Refill the HP17, HP25, HP78 and Other Integrated Head Color Cartridges

OddMix.com - PC Technical Note - PCN0803 - Karl Nagy

Picture 1. Required Items - Type 17 Cartridge, Ink, Syringe and Needle [4 KB]
Picture 1. Required Items - Type 17 Cartridge, Ink, Syringe and Needle

The single largest data processing expense is the price the general public forks over for ink. Almost all computer makers coming out with their own "designer line" of ink cartridges. Sadly, as anyone used to buy HP cartridges can readily attest, the cartridge sizes usually stays a same but it has less and less ink in them. The best example is the HP-45 black cartridge that is the exact same size as the newer HP-15 black. While the HP-45 contained 42 ml (milliliter) or cc (cubic centimeter) ink, the HP-15 has only 25 cc. Obviously, since both cartridges are the same size, the 15 cartridge also has the volume, only the corporate greed is dictating the "saving" of the 17 ml ink.

Picture 2. Head Cleaning in Alcohol [3 KB]
Picture 2. Head Cleaning in Alcohol

Not that ink is so very rare and valuable, that every precious drop has to be saved. Just that Hewlett Packard Co, among many, gets away collecting in excess of thirty dollars for every cartridge and so they happily doing it. To make sure nobody can ever refill or reuse an HP ink cartridge, the company "patented" the design and obtained all sorts of legalistic sounding exclusive instruments to make sure the public keeps on buying, and discarding their overpriced ink products.

Among many printers, HP cartridges the hardest to refill. The easiest are the environmentally friendly printers using ink tanks. Finest example of those is the Canon or Epson printers, but many others are using these methods. Occasionally a few HP printers have ink tanks. An example is the HP OfficeJet d155xi and possibly some others. Ink tank type printers have separate print heads. HP print cartridges are almost always integrated, that way the profit margin is much higher as each time a cartridge is empty, a set of good, working heads end up on the dump.

Picture 3. Pushing in the Blue Plug [4 KB]
Picture 3. Pushing in the Blue Plug
Refilling a Cannon type ink tank is child's play, compared to the refilling of the HP print head and ink-tank combination cartridges. All things considered the color cartridges like the HP type17 (C6625A), C1823A and 78 (c6578a) and almost all three chamber types in one body are not that difficult to rejuvenate. The black HP cartridges are the hardest to refill successfully. That is mostly because the black ink is a granular, colloid suspension. If the granules of the replacement ink are larger than the nozzle openings of the cartridge, the refill will be a failure. Since the temptation is too much for the phony ink dealers in computer shows, they are happily sell all sorts of black looking water. The color inks are without visible granules and lots better. Since most of the color ink derived from plants and similar to food coloring, almost all color refill is a full success.

The best time to refill the cartridge is before it runs out, or at the exact same time. Once any of the color head dries up it is much harder to clean it sufficiently to make it all right. A dried up head is in a habit of burning out, as it has lost its liquid coolant. So do not delay too long wit the refill. Luckily the ink used in the color cartridges are soluble in alcohol. If a head already dried up, find a small container that is large enough to hold the head side of the cartridge. Fill a little container with regular rubbing alcohol, just enough to cover the nozzle assembly on the head. Picture 2.

The 70% isopropyl alcohol solution available in some food stores and pharmacies are fine and inexpensive for this purpose. A 90% solution is also useable, if desired it can be diluted with distilled water. Leave the cartridge in the solution overnight, or if possible longer. Generally, the longer the better, especially with hardened dried ink in the nozzles. Check the alcohol level periodically and refill as necessary. Some of the alcohol, will infiltrate to the inside of the print head and ink tank, some of it will evaporate. Inspect the color of the alcohol also. When the process is done the alcohol will be close to black in color, as all three colors will contribute to it. Initially, it will have the color of the colors of the clear nozzles.

Picture 4. Injecting Into Blue Ink Chamber [3 KB]
Picture 4. Injecting Into Blue Ink Chamber

The next stage is the actual refill. Position the cartridge as shown on the photo, head down. Three small plugs are on top of the cartridge, where the factory filled it originally. It is devilishly difficult to extract the plugs, but not too hard to press them in. Unless you're a masochist, with a ball point pen, or a similar instrument, press the three plugs in. Picture 3. Looking from the top, and the filler holes away from you, the right ink chamber is the blue, the middle is the magenta, and the left is yellow. After the chambers are open and accessible, insert a long needle or a straightened paper clip as far as possible. Withdraw the needle and inspect it for color. It is embarrassing to refill a chamber with the wrong color, so be absolutely sure of what you are doing. If using a Trisonic Ink Jet Cartridge Refill Kit, use the enclosed needle. Otherwise you need to obtain a syringe and a long hypodermic needle.

The hypodermic is evidently not amongst our innumerable freedoms. Believe it or not it is a controlled substance, much to the delight of the pharmaceutical companies. Just like saline water is a controlled substance of which two thirds of the planet is covered. That is why a 500 cc of saline water IV in a hospital easily cost you $50-100 for the 0.9% salt water solution, because it is also a controlled substance. So get a prescription for the syringe and the needle from a friendly MD. Some refill kits come with a syringe or a needle or both.

Fill a syringe with 5 cc of ink, insert the needle deep, and slowly inject the ink into the ink chamber. Picture 4. It is better to inject twice a smaller amount. As injecting, pull up the needle after each cc injected. The ink chamber has a sponge like substance to hold the ink. After all three chambers are filled, use a small piece of adhesive tape to cover up the holes. Install and if needed use the printer utility to clean, prime and align the cartridge.

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