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Refilling your Cartridges: Simple Tips for Success

2009-05-01

Don't wait until your cartridge is completely empty: Most cartridges have a sponge inside that absorbs and stores the cartridge ink. One important tip is that you should never let the sponge go dry. If you do, it can quickly become brittle and incapable of holding more ink. Refill your cartridges regularly to ensure the sponge stays pliable and moist. A good time to refill is when your cartridge has about a quarter of its ink left.

Go Slow: When you're injecting the ink, do so slowly. You need to give the sponge enough time to absorb the ink. A steady, slow injection will make leaks and messes less likely.

Get your Colors Right: Colored ink cartridges usually have at least three separate chambers, which hold cyan, magenta, and yellow ink. Refilling them is a bit more complex, simply because you have to make sure the correct color of ink is injected into each chamber. Otherwise, you might end up with some really strange printouts. Think magenta sky instead of the soft blue one that's on your screen. Interesting maybe, but also something you probably want to avoid. The best thing is to stick toothpicks or pins into the holes to determine where each color should go. You might also label each chamber to make subsequent refills easier.

Don't Overfill: Like injecting ink too fast, injecting too much can cause leaks and huge messes. It can also damage the printer if leaks occur after the cartridge has been installed. There are a few ways to avoid overfilling. One is to stop injecting when the ink reaches the location of the syringe. Another is to only inject about half of the cartridge's total capacity (most syringes will have divisions that allow you to see how much you're injecting). If you know you've injected too much (because ink is leaking copiously from the cartridge, for example) you can always remove some of the ink with the syringe.

Handle with Care: Many cartridges now contain partial or entire print heads, and these components need to function properly for the cartridge to work. Even small scratches can make printing that document or photo impossible. For this reason, it's important to handle your cartridges carefully during the refilling process. In general, the hard plastic surfaces are ok to handle. Avoid coming into contact with metallic parts or any portions that just look different from the rest of the cartridge.

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