Ink Cartridge Refill Instructions

By Robert Vaux

  • Overview

    Ink cartridges for printers come in a wide variety of designs, and some of them are not capable of being refilled. The chip inside them is instructed to shut down after a certain time has passed or the apparatus is simply too complicated to allow for the easy replacement of ink. For many cartridges, however, refilling the inkwell is extremely easy, requiring only an ink refill kit available at any office supply store. By refilling the inkwell instead of replacing the entire cartridge you save a great deal of money, as well as preventing unnecessary waste. These instructions are intended as a general guide for any kind of ink cartridge, and they may need to be adjusted slightly depending upon the type of cartridge you wish to refill.
    • Step 1

      Remove the cartridge from the printer and determine what color of ink it holds. There are 4 types of ink used in all printers: black, cyan, yellow and magenta. Black ink usually comes in its own cartridge, while the other 3 can either be in their own individual cartridges or combined into a single cartridge containing 3 separate inkwells.
    • Step 2

      Determine the location of the inkwell in your cartridge. In many cases, you can spot it simply by removing the label on top and checking for air vents or holes leading to the inkwell. For some cartridges, you may have to check the diagram on the manufacturer's home page, or simply make an eyeball inspection to spot the inkwell. With color cartridges, it is very important to note which inkwell is where: there will be 3 separate ones and you will need to fill them with the right color of ink. (Otherwise, the color balance on your printouts will be wrong.)


    • Step 3

      If the air vents are large enough for a syringe needle to fit, you can skip this step. Otherwise, you will need to make a hole on top of the cartridge large enough to fill the inkwell. Use a hole punch included in a standard ink refill kit or use a household drill if you can't find the hole punch. You will need to use a very small bit for the drill (3 mm or so) and hold the cartridge carefully while you drill.
    • Step 4

      Fill the syringe with the appropriately colored ink from the ink refill kit and carefully insert it into the hole that you have made (or the air vent if it is large enough to accommodate the needle). Slowly and gently allow the ink to fill up the inkwell. You shouldn't let the ink flow at a rate of faster than 1 ml a second or so, and watch carefully for overflow. The size of the inkwell in the cartridge will vary, but it is usually between 5 and 12 ml for standard cartridges and 10 to 30 ml for jumbo-sized cartridges.
    • Step 5

      Remove the needle from the hole. If you inserted it into an air vent, you can skip this step. Otherwise, you should cover the hole you have made with a piece of Scotch tape or similar sealant. It shouldn't interfere with the production of the printer.
    • Step 6

      Put the cartridge back in the printer, then run a cleaning program to make sure it is working. Some experts recommend running the cleaner 2 or 3 times. You may also want to let the cartridge sit for a few hours if you don't need to print right away. (Many cartridges use sponges to regulate the ink and the wait will give it time to absorb enough for a proper print job.) When you are ready to print, run a couple of test copies and check the color balance to confirm that it is accurate.
    • Skill: Easy
    • Ingredients:
    • Empty ink cartridge
    • Ink refill kit
    • Newspapers or paper towels
    • Gloves
    • Drill
    • 3 mm bit
    • Scotch tape
    • Tip: In order to prevent overflow, you may only want to refill the ink cartridge 3/4 of the way full or so. It should still print for quite awhile and you'll spare yourself any unnecessary mess.
    • Warning:
    • Printer ink can stain if it spills, so be sure to lay down plenty of newspapers or paper towels where you intend to work. If you're at an office, you may wish to take steps to protect your business clothes, or wear an old grubby shirt if you can.

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