Printer ink is one of the most expensive items you will come across when organizing your home workspace. First you take dozens of pictures with your new digital camera, download them to your computer, print a few, and then suddenly the ink cartridges run out.
If you follow the advice in this guide and refill an old cartridge instead of buying a new one, you can literally save yourself hundreds of dollars.
Step 1. Purchase a cartridge refill kit from an office supply store
In similar stores, as well as in discount stores, you can buy such a set for a small price. It usually costs half the price of a regular printer cartridge. You can also find such sets in online stores.
Step 2. Prepare your work area, a flat surface, such as a table, is suitable for this
You will also need paper towels and duct tape.
Step 3. Remove the empty cartridge from the printer
(Remember to close the printer cover while you work.)
Step 4. In order not to get your hands dirty with ink, do not forget to wear gloves
Step 5. Take a paper towel and fold it twice
Wipe off any ink that has leaked out with a paper towel.
Step 6. Place the empty cartridge on the towel
Step 7. Read the refill kit user manual to find out exactly how to refill your type of cartridge
(The following instructions are general advice only).
Step 8. Locate the fill holes on the top of the cartridge
You can feel for them by sliding your finger across the sticker. Some cartridges have more than one hole, but only one leads to the ink reservoir. This hole will contain a sponge.
Step 9. Use the shaft of the pen to pierce the refill holes on the top of the cartridge
Alternatively, you can peel off the sticker with a knife or screwdriver (see the instructions in the refueling kit for the correct locations).
Step 10. In addition to black, there are three more ink colors
magenta, blue and yellow. Follow the instructions in the kit to determine which hole of which color the ink should flow OR dip a toothpick into each hole to determine which color where, as the markings on the cartridges can be intentionally confused.
Step 11. Insert the needle of the ink syringe into the appropriate hole and, piercing the sponge, lower it to the bottom of the cartridge
Avoid pumping air into the sponge while refueling. (An air pocket will prevent ink from accessing the print head and thereby printing.)
Step 12. Add ink slowly
Be careful and try not to overflow.
Step 13. Stop as soon as you see that the ink begins to approach the edge of the hole in the cartridge
Put some ink back in before removing the syringe completely.
Step 14. Gently place the cartridge contacts on a paper towel, you will see traces of spilled ink
Step 15. Cover the hole with a small piece of duct tape
(The adhesive tape will give better results than the seals supplied with the refill kit.) Make sure that ink does not leak out of the holes on the top of the cartridge. (The transparency of the tape will help you with this.) Be careful not to mix up colors.
Step 16. Repeat steps 11-15 for each color
Step 17. After you have finished with all three colors, gently place (do not wipe) the printhead of the cartridge against the folded paper towel
You may need to do this several times. Repeat until the ink stops flowing and you can see three even colored streaks on the paper towel.
Step 18. If the colors are too dull or there are no traces at all, then apply the print head first to a damp paper towel and then to a dry one
Step 19. Return the cartridge to its place in the printer
Never install a leaking cartridge.
Step 20. Immediately print something to start the ink supply
Print several test pages, preferably photographs with many different colors.
Step 21 Remember to regularly clean and refuel your printer
- As a last resort before purchasing a new cartridge, you can use the following method. Take a new syringe, remove the plunger and insert the syringe as deep as possible into the cartridge. Take in air and blow into the syringe cavity, calculating the forces. This can help in removing any lumps left over from the previous step that are interfering with ink flow. When you blow into the syringe, make sure that ink does not overflow over the edge of the cartridge. Then shake the cartridge by covering the holes with a paper towel. Repeat this 3-4 times as needed. This method can extend the life of a refilled cartridge from 5 or 6 refills to 8 or 10. If you are on a tight budget, it will justify the extra effort.
- The refilled cartridge must weigh the same as the new one. An overfilled cartridge will fail prematurely. In cartridges, the ink is held in by the sponge, overfilling will allow the liquid to reach the top of the sponge, away from the nozzles.
- If colors still do not appear after printing, use a syringe to inject one or two small drops of ammonia (one part ammonia and one distilled water) as deep into the cartridge as possible. That is, close to the printhead (but not too close, as there is usually a coating above the printhead that can be easily damaged). This will help dissolve the remaining ink clumps in the nearly microscopic nozzles.
- And if all else fails, then you can use the following method: Find a printer on sale that costs less than a new cartridge. It should have a new cartridge (and sometimes two: black and color) in the kit, so you will have a new printer with one or two cartridges for a price less than the price of a new cartridge (printer manufacturers set low prices for printers, intending to earn money in the future on the sale of cartridges; that is, unless you outsmart them of course). Refill these cartridges over and over until they fail, then try again.
- Don't be afraid to try again and again. It will pay for itself. If you ruin a cartridge … you can always buy a new one. You still have to do it.
- New cartridges come from the manufacturer in a postage prepaid envelope with the requirement to return the old cartridge for recycling.
- If one of the colors does not print well after replacing the cartridge, remove the cartridge from the printer and inspect the tape covering the refill ports. Remove and replace it to remove the vacuum that may have been blocking ink flow.
- Donate your old printer to a local charity, church, or school. Just warn them that the cartridge needs to be replaced, let them decide if they need such a printer.
- Do not allow the ink in the cartridge to dry out. Check the cartridges regularly and refill as needed. Try not to keep them idle for too long. Print something at least once a week. This will extend their useful life.
- After the cartridge has been refilled 5 or 6 times, the print head will start to become unusable. She cannot print forever. You still have to buy a new cartridge and replace the old one.
- Refill slowly to avoid air bubbles, which can reduce print quality.
- Do not touch the metal parts (small wires and pins) on the bottom and front of the cartridge. Grease on your fingers can interfere with their contact with the printer. You can dip a cotton swab in isopropyl (rubbing alcohol) and gently clean the contacts with it if needed.
- Never insert a leaking cartridge into the printer.
- You may need to print more than one test page before the ink supply improves.
- The ink can be washed off only with a special solvent. So make sure they don't get on your clothes. They can leave marks on your hands too, so wear gloves.