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Bulk Ink Systems

UniSub® car flag

Bulk ink systems are the most cost efficient method to use in sublimation printing. The reasons and concepts are simple.

Using just cartridges is very expensive because they hold very little ink and when that is used up, you throw the cartridge away and replace it with a new one.

A bulk ink system is like having a big “transfusion” of ink and the cartridge is never thrown away. A line of surgical tubing is attached to each cartridge in the printer.

ach line runs out of the printer and attaches to a separate color bag of ink (110 mil or 220 mil).

As you print, each cartridge draws ink from its respective bag and refills itself. When the bag gets empty, you detach that bag, throw it away and replace it with a new bag. However, you do not throw the cartridge away.

This is because the little chips in the cartridge (unlike the ones that Epson makes) reset every time you turn the printer on and off. Neat! And it really helps save money.

UniSub® tile mural in frame

Each bulk ink system is sent with the physical bulk ink apparatus, the correct number of bags of ink (depending upon how many colors the printer uses), the correct ICC color management profile and a hundred sheet box of True Pix HD sublimation paper.

The exception to a bag bulk ink system is the Epson 4800. The cartridges for that printer are just as big as the bags (110 mil and 220 mil) so they are just as cost effective.

We have spent so much time teaching that you may be getting a little impatient wanting to know cost. We’re not trying to hide it. If you like, click here and you can go to our starter deals page and review your options. Or, at anytime, just click on “Starter Deals” on the bottom links, to the left of this page.

Bulk System, Page Cost, Using ArTainium UV+ Inks

Almost everyone asks the question, “How many prints can you get out of a set of inks?” We don’t know. Anyone who says that they do know is just pulling numbers out of thin air and doesn’t know what they are talking about.

The reason why is very simple. Print quantity depends totally upon picture size and the color of the ink (purple, for example, uses a lot more ink than pink). A much more relevant question is “How much does each print cost”. We can give a good answer to that: about $1.50 per 8x10 page. Here’s how we got the answer.

The picture to the right is an 8x10 composite picture, using 4 separate 4x5 pictures. We constructed this composite because the total 8x10 print uses about the same amount of each color of ink.

We weighed the bags of ink before we started printing, on an accurate postage meter. We then printed 200 prints.
We then disconnected the bags of ink and weighed them again. The rest was easy.

We took the difference between the two weights, multiplied that by the per milliliter cost and divided that by 200.
Within a few pennies, the answer was a buck and a half.

Using simple math and rounding up also gives us a good estimate of about 2 cents a square inch. This means that something as small as a coffee cup only uses about 30 cents in ink.

We have gone into this in detail because it is also a handy benchmark to use in calculating cost when you start sublimating.

For sublimation, an excellent heat press is a blessing. The most useful (for maximum ability), is a swing-away style heat press.

This is because this type of heat press closes, by moving straight down. This eliminates the torque, produced by clamshell type presses.

The Next Page teaches you about our six top-ranked swing-away heat presses.

If you already have a good press, you can Skip The Heat Press page and learn about very useful template programs.

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Updated: 6/10/2011
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