Review: Inside The HP 74 (CB335W) Black Inkjet Print Cartridge (Cracked Open)

Cracked open – the HP 74 (CB335WN) inkjet print cartridge.

This is an older cartridge from Hewlett Packard, and it sheds some light on the multiple cartridge strategy HP (and all the other printer manufacturers) are now employing in full force (same cartridges, just differing amounts of ink, and different prices).  The HP 74 black ink cartridge looks like all the other HP ink cartridges (from the outside), but what does it look like on this inside of the ink cartridge?

This cartridge contains about 5ml of ink.  However, it has the room to  take much more ink – but then HP would have to raise that $14.99 price point (like they do on the larger, and “full” HP 74XL cartridge which has three (3) times the amount of ink but only costs $20.00 street.). The HP 74 represents a mistake by HP, and one of the last times HP released a “standard” cartridge with a full sized sponge.  The larger the sponge, the more ink the cartridge can take when refilling, or when re-manufacturing.  This is not good for HP’s consumption model marketing.  In HP’s future cartridge manufacturing – if the cartridge price is lower, the cartridge can be altered internally and include a smaller sponge (see inside the newer HP 60, and HP 901 black ink cartridges and you will see what we mean).

HP hewlett packard ink cartridge cover removed to reveal the internal structure of the HP 74 black inkjet print cartridge.


Color: Black
Part Number: CB335W – HP 74 Black
Ink Type: Pigment based ink
HP 74 Ink Volume: 3-5ml
Page Yield: 200 pages*

Ink Drop Size: 15pl

Retail price: $14.99
Street price: $13.18

* that 200 page estimate is from HP and based on 5% coverage (see what 5% coverage really looks like) – needless to say, manufacturer estimates are always on the “high side.”

This cartridge is often paired with the HP 75, or 75XL tri-color ink cartridge which we cracked open here.

A Refillers Dream – A New Reality:

Ink stop and cartridge world are not was well eastablished in the industry - goodbye consumer options.

This is the kind of cartridge that kept Cartridge World, and Ink Stop in business.  That is until inkstop went out of business.  This cartridge type is cheap to buy initially, however it runs out fast (40-100 pages at most).  Can be easily “over filled” reliably up to 2-3 times (maybe more, your mileage will vary)  with three times the amount of black ink the cartridge originally came with.  Better to get this cartridge refilled, or refill (400 pgs +), than to buy new (40-100 pgs).  No comparison really.

HP will fix this “problem” with the release of the HP 60, and HP 901 ink cartridges that have a smaller sponge, and space inside the cartridge blocked off – not feasible to refill.

HP is aware of the solution – working on another problem.

HP is not stupid.  We have heard rumors in the industry that the current “flagship” HP cartridge type (the HP 74 and to many otHewlett Packard HP 901, 901XL, XL Ink Cartridge Refillshers to list, but of the same design) cost HP over one Billion dollars to engineer.  The cartridge is flimsy, and designed to fail – it must not be easy to get engineers to design something to fail.  While the cartridge can be refilled, reliably, several times – great care must be given to the condition of the ink cartridge.

These cartridges must be refilled before they run out of ink – the contacts need to be kept from damage (think static discharge, dirt, and ink covering the contacts), and the print head needs to be kept clean.  These cartridge characteristics conspire against the casual refiller, and consumer demand for refill kits and refilled cartridges is low.  Garbage in = garbage out – if the cartridge is designed to fail, any additional use after the cartridge “runs dry” should be considered a bonus.

So what is under the label on the cartridge?

Cartridge design for the HP 74 black inkjet print cartridge.Pay special attention to the many holes and air-flow channels – that stuff is there for a reason.  This cartridge can be easily refilled with a bottle of ink and a simple syringe and needle.  The holes are already in the top of the cartridge.  No special tools needed to “drill” a hole in the top of the HP ink cartridge.

Three (3) barriers to simple refilling:

1: The pesky ink monitor.

Printers that use this cartridge series remember the last two cartridge serial numbers.  The cartridge can be re-used, however it will show as empty in the print monitor, and unless turned off, the user is prompted to replace the cartridge at every printing.  Very annoying when trying to print driving directions on the way out the door.

