Colwich Computer Club. 

Refilling Ink Cartridges

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In these times of environmental awareness, we should all think about recycling our computer ink cartridges.

There are several ways we can do this;-

  1. Firstly many brands of empty cartridges can be sent, postage free, to certain charities, who then send them off to various companies, who clean and refill them to be sold again. For this service the charities usually receive one pound, for each recyclable cartridge, into their funds.

  2. There are also cartridge re-filling shops on many high streets who will pay one pound or more to you for each suitable empty cartridge you return.

  3. The same cartridge shops will also often refill your own cartridges, while you wait, for around ten pounds each. Some cartridge refills cost less and some a little more. This may sound a lot of money, but generally the shops will not refill very cheap cartridges, so it is worthwhile.

  4. Many companies sell ready refilled/remanufactured cartridges at huge discounts on the originals with the saving usually at least half of the original price and very often a lot more. Very occasionally you may buy a duff refill, but some are guaranteed against faults.

  5. Perhaps the most economical way to make use of old cartridges is to refill them yourself. This can be a messy business and quite fiddly, but the more you do it the easier it gets. The most important thing with any refill is to do it the same day that the cartridge is emptied. In fact it is best to refill the cartridge before it is completely empty and thereby prevent air getting in the print head/jet which can make it difficult to get the ink flowing again. As a cartridge becomes empty the remaining drops of ink can quickly dry and form hard specks of ink that can block the ink jet nozzle. They can be cleaned with a solvent, but it is best to prevent the need to do this in the first place. Many supermarkets sell cheap refill kits that come with a syringe and blunt needle to inject the ink into the empty cartridge. Black ink kits generally have 3 x 30 mil bottles plus a bottle of cleaner/solvent and colour packs have the three different colours plus a solvent. The black ink kits may refill a typical black cartridge up to 5 or 6 times for a cost of perhaps 5 or 6. In other words you get a refill for one pound a cartridge! Colour cartridges are a little more difficult as it is most important that you inject the correct colour into the right hole in the cartridge and do not overfill as the colours will often flood into each others compartments.

Filling Cartridges
When filling cartridges it is most important that the air holes/filling holes are correctly sealed with sticky tape. They are usually under the manufacturers label and it is advisable to examine exactly how the label is positioned before removing it and refilling. After filling and resealing the cartridge it is important not to upend it as air can get in through the print head/outlet and allow ink to leak out. The cartridge will often leak for a few minutes after filling and should be left standing on an old dinner plate for ten minutes before careful cleaning and use. After refitting the cartridge it may be necessary to instruct the printer to align the cartridge and even prime the cartridge. One useful tip is to make sure that the syringe that you have used has been washed very clean of ink before being put away for use again. Another difficulty with some refills is that many cartridges are now chipped so that the computer will not register the fact that the cartridge has been filled. They will still usually work, but you will not know how low the ink level is until it is empty. Some refill kits are available that can reset the chips, but these are more expensive and not sold by many shops. The easiest colour cartridges to refill are those that are separate for each colour and these can often be repeatedly refilled for the life of the printer, but these are also the cheapest to buy. The most expensive cartridges are also usually the hardest to refill and can usually only be refilled a few times as they mostly have the print head built into the cartridge, so you "pay your money and make your choice" as to how you recycle your cartridges.