refillable epson ink cartridges

This is an email received from a customer. It contains valuable information for people using Epson printers, particularly the Artisan series, with refillable ink cartridges.

Hi,
I ordered a set of refillable cartridges and for my artisan 710 a couple of months ago and have now had a chance to put them through their paces printing a couple of hundred large format photos. I observe the following:

-the ink performs flawlessly
-refilling the cartridges was relatively simple and clean once I got a system going. The Artisan 710 has always hated having its cartridges replaced, even before I used yours: air seemed to enter the ink channel and cause one or more colours to stop printing. It was a rarity to not have to use up 1/3 of a cartridge of in head cleaning cycles to pump the air out and restore a proper nozzle check pattern again. Your refillables seem much better because the ink seems to flow much better without the internal foam/sponge that replacement cartridges have.

But I still had a couple of colours go dry, either when removing the cartridge to add ink or when I didn't pay attention and let a cartridge go dry (getting used to the re-settable ink counters on the refillables). So my system is now to refill the cartridge in place, as follows (the Artisan 710 cartridges are easy to access in place):

-remove the fill plug from the cartridge to be filled
-with a paper towel handy and wearing gloves, remove the stopper from the ink bottle filling needle
-bring the filling needle near the cartridge fill hole and then tip the bottle up and insert the needle into the hole (ie don't invert the bottle until you are close to the fill hole, to avoid dripping ink where it shouldn't be)
-now comes the delicate part: since it is basically impossible to see the ink level, how do you know when to stop adding ink so as not to overfill? The answer I found is to go by sound instead of sight. I insert the fill needle about half an inch into the fill hole and then gentle squeeze ink in from the bottle, letting off my squeeze pressure on the bottle after each short fill squeeze. The small accordion ink bottles, and probably any plastic bottle for that matter, will expand when you let the pressure off the bottle, creating a vacuum at the tip of the fill needle. If you hear the needle sucking air, you are not yet at your fill level, so add more ink. When all you hear no slurping sound, your are done.
-wipe any drops off the cartridge and reinsert the fill plug.
-get into the habit to refill your cartridge as soon as either the printer says ink is low, or the ink gauge on the printer shows a full cartridge (the 710 does not always warn me of a low cartridge). This will help avoid pumping a cartridge empty.

Page Counter Reset

The printer showed a warning message that the waste ink pads were nearing the end of their life. The printer was otherwise fine (in fact, in all respects except Epson's artificial roadblocks, the Artisan 710 is a great great printer)

I got Epson's waste ink counter utility from their web site, and after much frustration, finally got their utility to work with the required activation key (always use the utility pointed to in the email they send with the activation key, as they seem to be a matched set). BUT, that utility did not zero the counter, it only got me back to the level of the warning message. Totally mind boggling, apparently all designed to get even die hards to throw up their hands in despair and by a new printer, damaging the environment in the process.

In one last ditch attempt, I found http://www.2manuals.com/product_info.php?cPath=56_92&products_id=1322 which offers a downloadable utility that will display the waste ink counters for free (you must get an activation key for $9.99 to actually reset those counters). So I got it and saw that my printer has 2 ink counters, one at 40% full (ok) and the other at 96.83% full (ie the Epson utility did not really reset my counters even though it said it had succeeded (and I power-cycled the printer as they instructed).

So I purchased the 2manuals key and used their program to reset the waste ink counters. I then used the program to read the counters and lo and behold, they were both set to 0%! Ten dollars very well spent. The printer no longer shows any warning messages and seems happy as I am.

Hope you found this useful. I went to the trouble write you at length, because of how fairly you treated me on my first order and because I thought my experience might help you better help other of you artisan/epson customers.

John

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