The printer “remembers” the current cartridge – plus one.  So to reset the ink monitor, three cartridges must be used. Hassle.

There are other ways around the ink monitor issue – press a series of buttons on the printer – but they vary by cartridge and by printer model number.

2: Failure of cartridge

If a cartridge is not refilled shortly *before* going empty (for this series of cartridge) the sponge can dry out, the print head can become clogged, or the contacts can get ink on them – or worse damaged.

There are just to many things that can go wrong for wide-scale acceptance.  Experienced refillers are aware of the limitations refilling presents, and take precautions.  First time refillers, or the “average consumer” might not be aware of these limitations and-or care.  A cartridge must work when called upon, and there is a price for reliability.  Sometimes the cartridge will not work period – or it fails after a short refilled life.  There are also cases of a refilled cartridge lasting “forever.”  The refilling game really is part know-how, but equal parts blind luck as no two cartridges are the same.

3: It’s messy.

There is the perception that refilling is messy, because It *can-be* if you are not sure of what you are doing. Frankly, sometimes it goes all wrong. The majority of the time it goes well, and with the savings i can buy a new pair of pants anyway.  A non-issue for committed refillers, a reason to take it to walgreens for some.

A look at the sponges tells the story:

Below we have the HP 74 black and HP 74xl black ink cartridge sponges.

See how little ink is in the HP 74 black ink cartridge when compared to the HP 74XL black inkjet print  (full of ink) cartridge.

The HP 74 black ink cartridge sponge compared to the HP 74XL black ink cartridge sponge. The 74XL sponge (and cartridge) is much larger.

For You Refillers:

Refilling is easy if you know where to put the refilling needle.  There are five (5) holes already in the cartridge lid which are covered up by the cartridge number sticker.  As you can see from the other images, there is black ink around only three (3) of the holes. We suggest using one of those three (3) holes since they are closer to the ink exit point.  All the other two holes  are there to confuse refillers.  This cartridge will hold around 18-21ml of ink, which is a good amount for a modern ink cartridge.

Hewlett Packard (HP) 74 black inkjet printer cartridge refill hole locations.

Compatible Cartridges:

HP 74, 74XL compatible ink cartridgesCompatible cartridges are an option here. Basically a re-manufactured (compatible) cartridge is just a professionally refilled, or “refilled for you” cartridge. The will run about 30%-40% less than HP brand ink cartridges, and if you can find a quality vendor, contrary to HPs claims the work great.

These re-manufactured cartridges will get cheaper as more become available in the aftermarket. When you buy a new printer, more often than not, it will include new cartridges, and until these cartridges make their way into the 3rd party cartridge re-manufacturers the price will be high. As the supply of quality empties increases, prices will decrease (in some cases by as much as 70%) and the compatible cartridge becomes a solid choice in the cost per page battle.

Contact! – Contact!

These solder points, or contacts help make up the print head.  Printers that use these types of cartridges do not have an internal print head – rather the print head is located on the cartridges themselves.  If print quality declines to the point where the cartridge is no longer usable, simply try another cartridge (it’s like getting a new printer).  If your cartridge cannot be recognized, give the contacts a quick clean with a damp cloth, or other device and try again.  If the contacts are harmed, the cartridge may not function at all.

HP 74 ink cartridge contacts - hp 74 printer ink carridge print head contacts.

The Print Head:

Unlike Epson, which makes the printhead part of the printer, Hewlett Packard (HP) puts the print head technology on the cartridge (for most of their consumer printers).  This means every time you buy a new cartridge, it’s like getting a new printer.  This is why these type of HP printers (that use this cartridge style) last forever in our opinion.  As long as the mechanics of the printer keep working it will last forever since the print head can simply be replaced by installing a new cartridge into the printer.

Not all HP printers and cartridges use this style (print head on the cartridge) of build, but a large majority of the ones you will find at Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and other discount (online) retailers use these cartridges.

Notice the 2D UPC code on the print head ribbon.

HP 901 black inkjet print cartridge empty and opened up to expose internal structure of ink cartridge

Is this an embedded expiration date?

