Anyone have luck with do-it-yourself inkjet refills?

Discussion in 'hardware' started by Keatah, Nov 6, 2012.

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  1. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

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    Just as it says on the box - Anyone have luck with do-it-yourself inkjet refills? I'm referring to the ink kits where you get syringes and ink and other goodies. And I'm also referring to the basic under $300.00 home inkjet printer.

    Lots of things seemingly need to go right for these kits to work. Right pressures, right amounts of ink, and more. One little thing out of place, and end up with clogged nozzles, or leaky heads and carts, or just a big mess with FAIL written all over it.

    So what are your success stories? What are your fails?

    (trivia: genuine mfg branded inkjet ink typically sells for $4000 per gallon, when retail packaged.)
     
  2. Sir paranoids

    Sir paranoids Registered Member

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    agreed total rip off.

    killed a printer once trying more then that and i tend not to go their & i still use a dot matrix Pinter :D

    they just never die :argh:

    http://ts2.mm.bing.net/th?id=H.4878855998210553&pid=15.1
     
  3. sdmod

    sdmod Shadow Defender Expert

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    I'll second that! :) my old Citizen dot matrix is still plodding on, solid as a rock. Just use it for the odd page.
    I've never had any luck with ink refills, drilling little holes, syringes and taping etc...ink can get everywhere. Be careful with some of the laser printer toner powders because Toner powder can be harmful if inhaled, when refilling toner cartridges, (it also can get absolutely everywhere as it's an intense and fine powder)

     
  4. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

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    I still have my Epson MX-80 F/T with Graftrax III dot matrix from like 1980. That, and the Grappler+ interface card from Orange Micro, and a Practical Peripherals MicroBuffer. And all the original accessories like dust lid, parallel cable, owner’s manual, AC power cord, and other odds & ends. This was used exclusively on my Apple II computer, which I also still have.

    And while I have not powered it up in 10 years, I have little doubt it would still work. The ribbon is in a plastic baggie and seemingly still wet. These printers were tougher than tanks and they were unstoppable. Noise included!

    I used that thing and pounded on it even more. Never stopped working. And when we ran out of ink or when the ribbon dried up - well, we took off the top of the cartridge and "refilled" it with WD40.

    That's right! WD40. The premise behind it and why it worked was because the WD40 would act to redistribute and wick the ink from the virgin untouched edges of the ribbon in to the center where the pintles impacted. This was good for couple more rounds of printing. And eventually the ribbon would get fuzzy and ratty, what with the constant pounding in one area all the time. It would wear out a thin 9-pin-wide portion of “strip” or ribbon. But never fear! We had a solution for that too.

    When the ribbon wore out we'd flip it 180 and use dad's power drill to wind it back into the cartridge. This would present a fresh new surface.

    Sometimes a cartridge would just simply get totally depleted and WD40 didn’t have anything to wick. So we used fountain pen ink. And more surprisingly ink from ballpoint pens. Erasermates, Parkers, Bics.. I remember "cruising" around on our bikes collecting pens that got dropped or run over by cars. Or we'd just plain steal them. Nobody was the wiser. You can have 10 pens in a room, and not find a single one in a timely fashion.

    How do you like them apples? Free ink! Available from anywhere. We’d cut the ends off the pens and blow the ink into the ribbon. Spray some WD40 and we were back in business. One of my early summer jobs was visiting all the local businesses and “refilling” their ribbon cartridges for like $2.

    One time we were out sitting in the driveway and I was blowing ink and the cops rolled by and stopped. They thought I was snorting something. So I explained what was going on. Later he came back with a small list of potential customers. Maybe 4 or 5 I think. How cool was that?? I made enough money to get more hardware upgrades for my Apple 2 series computers. I remember getting a carton of Maxell floppies and a clock card and a joystick extension cable and 64k/80column card that fall, just prior to thanksgiving week. Fantastic!
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2012
  5. anothermack

    anothermack Registered Member

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    Hehehe, nice story. (Apart from the stealing part of course :))
     
  6. Fox Mulder

    Fox Mulder Registered Member

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    These refills can be very messy but it's cost-effective.

    I personally use a laser printer. It's black and white only, but I never need to print color, and toner is cheap.
     
  7. roger_m

    roger_m Registered Member

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    I have used refill kits before. But nowdays with generic ink cartridges being so readily available I think they're a better option.
     
