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Old Nov 15, 2010, 7:59 PM   #1
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Default Final Review - Efillink refillable carts - EPSON R2400

This is an update in regards to purchasing what is called an “8-Ounce Set” from a company called Efillink. This is essentially a refillable ink cartridge setup for EPSON R2400 printers. I have used this setup for a little under 2 months and found many anomalies and one large show-stopping defect in the hardware of these kits.
1. When using these carts, or probably ANY refillable cart, it is customary for there to be many ink flow problems when carts with low ink are changed out for refilled ones. However it is also a non-documented fact that due to these design flaws of even the “NEW” carts it is also customary to have to do what is known as “purging”, wherein one has to print test pages of the Ink channels in question in order to restore proper ink flow from the cart to the print head. This can sometimes involve much time spent, and MANY pages of plain paper to be wasted as well as Ink (used for cleaning the print head). EFillink recommends that “whenever a SINGLE cart is low on ink, in order to minimize costly ink/head cleanings, it is advised to replace ALL 8 carts (there’s 8 on a R2400) at the same time”. The problem with this is you MORE than make up the wasted resources of INK and plain paper using this method as you now have 8 misfiring ink channels to contend with rather than the single one. The result is a massive waste of ink doing head cleanings and waste of plain paper doing test prints to restore the 8 ink channels back to working order. This is good for Efillink. They can sell you more ink that way which is how they are making their money in the first place. With the more expensive Genuine Epson K3 carts, just replace and go.
2. The ink monitoring system that the Epson driver provides is no longer reliable with these refillable carts. There is a Russian utility (called SSC) that provides a number of different functions for Epson printers that includes an ink monitor as well but this utility does NOT work with printers on a network at all. This no longer functional ink monitor makes it almost impossible to tell when a cart REALLY needs to be replaced. Real world tests reveal that when the carts are 80-90% full the incumbent system already flags them as being empty and the chips reset themselves. Here is PRE-sales banter regarding this from efillink;
“The chip will auto reset at 20%. But if you do not pay attention to
the software ink monitor, the chip will reset to full while the cartridge
is going empty. Each time you print and make the paper selection,
you will see the software ink monitor. Keep an eye on it and you will
be good.”
When actually PHYSICALLY LOOKING at the ink level present in the carts at the time of reset they are slightly less than FULL. This undocumented “feature” is explained away, POST sales, by efillink thusly;
The 3rd party chips are made to allow you to reuse the cartridge over and over. The chip auto reset the software ink level without having to remove the cartridge from the printer. This is ideal when you are using a CIS with an external tank which keeps the cartridges filled with ink. I do think the refillable cartridges should be fitted with chips that require the use of a chip resetter to force the user to take the cartridge out for a chip reset and refill the cartridge at the same time. This will make the actual ink level and the software ink level in sync. The refillable cartridge holds 18 ml, the original Epson cartridge holds 14 ml. The 3rd party chip is made to match the Epson ink capacity or the chip will not work. At 20%, the actual ink level in the cartridge should be at about 50%, assuming the chip and the actual ink level started at 100%. The chip and the printer estimate the amount of ink used each time a print is made, a head clean is performed...the software ink level is adjusted to reflect the change.
Some fast double talking going on here. In reality the ink levels are approximately 80-90% full when getting reset.…
3. The real Deal breaker for me on these carts was found matter-of-factly when I went to replace a cart with a “LOW” ink level. Turns out the cart, in actuality, was ~85-90% FULL of ink, but the monitor already flagged the cart and the chip reset itself. I kept the Standby set of carts full of ink in a small plastic tray and the carts themselves were kept oriented exactly the way they sat in the printer. Nothing pokes them and nothing topples them over and the fill plugs are intact. When I went to grab a FULL cart from the tray for replacing (a basically full cart anyway) I noticed a large amount of INK pooled in the bottom of the tray. Upon further investigation I found that 3 (THREE) of the standby carts were LEAKING ink from the SEAMS. Not from a port or valve but FROM THE SEAMS of the carts themselves. Luckily this didn’t happen when these things were INSIDE the printer. At this point I have removed all EFILLINK gear from my printer and refuse to use EFILLINK products any further and informed Efillink about this repeatedly. After many attempts to drive the point home that I am NOT interested in receiving “replacement” carts as the things are of inferior quality and design, I still have not received an RMA and/or refund.
