Are you tired of frequently replacing ink cartridges that always seem to be running out? If yes, it's time to explore the option of refillable ink tank printers.
This article compares the pros and cons of tank printers, (sometimes referred to as continuous ink tank printers), with conventional ink cartridge printers.
What are Ink Tank Printers?
Ink tank printers, as the name suggests, are printers with an integrated ink tank system. Instead of using conventional cartridges, these printers use refillable tanks filled with liquid ink. This new technology is revolutionising the printing industry, providing a cost-effective and efficient solution for heavy print users.
Ink Tank Printer Brands
Epson, Canon, and HP provide printers with large ink tanks filled from bottles. Epson's models are known as EcoTank printers, HP offers Smart Tank printers, and Canon uses the name MegaTank for their lineup.
Refilling ink used to be a messy business. I remember the inevitable mess that used to result from refilling ink cartridges when refill kits became available in the early 2000s. A fiddly time consuming job that required lots of paper towels! Fortunately that's changed and refilling ink tank printers is a breeze. Refill ink bottles are specially designed to eliminate ink spills, making it a quick and easy process.
Brother has taken a slightly different approach with its "INKvestment" printers which, instead of refillable tanks, use larger-than-usual cartridges which effectively function as pre-filled tanks you plug into your printer. Depending on printer model, these contain up to 1 or 2 years worth of ink.
All these brands offer a range of models to suit different needs and budgets. Whether you need a basic printer for occasional use or a high-end model with all the bells and whistles, there's an ink tank printer for you. For instance, Epson's EcoTank printer and Canon's PIXMA G-Series MegaTank printers are excellent options that offer high-yield bottles and exceptional print quality
Ink Tank Advantages
1 - Low Cost
The key advantage of ink tank printers provide over traditional ink cartridge printers is significantly lower on-going printing costs. While the initial purchase cost of an ink tank printer can be substantially higher than a comparable ink cartridge printer, the cost per page is much lower. This is because the ink bottles used to fill the tanks are cheaper than cartridges and last much longer, resulting in lower running costs.
The tanks of ink tank printers hold more ink than a typical ink cartridge, meaning they don't need to be replaced as often. This saves money and also reduces waste, making ink tank printers a more environmentally friendly option than conventional ink cartridges.
To illustrate these cost differences, let's look at a two HP inkjet printers suitable for office use and which offer similar functionality.
The HP SmartTank 7305 MFC is an inkjet printer with refillable tanks. At the time of writing, its recommended retail price is NZ $739. This printer can print an impressive 8,000 colour and 6,000 black pages between tank refills (note, print yields are estimates and will vary by user). And when it comes to buying refill ink bottles the HP31 Cyan, Magenta & Yellow colour bottles which each contain 70ml of ink have an RRP of just $23 each. A replacement HP32XL Black bottle containing 125 ml of ink costs $28.
By comparison, the HP OfficeJet Pro HP+8012E All-In-One inkjet printer uses conventional ink cartridges. This printer's RRP at time of writing is NZ $160, and so it's substantially cheaper to buy than the SmartTank 7305. However, there's a huge difference in print yields. Even using XL cartridges, the estimate page yield is just 825 pages per cartridge. The RRP cost of replacing these cartridges is NZ $69 for an HP915 XL black cartridge and $38 for each of the HP 917 XL Cyan, Magenta and Yellow cartridges. That's a total cost of around $183 to print about 825 pages and more than the purchase price of the printer.
So as you can see from this example, ink tank printers can cost a lot more to buy, but their ongoing costs can be much lower than traditional inkjet printers. Refillable tank printers are a more cost-effective choice in the longer run if you print a lot of pages, while cartridge-based printers may better suit people who don't do a lot of printing.
2 - High-Quality
Another advantage of ink tank printers is their high-quality output. They produce crisp, sharp, and vibrant prints, which is especially important for businesses that need professional-looking documents. Whether you're printing text, graphics, or photos, you can expect excellent results.