  8. Noob

    Noob Registered Member

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    I screwed up 2 printers due to refill kits and refurbished cartridges. (Both of them misaligned and started to leave ink spots all over the papers, even after i tried calibrating them and changed to original cartridges)

    Now i'm on my third printer which is an Epson and after i tried a refurbished cartridges it got messed up again, the good thing is that it's not as bad as my 2 previous Canon printers and a lot cheaper to run also. (Misaligned, tried to calibrate it a dozen times and switched to all legit cartridges and it still prints misaligned but it's barely noticeable)

    I swear i will never ever purchase another refill/refurbished cartridges. :thumbd: :isay:
     
  9. roger_m

    roger_m Registered Member

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    Maybe I've just been lucky but haven't had any such problems from using generic cartridges with several inkjet printers. I did kill a printer once due to a leaking cartridge, but that was my fault for installing the leaking cartridge.
     
  10. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

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    I'm trying out refilling HP 02 cartridges in a c7280 photosmart printer. This seems to be, effectively, little individual tanks that you can refill. Little chance for leakage, because, there's a whole separate labyrinth-like network of pipes and pumps, valves, blotters and bladders. The printer handles all the fluidics for you.

    So basically I just need to fill the tanks. Hope it works out right.

    And I believe the key to inkjet printer longevity is to keep the fluids moving. Print a few pages each month, even if they're bogus.
     
  11. noone_particular

    noone_particular Registered Member

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    I'll be interested to see how much the success/ failure rate follows specific brands and/or cartridge types. I do very little printing here. It seems like the cartridges dry up long before they run out. I'm hesitant to try refilling them and risk damaging the unit, a multi-function Dell.
     
  12. jwcca

    jwcca Registered Member

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    I tried doing this, the holes were difficult to drill (with the tool provided in the kit) then during the fill process (I was careless?) I ended up with ink all over the floor and feet and binned everything. I keep the Canon MP500 for the scanner and switched to a low cost Brother black only laser because the laser toner has a long shelf life, unlike the ink jets that dry up way too soon.
     
  13. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

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    There's lots of separate thoughts in this post and in my next post, so try to make sense of it all.

    Yep, laser printers are good at sitting for long lengths of time between print jobs. In standard household & office environments, inkjets need to be cycled. Laser printers, much less so!

    I can tell you inkjets with ink tanks (ink only carts) tend to last longer than the cart + head design. Here's why:

    This seems to be because the ink needs to flow through an accumulator & ballast, pump, tubing, head-blotter assembly, feed and return lines, and various fittings. This is about a meter's worth of labyrinth maze structure to follow. Lots of places for ink to accumulate along with any evaporation and re-condensing. This whole system is usually closed, except for tiny vent holes after the sponges in the head assembly.

    The main source of the ink seems to be well distanced from the vent holes. And those vent holes? They are buried under the printhead sub-assembly, they tend to be shielded against the elements, further slowing the evaporation.

    Now in a cartridge that has both head and ink supply, you've got vent holes that are 3 inches from the ink supply. Lots of potential for evaporation here.

    Furthermore, a complex printer such as hp7280 and likewise, you're going to have better engineering than the $29.95 wal-mart special. And some of the parts are going to be of very high quality, such at the pump, and head/jet assembly. Those won't be subject to cost-cutting forces at hp.
     
  14. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

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    I've always had a special romance with inkjets, why I do not know. But let me tell you the history. As a consumer, this means the under $500.00 models, and not pro or specialty units. These are the units I owned.

    1- TRS-80 Pocket Computer printer/cassette interface. Retired, in a functional state years ago. This is ribbon based. But it was my first printer aside from printing calculators of the mid 1970's. I expect it to work today. Cost of printer $199 - $249, total cost of ribbons purchased $5.95 x 8.

    2- Epson MX-80 dot-matrix ribbon - retired but expected to be functional. Never failed. Not even when dropped and pounded upon. I did break the lift-off clear cover over my sister's head one particularly nasty day. And we used the wire-mesh paper guide for traction for the car on ice. So those two parts needed to be replaced. A true multi-function printer to be sure! Used with my Apple II series systems. Cost of printer $299-$349, cost of ribbons $10.00 each x a lot! Best value ever! Then I "discovered" how to refill them. Luckily I had thrown them in a box!

    3- HP Deskjet 560c 1st inkjet, It worked well, still have it. I do not expect original cartridges to be working. But the mechanicals are alright. Like any inkjet it was prone to drying out. I stopped using it for the "drying-out" and "cost of ink too high" reason. Cost of printer $500.00, total cost of ink purchased $340.00. Any refill kit, especially the "universal" refill kits never worked. I was only able to get 1/4th the life of a new cartridge. The refill kit industry tried making one kit to fit all. So nothing was specific to your printer, tools or ink formulations, or instructions, nothing. So you can imagine the fuss and mess.

