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

A project log for 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.

cprossucprossu 12/03/2019 at 08:410 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.