Epson R380 Printer: Cutting In a Continuous Ink Supply System

The continuous ink supply system on the Epson R380 printer developed a slow air leak in one cartridge, which may have contributed to the nozzle problems, so I just installed another system from the usual eBay supplier: prefilled with ink and $30 delivered.

As nearly as I can tell, Epson designed a number of features into the R380 specifically to thwart CISS installation, including the awkward bridge across the middle of the printer that interferes with the flat tube feeding ink to the flying cartridges. I managed to route the previous CISS tubing around the bridge, but this time I figured enough was enough.

So I tucked a shop rag inside the printer, put a vacuum cleaner nozzle near the operation, and applied a fine-tooth pull saw to the bridge:

Epson R380 - bridge removed

Epson R380 – bridge removed

That certainly simplified the rest of the installation…

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  1. #1 by Frans on 21-February-2013 - 03:23

    I’ve been thinking of getting one of these systems for my Epson R220; the (quite low) cost of the system plus a full set of appropriate 100 mL bottles of ink is still less than actually buying a full set of Epson ink in what… 10 mL quantities? But I have some lingering doubts about whether it is worth the trouble compared to injecting the ink into an old or purpose-bought cartridge, coupled with a chip resetter.

    • #2 by Ed on 21-February-2013 - 07:45

      injecting the ink into an old or purpose-bought cartridge

      I think that’s the way to go for printers with separate printheads, simply because the flying hose is such nonsense; I cycle four sets of refillable tanks through the Canon S630. The tanks on the R380 contain such a minuscule dash of ink that I put up with the hose, but it’s really marginal.

      It’s not clear that refilling a cartridge with an integral printhead will work well, because the nozzles won’t outlast their intended lifetime by very much. But I admit to not knowing anything specific, having sworn a mighty oath on the bones of my ancestors to never buy another printer like that, ever again…

      • #3 by Frans on 21-February-2013 - 17:40

        The quantity of ink in my R220 is probably rather similar, if not exactly the same. For some reason my wife seems to have really latched on to the idea of an CISS as opposed to (refillable) cartridges, and it’s not even her printer. :P (We both use both, but this is the one I brought to the relationship.)

        • #4 by Ed on 21-February-2013 - 18:49

          CISS as opposed to (refillable) cartridges

          In either case, you’ll probably need an external waste ink tank, which can be a bit messy to install. It was about half full when I installed the new CISS, so I dumped it just for simplicity; it always makes me feel like I’m pouring unicorn blood down the drain…

  2. #5 by david on 21-February-2013 - 19:34

    I just cannot understand why anyone even considers buying inkjet printers. A laser printer with a lifetime supply of toner can be had for less than the price of all this messing around, and it will Just Work, forever, with never a clogged head or any other nonsense. And faster and quieter and with better output for text!

    • #6 by Ed on 21-February-2013 - 20:20

      A laser printer with a lifetime supply of toner can be had for less than the price of all this

      Eventually the inkjet printheads will fail and then they’re history: they’re definitely non-repairable. At that point, I’ll probably go the color laser route, as a friend has been running one with good results.

      I think the economics of color laser vs. bulk inkjet is about equal, but I haven’t run the numbers; both are certainly less awful than OEM inkjet cartridges! The monochrome HPLJ1200 just runs forever on a cartridge, but it doesn’t handle many images.

      Color laser images seem too contrasty, but maybe that’s because I haven’t seen any well-configured images. We do print a fair number of pictures, so maybe I need a token inkjet just for those… drat!

      • #7 by david on 22-February-2013 - 03:24

        Lots of great services that’ll do photos far better than even the best inkjets, let alone the consumer ones, for a few pennies apiece, including Costco and any number of mail-order labs. But maybe that’s just me — I print several thousand pages a year of text and maybe a dozen or two dozen photos.

        • #8 by Ed on 22-February-2013 - 07:55

          do photos far better than even the best inkjets

          We had horrible experiences with several local services (well, local outlets with outsourced processing), including manually applied red-eye removal with what must have been a precisely modeled mashed-point marker on an image that didn’t have any red eye to begin with. Maybe they all had bad days when our images came through, but we sort of gave up on that concept.

          I’ll grant you that bulk inks aren’t as good as the Real Things, although if I were a real photo guy I’d be doing color calibration like crazy…

        • #9 by Frans on 22-February-2013 - 08:00

          @Ed

          I’ll grant you that bulk inks aren’t as good as the Real Things, although if I were a real photo guy I’d be doing color calibration like crazy…

          Actually there are several (Dutch) tests that showed there were alternative inks that performed from equal to better to the original ink, although if I recall correctly the better applied primarily to HP. Of course if you just pick up any old ink chances are it’ll be worse.

    • #10 by Frans on 22-February-2013 - 04:25

      For one thing there’s health concerns. But for the record, our laser printer developed an annoying stripe after only a few hundred prints at most. That was fixed, but then it died a couple years later for good. In the end I think it was in service for about three to four years, which I find disappointingly short, and it’s more or less on par with my worst inkjet experience. I don’t quite recall what happened to its twin sister; I think that one actually did much better. My current inkjet has been in service for a decade and it’s still going strong. The only problem is that ink is rather expensive, but through using lower DPI settings a lot unless it’s meant for someone else you can keep things in check quite well.

      Also I have to disagree about those el cheapo digital photo prints. I don’t particularly like printing photos myself or anything (text + pictures on the other hand is very nice), but a test with some of those services a few years ago was rather disappointing. Paper so thin you could practically see through it and the quality was awful. Some even applied some very unwelcome color-level adjustments, but I suppose that particular flaw may not quite be their fault. In fact they’re even showing worse discoloration than output from my printer after a few years. Of course I don’t know how alternative ink supplies would work in that regard, but frankly it can hardly be any worse.

      @Ed

      Color laser images seem too contrasty, but maybe that’s because I haven’t seen any well-configured images. We do print a fair number of pictures, so maybe I need a token inkjet just for those… drat!

      One might wonder if something similar to my link above plays a role there.

      • #11 by Frans on 22-February-2013 - 04:27

        through using lower DPI settings a lot unless it’s meant for someone else you can keep things in check quite well.

        But of course I also use high DPI if the final version is for myself. ;) In any case, I much prefer proofreading on paper.