Yet another 2D UPC code on the outside front of the cartridge.  So that is 3 total on a single cartridge.  If (HP) Hewlett Packard went to the trouble of putting them on there, you can bet they are there for a reason.  HP claims there is no built-in “self-destruct” expiration date for their cartridges.  Read more about it here…

hp 74 black ink cartridge expiration date, serial number, and upc code

There is really no reason to ever buy this cartridge.  A quick check of Amazon reveals that the 74XL  cartridge (700 pages) will run you $27.99, or about twice what the HP 74 half full cartridge (200 pages) will cost you.  Ultimately, the best advice is to avoid this cartridge (and the printers that work with it) completely – if you print more than 100-200 pages per month.

HP 74 black (CB335WN) specifications:

HP 74 black (CB335W) page yield information:,st=cartridge,ss=CB335W

Compatible with the following HP inkjet printers:

The HP 74 works in a bunch of printers – check out the HP 74XL black ink, a much better value.
  • Deskjet D4200 Series
  • Deskjet D4260
  • Deskjet D4268
  • OfficeJet J5700
  • OfficeJet J5725
  • OfficeJet J5730
  • OfficeJet J5735
  • OfficeJet J5740
  • OfficeJet J5750
  • OfficeJet J5780
  • OfficeJet J5783
  • OfficeJet J5785
  • OfficeJet J5788
  • OfficeJet J5790
  • Photosmart C4200 Series
  • Photosmart C4205
  • Photosmart C4210
  • Photosmart C4240
  • Photosmart C4250
  • Photosmart C4270
  • Photosmart C4272
  • Photosmart C4273
  • Photosmart C4275
  • Photosmart C4280
  • Photosmart C4283
  • PhotoSmart C4285
  • PhotoSmart C4345
  • PhotoSmart C4380
  • PhotoSmart C4580
  • PhotoSmart C4599
  • Photosmart C5200 Series
  • Photosmart C5240
  • Photosmart C5250
  • Photosmart C5280
  • PhotoSmart C5540
  • PhotoSmart C5550
  • PhotoSmart C5580
  • PhotoSmart D5345
  • Photosmart D5360

Deal: HP Oficejet 8000 $55.00 Delivered – Website

Hewlett Packard Officejet 8000 injet printer on sale at the website

Most economical inkjet printer you can get? Has a black cartridge that is 49ml (940xl)

Officejet 8500 only $55.00

On the website, you can get the Officejet 8000 inkjet printer – with free shipping – for a low $79.99 after two $50.00 instant rebates – via this link – Use coupon code SVMB39487 to get an additional $25.00 off making the net price $54.99. Free ground Shipping.

Some of the gripes have been – its big, and loud. The SVMB39487 coupon code has restrictions.  It is $25 off $125 or more, and it expires 8-1-10.

Know what you are getting into:

A set of full cartridges (XL) will run $113, and a set of replacement print heads will run around $120.00.  Take a look inside this cartridge (940) here.

Full set of HP 940xl ink cartridges from the website.


Good deal?

This is a good deal for the ink and print heads alone.  Included with the printer are 4 ink cartridges (940 series “half-full”), and more importantly there are two brand new print heads which retail for $59.00 each!

Print head pricing for the HP 940 series ink cartridge printers (Officejet 8000, officejet 8500)

HP Print Heads – HP 940 (Officejet 8000, Officejet 8500)

HP 940 Black and Yellow print head for HP Officejet

C4900A - HP Black and Yellow Printhead $59.99 list.

C4901A - HP Cyan and Magenta Printhead $59.99.

What you might not know about the printheads on this printer series is that there is a warranty usage limit of 560ml. After that, the printheads are out of warranty no matter the warranty status. Translation, if you print a bunch, there is a guarantee that HP will not warranty the printheads beyond the 560ml target.

Let’s take the HP 940 black and yellow printhead. Using the XL cartridges as a benchmark (49ml+16ml = 65ml) that would be around 8-9 cartridges used until the printheads are considered out of warranty (10-17k pages). You can see HP’s explanation here –

So really consider your printing habits before purchasing any type of “extended warranty” for this printer series. If you plan on using a CIS, or CISS system with this printer (perfect candidate) the printheads will still need to be replaced at some point.

