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Refilling Epson Ink Cartridges - hazardous to your printer
by Izzy Goodman

Epson ink cartridges are deliberately designed not to be refilled.* They contain a chip which measures the amount of ink remaining. When the ink cartridge is empty, the chip is set to empty. Simply putting more ink in the cartridge will not work. The chip also has to be reprogrammed to a full state. Newer chips are deliberately designed not to allow reprogramming, therefore this procedure often fails. I have seen numerous complaints on the net of people who bought refilled ink cartridges only to have the printer report that they were empty immediately upon insertion.

How does the chip know when the ink cartridge is empty? It counts the pages printed and estimates ink use. Eventually it reports the ink cartridge to be empty, often when there is still 10-20% left. Once the chip is set to empty, it will not be reset. The chip still has to be reprogrammed. Some chips can not be reprogrammed at all, so once they report empty they will stay that way permanently. This includes Epson T069, T078, T079, T098, T125, T126 and T127 ink cartridges.

But there are greater dangers than just having a cartridge report empty. Inkjet printers squirt ink through microscopic holes. If these holes get clogged, it can cause problems from poor print quality to complete printer failure. All ink has a tendency to coagulate when exposed to air. Otherwise it would never dry. Now think about an empty ink cartridge which sat around for a while before someone injected more ink. The original remaining 10% of the ink in that cartridge has coagulated. Now it has been refilled. You are already losing 10% due to the coagulated ink which was there at the time of refill. But the problem is even more serious. If that old ink clot breaks free, it can clog and permanently damage your printer. Even if you refill the cartridge immediately, if you are using an ink bottle, there will be clots along the opening of the bottle. If one clot makes it to your printer head, you might lose you whole printer in a futile effort to save a few bucks.

Some printers use a vacuum process to suck ink to the heads. If air enters the tiny tubes, the vacuum is broken. When refilling cartridges using hypodermic-type needles, it is common for air to enter the tanks.

Then there are other pitfalls. You have to keep four or six ink bottles around with 4 or six different hypodermic needles. It is virtually impossible to refill without dripping ink. And it is almost inevitable that at some point an ink bottle will be knocked over or break. Imagine the mess.

So why refill? It is a messy process. If you do it yourself, you can't avoid getting ink all over the place. If someone else does it for you, refilled ink cartridges still tend to leak, clot or bleed air into the printer. You don't save money. Places which refill typically charge about $10 a cartridge. You can buy a brand new compatible for $3. And you are risking your printer. Refilling is foolish on so many levels.

Note that refilling a single-use ink cartridge is not the same as doing so with an ink cartridge specifically designed for refilling and using special ink dispensers designed to eliminate air, leaks and spills.

We have solutions which gives you the best of both worlds - Reusable Epson Cartridges without the mess or the risk. Take a look at our 2-piece cartridges with a separate ink tank contained within the main cartridge. When the tank is empty, you pop it out and pop in a new one. No mess. No leaks. Since you are completely replacing the tank, there is no clotted ink remaining to clog your heads. The ink tanks are 2.50 or less and hold more than double the ink of regular cartridges*. Because you can get $2 back for the empty tank, you're paying less than 50 cents a cartridge! Here's how you can get lots of Free Epson Ink!

We also have Refillable Epson Ink Cartridges which can be refilled from special ink bottles. Both the reusable and refillable epson cartridges have advantages and which one to use is your personal decision. Click here for a list of Inexpensive Epson Ink Cartridges.

* see www.refillinstructions.com/Epson/E25.htm for details of how Epson prevents Epson ink cartridges from being refilled.
** see http://freedomtoprint.com/2009/03/16/review-epson-t068-t069-t088-split-open/ where researchers actually opened the Epson ink cartridges and measured the amount of ink supplied.