The inkjet printer is the choice of most consumers due to its flexibility. The printers are able to print very high quality black-and-white and color text and images. Unlike laser printers, which will print consistently on all paper types, to get the best from an inkjet printer, printing needs to be on an appropriate paper type. Most general printing will be done on standard photocopying paper, but for high-quality output, especially of photographic images, it’s best to use papers which have been specifically designed for the purpose. At the top end of printer papers expense is a factor with each sheet costing in the region of 50 pence at the time of writing.
The ink is delivered from ink cartridges, usually one cartridge for color and one for black. Some cheaper versions do not have a black ink cartridge – these should be avoided.
Although there are many manufacturers of inkjet printers there are only two which should be seriously considered; Epson and Hewlett Packard. Purchasing a printer from any other manufacturer may well result in difficulty buying replacement ink cartridges or paying a premium for them. Since the cartridges need regular replacement these are serious considerations.
Inkjet printers will connect to the computer via the parallel port (all have this type of connection). Many modern inkjet printers now offer a USB type connection (see later section on connecting peripherals). Where available this is the preferred connection method due to increased speed and ease of installation.
The advantages of the inkjet printer are:
- Can print both black-and-white and color
- Very high image print quality (photo quality) on appropriate glossy paper
- Many models offer high-speed USB connection
The disadvantages are:
- Running costs for ink cartridges and special papers are high
- Not suitable for heavy-duty use
- High-quality image printing can be very slow
6 Things to Know before refilling an Ink Cartridge
1. How To Avoid A Mess
When you are refilling an ink cartridge, you should do it over some newspapers, or better, an old rag or shirt. The cloth will soak up any excess ink immediately and is easier to clean up. Once you get used to refilling, a mess will no longer be an issue.
2. How To Clean Up
The first time you refill a cartridge, you might get a little ink on your hands. To get the ink off, wash your hands with soap to remove any excess oils and use a mild bleach and water solution. Then wash with soap and water to remove the bleach and excess. Once you get used to the process, you shouldn’t get any ink on your hands.
3. Pressure Equalization
Generally an issue only for HP type cartridges, the best way to get optimum performance out of your printer cartridge is to let it the pressure stabilize properly. When a cartridge is emptied the internal pressures are upset. When you refill it, the internal pressure must reset before it will dispense ink effectively. Some cartridges require you to re-pressurize them with a plastic squeeze bottle that you have to blow into the air hole. Some cartridges simply require that you let them sit for a small amount of time before re-inserting them into the printer.
Specific instructions will be given to you with your specialized refill kit for your printer make and model. Simply follow your directions carefully.
4. Dried Out Cartridges
The number one refilling problem is waiting too long to refill your cartridge. When you don’t fill up your cartridge right away, the ink will dry and clog the micro-holes at the outlet of the printer head. This can lead to all kinds of problems, the foremost being that your ink won’t be able to get out! It is strongly suggested that you keep two cartridges, one in the printer, and one that is always filled. Keep the filled cartridge in a ziplock bag. Refill your spare cartridge immediately upon running out of ink and you will never run into this problem. If you don’t have two cartridges, just make sure that you fill up your empty cartridge as soon as it is out of ink, and do not wait. Even 20 minutes can ruin a cartridge if left dry. If you don’t have any ink available, wrap the cartridge in a moist towel or napkin and seal it in an airtight ziplock bag.
5. How To Extend The Life Of Your Cartridge
The only reason cartridges have a limited refill life is the resistors that control the current to each outlet jet. When a cartridge runs out of ink, the resistors can overheat and burn out. Most printers will warn you of a low cartridge before it completely runs out of ink. At the first sign of low ink, refill or top off your cartridge to ensure a long refillable life!
6. How To Avoid Any Problems
Make sure you follow the instructions that come with your refill kit. Different makes and models have different instructions, so even if you know what you are doing, it may differ with a different printer! The easiest way to avoid problems; Follow your directions to the letter.
7. How Many Times Can You Refill A Cartridge?
Most Cartridges can be refilled at least ten times. It depends on the type of cartridge you have. Cartridges with the print head built in generally can be refilled 10 – 15 times or more. Cartridges without the print head in them, in theory, can be refilled infinitely, however other factors can affect this. Drying out, clogging, print head age and frequency of use can all contribute. Usually, cartridges without print heads can be refilled at least 5 times. Although some Epson cartridges have been known to be a little stingy only allowing you to refill them 2-3 times. There are ways you can prolong the life of your cartridge so that you get as many refills as you can for maximum savings!
- Never let a cartridge run dry (cartridges with built-in print heads can burn out their resistors if run while dry).
- Always keep the extra cartridge full.
- Get in the habit of topping off your cartridge instead of waiting until it runs out.
- Don’t touch the copper plate on print head cartridges
- Always refill your cartridge IMMEDIATELY upon running out of ink.
How-To Refill Your Ink Cartridge
Forget about emptying your wallets every time you see the blinking light. Quit worrying and start doing it yourself! It’s an easy process that won’t take you more than five minutes.
The following is included in a typical ink refill kit: ink bottles, syringes, and detailed instructions. Some kits include an air balance clip for balancing the air inside the cartridge to ensure proper ink flow. Some kits also include a hand-drill tool to make a hole in the top of your empty cartridge.
- To start the refilling process, fill the syringe with one of the ink colors over the sink or several sheets of scrap paper to prevent any mess. Different printers hold different amounts of ink. In most Epson printers, the black cartridge holds approximately 17 ml and the color cartridges hold approximately 8 ml. See the instructions with your refill kit to see how much ink your cartridges can hold.
- Before inserting the needle, make a small hole in the top of the cartridge (one for each color chamber). The hole is at the top of the cartridge near the label. Simply push the needle through the hole and press to the bottom of the cartridge towards the outlet hole. It’s important to fill the cartridge slowly so as to avoid the ink from foaming and introducing air in the chamber.
- You do not need to seal the refill holes since there are already breather holes on the top of the cartridge.
Any unused ink can be put back in the bottle. You should clean the syringe with water and dry it properly to do the same process for the other cartridges or for future use. You can also label each syringe for the different colors so that each syringe is only used with one color.
- Once you place the cartridge back in the printer, run the cleaning cycle 1 to 3 times. If there are any gaps in the printing, run the cleaning cycle again.
There are a few things to remember when refilling your cartridge. It should be refilled before the cartridge is completely empty to avoid the chamber from drying out and clogging. Also, it is a good idea to let the printer cartridge sit for a few hours (or overnight) so that the pressure in the cartridge will stabilize.
Some printers, like newer Epson models, have a green chip on their ink cartridges which is visible by looking at your cartridge. They are often referred to as “Intellidge” cartridges. The chip keeps track of how often the cartridge is used and lets the computer know when the cartridge may be low or empty. As long as you reset the chip, refilling the cartridge with ink from a refill kit will not be a problem. A resetting tool can be used to reset the memory on the chip. This allows the printer to recognize the cartridge as being full which makes printing with a refilled cartridge possible.
Refilling your own ink cartridge is easy, good for the environment, and very good for your pocket.