Chances are you’ve probably heard the terms “ink tank” and “ink cartridge” in regards to printers. You may have assumed they were different names for the same thing, but did you know they actually pretty different from each other?
When it comes to inkjet printers, you generally have the choice between choosing a printer with an ink tank, or a printer with an ink cartridge. In this blog, we will take a look at the differences between ink tanks and ink cartridges, as well as the pros and cons of each.
What are the features of an ink tank?
Ink tanks have no inbuilt print head. These varieties utilise individual colour tanks, plus a black ink tank. The ink within these tanks can be topped up as needed from an ink bottle, and is supplied directly to the printer via an integrated ink system. Printers with ink tanks tend to be referred to as ‘continuous ink tank printers’.
What are the features of an ink cartridge?
Ink cartridges are ink containers with an inbuilt print head. These cartridges are small boxes of liquid ink, that are created separate to the machine itself, but placed within the printer for printing. Some printers require a single cartridge with black, magenta, yellow, and cyan ink, while others need separate cartridges. Once a cartridge runs out of ink, it can either be replaced or refilled.
Ink tank pros and cons
Over time, using ink tanks for printing generally equates to cheaper printing costs than using ink cartridges. However, it can take a little while for this saving to be realised, as the cost of a printer with an ink tank tends to be more expensive than a printer with an ink cartridge. For those with a little money to spare, investing in a printer with ink tanks could end up costing you less for printing in the long run. Refilling ink tanks can be a little tricky to get the hang of at first, but with some practice, you should be able to master the art. One positive of ink tank printers is that the ink is delivered to the printhead via a tube that is airtight, which means it is more difficult for the ink to dry up when not in use. However, it is still possible for print heads to dry out.
Ink cartridge pros and cons
Ink cartridge printers are generally cheaper printers to purchase. While they cost less initially, the printing costs for ink cartridge printers tend to stack up to be more than their ink tank counterparts. Replacing printer cartridges can also be pricey, however, the replacement process is pretty straightforward for most machines. There is also the cost-effective option of refilling a cartridge with more ink. Like ink tanks, this process can take a few goes to get the hang of. One downside to ink cartridge printers is that the ink can dry out when not in use. This can be frustrating for those who print very infrequently, and return to print to find their cartridges dry! It is best to ensure regular printing occurs, to lower the chances of ink drying up.
How will I know the difference when purchasing?
Whether a printer uses an ink tank or an ink cartridge will usually be displayed on the machine. If you are unsure of what type of ink your printer requires, Googling the machine’s make and model should elicit the results you require.
Examples of ink cartridge printers
Some examples of printers that use ink cartridges are as follows:
HP ENVY Photo 7822
This printer has printing, faxing, scanning, and copying functions, as well as the ability to create photo prints. It has a 2.65-inch touchscreen display, and mobile printing capabilities such as Wireless direct Printing, HP ePrint, and Apple AirPrint. The 7822 can print colour pages up to 4800 x 1200 optimized dpi, and has automatic duplex printing. This printer has two print cartridges: one black, and one tri-colour (cyan, magenta, and yellow).
Canon PIXMA HOME TS5060
The TS5060 is an all-in-one printer that can print, scan, and copy documents. It can also produce photos, both borderless 4 x 6”, and Instagram-style square. Wireless printing is enabled, meaning you can print from Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Windows 10 Mobile, plus more! The inks it uses are PGI670 BK and CLI671 BK, C, M, Y.
Examples of ink tank printers
Some examples of printers that use ink tanks are as follows:
Epson Expression ET-2750
This 4-colour multifunction printer is capable of printing, copying, and scanning. It comes with enough ink to print up to 6,500 black pages, and 5,200 colour pages. The ET-2750 allows printing from tablets and smartphones, and comes with Wi-Fi Direct. It can also print borderless photos, and has a 1.44-inch colour display.
The DCP-J1100DW has wireless and Wi-Fi Direct, along with automatic two-sided printing options. This printer has INKvestment Ink Tanks, and comes with up to 1 year of ink supplied with the printer. The DCP-J110DW has printing, copying, and scanning capabilities, and is also able to produce high-quality photo prints.
The final word
The debate of ink tank vs ink cartridge is as continuous as the ink tanks in continuous ink tank printers. The truth is, it’s hard to deduce which one is the overall winner, as each type of printer comes with its own pros and cons. What works best for you will depend on a number of variables, including the requirements you desire for your printer, the money you wish to spend, and the level of effort you wish to go to for ink replacement.