Saturday, February 18, 2012

Continuous Ink Supply Systems Worth a Look

Continuous Ink Supply Systems: Print More, Save a Lot

A significant number of popular printers in use today have available CISS (Continuous Ink Supply Systems) that can save as much as 90 percent over the cost of replacing 10 or more sets of branded ink cartridges. For any video producer who has a need to print more than one DVD or CD per project the quality can be great and the cost savings beyond belief.

I have installed and used a CISS in my business for several years and while the range of brands and models served “back when” were severely limited, my original system has outlasted the service life of several Epson printers. Fortunately for me the model series was popular enough that I’ve been able to find and purchase used discontinued model printers compatible with my original CISS. Today, however, there’s a much broader selection of printer brands and models with affordable available compatible CISS units.


On average I will hand-feed a single disk into my current model printer for five-out-of-ten clients, but the rest usually order a half-dozen or more. I often get orders for as many as 50 and my grad night, graduation and performance videos can run into the hundreds. One of the selling points for my smaller orders though is the quality of the case inserts and the on-disk custom graphics. So I wind up printing literally hundreds, if not thousands of CDs or DVDs annually. Notwithstanding the time element for one-off printing, the ink supplies for extended printing projects can run costs into the stratosphere.

Other factors got in the way of production as well before I set up a computer system that could easily multitask, running the graphics files to my printer while I continue with other production work — designing graphics, working in audio or other programs, downloading resources, communicating with clients, answering e-mails, blog comments or forum questions, even editing and digitizing.

I can now do more than one thing at a time and if nothing else, getting up every few minutes to feed in another DVD to my ongoing print job keeps me from being tethered to my single-feed, manual tray print system. It also gets me on my feet enough that circulation problems from long hours at the editing system don’t crop up.


What used to cause problems in addition to having a production computer that didn’t easily multitask was waiting until late at night to start a print run then running out of one or more inks in the process. I would be stuck with having to keep additional cartridges and sets on hand then still running out of one color or another depending on the demand for a specific color due to the graphics. This would start a domino effect as each and every other cartridge then ran out. At one time I would have to install another cartridge after one or two more DVDs until all the inks were once again replaced, then the cycle would start all over again as the black cartridge ran dry. Not very productive.

All that, then running out of backup cartridges in the middle of the night. Where are you going to go to find replacement cartridges at that time of the night. Well, depending on where you live there might be a 24-hour Walgreens or other store that carries a limited number of brands and cartridges but you’ll pay full retail for them, upping your costs and eating into your production time, literally wearing you out before you can complete anything more than a run of two or three DVDs.

Thus is the argument for finding a printer brand and model that has an available CISS that works. Make sure the model is popular enough that the CISS provider will also be a dependable go to source for refill ink supplies. Rest assured, however, that your average CISS will outlive the model printer you purchased regardless of brand and that your CISS will likely not work in any other brand or model. What do you do then? You shop for and purchase not only a new printer brand and model but also a new compatible CISS. Or as in my case, I went to eBay where I found a good quality replacement printer in the same brand and model that cost me less in the long run than paying out for a new printer and new CISS.


A quick search on Google for “continuous ink supply systems” or “bulk ink supply systems” will get you started, identifying resources not only for specific brand and model printers but specialty systems as well. You will also find numerous suppliers for refill inks for most brands. To get you started, however, here are some of what you’ll find during your search. has systems for the HP Officejet Pro 8000/8500 series printer using the HP 940 cartridge, regularly priced as high as $300 but currently on sale for a little more than $70. I have to say here, however, that on average most CISS will range from around $80 to about $125. Current available models listed at this site include CISS for HP Officejet Pro K550/K8600 through L7780, using the HP 88 cartridge. Systems are also available for Epson Stylus printer models in the NX series, the Artisan 50, as well as the Artisan 600 through 835 series. In addition you can acquire systems for the Epson R1900, Epson Stylus Photo R280, RX595 and RX680 series and others.

