The Pitfalls of Refilling

I do try to keep shameless self promotion out of my Click articles however, as you are probably all aware, I run a business in the computer consumables field and as such there are events in my day to day life that often appear like they would make good computer based reading material.We have recently started offering a refilling service and as such my knowledge of this particular area has increased exponentially over the last couple of months making it the ideal focus of my article today.

Thanks to adverts such as those commissioned several years ago by JR Inkjet (the ones featuring motoring journalist Quentin Wilson), there are a great many people who believe that they are immediately qualified for the task.Whilst refilling is certainly good for both your pocket and the environment, it is also an exact art that when improperly executed can yield terrible results.

Many companies will tell you that all you need is a drill piece, a universal ink and some sticky tape but if you’re looking for a result that’s half decent this is, unfortunately, not entirely accurate.The printer manufacturers spend a great deal of time and money ensuring that inks are specifically formulated for each individual cartridge and that the cartridges they offer are as difficult to refill as possible and as such a good degree of working knowledge is required.

Preparation is as important as the actual refilling itself and whilst not everybody is as thorough as ourselves, we use the following equipment on a daily basis to ensure that we retain the original quality.

-Centrifuge – This literally spins every last drop of ink out of the printer cartridge so that when you refill you don’t have two differing ink types mixing together inside the cartridge.

-Steamer - Removes any blockages that may have formed in the cartridge print head by focusing a concentrated jet of steam towards the bottom of the cartridge.

-Ultrasonic Bath – Breaks down any remaining blockages; these machines incidentally are similar to those used to clean surgical instruments in the healthcare industry.

-Replacement sponges - These are useful as not only to you often get a better quality by using fresh sponges but additionally some cartridges can have their capacity increased by the use of a different sponge.

-Replacement lids – These are put on to cartridges which we are able to remove the tops from; this prevents potentially messy ‘drill and fill’ techniques often employed at home.

Once the cartridge has been prepared it is important that it is refilled using ink that is a very close match to the manufacturers’ original specification rather than simply using a ‘universal’ ink.Ideally the refill should be performed under vacuum conditions so that there is no air present in the cartridge - This results in the ink spreading more evenly throughout the sponge and then making direct contact with the nozzle plate so that the print head immediately starts to rehydrate.By refilling outside of vacuum conditions you risk the possibility of trapped air which can have a serious effect on the print quality.

Alas, even with the correct training and expensive equipment, refilling can be messy; those that visit our store will often find one of us with ink inexplicably plastered across the forehead but this is simply put down to occupational hazard.If you do decide to brave refilling yourself then we do have the kits available, but since we guarantee to be the cheapest in Torbay, the smart advice would be to leave it to the professionals.



About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.