    4- Epson Stylus Photo 700 Had this for about 2 years. Cost of ink still too high. Pinter sat for 3 months one time and the heads totally crusted and dried. Epson fixed it under warranty, only to have the same thing happen again. I tried my newbie revitalization techniques like using alcohol and hot water to unclog them, to no avail. I trashed it out of anger. Cost of printer $349, cost of ink $200 over its short life.

    5- HP Deskjet 970CXi Professional Had this one for about 3 years, it worked pretty good until I started messing with refill kits. These seemed to leak all over the frakking place. And the cost of cartridges was way too high, running $39.00 - $79.00 for both color and b/w together. That, on top of an already expensive $399 printer. Ouch! Well, I took the printer apart and cleaned it and did all this "stuff" to it in vain attempt to discover the reason why it leaked after refill. I never bothered to get genuine cartridges again. Eventually I threw out the printer. In retrospect. A good cleaning and correct cartridges would have worked. But the cost was not compatible with my spending habits anymore. I guess the word "professional" in the name means "professional" cost too.

    6- HP C7280 Photosmart AIO Got this one back in 2007-2008 for about $299. Expensive again, yep, but it comes with fax and scanner and copier too. Being the naive neophyte (still) with printers I figured since this has individual removable ink tanks and not ink cartridges I would fare better with the cost. Replacing the one empty tank for $12.00 at a time as opposed to $79.00 for a set of carts like on my last printer seemed like a good idea. Well, again, no it is not! These carts are tiny, 5 or 10ml ink for $12.00 x 6.. we're right back up there again. Worse yet, they expire and there's 6 of them! So after a few months of printing mixed color & b/w, the levels became imbalanced. Which is normal. But that means you're just replacing a tank every few weeks. And dealing with annoying reminder popups on both the monitor and printer. Not very usable. Talk about nagging! I couldn't stand it anymore. And thus decided to not use this printer much. Total cost of ink so far, about $300.00.

    I'd just turn it on every month and run a few test pages to keep the stuff flowing and preventing dry outs. Like the Epson fiasco I had in the early 2000's. And even THEN, seemingly out to punish me, it would go through these extended pumping and priming and cleaning "preparation cycles" that drained the cartridge tanks just as fast as if I was doing light printing. This was the last straw. Never again will I purchase another HP inkjet printer. Or any inkjet printer for that matter again.

    I'm trying refills once again, this being a tank type system, I'm counting on the internal mechanics to handle the levels and pressures and surface-tension effects and all that good stuff by itself. Those are things you need to get right when filling a cartridge, let alone, ensuring the heads are undamaged and not clogged. With a mini CIS, theoretically, you just need to ensure there's enough in the tanks and that's it.

    Now I can hopefully print worry free. No fretting about going to the store every other week. Just top off the clear cartridges and away I go. Hopefully.
     
  15. Noob

    Noob Registered Member

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    If i'm not mistaken Epson now has a printer that comes with an external ink system where you only fill the tanks when they get low, the only downside is that the printer itself is quite expensive however if you print a lot it could be a lot cheaper. :D
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2012
  16. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

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    Yah Noob I vaguely heard about that, isn't it the L-series or something? I'd love to know more but don't have time to research ATM.
     
  17. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    Yes L100, L200 and L800 have external tanks.

    By the way the best experience with refills, I had it with Refillable Ink Cartidges with reset chips for epson.

    Panagiotis
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2012
  18. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

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    If I hadn't said this before, I'm trying out refillable cartridges on my hp 7280. Despite the crap quality of hp, in general. The 7280 seems to be alright, but barely.

    Well, I checked Epson America, and the L-series isn't available here. Not yet anyways.

    If it becomes available by the holidays I'll pick one up. But I think it's to be introduced in Indonesia first. Could be a while before we see it in the states.

    Their advertising makes it seem like a game changer. It probably is. Hopefully they produce a polished product the first time around. And I wonder if Epson (like others) aren't losing business to 3rd party refill kits? I doubt I'll ever buy hp ink again unless there's some supercritical print job I need to do.

    In this day and age, the cheap bulk aftermarket inks are good enough, aren't they?
     
  19. pandlouk

    pandlouk Registered Member

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    The L series seems to be targeting emerging markets only.
    Currently sells in Indonesia, India, Brasil, Cina, etc. I doubt that they'll bring them to US or EU anytime soon, if ever...

