First Look: Canon CLI-221 Ink Cartridge Up Close

New Canon Inkjet Cartridges:

We just picked up a Canon iP3600 which has the “new” smaller CLI-220/CLI-221 inkjet cartridges (how is that for innovation?), and we thought we would post some initial photos of the cartridges.

  • Bad news: cartridges are MUCH smaller. They contain about half the amount of ink as the previous generation of Canon Inkjet Cartridges (PGI-5, CLI-8)
  • Good news: compatibles are starting to trickle out, and will be available in large quantities shortly (they are “on the boat” from China as we write this).

Full set of cartridges installed in a Canon iP3600 inkjet printer.

iP3600 Cartridges Installed

Top of The Cartridge:

Here is what the cartridge looks like from the top.  The vent hole tape has been removed, and this cartridge is about to be installed into the Canon iP3600 printer.  It is worth noting that the Canon Pixma iP4600 uses the exact same print head, and cartridges as the iP3600 and will look similar to the above configuration.

Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge.

The CLI-221 part number is for the color inkjet cartridges.  There is also a CLI-220 part number which is a pigment black cartridge.  The “larger” CLI-220Bk black inkjet cartridge (there are 2 black cartridges in these printers) will run out first in our experience.

What’s The Secret Canon?

I guess Canon does not want you looking inside their cartridge. In contrast to Epson, which puts a piece of black tape to cover the ink levels, Canon has gone a step further and made the cartridge out of black plastic.  The only thing that is visible is a small window that shows the ink level.

Click for larger image.

Click for larger image.

Pesky Little Chip:

cli-221-chipThe chip on the end of the cartridge that communicates with the software ink monitor is still there, but at least it has already been “cracked” and compatibles are soon to be in plentiful supply.  We also expect to see chip resetters for all you refillers out there.  Since Epson has done such a good job shutting down the compatible cartridge aftermarket, we think Canon will be the way to go in the future.  More on the iP3600 later.

The CLI-221, and CLI-220 cartridges work in the following Canon inkjet printers:

  • PIXMA iP3600
  • PIXMA iP4600
  • PIXMA MP620
  • PIXMA MP980
  • PIXMA MX860


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