How much do you charge for a ten-eight? - part 4 of 1 2 3 4 5

by Mike McNamee Published 01/08/2008

The Continuous Ink Systems (CIS)

As the calculations of the previous pages show, the use of a continuous ink system (CIS) offers a saving on a consumer-size machine (eg an Epson 2400) that bring running costs into line with those of the Epson largeformat range (eg the 3800 upwards). We have, over the years tested the offerings from the three major players, namely Fotospeed, Lyson and Permajet. They are similar in concept in that they all replace the OEM cartridge with special ones chipped to fool the printer into thinking they are always full and plumbed with flexible neoprene piping to bring the ink from a bulk storage container, which is hand refillable. All the systems require some modifications to the actual printer to get around the fact that the lid will no longer close fully, the pipe work has to be fixed in place, and additional access is required over the top of the cartridge cassette. Setting up all systems we have found to be relatively trouble free, if a little messy, and the makers provide thin rubber gloves, nozzles, syringes, etc. It is not a job you should carry out on the best dining table if you value domestic harmony, and change out of your best clothes!

Our overall findings with all three ink sets are that they perform reasonably well. They are all true pigment ink sets and exhibit slightly raised metamerism compared with the pseudo-pigment of the true Epson UltraChrome K3 ink set. The metamerism is usually raised from around 1.2 for K3, to between 2 and 4 depending upon the paper, base-neutrality, etc.

Our experience indicates that you will see more nozzle clogs with CIS and so greater attention is needed to routine maintenance - CIS systems prefer to be used regularly. Although a nozzle check and cleaning cycle will always use a little ink, the relative cost is lower (for the ink) and providing you check before you commit to an expensive piece of paper you can expect little trouble. Our experience has been that the CIS makers are all most helpful in sorting out problems should they arise. Do not expect a warm welcome from an Epson engineer though, you may forfeit your rights to a warranty when you start modifying a printer. The world of CIS is ever-changing as the makers scramble to keep up with Epson and Canon as they alter cartridges and printers. The Epson 2400, by way of example is no longer to be imported to the UK and so the CIS makers will have to start all over again with an 11ml cartridge set of the 2880.


The Lyson CIS

The Fotospeed Quill CIS we reported in Paper Chase 16, November-December 2006. Permajet Eco-Flo was reported in June-July 2006. To complete the trio we recently set up and audited two Epson 2400 printers with Lyson ink sets. A direct comparison of performance is not possible as different paper media were used. However, a general finding is that the gamut volumes are slightly down, metamerism is slightly up, but overall print quality, after profiling, is in the correct territory as far as commercial, ie saleable, prints are concerned. So far we have been unable to drive a CIS into contract proofing territory in terms of colour precision and we again found this with the Lyson CIS/Kirkland combination. To some extent the issue is with the paper, as the OBAs interfere with the absolute colour precision.

Having two printers enabled us to compare both profile-toprofile and printer-to-printer performance. As the data shows, the variation between the printers was about 0.3ΔE2000. The average error of the as-made profile was a little behind the average of 3.3ΔE2000 but the tuned profile achieved a sub-three value - always a good benchmark of an excellent audit. None of the combinations achieved FOGRAGRACoL ISO contact proof standard although the tuned profile was actually quite close.

WE examined the gamut of the Lyson ink and Epson K3 UltraChrome, both onto Kirkland paper. The only difference was that the Epson result was for the 4800 printer. The Epson ink set has more reach in all parts of the gamut except the greens. For the record the measured gamut volumes were:

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1st Published 01/08/2008
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