Defeat For Consumers, Victory For HP In Legal Action Against Refillers

HP wins, you lose, yet again…

HP wins, and you lose.

Hewlett Packard has a history suing importers of these cartridges (hp 02)

The HP 02 series inkjet cartridges are no longer going to be available from Print Rite, and there are other importers that have been successfully sued in the past as well.  A pattern is developing here, and HP (as well as others) is continuing to go after aftermarket, compatible, or re-manufactured cartridge importers in the courts, as to limit supply, and increase demand of the HP brand as a matter of necessity.  The Print Rite cartridges must work pretty well, otherwise why would HP bother?  Cartridges we are talking about, listed here:

A full set of ink cartridges (full ones) is going to cost you $85.00! That is crazy, and what is with all those differing page counts for each cartridge?

Then there is the “XL” version of just the cyan, magenta, and yellow – full of ink?

Long term effect – reduces supply of 3rd party cartridges, and forces consumers to use more HP brand ink cartridges, thus increasing HP’s bottom line.  Also, investors might be pleased to know the lengths HP will go to to prevent the importation of 3rd party alternatives to reduce competition with their overpriced ink cartridges. Printers effected are to numerous to list.  These cartridges work in about 50-70 different printer models (in the USA alone).  Usually the Photosmart series, or Deskjet in some cases.

Note –  we are NOT talking about counterfeit, or fraudulent HP, Epson, Canon, or Brother imitation cartridges here.  What HP is looking to prevent is the mass-production cartridge producers from China that make a very good product, and do it cheaply, get their product into the USA.  This is not an issue in Canada, Asia, or Europe.

See our earlier article here (March 09):

HP and big ink can haz your money for ink

HP and big ink can haz your ink money.

HP is keeping up the pressure to try and prevent importation of these cartridges (and others) using the ITC and DMA statutes as their strategy to fast-track rulings, and “sealing” of the border to cheaper alternatives for consumers.  HP original inks have their merits (Viera?), however generic cartridges are absolutely an effective way at slashing print costs.

Investors need to know this kind of information – it shows that HP is aggressively going after importers knocking them off one-by-one.  Epson was lucky enough to have a full frontal assault (and repelling) from 24 different cartridge manufacturers (who are now no longer importing to the USA) that resulted with an Epson victory, and chaos in the aftermarket industry.

HP likes to claim in there ads that consumers get 65 less prints from generic cartridges, vs using HP brand original ink.  That is simply not the case with this printer series – compatible and CI system cartridges work great, and are some of the most popular 3rd party cartridges on the market.  With quality compatibles costing as little as $3-$5 bucks each, that represents a huge savings over the HP branded cartridges which clock in at about $13.00 a piece (on average).

Link to press release here:

HP 02 Inkjet Printer Cartridge Banned in the USA.

HP 02 Inkjet Printer Cartridge Banned in the USA.

HP today announced it has reached a settlement agreement with Hong Kong based Print-Rite Holdings Ltd. relating to HP 02 inkjet cartridges. (1)

(1) In countries outside of the United States, the HP 02 ink cartridge may be known by different product numbers, such as HP 363, 177 or 801.

HP has returned to this type of cartridge system (individual ink tanks) in the form of the HP 920, and HP 564 series ink cartridges.

Others reporting:

Hewlett-Packard Reaches Another Patent-Infringement Deal

Yahoo Finance – HP Reaches Settlement with Print-Rite

HP 02 Series Retail Ink Cartridge Package

HP 02 Series Retail Ink Cartridge Package

One solution to consider…

Continuous Inking System (CIS, CISS)

This printer series is perfect for a CI system:

HP 02 cartridges installed in printerIndividual ink cartridges do not move in this printer. Perfect for a CI system.

The cartridges in these printers do not move. Ink is fed from the cartridges to a print head that is buried inside the printer. It makes these printers (ones that will use the HP 02 series inkjet cartridges) perfectly set-up to use a CI system. Since the cartridges never move, and just feed the printer ink when it needs it, installation is simple, and no additional hardware or modifications to the printer are necessary. Just plug and play printing for fractions of a cent.