In Canon, while no CISS is listed, the company does sell “refillable” cartridges that make the job of ink replacement easier, cheaper and sometimes cleaner for the iP3600 through MP980 series and Canon Pro 9000.

Inkcontinuous has refill inks for Epson, Canon, HP and Brother. Sale prices start at $8.95 with some regular prices starting as low as about $20. Again, on average, I spend about $60 for a full set of inks for my system.

Shop around to save money and to find a dependable CISS provider and a company that will be able to fulfill your bulk ink resupply needs when you’re ready for more. In many cases, investing in a CISS and a backup set of bulk ink will last you a year or more. It is likely your CISS will even outlast your printer. As I said earlier, mine has. Installation is usually simple and if you don’t hurry the process of installation or refilling ink reservoirs, clean as well.

Another provider of CISS and bulk ink supplies is where a complete kit and inks for the (in some cases discontinued) printers such as Epson R260, 280, 360, 380 — even the current and popular Artisan 50 series (usually about $100) is currently on sale for about the price of a new printer, but gives you an ink supply closer to 10 full cartridge replacements. The regular price for this CISS runs about $120. A CISS for the Epson R2880 (without the ink) currently sells for less than $70. features how to and demonstration videos as well, ensuring that you get your installation right. A lot of other information is provided as well, making this a good site to visit while in the shopping and decision-making process before you buy.

I acquired my original CISS from Denver Disc, formerly Reliant Digital, for about $125 and continue to order my ink refills from them for about $60 plus S&H. My system has outlived an Epson R360 and one Epson Stylus Photo R380 (discontinued) and was recently pressed into continued service with my second R380 found on ebay. A full set of CISS ink refills for my system is equivalent to about 11 full sets of branded cartridges from most retail stores, yet costs less on average than one set of cartridges that can go for as much as $80. That’s a lot of savings. Significant for any operation and especially so for someone who prints hundreds or thousands of disks a year.

Denver Disc apparently no longer sells the once-popular Ink Caddy II system but continues to offer refill inks to serve the needs of customers who originally purchased their CISS product — primarily the Ink Caddy and Ink Caddy II.

During my research it appeared that a select group of models in the Canon, Epson, HP, Brother and Lexmark brands have some kind of available CISS, as well as a few others where “refillable” cartridges are a possible alternative, still providing significant savings over purchasing disposable or more difficult to refill boxed cartridges. is another company offering CISS and refillable cartridge options. This company also offers good information regarding its CISS products and what goes into making what they call The Cartridge Eliminator or Continuous Flow System unique or better or maybe they just mention this while others don’t — it’s the chip. There’s something called an Auto Reset Chip that they place in their systems that reset themselves when the printer power is turned off for 10 seconds or longer. “If you turn your printer off daily, you’ll never have to worry about forcing the printer to reset the chips,” they say. Whether unique to units or not, there’s good information to be found on the website regarding use of their “CFS” units as they apply to various printer brands and even computers and operating systems. This is another good place to conduct your research for the printer and CISS that might be right for your needs, demands, pocketbook and expectations.

A substantial listing for CISS and ink supplies can also be found at by searching for “continuous ink supply systems” at the site. I found systems listed for as low as $50 (new) for the Artisan 50, and even less for various HP and Brother models. Don’t forget eBay, where great prices, though sometimes possible more risky purchases (check seller ratings or reviews before buying this way) can be found daily for various models and supplies for their CISS units.

There’s a boatload of sources including,,,, and Take a look at the site under “continuous ink system with ink. Do your research, then make your choice and save time and money using a CISS that fits your needs.

A continuous ink supply system for some might be serious over-kill and if you’re looking for such systems for your bulk burning/production systems you might be out of luck. In my research efforts I couldn’t determine that any were available for systems like the Bravo series, Primera or even the popular single disk spin printer Dymo DiscPainter (recently discontinued).

For any video producer who prints and delivers his/her own products for others using a CISS will result in substantial savings of time and money over the lifetime of the printer and most continuous ink supply systems.

Remember: If you market, you will make it! © 2012 Earl Chessher