Ink Jet Fly IMA 24/36 V3 inks for the Epson 3800

Ink Jet Fly IMA 24/36 V3 Inks for the Epson 3800     

The “Holy Grail” of 3rd party replacement inks?     

In the brilliant 1975 comedy, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, King Arthur played by Graham Chapman leads his cohorts on a whimsical quest to recover the “Holy Grail”.  In many ways the search for replacement inks mirrors this quest, although some of the trials and tribulations encountered are seemingly less than humorous.  In fact many of the issues associated with 3rd party inks makes one feel as though they facing the dreaded Rabbit of Caerbannog rather than printing merrily along.  This experience naturally leads one to question whether the holy grail of replacement inks even exists;  “Are there any replacement inks that rival OEM in almost every way?”  Heretofore, I would have to say, no but now all of that has changed.   We now have a serious contender in our midst.     

Inkjetfly (IJF) has introduced its series of IMA 24/36 v3 inks as a replacement set for the Epson K3 series (note this V3  ink is distinct from the current IMA24 inks offered online and must be ordered directly from IJF).  Developed offshore, these inks include the nine inks commonly used in the K3 printers and incorporate the incredible V3 pK.   Priced at around $0.21/ml these inks are competitively priced against the inks offered by Jon Cone and are slightly more expensive than those featured by Ink Republic.  In comparison, Epson OEM ink retails for approximately $0.56/ml in the 80 ml cartridges and decreases to less than $0.48/ml if extracted from the larger 110 or 220 ml cartridges.     

We held a great deal of excitement when these inks first arrived and our experience so far has left us speechless.  So, how did these inks perform?  You be the judge…     

For testing purposes we employed an Epson Pro 3800, OEM cartridges, and refillable, replacement cartridges (which were previously reviewed here).  A commonly available RC type glossy paper was used for comparison purposes.  First, OEM inks were profiled with a spectrophotometer and commercially available software.  Afterwards, a standard test image was printed using OEM inks.  Next, the cartridges containing the IJF IMA inks were installed.  After purging the system with several head cleanings and after printing out a series of images, the replacement inks were profiled utilizing the same process and a standard test image was printed.  The resultant images’ characteristics were compared using a spectrophototometer and under a 5000K viewing light.     

Overall, the IJF inks were as good as or better than the OEM inks in every respect on this paper.  Like the OEM inks, the IJF variety exhibited little to no bronzing and demonstrated extremely good color fidelity.  Glossiness was equivalent to OEM as well.  Whereas the OEM black measured at L* 8.4 versus the IJF’s L* of 6.6 in color mode, both inks were able to achieve L* values in the 3.3-3.4 range in ABW mode.  More importantly, the IJF inks demonstrated extremely good gray scale linearity and produced extremely beautiful black and white.     

Metamerism was extremely insignificant in either ink – OEM or IJF.     

CLICK ON ANY PHOTO TO ENLARGE    

 

IJF versus Epson OEM 3800

  What we found even more impressive was that the IJF ink surpassed the OEM gamut – 733105 color space units v. 704562.  Functionally, however the gamuts are nearly interchangeable, meaning that OEM users should be able to use canned profiles without the need to create custom profiles.  However, in order to achieve full utilization of the gamut and for best b&w, profiling the ink and paper combinations are recommended.     

3D Gamut Plot IJF versus Epson OEM Pro 3800 IJF IMA 24/36 V3 Test Image

   

 

IJF IMA 24/36 V3 Test Image

   

Epson Pro 3800 OEM Test Image

So while it appears that we are standing on the “Bridge of Death” what questions would the Inkquisitor ask before he would allow the knights to cross?  How will the IJF ink withstand abrasion and/or moisture?  More importantly, how will the IJF ink compare to OEM with respect to lightfastness?  These questions remain a mystery although the IJF ink is currently being subjected to longevity studies on several RC and a Fiber paper at Aardenburg Imaging.     

In the final analysis, IJF has recently introduced a K3 like inkset, IMA 24/36 v3 that compares very favorably and in some respects exceeds OEM in every category measured.  While the use of the IJF ink requires the initial investment of 3rd party replacement cartridges after one refill the capital investment is more than recovered.  For those who print in high volume on the Epson Pro 3800 and are looking to mitigate the high costs of OEM ink, the IJF solution makes economic sense.  We’ve been using the IJF ink now for several weeks and have experienced absolutely no flow or clogging issues and our experience to date has been extremely favorable.        

