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Should you refill your printer’s ink cartridges? HP says no (of course) Detail

Should you refill your printer’s ink cartridges? HP says no (of course)
Should you refill your printer’s ink cartridges? HP says no (of course)

If you’ve been paying any significant attention at all over the last several years, you’ve undoubtedly heard or seen advertisements for businesses that promise to save you money on printer ink cartridges. Specifically, by letting you refill the ink once it runs out, rather than forcing you to buy an entirely new cartridge. A quick Google search turns up tons of options, some from 
high-profile places like Walgreen’s, and many others with instructions on how to do it yourself. And it’s easy to see why that idea is so attractive: You replace the only part of the cartridge that’s spent, and pay only a fraction of the price you’d spend on a full replacement. What could possibly be wrong with the setup?

Well for one thing, HP reps told me last week that, at least with their products, it doesn’t work.

I know what you’re thinking. “That’s exactly what you’d expect people to say if they work for one of the largest printer manufacturers in the world.” To which I can only reply: Uh, yeah, you’re right. A company in HP’s position has every reason to downplay this cost-cutting measure, so anything you hear about it from someone at the company itself deservedly needs to be taken with a grain of salt. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I brought my shaker from the kitchen and put it right next to the computer.

I must admit, HP’s reasoning here made some sense to me. While I was touring the company’s North American cartridge recycling plant in Smyrna, Tennessee (a suburb of Nashville), during the typical dog-and-pony presentation before the main event, the subject came up and our guides were remarkably willing to discuss (and defend) their position when we seemed (at first, anyway) to be more interested in that than in the actual recycling process we’d been invited to witness.

How to Refill and Reuse a Printer Cartridge Detail

How to Refill and Reuse a Printer Cartridge
How to Refill and Reuse a Printer Cartridge

1

Purchase an ink refill kit at an office supply store. Many office supply and discount stores carry this inexpensive kit. It usually costs about half the price of an average printer cartridge.) You can also find these kits at online retailers

 

 

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  2. Gather your kit, a roll of paper towels, and some clear scotch tape together on a large flat working surface, a table or desk.
     
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    3
    Remove the empty cartridge from your printer. (Remember to close your printer lid or door while you are working.)
     
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    4
    Cover your hands with a pair of disposable plastic gloves while you work with the messy ink.
     
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    5
    Take a paper towel and fold it in half twice. Work over the paper towel to catch any leaking ink.
     
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    6
    Place the empty cartridge on it.
     
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    7
    Read the instruction manual included with the refill kit to learn how to refill your particular type of cartridge. (The following instructions are just a general guide).
     
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    8
    Locate the fill holes on the top of the cartridge. The depressions can be felt by rubbing your finger across the label. Some cartridges have more than one hole, but only one leads to the ink reservoir that you will refill. This hole will have a sponge in it.
     
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    9
    Use a sharp pencil to pierce the refill holes in the top of the ink cartridge Or you can take the top label off with a knife or screwdriver (Correct places can also be found in the kit instructions).
     
  10. Refill and Reuse a Printer Cartridge Step 10.jpg
    10
    In addition to black, there are three colors of ink: magenta, cyan, and yellow. Follow the kit instructions on which hole to insert each color OR push a toothpick into the holes to identify the colors as markings on the printer cartridge are sometimes there to fool you into putting the wrong colors into the cartridge ink chambers.
     
  11. Refill and Reuse a Printer Cartridge Step 11.jpg
    11
    Insert the long needle of the refill ink bottle deeply into the correct hole penetrating the foam down into the bottom of the cartridge. It is important not to push air into the cartridge foam while refilling. (An air pocket will keep the ink from reaching the print head causing the cartridge not to print.)
     
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    12
    Slowly, add the ink. Carefully watch to be sure that you do not over-fill.
     
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    13
    Stop quickly as soon as you see a bit of ink oozing out of the hole. Without letting go of the bottle, slowly release the air, sucking a little ink back out of the ink cartridge, before you remove the needle completely.
     
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    14
    Carefully daub the cartridge contacts on the paper towel, you should see a splotch of the ink leaking out onto the paper towel.
     
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    15
    Cover the hole with a small piece of clear scotch tape. (This works better than the seal dots included in the kit.) Make sure that no ink is leaking out of the top holes. (That's where the clear tape comes in handy.) Be careful not to cross contaminate the colors.
     
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    16
    Repeat steps 11-15 for each ink color.
     
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    17
    After you have refilled all three colors, carefully blot (don't wipe or rub) the cartridge printhead on a folded piece of paper towel. You may need to do this several times. Do this until it stops bleeding and you see an even stripe of three colors showing up on the towel.
     
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    18
    If the blot shows the colors either faded or not at all, blot on wet paper towel and again on dry, to get the ink flowing.
     
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    19
    Replace the ink cartridge into the printer. Never, ever install a leaking print cartridge.
     
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    20
    Immediately print something, anything, just to get the ink flowing. Print several test pages, preferable photos with a lot of different colors.
     
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    21
    Follow the cleaning or priming cycles for your specific printer.
     
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