How does it work?

With a CI system, ink is fed from a conveniently refillable external reservoir container (all one piece), to the cartridges as the printer needs ink. When the printer tells you the cartridge is empty, simply remove and re-install to reset the page count chip.

HP 02 Series Inkjet Cartridge CIS, CISS, Continuous Inking  System.

News: HP And Kodak Fight About Ink Claims – You Don’t Print

HP and Lyra say you print 60 pages per month

kodak vs. hp - who has cheaper ink

Kodak vs. HP - who has cheaper ink?

The cheap ink mirage…

The mirage of the cheap ink cartridge...

Kodak and HP are having a war of words about Kodak’s claims that consumers will save over $100 per year on ink if they switch from Hewlett Packard inkjet printers to Kodak.  HP claims this is not true, and Kodak now admits (after the FTC got involved) that the savings calculation is based on consumers printing 120 pages per month.  Hewlett Packard insists that most consumers only print (on average) 2 pages per day, or 60 pages per month, and they can back that up with 3rd party research from Lyra.

Link for original article here:,188504/printable.html

Lyra Research:

It’s not getting better…

The article goes on to point out something we have also noticed, and written on extensively – the amount of ink a printer cartridge actually contains is getting smaller and smaller.  Currently all the major printer manufacturers are offering two, and sometimes even three different cartridge choices – with the difference being the amount of ink in each cartridge, and the price.

HP 75 – 100 pages HP 75XL – 300 pages

HP 75XL Inkjet Printer Cartridge

The  cartridge is the exact same size and shape – the XL has more ink – but the cost per ml is the same. Pay HP now, or pay HP later.

How many times have you seen “high capacity”, or “XL”, or “large volume” mentioned when shopping for ink cartridges. Printer companies have figured out that ink cartridge “sticker shock” is real, and just to hard for some consumers to get past.  In an effort to try and avoid the $50.00 ink cartridge and drive customers to 3rd party inking solutions, colors have been separated into individual ink tanks, and they are priced significantly lower.  So instead of $50.00 for a color cartridge, now the consumer will only pay $15.00 per cartridge – much easier to stomach.  It does not mean you are getting a better deal – rather it means you do not turn away (as quickly) in disgust at the high price of ink.

Going up?

One thing is for sure – the price for ink, and more importantly the price per print is going up at an alarming rate.  Now more than ever is the time to be informed, and don’t get trapped by a printer that is to expensive to operate.

(CIS, CISS) Continuous Inking System FAQ

Continuous Inking Systems Frequently Asked Questions.

What you can expect v1.1 (updated 2-9-10):

No more cartridges!

Just say no to the ink cartridge

Just stop buying cartridges. Never have one "go out on you." Auto reset, unlimited ink.

CIS for all – kinda.

If you are in the market for a new printer – it is important to know (before you buy) what printers work best with CI systems (CIS, CISS). Maybe you are curious about your existing printer, and want to know if a CI system is right for you. If you want to know the chemical properties of 3rd party ink as compared to the manufacturer original, this may not be for you. The focus here is getting the lowest (quality) cost-per-print with an inkjet printer – period. Using CI systems can result in cost per page prices in the fraction of a cent range (excluding paper) but is the system reliable, and does it deliver a solid print? Aftermarket inks are very good (usually dye based), and while they are perfect for everyday use – if the desired result is to hang in a gallery, or sell for hundreds or thousands of dollars, you are gonna want to stick with manufacturer brand inks, however we think their longevity claims are overstated, but that is another FAQ.

What are requirements?

Not all printers are the same, and not all printer users have the same needs. Be realistic about your printing estimates – we have found that people who can print for fractions of a cent, tend to look for reasons to print more, and this is an easy thing to do in these digital times – share it with the world, hit print. With a continuous inking system (CIS, CISS, bulk ink) you can now afford to print your entire digital lifestyle. Printers are a dime a dozen, and there are literally hundreds on the market – finding a multi-function inkjet printer for the office is easy; finding one that gets the best cost per print can be challenging.

