dye, pigment, archival b&w, transfer, heat resistant etc) if you want the CISS pre-filled.

Note: If you want to use a specific ink type or brand (not sold by InkBank) for whatever reason, we can use ink supplied by you to fill the CISS with. Contact us for details. Alternatively...buy the CISS kit empty and fill it up yourself.     

If your printer is not supported, or you would like to build your own CISS, we can supply all the bits and pieces you need. It's not that difficult to assemble a CISS, but don't try this if you are technically challenged. No instructions / diagrams included.

Most people manage the CISS conversion without problems, but it is lot more involved than replacing ink cartridges. Unless you've had previous experience with CISS, you will find it much easier and less stressing to buy the printer already set-up. Printers that InkBank offers continuous ink for, have been selected for their suitability and easy installation, but some models may require some additional work (eg cutting a hole in the printer housing). You may also need some basic tools (eg screwdriver, hacksaw, ruler) with different printers. These are not supplied. 

Important information...

Most late model Canon, Epson and HP printers are too 'tight' for reliable CISS installation. For this reason and ongoing problems with chip compatibility in new printers, InkBank no longer supplies CISS kits (for new models). If you need more info or alternative solution for your printer, please contact us.

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Select your printer make below to find a CISS for it, or contact us, if you need more information.

Sub Categories
CISS parts
CISS printers
Canon CISS
Epson CISS


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