What’s a Continuous Ink Supply System?

You may have heard the term continuous ink supply system or CISS while looking for cartridges for your printer. While it’s not really a widely used method when it comes to personal printing, it may still be worth looking in to.

In basic terms a CISS is an ink cartridge that you never have to replace. As the name suggests, the cartridge is supplied a continuous flow of ink usually contained in a separate reservoir through rubber tubing.

What purpose does this serve and what advantage does it hold over a regular cartridge? Well it’s simple really, it’s a lot cheaper and once its set up you won’t have to change any parts for a while, just top up the reservoir with ink.

Continuous Ink Supply System

As you can see in the illustration above, the idea is very simple. A pipe connects a reservoir full of ink to a cartridge similar in shape and size to whatever cartridge your printer usually uses. The printer cartridge slots into the printer as usual and as it uses up ink, it is continuously re-filled with ink. The science behind the technology is fairly simple, liquid contained within a high pressure chamber will usually flow into a chamber with lower pressure, meaning that as the cartridge empties itself of ink, the ink in the reservoir naturally flows in to it.

You may be asking why everyone doesn’t use this incredible yet simple system? Continuous ink systems are in fact used a lot in industrial printing, for example label printing or wide format printing. However when it comes to home users, it often not worth the time or effort.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to use a CISS with every printer, it often depends on where the cartridges are stored or what type of cartridges they are. While it is possible to set up a CISS yourself using existing cartridges, it’s not really recommended, so if you are lucky enough to have a printer that it is compatible with a CISS then the easiest thing to do is to purchase a full system that is made specifically for your printer. Even then you may still have to modify your printer slightly to accommodate the CISS.

So that ends our definition of a CISS, it’s just one of the many cheaper alternative options when it comes to printing. Do we think it’s a viable option for home users? Well that’s up to you to decide! Let us know what you think below in the comments.

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