i860 Color Bubble Jet Photo PrinterThe i860 photo printer features the Canon Think Tank System™, an intelligent ink-management system that uses individual ink tanks for each color. You replace only the color that runs out rather than an entire cartridge.
This is the sight that greets you when you lift the cover on the i860 printer. Rather than seeing the usual two ink cartridges there's this very impressive looking print head assembly and its ContrastPLUS ink tank set including the larger BCI-3eBK pigmented-ink black tank.
Here's the i860's print head with its 1,856 print nozzle array. Not only can the user replace the individual ink tanks but you can also replace the entire print head if necessary. (Replacement print heads are available from Canon Service after it is determined that a replacement is necessary.) Epson printers require a trip to the service center if they encounter a print head problem.
Optical ink sensors automatically monitor all ink color levels and communicate with your computer--giving you a pop-up message indicating exactly what colors are running low. You can also check the status of the ink tanks at any time using the Status Monitor of the driver as shown above. Canon's optical low ink detection system prevents wasted printouts by notifying you via the Printer Status Monitor before any ink tank becomes empty, so you'll never unexpectedly run out of ink in the middle of a job again.
A light beam shines through a prism located at the bottom of each ink tank. When there is sufficient ink, the light is detected by the sensor. When only about 20% of ink is left in any of the ink tanks, the light beam is refracted, triggering the sensor which tells the printer driver to display a low ink tank notification for that ink tank.