I don’t think it comes as a surprise that printer ink grossly overpriced. This seems to be the case whether you’re purchasing ink for your home office printer or ink for your photo printers. For example, a set of 11 UltraChrome inks for the Epson 9900 wide format printer will set you back at least $800. Paying that kind of premium, consumers want to make sure they aren’t letting any of that precious liquid gold go to waste. Unfortunately, every time your printer notifies you it’s time to replace an ink cartridge, you’re probably throwing out hunderds of dollars worth of ink.
“On average, when we throw away a cartridge of ink from our Epson 9900 printer, we throw away well over 100ml of ink. Many times 150ml or more. But, on average, we throw away 120ml of ink with every 700ml cartridge and about 60-80ml of ink with every 350ml cartridge.”
A fact that has Bellevue Fine Art Reproduction so frustrated, they’ve taken to YouTube to publicly ask Epson take a closer look at their ink measuring system.
We’ve contacted Epson about this many times, we’ve spoken to many representatives, we’ve sent cartridges in, we’ve escalated this as high as we possible could and have always been ignored or told that we were just wrong. But, as you can see from our demonstration here, we’re absolutely not wrong–we’ve done this so many times we can’t count. I would challenge Epson to watch this video and improve their ink measuring system in their printers because, clearly, clearly, we are throwing away hundreds of dollars of ink every month.”
Take a look at Bellevue Fine Art Reproduction’s revealing demonstration, here:
Wasted Ink in the Epson 9900
DIY Remaining Ink Measurement
It’s not hard to understand why the print shop is at wits end with Epson–no one likes to waste ink or money. Epson has (sort of) addressed this in lower-end printers with their EcoTank, but after watching the demonstration above, it’s blatantly obvious there’s still a long way to go.
Now, if you want to do a little testing of your own, here’s the formula Bellevue Fine Art Reproduction suggests to use if you want to see how much ink your Epson 9900 is wasting without having to cut open the cartridges. Remember, this formula is for the Epson 9900 cartridges, which may vary from other brands/models.
UPDATE (September 16, 2015): Epson sent us a clarification on how their system is designed to work, here is their response in full:
Your recent article highlighted a video posted by Bellevue Fine Art Repro. I’m contacting you on behalf of Epson to clarify how the ink system of the Epson Stylus Pro 9900 is designed. The Epson Stylus Pro 9900 printer is a graphic arts printer designed for professional operation for printing high value photographs and fine art reproductions on canvas and other specialty media up to 44 inches wide. Like Epson’s other graphic arts printers, the Epson Stylus Pro 9900 is finely calibrated to consistently deliver extraordinarily high print quality.
- For quality assurance, the Epson Stylus Pro 9900 ink system uses two methods to track ink levels. The first system estimates ink consumption by mathematically calculating how much ink is consumed from a cartridge for each ink droplet fired during printing and print head cleaning. The printer and ink cartridge use this information to display ink levels and initiate an “Ink Low” status alert. This alert is an indicator to the operator that it is time to consider ordering a new cartridge and occurs with roughly 10-15 percent ink remaining.
- After “Ink Low” alert, the printer can continue to print normally until all usable ink in the cartridge is consumed and noted with an “Ink Out” notice. This “Ink Out” notice is triggered by a second method – a physical sensor in the cartridge – not an estimated amount. The sensor triggers when ink volume has declined to the point that further use could cause harm to the print head.
- If a cleaning cycle is initiated during the “Ink Low” status and the level of ink remaining in the cartridge is estimated by mathematical calculation to be less than required for a print head cleaning, the printer will signal that there is “not enough ink to complete the process.” The ink required for cleaning is conservatively estimated to assure there is enough ink to completely eliminate any print head obstructions and ensure quality output. At this stage a fuller cartridge needs to be installed to complete the print head maintenance. But, it is important to note, that after this maintenance cycle, the original cartridge may be reinserted and used until “Ink Out” status is reached. It does not have to be discarded.
The printing system of the Epson Stylus Pro 9900 is conservatively designed with two methods of tracking ink levels. The “Ink Low” signal does not prevent the ink from being used until the “Ink Out “signal. In the event that a print head cleaning is attempted after an “Ink Low” signal, the professional operator may have to swap in a full cartridge for cleaning and use up the useable ink in the original cartridge at a later time.
The attached Q&A for professional operators of Epson Stylus Pro 9900 printers and other Epson graphic arts printers explains the functionality of the ink system in more detail.
[ via Reddit ]