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PermaJet Eco-Flo inking system for the R2400
Review of a bulk/continuous inking system for Epson's R2400
The Epson Stylus Photo R2400 is a solidly built A3+ inkjet printer that uses Epson's excellent pigment inks.
What about if you want to do a lot of printing on it and don't like the cost of those rather small ink cartridges that it uses?
Keith has been suspicious of add-on ink supply systems (aka continuous ink systems/CIS/bulk ink systems) in the past.
We have heard problems of leaks and poor build quality.
We were lent an Epson R2400 and a new Eco-Flo kit by Permajet.
This short review covers its installation, and initial print results.
It uses Permajet's K-chrome pigment inks.
We've also had a look at using it with PermaJet Fibre Base Gloss papers.
We included it in our testing of the new version (V2) of the PrintFIX PRO software, which we will be covering in forthcoming articles.
The kit comes with bottles of ink and all the parts to install the ink system on your R2400.
There are more details about the system on the PermaJet site
If you are buying a new R2400, install the original Epson cartridges first and satisfy yourself that the printer is working properly. It's not a good idea to try and return a faulty new printer if you have been messing around with 3rd party add ons...
There is a comprehensive guide to installation (do read it -first-) which steps you through the installation process.
Assembling the parts together is fairly straightforward and took me just under an hour. That includes several cups of tea and triple checking that the right bottles were connected to the right injectors.
The injectors are what replace the ink cartridges and have spaces in them to allow a smooth flow of ink into the heads.
This is one area where the instructions could be a little clearer - I was not sure at what angle to hold the injectors when filling, and also unsure as if there should be any air left in (such as the small amount below).
Almost filled injector
The ink is drawn into the injectors by using a syringe with a small plastic adapter on it - all the items you need are in the kit, including some protective gloves.
Storage box for parts after filling (and spare chip block for matte black ink)
Be careful when putting the stiff plastic pipes into the main ink bottles, they are a firm fit, and if at all slack may well let air into the lines later - which may eventually mean you have to pull an injector and refill the appropriate ink line.
The injectors are fitted after placing the chip block in the cartridge holder in the printer.
The chips tell the printer how much ink is in the cartridges - these replacements automatically jump back to 'full' when they get low (actually when the ink warning lights flash, you turn off the printer for at least 30 seconds and they reset).
Once again check that everything is connected properly
I very nearly swopped over two injectors, which would have produced odd results, not to mention the need to flush quite a bit of ink through the heads to get things right again.
After fitting, the tubing is held in place with a clamp - attached to the top of the printer with Velcro.
After setting everything up, it was a simple matter of following the instructions for printing - well it would have been if they had allowed for anyone wanting to use the printer connected to an Apple Mac... There were no instructions.
However, it just worked... (a Mac thing ;-)
A few nozzle checks and printing of some of the supplied (single colour) purge images got perfectly good tests.
At this point I decided to wait until the next day for testing, just to let things settle in (this is often a good idea when moving or doing any extensive cleaning work on inkjet printers)
I decided to have a go at printing the PDI test image and my own black and white test image.
Test Images - use a known good image when testing - not one of your own photos
I'll be looking at papers and profiling in two forthcoming articles, but trying Epson PGPP in the printer, using an Epson PGPP profile produced very passable results for the colour image.
Since Permajet supply profiles for their papers I tried printing both images on Fibre Base Gloss (FBG) paper, then I tried making a profile with the new PrintFIX PRO profiling kit, and just to top it off I made a luminance only icc profile to try with the Epson driver's advanced black and white mode.
The supplied profile (for Permajet K-Chrome inks) produced less than stellar colour results with the PermaJet FBG paper and was wholly unacceptable (to myself) for black and white (unless you are a fan of magenta toned prints).
The Epson advanced BW mode produced a fairly good black and white print (PGPP setting) which became rather good with a linearising profile
Best results came from using the PrintFIX PRO profile (made using the enhanced BW options) - not only was the black and white spot on (showing up a very slight Magenta tinge in the Epson ABW mode prints under tungsten lighting) but the colour print had very good depth.
The kit was easy to assemble and with care should only take an hour or so to convert your printer.
Be careful when setting up the ink bottles - note the bubbles which have got into the light magenta line here. The middle empty line would be for the Matte Black ink, which I didn't have in this kit.
It's also important to have the ink bottles at the same level as the printer - you don't want all that ink siphoning into the base of your printer.
Bubbles in one ink line >>
I've been critical of some third party ink systems in the past, and in particular of the intermittent quality control that some have exhibited.
I've only a few -minor- gripes about this system, which has now been in use for a couple of weeks without any problems
The Retaining bar - this is the most unfinished looking part of the kit. Mine really did look as if it had been made of off-cuts of plastic strip. I appreciate the use of Velcro, but the assembly just looks cheap.
Minor injector leaks - When first priming two of the 8 injectors, I noticed slight dampness around the area where the tube goes into the injector. Both seem to have dried themselves and have not leaked at all since.
Tubing wear? - When the head assembly goes fully over to the left hand side, the ink tubing rubs on part of the case. I'm not sure how long (if at all) this might take to cause any problems.
Update 2012 - having seen the current version of the system, the issues above seem to have been addressed
The kit with 125ml of each ink comes in at £299 (price including VAT).
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That's just under 10 normal cartridges worth of each ink used. So the question you have to ask yourself, is "how much printing am I going to do?"
The costs of using this system are certainly a lot lower than using individual cartridges, but remember that the inks have a limited lifetime, and if you wouldn't use up 10 cartridges worth (per colour) in 2-3 years then it might not be worthwhile.
The system (like any inkjet printer) also benefits from regular usage.
I admit that I'm biassed since I use an Epson 9600 with its huge 220ml of ink in each cartridge :-) ... but I can see a usage/expense/running costs argument that would make such a system very useful.
Update 2012 - A reminder to properly work out your total print costs before buying something like this. In the years since this review I've come across rather too many people who just 'feel' that they've saved money. When I wrote the original review, there were not printers such as the Epson 3880 about with its 80ml tanks. I said at the start of the review that I was wary of such systems, and I have to admit that I still am.
The K-Chrome pigment inks are a very close match to the original Epson inks, however for best results you will need custom profiles making for your paper choices.
The kit is supplied with either matte or photo black inks - you can change them over quite easily.
It replaces the folowing Epson cartridges
Epson STYLUS PHOTO R2400 Photo Black Ink Cartridge - T059120
The one supplied profile I tested was not good enough for my own needs, although I am told by Permajet that they are in the process of remaking many of the profiles on the supplied CD.
Fairly simple to set up and install. Comes with all you need to drastically lower your printer running costs.
Worth considering if you already have a 2400 and are finding the cost of the inks excessive.
Also available for the R1800 - other ink flow systems from PermaJet
The views in this article represent those of Keith Cooper.
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