Updates to our experiences including those with the matte black and other papers will be forthcoming as they become available.     

Addendum:     

While we did not compare the IJF IMA 24/36 V3 inks directly against the color offerings from Jon Cone or Ink Republic, we offer the following.  We’ve analyzed test image prints obtained from Cone’s ink on a comparable paper and found that they exhibited both higher amounts of bronzing and a discernible graininess to the image.  In addition,we were struck by the relatively smaller gamut in the Cone inks as evidenced in a comparison between the profiles they offer and OEM.  Perhaps this is a profiling issue or more likely the Cone inks offer a smaller gamut than OEM.  With respect to the IR inks, we were promised several different formulations which never materialized.  We did however receive a print made purportedly on an Epson Pro 3800 with their IRK4-nano inks.  We highlighted our findings in another review and found this ink lacking.     

 

 

 

13 responses

1 01 2011
Roger Barrett

Direct comparison of the IJF V3 and ConeColor K3 (using their Vivid Magenta option) can be found at http://www.hermitage-ps.co.uk/3rd_party_inks.htm

2 01 2011
inkquisitor

Thank you Roger for providing this valuable link to a comparison of the IJF IMA 24/36 V3 vivid inks and those of the ConeColor K3 vivid. While we did not test the inks containing the vivid magenta it is reassuring to note that your findings were consistent with our observations; the IJF inks afforded a larger gamut, less bronzing, and darker blacks. Since users of non-OEM inks tend to be more attuned to color management, we do not measure the color fidelity with respect to OEM profiles.

Two significant questions remain unanswered namely, 1) How these replacement inks will fare with respect to lightfastness, 2) Will these inks adversely impact printer life. Currently, we have some samples of the IJF IMA 24/36 V3 inks submitted for testing and we would encourage you to do the same for the ConColor K3 inks. Please consider joining and supporting Mark McCormick’s research at http://www.aardenburg-imaging.com.

3 01 2011
Roger Barrett

I am already a member of Aardenberg and I hope to submit samples of the IJF v3, printed on my 3800, when I receive my order for the “final” version of the inks. I’m not sure I have the time or energy to re-install the Cone inks to print samples, but I will think about it.

11 09 2011
Ned Weinshenker

I am interested in the IJF inks that you reviewed here. I have just two questions.
Do you have to flush OEM or cone inks first before you use them?
Do you have any data back on the lightfastness yet?
Thanks,

P.S. Thanks for all the good work you are doing!

18 09 2011
inkquisitor

Hi Ned,

We’ve found that flushing per se’ is not necessary in terms of ink compatability; clogs did not develop when switching between the inks. However, for testing we flush the inks and run several printing runs using a RIP to ensure that all channels have been purged sufficiently. In terms of lightfastness the best reference source is Mike McCormick at Aardenburg Imaging. I’ve only seen a couple of IJF and Cone ink samples appear on his website. While we have submitted several samples, to our knowledge they have never been tested. Thank you for your interest.

18 09 2011
Roger Barrett

I didn’t flush the inks when I changed from Epson to Cone and then from Cone to IJF. I didn’t see any adverse effects from this.
In each case, when I changed inks, I did two power clean cycles before printing the targets for new profiles. To get the best results from the IJF inks you *will* need custom profiles.
I agree that Aardenberg Imaging is the definitive source for light fade data, but as yet there is no information on the IJF inks for the 3800. I have also submitted samples but mine are not yet in test.
As a separate exercise I have been doing my own comparitive tests for light fading, trying to compare Epson, Cone and IJF on one particular paper – Harman Gloss Baryta. I have posted some results at http://www.nifty-stuff.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=6868 Not definitive by any means, but I find it very encouraging.