Other options available:

CI systems are not the only option, however in our opinion they are so easy to use (with the right printer), and inexpensive to operate that it just makes sense if you actually need to use the printer. There is also the added bonus of not needing to pick up an inkjet cartridge so you can scan, or send a fax – or <gasp> print. With a CI system, buying cartridges is a thing of the past. Chips on the cartridge that monitor page count auto or manual-reset when the printer tells you the cartridge needs replacing.

What is a CIS?

A CI System, or Continuous Inking System, sometimes known simply as CIS, CISS, or bulk ink system.

How it works:

Ink is delivered from an outside reservoir, or ink supply to the printhead via a set of pass-through ink cartridges. Ink is fed (via tubing) from outside the printer to the ink tanks, to be printed on the page. Works best with Epson printers, however some Canon, HP and Brother printers also work well with a CI system.

Not every printer out there is suited to easily work with a CI system. In our experience, CI systems work best with inkjet printers that have individual ink tanks for each color. It is much easier to deliver ink to 4, 5, 6, or even 8 individual ink cartridges, over trying to deliver all 3 primary colors to a single cartridge (think HP). If your current printer uses two cartridges (one black, and one color), CI systems may not be for you. They are out there, and available, however they can require constant attention and cartridges may need to be replaced every so often (this means removing and reattaching tubing – all 3 colors come from the same cartridge, etc…). The hassle factor is very high, and you could have a mess on your hands.

CIS disaster with a 2 cartridge system

CIS disaster with a 2 cartridge system. All colors are in the same cartridge making a CI system not the best choice in some cases.

So what printers work best?

On the other hand, Epson printers (some Canon, HP, Brother) use individual ink cartridges – exclusively – however within those printer models, some work better than others. CI systems are also available for some Canon, HP, and Brother printers that use individual ink tanks. HP is starting to produce more and more “individual ink tank” type printers, and some realistic CI system options will be available for the HP 564, and 920 cartridge series shortly.

CIS CISS installed into Epson inkjet printer

CI system - ink is fed from outside the printer to a set of dummy cartridges to provide unlimited printing at a price you can actually afford.

Reset the cartridge when empty, but how?

Another thing to consider is the way the cartridges are reset when the printer registers as out of ink. The dummy, or pass-through cartridges that are included with your CI system also have a chip on the end that communicates with the printer, just like an overpriced brand name cartridge. When it comes time to “change” a cartridge, what is the reset method? There is the auto-reset method, where the printer is immediately and transparently fooled – there is the remove and replace method, where the cartridges must be physically removed from the print head, and re-inserted to reset the chip back to “empty” – and there is the “press-this-button” on the cartridge, and everything is reset, method. Each printer is different, so check to make sure what method is used before you buy.

Reset button for CIS CISS inket printer systems

When the printer says your ink cartridge is empty, simply press this reset button on the Epson Artisan 800 inkjet printer.

Make sure to get the right printer:

When purchasing a new printer, it is always a good idea to look at what type of cartridges are used anyway, and how much ink they contain. There are some cartridges you will want to avoid at all costs (no matter what your printing needs are), and some that provide better cost per page rates.

It’s you vs. them.

One thing needs to be understood – printer companies make their money on the ink cartridges, not the printer. CI systems are not sold by the printer companies – this is a 3rd party invention, and in our opinion, quite ingenious. CI systems require some maintenance – clearing up tubing tangles, refilling of external tank after 1,000-3,000 prints, reset of chips via either auto, or manual – but overall if you print more than a ream of paper in a 6-8 week period, CI systems can save you a ton of cash on consumables (cartridges) and even enable you to print even more for pennies on the dollar. They are definitely worth a look.

Still viable for low volume printers:

If you print less than a ream of paper per month a CI system can still work for you, but you literally may never need to buy another cartridge or refill. Systems that contain ink will last on average about 3k pages. You can still save cash by using compatible cartridges, or re-manufactured ink cartridges as well. The typical full manufacturer cartridge set ($80.00) will net about 400 text prints; your mileage may vary.

