Ink Jet Fly CIS for the Epson 3800

Ink Jet Fly CIS for the Epson 3800

A comparison with OEM cartridges

The Epson 3800, an entry level printer in Epson’s Professional Imaging line affords excellent print quality, paper handling, and importantly sufficiently sized ink cartridges that provide a modicum of cost efficiency.  Still, many users are in search of replacement cartridges that afford the flexibility of using non-OEM inks and which improve cost effectiveness. 

Refilling of the Epson OEM cartridges is a daunting task made nearly impossible due to the construction of a one-way valve.  Like the other Epson Professional Image printers, the 3800 cartridge is pressurized and Epson opted for a bladder design with which to contain and deliver the ink.  In this review, we explore the attributes of one cartridge replacement system, that offered by InkJetFly.

There are several replacement cartridge designs on the market.  Each offer their distinct advantages and disadvantages.  The three commonly available designs include an OEM-like cartridge with a plastic reservoir design (like those used in smaller printer systems), the IJF brand which features a variation on the OEM bladder theme, and larger plastic reservoir designs such as those offered by Ink Republic and Jon Cone.

The primary disadvantage with the OEM-like plastic reservoir design is that as the ink level drops, pressure variations in the cartridge occurs.  As such, this might lead to ink flow disruptions or variability in ink flow.  One way around this is to design a larger reservoir so that small decreases in ink levels lead to lesser changes in cartridge pressure.  This is the tact adopted by the cartridges employed by IR and Jon Cone.  Unfortunately, this design suffers from a drawback in that the larger cartridges don’t fit neatly into the machine and they necessitate the utilization of a jury rig of the ink cover.  Moreover, the larger reservoir requires larger amounts of ink and the attendant costs and issues.

The third type of cartridge, that offered by IJF, mimics the OEM construction in that the ink is contained in a flexible bladder design.  It offers the theoretical advantages of the OEM cartridge design, fits the machine without any special modifications, and is easily and conveniently refilled.

Below is an image which demonstrates some of the similarities and distinctions of the front of the IJF and OEM cartridges.  The IJF version has a simple rubber port without the utilization of any gasket.  In contrast, the Epson cartridge has a plastic face covering the rubber entry port and a black gasket.  Our experience to date has suggested that the IJF design is adequate and we have not experienced any leaks or problems with fit.  As an aside, although the IJF cartridge is described as refillable, it is suggested that the cartridges be replaced every two years due to expected degradation of the rubber.  At around $20 a piece, this is a rather nominal expense.

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO ENLARGE

The IJF cartridges require two chips for proper functioning.  Like other refilling systems, the IJF design requires the use of a genuine  OEM chip for printer recognition of the cartridge.  OEM chips are easily removed from the original cartridges and fit snugly into the side of the IJF cartridge.  They can be easily removed and reused in subsequent cartridges.  The second chip, a proprietary one to the IJF cartridge fits in the top of the cartridge and is in contact with both the printer and the OEM chip below.  See photo:

The next series of photographs illustrate the similarity in design between the OEM cartridge and that of the IJF version.  The IJF cartridge employs a 1/2 bladder design (possibly to avoid patent infringement?) that somewhat mimics OEM construction and appears to be made of an aluminumized plastic.  In addition the IJF cartridge applies a protective film layer to the inside of the cartridge to minimize the potential of ink spillage in the event that a bladder rupture occurs.  The material used in the OEM bladder is a tough multi-layered plastic/mylar construction.  It is a pity that Epson chose to create a one-way valve as it appears that the bladder would resist repeated fillings and discharges. 

 

 

 

After removing the Epson bladder for further study, we extracted the fill port for closer inspection.  This was no easy task and the port did not easily yield its secrets.  It appears that the behind the fill port, Epson installed a spring valve with a small plastic sliding stopper.  In the side of the port are two small parallel channels which permit the flow of ink.  The combination of the two effectively eliminate the prospect of refilling the OEM cartridge.  Though one could conceive of a rig that might facilitate refilling, the ink channels are so small that it would be quite labor and time intensive.  Undoubtedly, Epson engineers designed it this way to defeat consumers.

So, how do the IJF cartridges function in practice?  Refilling is straightforward and involves using a blunt-tip syringe that is inserted into the end port.  After refilling, the cartridges fit easily and snuggly into the machine.  The chips were immediately recognized and printing proceeded smoothly and without a hitch.  After several weeks of use, we have experienced no leaks, no clogging, and have enjoyed excellent printer function.  Time will tell how the cartridges will stand up to repeated refilling and reuse. 

Our preliminary read is that of OEM style cartridges, these are the best ones currently available and the IJF variety mimic the OEM design.  We give them a two thumbs up!

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