Don't Let the Cartridge Dry Out.
The number one refilling problem is waiting too long to refill
your cartridge. If you run out of ink, leave your cartridge in
the printer. Don't let your cartridge dry out. Inside just about
all inkjet cartridges with a built-in print head (HP, Lexmark),
there is a foam sponge. When the cartridge runs out of ink,
the sponge may dry up and go hard, especially when the
cartridge is removed from the printer.
Once the sponge has hardened the cartridge is "done for".
Even if you refill the cartridge before the sponge becomes useless,
dried ink can clog the microscopic holes (jets) in the print head.
It's always better to refill the cartridge before it runs dry. Topping
off the cartridge every 200-300 sheets ensures that the cartridge
always has ink in it to stop the sponge from drying out, and
preventing you from running out of ink in the middle of a job.
The print head of an ink jet cartridge can reach temperatures
of 500 degrees centigrade (932 digress fahrenheit) and the
ink itself serves as a coolant, so allowing the cartridge to run
dry can destroy the print head.
If you are out of refill ink supplies and want to preserve, your
cartridge for future refilling, wrap your cartridge in a slightly
moist paper towel or cloth and seal it in tightly a plastic baggie.
Remember to get as much air out of the baggie as possible.
This will buy you time to get resupplied.
Note: If you've refilled a cartridge and find that it's clogged up
and won't print, there is something you can try before discarding it.
Place the print head of the cartridge (just the nozzles where the ink
in a small bowl containing roughly a half cup of very hot water
and hold it there for five minutes. In some cases this will dissolve
the dried ink that's obstructing the nozzles, and, if it works,
you should see a little ink bleeding from the print head into the water.
This procedure can be repeated two or three times if you wish.
Once it looks as though the nozzles have been unclogged,
you should gently wipe off the entire cartridge, especially the
copper electrical contacts, with alcohol on a soft, lint-free cloth,
insert the cartridge into your printer, and run it's print head
cleaning cycle (consult your printer's manual if necessary)
before you try printing. If this doesn't fix it, you should discard
the cartridge but you may wish to recover the ink from it first.
All Printers Require Good Preventive Maintenance.
The number one complaint about poor print quality,
specifically streaking print, white lines through the print,
or no print at all, can be avoided by frequent use of your printer.
These print problems are caused by ink drying up in the
print head or nozzles, clogging them and preventing ink
from reaching the paper. If you don't use your printer
regularly you can help keep it in working order by printing
a test page or running a print head cleaning cycle once a week.
Consult your printer's manual for additional or more specific
preventative maintenance tips.
Power Down Properly.
Always use your printer's power switch rather than the switch
on a surge protector to shut the unit down. Most ink jet printers
have a print head parking function that's triggered by the printer's
own power switch. This ensures that your cartridges are 'sealed'
properly and not exposed to the drying effects of ambient air.
Keep The Print Head Clean.
Care needs to be taken to ensure that the print head is kept clean
in order to stop ink clogging in the print head. Some printers
(Hewlett Packard for example) don't do a very thorough job
of cleaning the print head when you run their normal cleaning cycle.
Deposits of ink can build up on the print head, causing the cartridge
to function poorly. You can help circumvent this problem by
occasionally cleaning the print head with a soft cotton cloth or
Q-tip (doesn't use tissues and be gentle) dipped in water.
Snap the cartridge in and out a couple times to get a good
connection after cleaning. Keeping the print head clean will
result in a maximum number of successful refills. You can also
purchase Inkjet Printer Cleaning Kits to aid you in this.
Preventing "Color Mixing" When Refilling.
When refilling a three color (or more) cartridge, there is a
chance that you can have the cartridge turned the wrong way
and get the colors on the ends backwards. In other words, you
might put the magenta ink in the cyan chamber. To avoid this from
happening and ruining your cartridge: use three tooth picks and
insert one of them into each fill hole, deep enough to pick up some ink.
Mark the cartridge with a marker or piece of tape to help you
remember which chamber is which color. Pretty simple and helpful.
Warning when refilling color cartridges be sure to follow the
instructions provided with your refill kit very carefully.
Some manufacturers (I hate to be redundant, but, HP for example)
may have misleading information attached to the cartridge.
Do Not Run Back-to-Back Cleaning Cycles.
(this applies to all printers)
Give the cartridge a chance to let some ink flow in between
This will purge air bubbles or foamy ink that a cleaning cycle may
have created. Print a test page or a color balanced image.
If the printing quality hasn't improved, run another cleaning
cycle and test it again. Repeat the process as often as needed.
Purge the Cartridge.
Purging the cartridge regularly is one of the most important steps
in ensuring a long cartridge life. The purging cycle is not the same
as the cleaning cycle. If you don't know how to do this, read your
printer manual, it's all in there. The purge cycle consists of a
process that heats all the jets in the cartridge and then cleans
them from the inside out. All purge cycles produce a grid which
consists of vertical and horizontal lines which represent all
the jets in the cartridge.
Prevent Print head Burnout (HP and Lexmark cartridge types).
One of the most common causes of printer cartridge failure
is print head burnout. When the command is given for an inkjet
nozzle to "print" many things happen; ink has been brought to the
"firing chamber" by a combination of gravity, capillary action, and
vacuum caused by the last firing. The circuitry applies current to
the heating resistor which rapidly heats the ink in the chamber,
causing it to expand. This quick expansion forces ink to shoot
through the print head nozzle onto the paper. There are over 200
of these microscopic expansion chambers on the end of a typical
printer cartridge. The ink which flows through them also serves to
cool them off. The resistor which heats the ink achieves very high
temperatures and without the cooling action of the ink, the print
head very rapidly begins to deteriorate. Printing even part of a
page with no ink in the cartridge can permanently damage the
print head. Most printers will warn you of a low cartridge
before it completely run out of ink. At the first sign of low ink,
refill your cartridge to ensure a long refillable life.
Late model printers may offer an "ink level gauge".
Be aware that this software "gauges" are not accurate measures
of the ink level in the cartridge and should not be trusted.
For this reason we suggest that you top off your cartridges on
a regular basis. If you know that you use a cartridge every 2
months, refill every month. Place a sticky note on your printer
to remind you when to next refill. If you rely on your printer ink
level gauge, be sure to refill before the 'out of ink indicator'
pops up. Note: if you have ink left over don't worry, it'll keep.
When some cartridges (HP 51626A and 51629A for
example) are refilled the cartridge many require time to
reestablish internal equilibrium. Some may require you to
re-pressurize them with a plastic squeeze bottle while
others require only time to stabilize before being inserted
into the printer. While Epson cartridges are normally
"good to go" within an hour, they sometimes require as
many as twenty four hours to stabilize. It is good idea to
stand the cartridge on some newspaper to equalize
(don't let the 'nozzle tip' or ink outlet touch the paper
or the ink can 'wick out', draining the cartridge.).
Your ink supplier (Maxpatch Ink Supplies, our sponsor,
is an excellent choice!) should have specially designed
Epson printer refill kits which provide for refilling through
the outlet hole on the bottom of the tank rather than filling
through a hole in the top. This superior refilling method
greatly reduces the amount of foaming (bubbles) within the tank.