3 - High Volume
If your office or home has high print volumes, an ink tank printer is a smart choice. Tank printers typically come with enough ink to print thousands of pages, while cartridge printers rarely have enough for more than a few hundred. Brands like Epson and Canon offer models like the EcoTank printer and MegaTank printers, respectively, which are designed for high-volume printing while maintaining exceptional print quality.
4 - Infrequent Printing
Ink tank printers are also perfect for environments where printing is infrequent. Unlike traditional ink cartridges that can dry out when not used regularly, ink tank printers are designed to handle long periods of inactivity without any decline in print quality.
Ink Tank & Traditional Ink Cartridge Printer Comparison
Ink Tank Printers
Cartridge Inkjet Printers
Ink Delivery System
Built in ink tanks
Removable ink cartridges
Higher upfront cost
Lower upfront cost
Lower cost per page
Higher cost per page
Bottled ink for easy refilling
Visible ink levels
Chip-based ink level indication
Can vary by model and brand
Similar to cartridge printers
Similar to ink tank printers
Long time between refills
Frequent cartridge replacements
Less plastic waste
More plastic waste
Typically require less maintenance than cartridge inkjet printers. This is because the printhead is separate from the ink tanks, reducing the chances of ink drying out or clogging the printhead.
Printhead in cartridges, higher potential for clogging and drying out
Lower cost of ownership over time
Higher ink costs can add up over time
Generally good accuracy
Dependent on printer and ink quality
High Volume Printing
Well-suited due to lower ink costs
Costs can add up for high volumes
Ease of Installation
Initial setup might be involved
Quick cartridge replacement
May be limited in some regions
Widely available cartridges
Ink tank inkjet printers offer cost-effective, convenient, and environmentally friendly printing with their integrated ink tanks and economical ink costs. They are particularly well-suited for high-volume printing tasks. However, they come with a higher upfront cost.
On the other hand, traditional cartridge inkjet printers have a lower initial cost but higher ink expenses over time. Their ease of installation and quick cartridge replacement are advantages, but they can generate more plastic waste and might require more frequent maintenance due to printhead clogging in some cases.
The choice between the two depends on factors such as printing volume, budget, and personal preferences. If you're tired of constantly replacing ink cartridges and looking for a more efficient and economical printing solution, it may be time to consider switching to an ink tank printer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is an ink tank printer good for home use?
Ink tank printers are a great choice for home use. Although they have a higher initial purchase cost compared to traditional cartridge printers, they offer significantly lower ongoing printing costs. This makes ink tank printers a more economical choice in the long run, especially for families or individuals who print frequently. Their ability to produce crisp, vibrant prints suits a variety of home printing needs. Additionally, they are ideal for both high-volume and infrequent printing, as they can handle long periods without use without a decline in print quality.
What are some recommended ink tank printer models?
Some popular models include the Epson EcoTank series, Canon's MegaTank printers, and HP's Smart Tank range. Each of these model ranges offers excellent print quality, cost-effectiveness, and advanced connectivity options.
Is it difficult to refill the ink tanks?
Not at all. The design of most ink tank printers makes the refill process straightforward. The transparent tanks allow you to monitor ink levels and refill them when necessary using the provided ink bottles.
Can I print directly from my mobile device with an ink tank printer?
Yes, most ink tank printers offer advanced connectivity options such as Wi-Fi, allowing you to print directly from your mobile phone or computer. Some models are also compatible with Apple AirPrint.
Are ink tank printers environmentally friendly?
Yes, by reducing the need for frequent cartridge replacements, ink tank printers generate less plastic waste compared to traditional inkjet printers, making them a more eco-friendly option.
Does the print quality of ink tank printers compare well with that of conventional printers?
Absolutely! Ink tank printers are known for their high-quality print output. They deliver crisp, vibrant prints, making them suitable for a wide range of printing tasks.