Refillable ink cartridges, just like genuine or compatible cartridges, come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but all work along roughly the same principles. Each cartridge has two inlets, one for ink and one for air, and one regulated outlet, to supply ink steadily to the printer. Most cartridges today also have a microchip which communicates with the printer, to tell it that a cartridge is installed in the printer. We’ll take a look at each of these features in turn.
Filling your cartridges:
Every refillable cartridge will have a hole for filling with ink. All of our cartridges are supplied with syringes and blunt needles to make this easier, and the method is rather straightforward: simply remove the plug from your cartridge, fill the cartridge with ink, and replace the plug. Most of our cartridges have colour-coded plugs for filling, which match the colour of the ink required.
You should always fill your cartridge completely (within reason). This prevents the cartridge from ever running completely dry, which could otherwise run the risk of damaging your print head.
As the printer uses ink from your cartridges, it’s important that air can get into the cartridge to replace the ink being used. If no air can get in, you run the risk of causing a vacuum in the cartridge – this will mean the printer struggles to draw ink through properly, and you will end up with poor quality prints. On a genuine cartridge, your air inlet will normally be covered with yellow tape, removed before inserting the cartridge into the printer. With a refillable cartridge, this can be either tape or a small plug.
Aside from the shape of the cartridges themselves, this is where you will see the most variation between different cartridges, but really there are only two types available. These boil down to cartridges which contain a sponge, and cartridges which contain a spring. The purpose of both is the same: to supply ink to the printer without the ink flooding out of the cartridge.
If your cartridges contain a sponge, they will also be supplied with orange caps for filling. This is to prevent ink from dripping out during the filling process, and you should keep the caps for future refills.
For cartridges containing a spring, when not inserted into the printer the spring will always be closed, meaning no ink can spill out. The spring is opened by the printer as necessary for ink to be delivered.
Nearly all printers on the market today use microchips in the cartridges to estimate the remaining ink level and to check that the correct cartridges are installed in the printer. This also means that genuine cartridges cannot normally be reused, as the chip will tell the printer that the cartridge is empty.
Refillable cartridges, on the other hand, are fitted with auto-reset chips. When the cartridge reports as completely empty, removing, refilling, and reinserting the cartridge into the printer will cause it to report as full once again. There may be a small amount of ink remaining in the cartridge when it reports as empty, this is normal and nothing to worry about – you should still refill the cartridge at this stage.
Genuine ink cartridges are usually made of black plastic, so you can’t see how much ink is actually contained in the cartridges you’re buying (as little as 1.5ml in some cartridges). Our refillable cartridges are all made from clear plastic so you can easily see how far to fill your cartridge.
Also, when a genuine ink cartridge is empty, most people (85%) will throw it in the bin. The cartridges are then sent to landfill, where they can take 450-1000 years to decompose! Using refillable cartridges over the lifetime of your printer (there is no limit to the number of times you can refill our cartridges) can save a huge amount of waste plastic, as well as saving a tremendous amount of money.