We are asked often for an opinion about running a printer using a single black ink cartridge and filling the remaining cartridges with clear solution vs converting the printer to the All Black Ink System, so here are all the factors for you to consider to make the best decision for your needs.
The single black cartridge and clear system was on the market before AccuRIP was written and it's a system we once admired and have since expanded your options.
The reason why the clear system was created was to slightly reduce cost so a user did not have to purchase a full load of expensive color inks just to operate the inkjet printer when all they needed was black ink for film making. We explain this in greater detail in another article (All Black Ink system vs keeping Color inks). The real answer was in the software and at that time no RIP was able to drive all cartridges simultaneously to achieve an All Black Ink system. At that time and still today a RIP could only drive one or maybe two cartridges at a time so purchasing cartridges at a slightly lower cost than color cartridges seemed to make some sense, but the truth is the user still was paying for a useless supply that will never make a film and they still needed to run maintenance to flush the clear through the printer to prevent or eliminate a clog. Good, but not great.
The ALL BLACK Ink System is based on AccuRIP - the software that changed all that. Dedicated to the purpose of filmmaking AccuRIP can control just one or ALL cartridges (or any combination) in your Epson printer achieving a balanced dispensing of inks. This makes great sense. Cost effective and quality driven, it removes or eliminates clogs simply through daily printing.
We at Freehand are dedicated to the screen print industry and developed AccuRIP to handle that very specific process of filmmaking so black ink is all we need. We see great value for a screen printer to dedicate a printer to the specific important task of making films for screens. Setting up and handling equipment properly will make for a better business day each day. It is much more efficient to operate an inkjet with All Black Ink ensuring that all nozzles operate each and every print keeping the machine healthy and free of clogs. It also makes economic sense. All the ink you purchase will be used to produce films that make you money in your business. You can't say that if you run your printer with a single black ink and the remaining tanks filled with clear or color.
Lets get into the details starting with the fact that Epson printers demand a full load of ink on board before it will operate. It does not care what ink is in it, it just wants ink.
If you switch just a single black cartridge over to black dye on a pigment printer you might as well switch the entire printer over to the ALL BLACK. The printer will make great films using just the single black dye ink, but you will be spending lost money on consumables that make you no money in the screen making department.
Another thing to consider if running only one black dye cartridge in a pigment based printer is that you will need to replace expensive clear or color cartridges as they run out due to regular cleaning and maintenance just so the printer will operate and remain free of clogs. That is very expensive and time consuming for you. Switching to ALL BLACK will reduce or remove the need for maintenance and you will not need to flush away valuable ink.
In the end, it makes more sense and costs less to dedicate an inkjet printer to a purpose, either film making or printing color if you do not have a need for both and hust one printer. If you will be printing volume of each then it can work well as long as you match the ink system to both needs, but also consider then that your volume warrants two printers dedicated to a specific important task. We like dedicated solutions.
Think your needs through thoroughly and make a wise business decision, one that gives you the greatest possibility of repeated success.
Any document, pdf or link mentioned in this article can be located in the Resources.
Need help from a technician? Select the "Submit a request" option on the top right of the web page.
Assistance from a technician is available Monday-Friday, 8 am to 6 pm EST.