Bulk-Ink Conversion

I have always said that I would not use proprietary ink brands in my Epson R3000 printer mainly because of my previous negative experience with continuous ink systems when used with earlier marks of Epson printers and partly because I am more than happy with the quality of prints that I achieve with the Epson inks, however (there is always a however) the recent replacement of several cartridges at a cost of £18 each caused me to reconsider my stance.The Wells

I had recently seen an advert for refillable cartridges that had caught my attention, this suggested considerable cost savings are possible. My search of the Internet advised me that a company called Lyson was the main company involved in the manufacture and distribution of these ink sets in the UK. Confusingly the same search led me to a company called Marrutt, however still further research showed that the Lyson and Marrutt brands seem to be one and the same company, which makes for considerable confusion, especially on their combined website when trying to evaluate their products.

Anyway, undeterred I emailed several questions to them which they answered very promptly and which guided me to the relevant parts of their website.

They explained that Marrutt is their American brand while Lyson is the UK side of the business; with the inks manufactured in the UK by Nazdarwhatever the reason the result is confusion, which must impact negatively on their sales but that is a problem for them, not me.

One thing that had dissuaded me from changing to a bulk ink system in the past with the prospect of having to throw away existing part-used Epsom cartridges and the unnecessary expense that entailed, however I was assured that the refillable cartridge system does allow the replacement of the Epson ink cartridges individually as and when they were emptied. This in itself represented a considerable saving although I anticipate it being necessity to prepare new paper profiles as inks are changed; time will tell on that point.

Therefore with the prospect of saving £10 on each cartridge change I determine to go down this route and placed my order for their nine ink set via their website at around 3pm and was delighted to take delivery some 22 hours later.

The consignment contained nine 125ml bottles of ink, nine labeled translucent but the empty chipped ink cartridges, nine 10mL syringes with extended filling tubes, a pair of disposable gloves, a single 10ml syringe with a short tube and an instruction sheet, all contained in a reusable plastic storage box.

The time has come to play. I shall extend this report with my experiences and results in due course.


Continuing on from the above: I have just finished filling the first few cartridges so I thought it a good time to record the experience.

There is a slight discrepancy in the instructions that are worth mentioning even though it didn’t cause me any problem. The instructions refer to a clear (vent) bung that has to be removed from the new cartridges, this isn’t actually fitted so no removal is now necessary.

Apart from that I found the instructions quite clear and easy to follow.

I must admit to being a little anxious at the possibility of spilling ink but found that the tinfoil bottle seal could be left in place and the syringe extension tip simply pushed through it which considerably reduces the danger of spilling the contents of the bottle.

I did have a bit of a fright when I put the first cartridge in as the printer failed to recognise it, however removing and refitting the cartridge solved that problem, it probably wasn’t pushed fully home.

So the task of filling was quite simple.

The syringes obviously have to be flushed out with clean water when you are finished using them so that they are ready for the next time you need them. I found the best way to do this was to fill my sink with cold water and then holding the syringe in the water with the tip near the drain, I then let the water out and as the sink was emptying pulled water into and out of the syringe so that the dirty water was carried straight down the drain. This avoided making a mess of the sink, which I’m sure will gain me some brownie points from my wife. It is obviously important to clean the syringes thoroughly and expel all water from them ready for the next time they are needed.marrutt_colour_checker_v3

I next carried out a head clean and nozzle check as recommended in the instructions, and then made a test print from the test print file that I downloaded from the Marrutt website and compared that to the print that Marrutt had previously posted to me. The results are very acceptable even though slight variations indicate that I should produce new profiles to suit my stock papers however without seeing a side-by-side comparison I think the results would be judged as satisfactory.

I thought that I should update this piece as I have now used the Epson inks up and I’m now printing with the complete set of Marrutt inks. As expected there was a slight change in colour output and I do mean slight, it was only really noticeable when a side-by-side comparison was made with a Marrutt’s test print, it was nothing that a new profile couldn’t put right.

It’s now five months since I installed the Marrutt system so I think a further update on my experience is in order. I haven’t kept any record of the number of prints that I have made but enough to almost empty a couple of cartridges so quite a few on both matt and semi-gloss papers. I print only occasionally, which means that I may not use the machine for several weeks and then have a burst of printing activity. I do print a nozzle check before a printing session to ensure that the nozzles are clear.

narrow roadThe only problem I have found, and it’s more of an annoyance really, is that the ink level indicators do not reset when a cartridge is refilled. The printer seems to “measure” the amount of ink remaining by counting the squirts taken from each cartridge rather than the actual amount of ink left. This results in the level indicator becoming completely out of sync with the actual amount of ink in a Marrutt  cartridge. When the system considers that the cartridge is empty it stops the printer and displays a message saying that a particular cartridge is “not recognised” when this happens the cartridge indicated needs to be lifted and refitted at which point the level indicator will show full for that cartridge – which may or may not be the case since that will depend on when you last filled the cartridge. 

I now lift cartridges every few weeks or before a print run and make a visual check on the levels and fill when required, other than that I am relieved to be able to report that the system is performing faultlessly with the image quality unchanged when compared to test prints made with the original Epson inks, so I’m pleased that I made the change.Bad day

At the end of 2015 my R3000 has died with a rattle and a groan. As with most things these days it is considered uneconomic to repair so R.I.P. old friend.

I have now purchased another printer, an Epson P600, which is an updated version of the R3000.

I decided to stay with the Marrutt ink system but to take the opportunity to change to external bottles by using their continuous ink system. The pigment inks, although now labeled, as “ProHD” remain the same so I am able to finish that which I have in left in stock.

I’ve now owned the P600 for seven months and printed about 250 A4, A3 and A3+ prints on a mix of gloss, semi-gloss and matt papers without any drama and I’m happy with the print quality.


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