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Cheap inkjet printing for hackerspace

Taking a thrift shop printer and a cheap Continuous Ink Supply System kit to make a economical inkjet printer for hackerspace use.

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Make a cheap to use inkjet printer solution for a hackerspace.

Epson Artisan 725 printer sourced from a goodwill

CISS (Continuous Ink Supply System) sourced from ebay

ColorCard.pdf

A super handy test sheet to print out to make sure everything is working! Sourced from http://cream.sourceforge.net/ColorCard.pdf

Adobe Portable Document Format - 1.45 MB - 12/03/2019 at 21:50

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  • 1 × Thrift Shop Sourced (WORKING!) Inkjet printer Epson Artisan 725
  • 1 × Continuous Ink Supply System (Prefilled with ink)
  • 1 × Box ofgGloves to keep ink off your hands Unless you like rainbow hands

  • The kit and the printer (Pre modification)

    cprossu12/04/2019 at 17:49 0 comments

    The kit and the printer (Before anything else was done)

    Printer as received from thrift shop:

    CISS Kit as received from ebay:

  • Fitting everything, cutting some things to make things nicer in the long run.

    cprossu12/03/2019 at 08:41 0 comments

    The kit was made to work with a unmodified printer, but in a rather clunky way.

    The ink supply tubes from the tank were to snake up the printer, go into the space between the scanner and the printer, and from the looks of it be pinched by the lid, or at least make the scanner clunky to use.


    Instead of that, and as I have no "real" investment in this printer, and the warranty is non-existent, I hacked out a chunk of the right side of the printer case. I do not like how they managed to make it into a puzzle of panels, but that's what the engineers who made this thing did.

    So with the chunk taken out with a hacksaw, and the rough sharp edges knocked down with a file, I proceeded to fit it back together. I also found a project box which I unceremoniously double side sticky taped to the side of this panel. I took the old cartridges out, and secured the bottom bits with strapping tape just in case we need them later down the road (there is still ink in them, and who knows)

    The idea being that if ink gets spilled, I want a place for it to be contained, and also I want the tanks to be with the printer, and there to be no reason to move the ink tanks higher or separate them from the printer (That would be bad!)

    Now I installed the ink carts, and I ran cleanings until I got full flow through the ink supply lines. This might not have been necessary, but it helped my OCD a bit. I don't want any stinking bubbles in my stinking ink supply lines, you hear me?!

    I just kept on with the cleaning cycles until there were no bubbles left.

    A quick test print after making sure the new ink got to the heads confirmed I was on the right track.

    It was at this time I should have gone home instead of borrowing and abusing one of our hackerspace's labelmakers.

    At least initially I am happy with the result, and we shall see how far we can push this printer. I highly suspect that the printer mechanism or the head will fail before we run out of ink. The kit I ordered came not only with the tanks pre-filled, but 100ml bottles of each ink color as well, giving us like 200ml of ink to start with. Compared to the original cartridges that this machine runs, it might as well be a swimming pool of ink.

    I can't wait to see what this is like to run, and if it fails or not. I figure this is a pretty cool experiment for less than the cost of a set of cartridges for most printers, and that's including the printer, the CISS kit, and the ink it came with.


    I'm not sure if it's considered a hack by most people, I just bought stuff off the shelf and threw it together, but it's sure hacky! To add an interesting layer also the CISS kit I ordered has chips on the replacement cartridges that are supposed to "auto reset" or "never run out". It will be interesting to see what happens.

    That reminds me, I need to put a note on it somewhere warning people to NEVER EVER under any circumstances update the firmware. I've heard horror stories where many printer companies are locking out third party ink, so that's not something I want to have happen to this machine.

    If anyone's wondering about the "name" I gave it, it's first big task will be to print pages (on hopefully nice paper) to make/bind into books. We have a color laser printer that I cobbled together on what was supposed to be a tear-a-part night (For some reason I ended up bucking the trend and had a "Put it together night" with 2 corpses of printers) under similar sleepless and questionable conditions which I named BobRoss. Perhaps we will rename it depending on how reliable or not it ends up being.

    I hope to update this once we put it through it's paces, and after I hack something together to print weekly or more than weekly test prints to make sure the heads don't clog.

    Overall this build was really fun, and I really enjoyed having an excuse to order one of these crazy kits and install it on a printer.

