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InkRepublic.com - Review of InkRepublic 3800 i-Refill System
Review InkRepublic Pro 3800 i-Refill system
Three weeks I received one of the very first copies of InkRepublics Pro 3800 i-Refill cartridge systems. They sent me that as a replacement for their 3800 CIS that I purchased a while ago and that I was installing after the OEM cartridges ran out. During the CIS installation, I asked their Customer Care department a few questions. It turned out that they were just launching the i-Refill system and offered to send this a replacement. A fabulous service! I've the system up and running now for two weeks and like to share some experiences.
The kit came with empty cartridges, ink bottles, spare ink bottles, replacement parts, a "switch key" (plastic device to trick the 3800 that the ink cartridge cover is closed), gloves and some spare parts. As my kit was one of the first to ship, there was no documentation yet. By now, a very good FAQ is available. The cartridges are large and make a well-made, sturdy impression. Two cartridges (PK and LK) contain a chip, the other not yet.
It's important to realize that you DO need your OEM cartridges! When buying the CIS I counted on selling the original cartridges on eBay. However, you need these 1) to prime your system and 2) for their chips. So that was a bit of a set-backů The installation is actually rather simple. Transferring and "modifying" (taping off one of the contacts) of the chips from the OEM cartridges to the i-Refill ones (except PK and LK) was easy. Placing and filling the cartridges couldn't be simpler.
The only issue I encountered was that I got quite some trapped air in the system. Prior to installation I had a perfect nozzle check, but it took me a lot of cleaning cycles (~15) distributed over two days to get there again. (Note that it does not make sense to have more than two cleaning cycles shortly after one another. Sometimes the system just needs to settle itself). According to InkRepublic this is not normal behaviour. Perhaps the priming procedure needs to be reviewed. It was a bit of nuisance, but I was confident I would get there in the end and I was not disappointed. From then on the system worked very good. After 200 prints, I did a nozzle recheck and found some very minor issues that disappeared after one cleaning cycle. I have not yet refilled the system yet, but I do not expect this to happen again as the cartridges are primed now.
The chip reset procedure is a bit peculiar and non-intuitive (I will probably always need the instructions at hand) but fairly simple nevertheless. The reset strategy is actually rather smart. The ink cartridges are reset manually and simultaneously (without the need of chip resetter). So this can be done just prior a big print job. The maintenance cartridge can only be reset when it's full. This makes sense as you have to take it out and clean it anyhow. (Note that the content of the ink cartridges is much larger then the OEM ones, so the ink level as displayed has no relationship with the actual ink level anyhow).
Ink refilling is very simple. Cartridges can remain in the printer. Just unscrew the plug (after proper depressurization) and pour in the ink. Much easier than I have experienced with other (cheaper) refillable cartridges (for my Epson 2100 and R285). No mess.
My system came with a set of IRK4 inks. I have not used these yet as I still have a fairly large ink stock, obtained from another (local) supplier, identical to InkRepublics IRK2 inks. IR claims that the IRK4 set fits the Epson colors much better than the IRK2 inks and that they clog less than both the IRK2 and the Epson inks. Personally, I'm not too bothered about this. I've not experienced any serious clogging yet (as said earlier, based on 200 prints experience) . But it must be admitted that my first prints with my stock inks using the Epson profiles did not give a truly neutral print. After making my own profiles, the color cast disappeared, so I'm fine now. But if you are not in position to create your own profiles, this may be an important consideration.
Very rarely I have experienced such a great and responsive Customer Care department. Notwithstanding the large time difference, I got very quick and to-the-point replies. Chapeau!
It was a bit a long ride from my CIS to the i-Refill system of which I was a bit of a Guinea pig. But all documentation is there now. The system is simple to install, works reliable and seems very easy to maintain. And if you have a question, it will be dealt with promptly. Highly recommended.
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