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Refilling Ink Cartridges: Secrets of a Professional

We will provide tips and tricks to refilling the newer cartridges. The newer cartridges are harder but with the techniques we will show you will have a greater chance of success.

The new cartridge is much smaller now and this changes a lot of things with regard to refilling. The main issue is that the entire internal sponge must be filled with ink in order to hold the correct volume of ink. This is hard to achieve for the amateur because of air pockets in the sponge.

The professional filler fills the cartridge under a high vacuum, which removes the air and then the ink is injected inside. Only after the sponge is filled completely is air let back into the cartridge. This works very well and if the empty cartridges is a high quality one, it almost always results in a fully working ink cartridge. Now we are talking about the small cartridges produced in the last five years. That is the likes of  the small the HP56 ink cartridge and HP57 and the Lexmark 16 and Lexmark 26 ink cartridges.

What can you do to increase your chances of success?

The first thing is to not try to fill the cartridge to it's full capacity. For instance the HP56 originally had just 19ml of ink, so only put in 8 to 10ml of ink. Trying to fill it full will only result in leaking and other problems.

Because of the air problem it is recommend that you insert the needle as far as possible and angle it towards the printhead. Another thing that can help is to use a gravity feed. Remove the plunger from the syringe and put in the correct volume of ink. Let the ink slowly enter the cartridge by gravity.

Don't try and fill an ink cartridge that has been sitting around for weeks or months, otherwise the residue of ink will have dried out and cause blockages. Even professionals have problems with this situation. Fill the cartridge at the first sign that it's going dry to help avoid any problems.

After filling your cartridge you may find that it won't work at all. When you touch it against a paper towel nothing at all comes out. There's a channel between the print head and the compartment that has the sponge in it. If this channel gets empty it can take some effort to get it refilled with ink. You can buy a cartridge primer to solve this problem. These clip onto the cartridge and the syringe hooks to it. You pull out on the plunger of the syringe and this sucks ink into the empty void referred to. You can find these by doing a search on Google or another search engine.

The other way of forcing ink into the cartridges uses centrifugal force. Don't do this where ink can get on anything! Hold the cartridge at about shoulder height and bring the cartridge rapidly down to about level with your knee. Stop abruptly and the ink tries to keep moving, forcing it up into the printhead. You may have to do this several times before you are successful. Keep checking by touching the printhead against a paper towel. Ink should come out freely. Buying a primer is by far the best method.

Another reason for the cartridge not to print at all is that it is dripping ink. A dripping printer cartridge won't print correctly and in most instances it won't print at all. If you have over filled then you can suck some of the ink out. Alternatively, you can let it settle for two to three hours.

Remember we are talking about cartridges that are not dried out. If your cartridge has dried out, it is recommend buying a new or a refilled cartridge, as you may well have a lot of problems. Additionally, we are talking about Lexmark and HP ink cartridges. For the others it is advisable to buy new compatibles, as it is much easier in the long run than refilling.

Article by UK Ink Supplies, based in Lincoln, UK stock a wide range of printer refill kits for ink cartridges.  For more information visit UK Ink Supplies for the latest digital media products. For a wide range of  ink cartridge refilling products see Refill kits for ink cartridges.

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