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Computers and Electronics

Maintenance and Repair

Hardware Maintenance and Repair




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How to Refill and Reuse a Printer Cartridge

Printer ink is one of the most expensive things that you'll run into when you set up your home
office. You start out taking dozens of pictures with your new digital camera, download them onto
your computer, print a few and then suddenly: the print cartridge runs out of ink.

If you follow this how-to guide and refill your print cartridge instead of buying a new one, you
can save literally hundreds of dollars in printer ink.


Purchase an ink refill kit at an office supply store. Many office supply and discount
stores carry this inexpensive kit. (It usually costs about half the price of an average
printer cartridge.) You can also find these kits at online retailers.


Gather your kit, a roll of paper towels, and some clear scotch tape together on a
large flat working surface, a table or desk.


Remove the empty cartridge from your printer. (Remember to close your printer lid or
door while you are working.)


Cover your hands with a pair of disposable plastic gloves while you work with the
messy ink.


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Take a paper towel and fold it in half twice. Work over the paper towel to catch any
leaking ink.

Place the empty cartridge on it.


Read the instruction manual included with the refill kit to learn how to refill your
particular type of cartridge. (The following instructions are just a general guide).


Locate the fill holes on the top of the cartridge. The depressions can be felt by rubbing
your finger across the label. Some cartridges have more than one hole, but only one leads
to the ink reservoir that you will refill. This hole will have a sponge in it.


Use a sharp pencil to pierce the refill holes in the top of the ink cartridge Or you can
take the top label off with a knife or screwdriver (Correct places can also be found
in the kit instructions).


In addition to black, there are three colors of ink: magenta, cyan, and yellow. Follow
the kit instructions on which hole to insert each color OR push a toothpick into the holes
to identify the colors as markings on the printer cartridge are sometimes there to fool you
into putting the wrong colors into the cartridge ink chambers.


Insert the long needle of the refill ink bottle deeply into the correct hole penetrating
the foam down into the bottom of the cartridge. It is important not to push air into the
cartridge foam while refilling. (An air pocket will keep the ink from reaching the print
head causing the cartridge not to print.)


Slowly, add the ink. Carefully watch to be sure that you do not over-fill.


Stop quickly as soon as you see a bit of ink oozing out of the hole. Without letting go
of the bottle, slowly release the air, sucking a little ink back out of the ink cartridge,
before you remove the needle completely.


Carefully daub the cartridge contacts on the paper towel, you should see a splotch of
the ink leaking out onto the paper towel.


Cover the hole with a small piece of clear scotch tape. (This works better than the seal
dots included in the kit.) Make sure that no ink is leaking out of the top holes. (That's
where the clear tape comes in handy.) Be careful not to cross contaminate the colors.


Repeat steps 11-15 for each ink color.


After you have refilled all three colors, carefully blot (don't wipe or rub) the
cartridge print head on a folded piece of paper towel. You may need to do this several
times. Do this until it stops bleeding and you see an even stripe of three colors showing
up on the towel.


If the blot shows the colors either faded or not at all, blot on wet paper towel and
again on dry, to get the ink flowing.


Replace the ink cartridge into the printer. Never, ever install a leaking print cartridge.


Immediately print something, anything, just to get the ink flowing. Print several test
pages, preferable photos with a lot of different colors.


Follow the cleaning or priming cycles for your specific printer.

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Don't worry about testing and retesting. It's worth the effort. If you do ruin the cartridge...
You can always go buy a new one. You would have had to do that anyway.

After you refill an ink cartridge, it should weigh the same as a new cartridges. Overfilling
a cartridge will cause the cartridge to prematurely quit on you. Cartridges use a sponge to

hold ink, by overfilling you wet the upper portion of the sponge causing the ink to want
to flow upwards, away from the print nozzles.

Finally, you can use this method if all else fails: Find a printer on sale for less than the
cost of a new cartridge. It will include one new cartridge (and sometimes two - black and
color), so you now have a new printer with 1 or 2 cartridges for less than the cost of one
new cartridge (printer companies sell these printers inexpensively, planning to make their
money on future cartridge purchases - unless you know their game). Refill those
cartridges until they won't work anymore, and then do it all over again.

Donate the used printer to a local charity, church, or school. Just be sure to let them know
it needs a new cartridge, so they can decide if they want it.

New ink cartridges come with a postage-paid envelope requesting you to send your old
ink cartridge in for recycling.

Avoid letting your ink cartridge run dry. Check and refill it periodically to keep it
maintained. Try not to leave it unused for a long period of time. Try to print something at
least once a week. This will help it last longer.

As a last resort before buying a new cartridge, take the (clean) syringe, remove the
plunger, and insert the syringe deeply into the cartridge. Put your mouth over the nowopen top of the syringe and blow reasonably forcefully. This can help force the semiloosened clogs from the previous step out of the way of the liquid ink. Be careful not to
let the ink bubble out of the top of the ink jet cartridge as you blow into the syringe. Then
dab the nozzle end of the cartridge on a paper towel. Repeat 3-4 times, if necessary. This
method can extend the usability of a refilled cartridge from perhaps 5 or 6 refills to 8 or
10. For the cost of a new cartridge, it's worth the extra effort if you're on a tight budget.

If the color still refuses to come out of the cartridge when you print, use the syringe to
inject just one or two small drops of (50%Ammonia and 50% distilled water)solution as
far down into the cartridge as you can, so it will be near the print head (but not too close,
because there's usually a screen above the print head that could be accidentally
punctured). This can help dissolve any clots in the almost-microscopic nozzles.

If one color is having difficulty printing after you insert the print cartridge, remove from
printer and recheck the tape covering the fill holes. Lift it and reposition, letting off any
suction that may be preventing it from flowing properly.

After refilling a print cartridge 5 or 6 times, the print head will eventually wear out. It
can't last forever. Then you'll just have to buy a new cartridge and replace it.

Show 1 more tip



Be careful not to touch the metal parts (tiny electrical leads and contacts) on the bottom
and front edge of the cartridge. Oil from your fingers can disrupt contact with the printer.
You can use a cotton swab moistened with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to gently clean
these contacts, if necessary

Never add a leaking ink cartridge into your printer.

The ink is permanent, in that it can only be removed by the special ink solvent. Be careful
not to get it on your clothing. It will leave stains on your hands, too, if you don't wear

You may need to print quite a few test pages to get the ink flowing properly.

Things You'll Need

Empty Print Cartridge

Ink Refill Kit

Paper Towels

Scotch Tape


Rubbing Alcohol

Cotton Swabs

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Article Info
Categories: Hardware Maintenance and Repair
In other languages:
Espaol: rellenar y reusar un cartucho de tinta, Portugus: Recarregar e Reutilizar um Cartucho
de Impressora, Italiano: Riempire e Riutilizzare una Cartuccia per Stampante, Deutsch: Eine
Druckerpatrone nachfllen und wiederverwenden, :
, Franais: recharger et remettre en route une cartouche d'imprimante, :
, Bahasa Indonesia: Mengisi Ulang dan Memakai Kembali Kartrid Printer





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