What Is a Tank Printer?

First introduced in 2015, tank printers (also known as ink tank printers) have become a popular and affordable color printing option. Instead of relying on ink cartridges as the main or only source of ink, ink tank printers use a refillable internal tank system along with specially designed ink cartridges or ink bottles to maintain their ink supply. An ink tank printer delivers ink from its internal tank through airtight tubing directly to the printhead to produce printed pages. A color tank printer will have separate storage tanks for black, cyan, magenta and yellow ink. When ink levels in any of the tanks are low, the ink needs to be refilled.

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How does an ink tank printer differ from an inkjet printer?

When looking for an inkjet printer, you now have several options. You can choose a printer that uses ink cartridges that are replaced when the ink supply runs low, an ink tank printer that uses ink bottles to refill, or a printer that is a cross between these two options using a specially designed cartridge that works in tandem with an internal ink storage tank. 

Ink tank and inkjet printers are different in several ways. With standard inkjet printers, the mechanisms that control and regulate ink usage for printing are inside the ink cartridges. With ink tank printers, these components reside within the printer. Ink tank printers have a refillable ink tank that is built into the tank printer. When the ink in the tank runs low, it needs to be refilled - either by using ink bottles or specially engineered ink cartridges, depending on the brand of ink tank printer. Brother INKvestment Tank printers use specially designed INKvestment Tank cartridges along with an internal ink storage tank to minimize ink replacement and deliver convenient printing. 

Replacement ink for an ink tank printer, whether by cartridge or by bottle, is typically less expensive, resulting in a lower cost per page than a standard inkjet printer. With ink tank printers, the ink tank is stationary and ink is delivered from the tank to the printheads to create the desired printed page. 


Are ink tank printers good for home use?

The best ink tank printers are a good choice for busy homes that need affordable color printing and ideal for those who print on a regular basis. Ink tank printers are also a great option for students, workgroups and businesses that are looking for an affordable way to utilize color printing.

Who should use an ink tank printer?

Ink tank printers are ideal for individuals, students, and businesses that want to minimize the need to replace ink. Ink tank printers enable users to print more pages without the need for frequent ink refills. Brother offers a selection of INKvestment Tank printers that provide an array of features to meet most document imaging needs.

Does ink dry up in a tank printer?

With ink tank printers, the ink tank is stationary with ink delivered from the tank to the printheads via an airtight tube. This makes it more difficult for the ink to dry up when not in use, however the print heads can dry out - similar to a “felt-tip” marker - when the printer is not used for extended periods of time. The integrity of the print heads in any type of inkjet printer needs to be maintained on a continual basis for optimum performance. Inkjet printers, including ink tank models, run periodic purges when the printer has not been used for a while to keep the print heads intact. This routine operation does require ink to be used, which can deplete the ink supply in an ink tank printer. Be sure the ink tank printer you select includes a printhead cleaning or purging feature to keep your printer running smoothly. 


What is the best ink tank printer?

Several major printer manufacturers now offer tank printers with varying features and functions as part of their ongoing product options. To find the best ink tank printer for your needs consider several important factors: 

  • Functionality: Do you need a printer that can go beyond printing? If so, be sure that the ink tank printer you select also offers additional functionality such as copy, scan, or fax. These are known as all-in-one or multi-function tank printers.
  • Features: Do you print a significant amount of double-sided pages? If so, be sure to choose a tank printer that offers automatic duplex output. It’s a great way to help save money by reducing paper use. Will you need mobile device and/or wireless printing? If so, look for an ink tank printer that makes it easy to share and collaborate with friends, coworkers, and colleagues. Some all-in-one ink tank printer models offer an assortment of different “scan-to” functions, such as email, USB flash memory drive, SharePoint, and cloud services.
  • Paper Handling: Do you need an ink tank printer that can handle a variety of paper sizes and types? Then be sure to look for an ink tank printer that has an adjustable paper tray, along with multi-purpose or bypass trays for handling letterhead, envelopes, photo paper, card stock, and more. If you need an ink tank printer with a large paper capacity, look for models with multiple trays or optional additional paper trays.
  • Technical Support: When you have questions about your ink tank printer, it’s important that you get the answers you need – fast. At Brother we offer At Your Side support for the life of the product.

Refilling a Brother INKvestment Tank printer is fast and easy.

How do I refill an ink tank printer?

Refilling the ink tank depends upon which type of ink tank printer you have. Some ink tank printers are refilled using ink bottles that deliver ink directly to the ink storage tank, while other ink tank printers use a specially engineered ink cartridge that automatically supplies ink to the storage tank on an ongoing basis. Refilling ink tank printers using bottled ink can be messy, especially for first time users, whereas the special ink cartridge is simple to replace and eliminates any ink mishaps as the refilling is done automatically and internally. Using ink tank cartridges also eliminates the need to store partially full ink bottles, as the cartridges are stored within the printer itself and provide a continuous supply of ink to the internal ink tank, so you can print more pages without needing to refill the ink tank.

Are ink tank printers worth it?

Although ink tank printers may cost a bit more upfront than a standard inkjet printer, over time users may save money on ink replacement - especially if you tend to print a lot of pages regularly. An ink tank printer's large ink reservoirs help to eliminate the need for frequent refilling helping to save money on replacement ink even for high-volume printing. Check out the full line of Brother INKvestment Tank printers to find the one that’s best for your needs.