Identify CI systems by cartridge:

Look for the cartridges – this will help refine your printer search. Then, within that selection, look to see what actual printer works best with a CI system, and from that list select based on your printing needs. Does it need to be large format? Fax capable? Photo Printer? All-In-One?

Most all Epson printers (some exceptions) work very well with CI systems. If you see a CI system listed on our site we can recommend it for use in those printers that use these cartridges. In some cases we will have some (CIS, CISS) associated online content (installation video, CIS in action, reviews, pictures, set-ups, etc.), and you also have the option of purchasing printer and CI system bundles that we have tested in our shop before shipping.

Printers we like with CIS, CISS, Bulk Ink Systems:

Epson is our favorite. We print lots of photos, and we just think Epson printers are the best at printing photos, hands down. A CI system makes the Epson printers even more fun to work with, as printing costs are negligible. Canon has some 6-color and 8-color printers that produce a quality print, but we just prefer the Epson print quality. Not all Epson printers work well with CI systems – think NX series (tight fit for a CIS).

The knock on Epson in the past (for a general purpose printer) has been cartridge price. To expensive to be an everyday printer. This changes when a CI system is introduced into the mix. Print thousands of pages for an initial investment of $95-$179, and refills which are equal to 50-60 Epson cartridges, are available for $30-$50. Save thousands on consumables – there is also the added bonus of never having to purchase another inkjet cartridge ever. Never run out of ink, never replace one cartridge only to have another need replacing the next day. Low hassle printing for a fraction of the cost of manufacturer brand ink. In some cases, a printer plus a CI system may actually be cheaper than purchasing a set of cartridges for your current printer!

Epson Printers we like:

Epson Stylus C120 Inkjet Printer CIS Inkjet Ink System

Artisan 700, 800, 710, 810

Absolute best performer – printer is constructed like a CI system internally. No moving parts, simple to use and operate. Multi-function photo printers. May be the last printer you ever purchase. If you are looking for a deal on this printer, check the Epson store, or Amazon. We also offer these printers as bundles with a CI system, and additional set of refills.

Epson Workforce 30 – Stylus C120

These two are the exact same printer. Just a printer – has 2 black cartridge slots, fast printer and easy installation. Bundle deal here.

Epson Workforce 500

Multifunction all-in-one. Complete with built-in fax, auto document feeder (ADF), color scanner, printer, copier, media readers, 4-color office printer. Get up to 5-6k pages with this bundle.

Epson Stylus Photo 1400

Large format 6-color photo printing. Now you can actually use this printer. With cartridges for the Epson Photo 1400 costing $20.00 each ($120.00 total), a CI system is a no brainer for this printer. Epson cartridges can always be re-installed if necessary. Get this CI system (CIS, CISS) for only $119, or buy the bundle ($299).

You may own one of these Epson Printers:

Other “older” printers that also work well include the Epson Artisan 50, Stylus C64, C66,C68, C84, C86, C88, CX5000, CX6000, CX6400, CX6600, CX7000, CX8400, CX9400, CX9450, CX9475, Stylus Photo R200, R220, R300, R320, R340, RX500, RX600, RX620, and the newer models – Stylus Photo R260, R280, R380, RX595, RX680, and large format Stylus Photo R800, R1800, R1900 inkjet printers.

HP Printers we like:

HP 02 CIS CISS inking system

Thinking individual ink tanks here. You can use a CI system with HP printers that use only 2 cartridges (black, color) however in our experience these type systems do not always perform well, and require more attention.

HP Officejet 6000, 6500, 7000

Uses the HP 920 cartridge. Individual ink tanks for each of the colors and black cartridges. Nice performer, overall gets good grades. Cartridges move along with the print head.

HP 02 Series Cartridge

Why a cartridge and not a list of printers? Because there are to many printers that work with this cartridge. Should be a photosmart series printer. HP Printers that use the HP 02 series cartridge, can take advantage of a very reliable and easy to use CI system. There are no moving parts, and ink is fed directly to the cartridge from an external source. Very easy to install and use. Cartridges do not move. For a complete list of compatible printers, please look here.

HP 564 Series Cartridge:

Another cartridge that gets used in a bunch of printers. CI systems can be had for this cartridge series, and all the printers that work with it. Cartridges move along with the print head. Very nice solution.