20 09 2011
Ned Weinshenker

To all:
What cartridges have you used for the IJF inks. I have a set that I bought two years ago and am having a leaking problem with my LM. I will have to replace it before I go ahead and use the IJF inks. I have noted that in the original review it was stated that the canned profiles work fine. i found that with the Cone inks also. but then Roger Barrett mentioned that custom profiles will be necessary for the IJF inks. Can someone please clarify?
Thanks,
Ned

21 09 2011
Roger Barrett

Hi Ned,
I am using the big (120ml) funnel-fill carts that I bought from Cone (InkjetMall). I believe that they are avialable from a number of other supliers. I tried the original 80ml IJF carts but thought the big ones were better engineered.
As far as colour matching goes, I found the IJF inks to give a magenta cast; others have found this too. You can see an example in the web page referenced in my original post.
You can find more information on carts and inks on the nifty-stuff forum where pharmacicst has posted a lot of very useful stuff.

30 12 2011
Dave Colvert

There are two samples of IJF IMA 24/36 V3 that are underway at Aardenburg. Both have reached the 20 Megalux level. On the Epson exhibition Fiber test the IJF ink is showing a little less fade than Epson OEM which was started at the same time under identical conditions. Several more samples are due to be started very soon. I submitted a sample for Canson Baryta (no OBA’s)

Also I believe the PK and MK formulation has changed since this review. I’m measuring a Dmax of 1.98 on Red River Arctic Polar Satin.

30 12 2011
Roger Barrett

I submitted samples to Aardenberg early in 2011 but they are not yet in test; with luck they will be in the next batch. In the meantime I have been urnning my own informal tests to compare Epson IJF and Conecolor. The tests are all on Harman Gloss Baryta. After eight months, the IJF IMA 24/36 is looking as good as Epson, and much better than Conecolor.

You can see my latest result at
http://www.nifty-stuff.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=6868&p=3

30 12 2011
Dave Colvert

I received a note from Mark at Aaardenburg a few weeks ago apologizing for the delay in getting started with the backlogged submissions, but he said he was getting close to starting the next batch. Unfortunately, the donations and Corporate sponsorship hasn’t been enough to support his efforts. I hope folks that are interested in this testing will realize the contribution Aaardenburg makes to the printing discipline and give more monetary support. By comparison, testing by Wilhelm costs a small fortune.

Roger, I think your informal test on IJF ink is a portend of the results we will see at Aaardenburg and this will certainly answer one of the last major unknowns (i.e. light fade) of the IJF IMA 24/36 v3. I’m not sure what the scientific method is for testing scratch and abrasion resistence. Maybe it’s the “fingernail moderate pressure test” (FMPT). Regardless, I continue to make beautiful prints using this ink and after about a year there has been no perceptible fading on any of them in an average lit house environment.

Also, after sending my test sample on Canson Baryta Mark sent me a note saying it looked like less bronzing anf gloss differentional compared to Epson OEM.

As an aside, Leo needs some marketing help and more detailed info on his web site (e.g. the initial need for more than 100ml/cart with the Bigfoot to avoid pressurization problems). I’m almost tempted to write up a detailed paper on IJF for the 3800 especially the routine I use to prevent clogging and air bubbles (which would apply to any ink). Many people confuse air in the system with clogged nozzles due to dried ink and start blaming the formulation. Apotheker on DPR has a lot of good info too.

28 03 2012
George Purvis

Aardenburg (http://www.aardenburg-imaging.com/) has assigned a Lower Exposure Limit Conservation Display Rating for Ink Jet Fly V3 inks on Epson Exhibition Paper using an Epson 3800 of 27-30+ Megalux hours (~27-30 years in home illumination). Testing Epson K3 inks on the same paper at the same time, Aardenburg has assigned a display rating of 24-30+ Megalux hours. My observation is that it appears the biggest problem is with the change in paper white during the test. An earlier test of K3 on Exhibition Paper with a 3800 gave a Conservation display rating of 19-63 Megalux hours. All details of testing and explanation of the ratings is available at the aardenburg website.

21 07 2012
Roger Barrett

The samples that I submitted to AaA&I last year are in test and have reached the 20MLux.hrs level. Results are available now.

The ink is performing very well, both for colour and B&W (ABW mode) on Harman Gloss Baryta. Samples on Harman Matt Cotton Smooth are not faring so well, but only because the paper white is changing repidly – something that I have found myself unfortunately.

I’m still a firm convert to IJF and on the Harman Gloss Baryta it gives beautiful prints.

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