4. This brings us to the last and final point, the ink-to-paper quality. The first few prints or so were of almost indiscernible quality, color wise, to K3 ink. My guess is that there was still some GENUINE K3 ink present in the system for an unspecified amount of time after installing the carts with the Image Specialists ink. As of 1.5+ months later the prints and color quality have degraded somewhat in the fact that Red’s, Magenta’s, and Yellows are not as brilliant as they were with the K3. And I have profiled this ink to my papers. It seems that the IS ink, on its own, simply lacks the color gamut that would even put it close to K3 in this category. Blacks with the IS ink are slightly darker than real K3 but not especially noticeable overall. What it comes down to is NOT AS GOOD of print quality with this ink as opposed to real K3. Also, archival qualities in the realm of being waterproof (as the K3 is totally) the Image Specialists ink epically fails in this category.
Conclusion;
There is NO refillable system inks that will render SUPERIOR quality to Genuine Epson K3 and the Efillink stuff is no exception. At first impression you will notice little change to your naked eye, but as you continue on with the Image Specialists ink and the last bits of K3 leave the system you will start to notice color gamut compression manifesting itself in less brilliant reds and yellows. I have since gone BACK to GENUINE EPSON K3 because, of this writing, there isn’t anything better quality-wise for the R2400 or any other Epson printers that I have found. Efillink, as well as other vendors of these refill cart kits and CIS’s also claim that archival qualities of the ink are “of K3 quality”. I have not tested the Image Specialist ink for Direct Sunlight Fade, or Age, but I had a chance to test color-fastness of the ink with a simple water splash test on 2 identical prints made on the same Epson photo paper. One print was done with Genuine Epson K3, the other with Image Specialists after approximately 1.5 months, well after all K3 was out of the system. Water on the Genuine K3 was repelled by the print and simply beaded up when first touching it. If gotten to fairly quickly there was no damage at all to the print. If left on the print the paper will eventually soak up the water but the K3 didn’t run or distort. The Image Specialist ink totally blotted and ran pretty much as soon as water touched it. This leads one to believe that possibly the other archival qualities of the ink that are claimed by the sellers could be false as well.
Efillink is a web-based, one person operation that uses SKYPE as the preferred method of communication. They have an actual phone number, but I’ve never had any luck getting a human to answer that line. It seems as that efillink gets its customers to “sing their praises” on forums such as this by offering them free stuff in exchange for good things said about their products. Efillink will say or do pretty much anything to get your money. However, once you have paid them there is NO hope of ever getting it back short of taking them to court. All mails sent to Efillink about the show stopping CART INK LEAK PROBLEM and request for RMA and Refund was met with the same “we will replace the carts, and even fill them with ink…”, rhetoric. Efillink seems to think that when THEY fill the carts ink magically won’t leak from the seams. In this particular case the 3 carts of the 8 that were leaking from the seams were in fact filled by Efillink in the first place. So it appears I’m now out $400 and stuck with these funky carts and ink which are about as useful as a diet crouton at this point. Efillink DOES NOT offer any money back guarantee for their products which says volumes about how much they stand behind them.
Bottom line items to keep in mind when considering ANY ink jet refill or CIS schemes are these;
1. NO real archival quality for your prints
2. NOT the widest possible color gamut printed to paper. NONE of them will rival commercial processing, sans K3 ink, which is why you purchased the printer in the first place, right ?
3. You WILL chance possible damage to the printer by faulty cartridges leaking ink into it
4. You WILL save money on ink costs, but you will waste a lot of time, ink, and plain paper each and every time you change a refillable cart in order to get the ink flowing back properly to the print head. This probably not so much with a CIS, but you get my point…
If you fit the requirements for trying a refillable cart system, or CIS you’re going to need at least a month or two to really test it. But buy the things from somewhere that will at least guarantee their stuff. MIS INKSUPPLY.COM guarantees their stuff for 60 days no questions asked, so you can stay clear of Efillink. And NO, I’m NOT advocating MIS, nor am I affiliated with MIS, or own any of their products. Their website actually says “60 day no questions asked money back guarantee”. I have no idea if their stuff is any better than Efillink. They do offer a method to refill Genuine Original K3 OEM cartridges with their inks. The process doesn’t look too complicated, but there’s definitely the possibility for leakage, via the user installed refill port located on the bottom of every Epson OEM cart, with that system as well. Even barring the leakage problems you’re still left without Genuine K3 ink which is really the whole point of the printer in the first place. There is no “compatible” ink that even comes close to replicating ALL the properties of Genuine K3. The rest is just semantics.
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