Epson printers use piezo heads. A chunk of piezoelectric crystal distorts when
an electrical pulse is applied, shooting a tiny spot of ink out. Original and 3rd party
dye inks: probably run the first time the transfer gets
wet so they must be washed before worn the first time, not waterproof
on inkjet bumper sticker. When used for printing on paper, dye ink will fade in
a few years (or less, in rare cases or in sunlight). Some newer Epson models claim much longer life for their dye inks. Some brands of wide format inkjet printers either use Epson print heads, or piezo technology licensed from Epson.
Durabrite ink: Epson OEM pigmented ink,
works on glossy paper. Shifts to
yellowish/brownish when heat pressed, change your printer driver
settings to compensate. ( -15 Yellow, +5 Magenta, +5 Cyan thanks to Don
list) Very fade resistant, passes wet test right
after pressing. Extremely water resistant, works on glossy paper. Like
all OEM ink, rather expensive at an estimated 50c to $1.25 per letter
size photo print.
HP, Lexmark, Canon and other desktop printers:
Most desktop printers other than Epson use a pigmented black ink for waterproof text, and dye colors. These use a thermal inkjet process also called Bubblejet, uses a tiny resistor to vaporize a tiny bubble of solvent in the ink, driving a spot of ink out and immediatly collapsing again. Because of this, they tend to be a bit more picky about the ink that can be used in them.
However, despite popular mythology, thermal inkjet aka Bubble jet can use the right pigmented or dye sub ink. OEM black ink in the aforementioned printers are almost all black, and other brands of printers such as Encad (now owned by Kodak) use HP black print heads, only filled with the requisite colors in either dye or pigmented ink. Many of HP's wide format printers can use either dye or fully pigmented inks. All of the Designjet CP series, for instance. 2000cp, 2500cp, 2800cp, 3000cp, 3500cp, 3800cp, 5000cp.
Other brands of desktop inkjet:
Dell, Brother, etc. often are either just rebadged printers built by other makers, or use the print heads from Canon.
Means nothing. Merely a marketing term that may or may
not mean pigmented ink. Several 3rd party refill kits say "archival"
but are really dye ink.
Most popular amongst Tshirt imprinters seem to be Magic Mix and Spectrabright, only for Epson printers.
They are pigmented inks well suited to Tshirt
transfers. Passes the wet test right after pressing, doesn't require a
wash before first wearing. Very fade resistant, well suited to inkjet
bumper sticker vinyl. Extremely water resistant on regular paper, not
suited to glossy paper. Much less expensive than OEM inks when bought
in bulk (ie, large bottles 100ml or larger), estimated 8c to 12c per
letter size photo print.
Magic Mix from Personalized Supplies
Spectrabright from JBL Graphics
Pigmented MIS inks: MIS Pro Eboni Black with MIS
Perpetual colors. (thanks to Flo
Karp) Passes wet test, very fade resistant, inkjet bumper sticker,
extremely water resistant. Not suited to glossy or semi-glossy paper.
Much less expensive than OEM inks when bought in bulk (ie, large
bottles 100ml or larger), estimated 8c to 12c per letter size photo
MIS PRO inks have been found to work as acid etch resist, printable directly
onto blank PCB (Printed Circuit Board) stock in modified Epson printers. For
this, the ink must be baked at about 230C to set it and the Yellow seems to
work the best. See the
Homebrew_PCBs list for the latest info.
Dye Sublimation or Dye Sub ink: Do not
confuse this with dye ink, or a "real" dye sub printer like the Olympus
400/440 or Alps that use ribbons. Inkjet dye sub requires a heat press
that can reach 400F and can only be applied to polyester fabric or
polymer coated items such as coffee cups, tiles, etc. The dye becomes a
part of the polyester or coated surface so it is completely waterproof,
but because it is a dye it may be subject to fading in sunlight. Some
coatings or after-coatings may improve this. Fabric of less than 100%
polyester require special treatments, as it won't stick to natural
fibers in the wash. Requires a color profile supplied by the
distributor or the color will be -way- off. Not suited to paper
printing, too expensive for
general printing anyway. There are many, many items made for custom
imprinting with dye sub ink, it staggers the mind.
Bulk ink means ink bought in large(ish)
bottles, usually 100ml (about 4
ounces) and larger. The typical printer cartridge only holds about 6 to
10ml of usable ink. It is much cheaper to refill your cartridges than by OEM, or you may use a Continuous Ink System that feeds the ink into the cartridges via hoses that are always attached.
Bulk Ink System or CIS (Continuous Ink
System): is a system whereby
large containers of ink are connected to the cartridges via thin
flexible tubing. This is quite handy when you do a lot of printing as
you avoid the possible hassles of refilling cartridges (spills, air
bubbles, etc) and expense of replacing cartridges. They are also known
as CFS (Continuous Feed System), BFS, etc.
More than you probably want to know about
CIS, more than most sellers
of them know:
Thoughts on CIS
Larger Epson printers often have a bulk ink
system built-in and their
cartridges carry 100ml or more and plug in via the front rather than
into the print head. The OEM ink is a bit cheaper per ml but is still a
lot more expensive than third party inks like Magic Mix, MIS, and
Some Epson models that have built-in CIS:
3000, 5000, 4000, 4800, and
all the larger (24" and wider) models.
Mixing inks between printer brands:
Although you may be tempted, pigmented and dye sub inks made for Epson
printers have been attempted by many and failed. I have found through
experimentation that the plain dye inks I've tested work about equally well
in Epson Piezo or Canon Bubblejet heads. There are pigmented and
dye sub inks made specifically for thermal inkjet/Bubblejet wide format
printers. However, buy-in cost is prohibitive for an ink that may or may not
work in your Canon, HP, or Lexmark, as inks sold for wide format printers
are normally sold in sizes of 1/2 liter and up. Some makers won't sell you
less than a full liter.
I do have some pigmented Encad Novajet inks (meant
for HP thermal inkjet heads) that
I intend on testing in a Canon Bubblejet head. I'll post my results here.
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