Canon Printers we like:

Coming soon…CI systems are under development for the newer Canon Pixma iP series of printers. Check back soon for our recommendations.

Brother Printers we like:

Coming soon…we have started testing on these printers, and we like what we see so far. More to come.

What about the ink quality?

All CI systems we offer contain dye based inks. As a general rule most 6-color photo printers that cost less than $300.00 or so also use a dye based ink from the manufacturer. Dye based inks are common inmost photo printers as they will produce a “brighter” and more “detailed” image. You can find pigment based inks (more durable, but duller image) in 4-color office, or general home use printers. All printer manufacturers have discovered the magic of attaching a fancy name to their inks to increase their marketability – Epson has Durabrite (pigment), Claria (dye), and UltraChrome (pigment) brand ink, and even HP markets the Vivera (dye) brand ink.

Simply put, dye based inks fade – they are water based, and water evaporates over time, just a fact of life. Printer manufacturers will talk about their special formulas, or added ingredients, but unless you are selling your work for thousands of dollars per print, there is no reason to pay the equivalent of $11,000 a gallon for ink. There are steps you can take to protect your prints, and even the printer manufacturers admit that their longevity testing was done with prints behind glass, on special paper, and out of the sun. The most important factor is really paper. If you print to a good quality paper, half the battle is won. For text, or simple document printing – stuff that will not see the sun – the prints will last your lifetime, that is for sure.

HP says:

“light fade testing under glass (as of January 2005) on HP Premium Plus Photo Paper.” Link.

Epson says:

“Ink fade resistance ratings based on accelerated testing of prints, on specialty media, displayed in a glass frame in indoor display conditions.” Link.

Put it in a picture frame. Done.

CI Systems not for everyone?

CIS, CISS, or bulk ink systems do require some basic maintenance, and the occasional cartridge chips that will not reset can be a pain, but if you can put up with a few quirks of the system a CI system can save you literally, thousands of dollars on ink – over the life of the printer. We are confident that with the printers we have highlighted above, your experience with a CI system will be a good one.

The HP 920 Series Inkjet Printer Cartridges

The HP 920 Series Ink Cartridges:

Small or Large?

Anytime you have individual ink cartridges, it makes using a CI system (CIS, CISS, bulk ink) much easier and more feasible.  All cartridges come with a chip on the end of the cartridge that communicates to the printer estimated ink usage.

HP uses a dual cartridge marketing strategy on this printer series (Officejet 6000, 6500, and 7000). These printers can use either a half-full of ink 920 cartridge, or the more full 920XL series ink cartridge. Series consists of a set of 4 individual ink cartridges.  One cartridge for each color, and black.  Guess what cartridge is the most expensive?

HP 920 series inkjet printer cartridge.

HP 920 Cartridges:

So figure $50.00 for a set of these. Ouch. CI system possible with these cartridges, and should be used.

HP 920XL Cartridges:

*Please. These are HP lab estimates.

So that looks like a minimum of $75.00 for a full set of these cartridges. And as always, HP tries to confuse us with double part numbers. Is it 920? or CD975AN? Both? Ok, thanks HP. And that is a $30.00 black cartridge. Will give you about the same number of prints as the Epson dual black cartridge which runs $40.00. That gets expensive, a minimum of a replacement black cartridge every 6-8 weeks if you print 100 times per month. CI system may be the way to go.

Printers that use the HP 920 series ink cartridges:

  • HP Officejet 6000
  • HP Officejet 6500
  • HP Officejet 7000

Cartridge replacement:

This replacing a cartridge video shows the insides of the printer – looks like an Epson or Canon configuration. Technique is the same for the Officejet 6500 and 7000 series.

News: HP And Kodak “Twitter Fight”

Looks like the folks in charge of the social media over at Kodak and Hewlett Packard got a raise.  Free press in the Wall Street Journal is not a bad result.

Twitter Fight?

A war of words on Twitter sparks printer ink cost debate and highlights price cuts on multi-function inkjet printers this holiday season.

Read the full article here…

Wall Street Journal Logo