    And sure some bulk ink is really good, but do not buy large quantity, until you try it first.I had both good and bad experiences with bulk ink.

    Panagiotis
     
  20. Noob

    Noob Registered Member

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    Epson printers are quite good IMO and the best thing is that their individual cartridges (Original) are cheaper than the competition!

    The Epson L Series seems to be a good alternative for people that print a lot. I saw an L-200 or L-800 in a big box electronics store where i live for around $200, i'm pretty sure you could get it a lot cheaper than that! :thumb:
     
  21. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    I used the universal refill kits for a long time, with great success, but only in printers that actually got used. Once you get to the point of printing less that once a week, it is a matter of time before problems develop.

    Epson and canon, with thier ink tanks, was a great idea. That is, until you don't print with them that often and the heads get clogged when the ink dries in them. Now you are in for a new printer because the head is a physical part of the printer. Sometimes filling a spare ink tank with isopropyl alcohol or other such chemical might soften it up, but not usually. If you use the printer a lot, these work the best with refill kits IMO.

    HP and all the others that supply an ink cartridge with a print head are more expensive to run, but if you don't print much really can offer the best bang for the buck. You can remove the print cartridge and cover the head with tape then freeze them. That seemed to be the best trick I knew of. If you don't, and the head gets clogged from dehydrated ink, you pay a premium to get a new cartridge, but at least you can print. From a refilling perspective, the only ones that posed a problem were the ones you had to squeeze before putting the rubber plug in the hole you drilled. Those plugs never seemed to seal right. But most cartridges I worked with posed no problem, other than the occassional one that would "weep" ink. Best thing to do is fill it, then let it set in a plastic bowl for awhile and see if it weeps. If it does not, put it in the printer and do a cleaning cycle, then put it back in the bowl.

    I have refilled laser printer cartridges as well. Depending on the model of the cartridge, this can be easy or quite complicated. If you buy a new toner cartridge, you can get 2 refills normally before print quality starts to suffer. If you buy refilled cartridges, often you cannot refill because it is already used and just doesn't last.

    I have had a few nice printers, some photo quality type. I have an old HP laser now that just keeps going. I refuse to spend any more money on inkjets. The cost per print is ridiculous and usually the color just isn't needed for kids homework and such.

    Sul.
     
  22. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

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    I, too, am refusing to spend any more money on inkjets unless there is something really enticing about the deal. I feel that over the past 15 years the major printing mfg's have failed to provide me with a trouble-free economical printing solution. I think I've given them more than enough chances.
     
  23. zfactor

    zfactor Registered Member

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    been buying the refillable catridges for years now. i buy only from a few sellers and have had ZERO issues i have a total of more than a dozen various models between hp and epson using them without ever having a single issue. just make sure you get the newest reset chips usually 6.0 or higher than buy the ink. these just require pulling the small rubber tab off the top and putting the nozzly of the bottle in a filling till full they are clear so you can clearly see how much ink you are filling them with. these are all i use in my offices and at home as well as my mother in law and my own mom, again i only use 3 sellers in specific for my ink and the cartridges themselves never one had a issue. the older way with the drilling and syringes just sucks and yes those i have had all kinds of issues with over the years. we have a epson srtisan 800 from almost 3 or more year ago and have had the SAME set of refillable's in it since we bought it. i just add ink when it needs it. i also have a waste tank hooked up to send all the wasted in into a tupperware container and then add that back to the black when its filled. this prevents the epson ink pad error when they get overfilled.
     
  24. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

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    Well it's only been a few weeks since I got the clear HP02 cartridges for my Photosmart C7280.

    I think in making "refill kits" work; it is key to have clear tanks. You need to be able to see when to refill, and how much you are refilling. This probably fixes more than half the problems when compared against the kind where you need to drill and tape the holes, and where you need to get right pressure/vacuum conditions.

    I'm doing weekly color palate prints, and then perhaps monthly, to see how long it goes before stripes show up.

    I've never really printed much in color, because of the cost, but now, perhaps it will all change.
     
  25. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

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    One thing I am concerned about, since I could conceivably extend the life of this printer by a good number of years. What happens when the blotter pads and ink recovery reservoir get loaded?

    While I have disassembled and removed the head assembly on this style of printer before, I don't see an easy procedure for getting the pads out. It seems it would require major disassembly. While doable, it would be a major time consumer.

    I found the service menu, where I can reset some counters and do extra tests. Which is a cool thing. So when it does give an error, it can be cleared.
     
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