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Fotonic/Silver Ink Interested People, Please Read!

This note is for those non Stylus Color 3000/5000 owners who are interested in
using Lyson's Fotonic inkset or Luminos' Silver inkset. It is apparent to me at
this stage, that costs involved in using these inks with native cartridges is
going to be an expensive proposition. Steve Shelden in a post entitled
"OUCH!!!!!", stated that "Freestyle Sales Co." is selling the Silver ink color
carts for about $39 and the black ink for around $29. I checked there and at
the Inkjet Mall (http://www.inkjetmall.com) and these prices are indeed
accurate. So that's about $68-$70 a set for the 400, 600, 700, 800, 850, 1520,
and EX. One can get about 20 8x10s from a color cartridge. It takes me about
3-4 color carts to exhaust one black cart. If we use the 3 color to 1 black
cart ratio, then it will cost about $146 in ink to print 60 8x10s, or about
$2.43 per 8x10 inch print in ink only. Figure another $1-$1.25 if using the
glossy stock from Luminos or Lyson. 

For me, this is not a practical solution. I don't sell every print that comes
out of the printer. At these prices, I can't afford to use a printer loaded
with these inks for proof/test printing. Before I proceed, I do not believe the
good people at Freestyle or the Inkjet Mall are trying to rake us over the
coals. I believe their costs are also high. Anyway, this is the solution that I
intend to pursue. It is aimed at owners of Epson 6 ink printers. Thos who use
Epson 4 ink printers and just use the 3000's cartridge and ignore all
references to the 5000's magenta and cyan cartridges. This plan of mine assumes
a lot of things. 

Step 1
I plan on using the Stylus Color 3000 and 5000 cartridges as a bulk ink
solution. Currently, Luminos doesn't supply cartridges for the 5000. For those
who don't know, the 5000 is a 6 ink printer that uses the same black and yellow
carts as the 3000. But the 5000's magenta and cyan carts are different. Each of
these carts contain 2 inks as oppose to just 1. The 5000's magenta cart
contains both magenta and lite megenta. The 5000's cyan cart contains both cyan
and lite cyan. So we that own Epson 6 ink "photo" printers can't simply use the
3000 carts (those who own the 400, 600, 800, 850, or 1520 can) as an ink source
because we would have no access to lite magenta and cyan. Therefore, for this
solution, we must plan on at least using the Fotonic megenta and cyan carts for
the 5000. 

Step 2
I plan on using MIS' Cobra continuous feed system (http://www.missupply.com).
I'm planning on this because my personal efforts to consistantly perform
successful refills of my 800's and EX's cartridges have been a miserable
failure. The process is messy and I just can't consistantly do it. The Cobra
however, with its remote bottle feed system will be a no brainer. All you have
to do is fill the bottles when they run low. Now I'm assuming that the thing
will in fact perform as advertised. This is still a BIG if in my mind. Epson's
cartridge design is complex. The grooves cut out in the top of the cartridges
serve as pressure regulators. This keeps a nice steady flow of ink flowing to
the print heads. If the pressures aren't right, the print head will either
starve (in which case you'll see lines and bands through out your print), or
the head will flood (causing ink blobs on your print). So pressure regulation
is very important. The Cobra, with its remote bottle feed system must perfectly
emulate these pressures for it to consistantly work. In my opinion, this is a
non-trivial, but doable task. I hope they succeed. I'm counting on it. They're
now claiming a shipping date of July 15. 

I'm also counting on being able to fill the Cobra's bottles with whatever inks
I chose. It's not clear to me whether they will ship with empty bottles or not.
They simply state that whichever inks you start with, you must stick with.

Step 3
We will extract the ink from the 3000/5000 carts, and fill the Cobra's bottles
with the extracted ink. Since there is no sponge in the Cobra's bottles, we
don't have to worry about the difficulty in removing all of the air bubbles. 

The going rate for 3000/5000 carts from both Luminos and Lyson appear to be in
the $55-$60. We will need 4 carts. Black, yellow, magenta/lite magenta, and
cyan/lite cyan. So figure about $240 for ink. A fully loaded 3000 will deliver
close to 1,000 8x10 inch prints. That's roughly $0.25 per 8x10 inch print!
also figure in the cost of the Cobra at $110. But consider this a one time
"set-up" cost. But even if we do add the cost in for the Cobra, that only adds
$0.11 per 8x10 inch print. Which places us at about $0.35 per print. 

So this is the plan. The initial cost may be higher than you want to pay, but
until/unless Lyson/Luminos supplies these inks in bulk, this is the only way I
know of to drasticaly reduce the ink comsumption costs. Even when/if they do
release bul ink, the Cobra (assuming it works) won't be a wasted investment. It
will still allow you to easily refill without having to deal with the
difficulties of trying to refill a cartridge.
Come visit my digital photography web site along with a lot of other interesting stuff at http://www.greer.simplenet.com . I still have a lot to add but there is still a lot of information on it.
Mike Greer

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