How many times have you been in the middle of a printing an important paper and the dreaded “Low Ink Cartridge" message appears on your computer screen? You think to yourself, “What are my options, and where can I get this thing filled at 3:00a. m?"
In today's economy, one should forever be on the lookout for methods of saving money on consumable goods. One example is the quandary of an empty ink jet cartridge. Many options are available to resolve this matter and many of us prefer to wander into Wal-mart and pick up a new cartridge. The obvious problem with this solution remains: Many times the replacement cartridge (if they have one in stock) is more expensive than replacing the printer. Even I am guilty of choosing the latter option, but this leads to overstuffed landfills and Salvation Army Thrift Store shelves. One can always take their depleted cartridge to the local computer merchant for refilling, or order refilled cartridges from some anonymous Internet website, but then again these take time and may not be the most cost effective approach. I propose to offer a more practical solution to this inevitable (and almost always) inconvenient dilemma. It is possible to refill your own ink jet cartridges and do so without a degree in quantum physics.
Your first step in tackling this seemingly daunting task, is to open the front cover on your printer and see how many cartridges are present. Some printers have one cartridge for black ink, and one cartridge for the tri-colored (red, yellow, blue) ink. Others have one cartridge that uses the tri-colored ink to produce all colors as well as black. Write down the make, model number and any identifying numbers of the printer cartridges so you will be sure that the refill kit can be used with your particular model.
Once you have identified your printers cartridge capacity, the next step is to obtain an ink jet cartridge refill kit. These kits are readily available at all major merchants sporting a computer or electronics department or your local computer shop. They are very inexpensive compared to the pre-filled cartridges, and will refill most cartridges several times. Please be aware that most refill kits contain either black ink or the tri-colored inks but not both. You may have to purchase both types depending on your model of printer. The newer kits contain all the necessary tools and instructions for filling most major brand printer cartridges. Be sure to check the packaging for your printer manufacturer listing and the contents of the kit.
With kit in hand, you are ready to get to the nuts-and-bolts of the process. You will need a well lighted, uncluttered work area, newspapers or paper towels to protect the surface in the event of a accidental spill.
If you have not already done so, remove the cartridges from the printer. If you are unsure how to do this, refer to the manufacturer's documentation for assistance. Most printer cartridges have foam inside acting as a sponge to retain the ink. Accessing this foam is varied according to the printer type. Some cartridges, like Hewlett Packard for example, you will just need to remove the cartridge label in order to access the refill holes. Others, such as Lexmark require that the cap of the cartridge be removed with a special tool included in the refill kit. This tool resembles and acts like a bottle opener to facilitate the cap removal. Canon cartridges have small ports under the label, but the small BB-like metal ball must be dislodged and pushed into the cartridge before filling it. Others require you to drill a new hole with a small tool in the kit.
Now you are ready for the refilling process. Depending on the kit you purchased, the ink may be in small bottles with or without the filling needle attached. If not, a syringe is included to accomplish this. If the latter option is the case, fill the syringe with the desired ink color. Place the needle portion into the refill hole and push it down into the foam. Note: On tri-colored cartridges, you will have to identify which color you are filling by inspecting the inner foam under well-lit circumstances. There may be multiple holes for the red (magenta), blue (cyan), and yellow colors. Slowly squeeze the bottle, or push the syringe plunger as the case may be, being careful not to overfill the cartridge. Normally cartridges will accept between 2-4 ounces of ink. Once filled, place the cartridge on a paper towel or newspaper as sometimes the newly filled cartridge may leak momentarily. Once it stops, gently clean excess ink off of the print head, replace the cap, label, or plug, insert the cartridge into the printer and you are almost done!
Cleanup will be easier if the ink is not allowed to dry. Soap and water or a mild cleanser will generally do a fine job of removing ink from hands and countertops. The final phase of the operation will be to print a test page in order to assess your performance. Just click Start>Settings>Printers. Select the printer in question by right-clicking and choosing properties. This should open the printer commands and under the general tab, you will find the “Print test page" button.
You are now an expert at the cartridge refilling game. You also saved yourself enough money to and can reward yourself for a job well done. As in any do-it-yourself project, it requires a little effort, but the savings convenience and satisfaction are well worth it. Home businesses have been started with this very idea, so do not discount your accomplishments.
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L J Comp is an Internet author and webmaster specializing in Internet marketing and promotion.