  • Getting the printer and the CISS kit

    cprossu12/03/2019 at 02:04 0 comments

    After going through many printers that I could not test at the thrift shops, and after going through many with clogged heads, I found one that worked! This ended up being an Epson Artisan 725. It can do 2 sided prints, print on specialized DVDs/CDs, and is a 6 color system (so hopefully photos will work okay). Before purchasing said printer, I made sure that there was an affordable (and comprehensive) continuous ink supply kit for the printer.

    I purchased the printer, purchased the CISS, and now I am deciding how to put them together while documenting the process.

    The kit I ordered was under $40, came pre-filled, and also came with extra ink in bottles.

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  • 1
    Find a suitable printer.

    First thing you want to do is find a suitable printer. Generally it will be a slightly older model, and you will want it to be for a few reasons.

    1.) The ink "security/drm" will likely be defeated

    2.) There will be support from these CISS kits for them

    3.) There may be aftermarket supplies of things like the printheads or the sponge material used in the Service Station.

  • 2
    Make sure the suitable printer works!

    I can't stress this one enough, make sure the printer actually works prior to you modifying it. If it's new in box and never has had ink within it might be the only time to ignore that. If the printer has been used, make sure using whatever means necessary that the heads in the printer are not clogged. You don't want to start out with failure. Don't waste good money chasing printers that ended up in a thrift shop for a reason, it's not worth it!

  • 3
    Before purchasing the printer, do a quick search to find out if there is a compatible CISS kit for the machine. You want one that comes with the ink to minimize hassle.

    Not all CISS kits are the same, be on the lookout! If your kit includes a drill bit attached to a screwdriver handle, avoid it like the plague! That means they are going to have you drill into an original cartridge to supply the ink. These kits are generally even cheaper than other full kits. Look for the most well polished one that has the most favorable reviews, it will improve your chances of success

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Discussions

Ken Yap wrote 12/03/2019 at 21:06 point

Thanks for posting this project. Knowing the steps and gotchas is useful in case I ever do anything like this.

But these days I hardly print anything on my mono laser even, maybe 5 pages a month. Currently they are mostly schematics to follow while assembling on breadboard. In the past they were things like job contracts where I printed the Sign Here page, signed, scanned and replaced the page in the PDF file. Of late I only had to sign the electronic document on my mobile phone.

  Are you sure? yes | no

cprossu wrote 12/03/2019 at 21:35 point

Yeah, I looked for an excuse to build one of these for a while. Since we use our printers a lot at my hackerspace, I figured this would be the closest I could get to the environment one of these would be required in to keep costs down! We need an inkjet because when we tried to bind books with our color laser, we got page to page toner transfer when things were pressed together. Not ideal for a book!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Ken Yap wrote 12/03/2019 at 21:40 point

>page to page toner transfer when things were pressed together

Useful to know, thanks!

  Are you sure? yes | no

cprossu wrote 12/03/2019 at 20:06 point

@Mike Szczys  It was great seeing you too! I had a heck of a lot of fun at Supercon and intend to be there next year, I'll try to bring something like I bring to Defcon this time around.

@Dan Maloney They are still CMYK, this has Light Cyan and Light Magenta alongside the regular C M Y and K. It's something that happens a lot in photo printers.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Dan Maloney wrote 12/03/2019 at 22:08 point

Come to think of it, I've seen large-format plotters with a rainbow of ink cartridges too. Guess it makes sense, and cool that you found a way to supply ink in bulk.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Mike Szczys wrote 12/03/2019 at 17:22 point

Hey, it was great seeing you at Supercon this year! 

This is the first I've heard of a continuous ink supply, makes a lot more sense than tiny catridges when the printer gets heavy use.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Dan Maloney wrote 12/03/2019 at 17:14 point

So the original printer was RGB and CMYK? Sounds like a scheme by Epson to maximize profits from cartridge sales. I like how you worked around that - stick it to the man!

  Are you sure? yes | no

cprossu wrote 12/03/2019 at 20:56 point

A lot of photo printers have more than 4 colors, especially professional inkjet units. In this case what you are looking at is still CMYK, but it has both light cyan and light magenta as well as the regular colors. The reasoning I was told by a printer person was that you can put more dots per inch of light magenta (or light cyan) as opposed to regular or vivid magenta when you want a certain lighter color color. Coverage is better, so your picture will look better as opposed to using say half toning on a full strength color. (More dots is more better!) Hope that clears it up!

  Are you sure? yes | no

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