Cheap printer with print head built onto cartridge?, Part 2

Dennis Faas's picture

Recall --

Two weeks ago, I asked Infopackets Readers to send me their picks for a reasonably-priced economy class printer that has refillable ink cartridges with the print head built onto the cartridge.

" ... There are in fact many bubble-jet / ink-jet printers on the market today that sell for under $50 dollars. The printers are priced low because ink is consumable -- and in many cases, the name brand cartridges cost almost as much as the printer. I have owned my Canon Bubble Jet BJ-200 printer for over 10 years now and it prints as good as the first day I bought it. The reason for this is because -- as Brian mentioned -- the print head is built onto the cartridge. Whenever I need to re-ink, I refill with generic ink. When the time comes and my print head needs to be replaced, I simply buy a new cartridge. "

Based on the responses I received, Infopackets Readers nominated Canon, HP, and Lexmark as their brand of choice when it comes to utilizing ink cartridges with a print head built onto it. Quite a few users praised Epson printers for their quality, but not one Infopackets Reader mentioned a model number that had a print head built onto the printer (do they exist?). I should also point out that some of the newer models of Canon, HP and Lexmark do not have print heads built onto the cartridge; when in doubt, ask a sales representative!

Infopackets Reader Pegi K. writes:

" I do not know of a printer with the print heads built into the printer, however I do own an Epson Stylus c40ux, costing less than $70.00. I order my generic cartridges for around $4.00 to $8.00 each from and have had no problems with the quality of the cartridges. "

Timothy M. says:

" I don't have a suggestion for a printer, I'm afraid, but I've discovered that quality generic ink will be designed for certain printers, and you should be sure to get the ink that's of the right consistency. I've used *generic* generic ink, and it went in the holes at the top of the cartridge and dribbled out of the holes at the bottom. It was a thinner mixture than was used by the printer manufacturer. I discovered that generics sometimes specify the printers they work with, and I discovered the reason for that! "

Chris L. exclaims:

" Dennis, I love this newsletter and it has been a life saver of info for me over the last year or so! Onto the subject of printers: I deal with a company here in Victoria [British Columbia] who replaces ink for me. The lady who does most of my printer maintenance recently commiserated me when my Canon BJ 200 bit the dust after many years of faithful service. I traded to a no-so-new printer (a Lexmark Z42), which she approved of.

The lady told me that print quality on my Z42 is the same on any [ink jet] model, but it is the ink saturation which makes the biggest difference. The newer models seem to run out of ink quicker, which is how the money is made. She also told me that HP is working on a new ink for inkjets and bubblejets which is oil based (rather than water based), because the water based inks dry up when not in use and clog more often. "

Many users commented on why print heads clog in the first place and how to prevent it from happening. Infopackets Reader 'Aqua Man' writes:

" I don't really have a suggestion for an economy print head-on-cartridge printer, but do have another suggestion. If you only occasionally use your printer, such as a few pages a week, that is what causes print heads to clog up and die a premature death. In such cases, your best bet is to buy a printer that has the print head built onto the ink cartridge (such as most HP printers). Unfortunately, the cartridges for these printers are often quite expensive by virtue of having the print head built-in.

However, if you typically print a few pages every day, then a printer without print heads on the cartridge may be a better deal (such as most newer Canon printers). By printing often, the print head remain unclogged and working properly.

We bought a Canon i550 printer for $120 USD about a year ago. We've gone through several sets of print cartridges and have printed many pages, including near-photo-quality prints on photo paper. The printer has been outstanding. For the money we save on ink cartridges, we should be able to buy another printer when the heads finally give out on this one. The only disadvantage is increased waste (dead printer) at the landfill. "

A number of Reader praised Canon printers as being the choice for easy cleaning, even if the print head isn't built onto the cartridge:

" I discarded my HP950C - beautiful print quality, and fast - because of the cost of cartridges and the difficulty in refilling them. I bought a Canon S200 instead, which has ink tanks which detach from the head and are easy to refill after you pry off the top. I have used the same cartridge at least 50 times, and the print quality is just as good. The head is also easily removable. "

Infopackets Reader Peter G. agrees:

" The Canon i850 doesn't have the print head built into the cartridges but does have a user-replaceable separate print head. These are available at a semi-reasonable cost. This trade-off at least allows very simple, low cost individual ink tanks. "

A number of users recommended purchasing older printers. Roy H. writes:

" My humble suggestion is to purchase a laser printer which at worst prints 10 x the quality as an inkjet. A second hand HP 1100 is a good start. Acquire from EBAY, as they have a good range. The cartridges can be remanufactured very cheaply and are just as good as the OEM brands. "

Thanks to all who wrote in!

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