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The print cartridge conspiracy

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Abstract Dissonance, Mar 11, 2006.

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  1. Does anyone know if its possible to figure out what method the printer
    manufacturers use to prevent people from cheaply replacing there print

    I tore up an old print cartridge HP-58 and found that there are 3 containers
    one for each color of Red, Green, and I guess yellow(it was empty). Each
    container has a foam like material that is used to hold the ink(not sure why
    though)... there are holes above each containers so that each one can be
    accessed individually from the top, but each one is covered up by the label.
    I assume this is how they themselfs(HP) fill the containers up. I could not
    find any device that is used to "detect" low ink. Infact the Red and Gree
    were almost completely full and the yellow was completely empty.... actually
    was a huge waste of ink since I'm sure just out of the red and green one
    could get 10 pages or so of high photo quality.

    I believe that the method that they use is probably some sort of counter on
    the number of times that the cartridge is used and does not reflect in any
    way how much ink is actually left. I was wondering if its possible to
    reverse engineer the cartridge to report that it is always full or to easily
    reset it.

    I know that supposedly refilling the cartridge has several problems such as
    lowering the quality and reducing the life of the print heads but I'd rather
    have that option. (not to mention all the wasted print cartridges and ink
    just so these people can increase there profit).

    I suppose one method might be to take a good print cartridge and tear off
    the circuitry and then manually supply the ink from an outside source? Not
    sure how good this would work... what would be even better if the damn
    printers would work even with low ink(many times I get a warning on my
    printer about it but yet I can print 30+ pages with no problem...).

    Anyone know of any "investigation" into this matter?


  3. Jim Yanik

    Jim Yanik Guest

    I used a refill kit from CompUSA to refill the cartridges on a Canon BJC-
    620,and the ink destroyed the printhead(the ink would run through the
    cartridges despite all attempts to seal the refill hole),and the black ink
    faded to brown on docs I printed,even though they were stored in
    darkness,not exposed to light.IMO,it's just not worth the risk to refill

    I've also read that some ink-jet cartridges have an IC chip inside to
    prevent reuse.
  4. Bob Monsen

    Bob Monsen Guest

    This is true. You can actually buy 'resetter' circuits that will reset the
    cartridges after you refill them. I found this out after refilling
    a cartridge, and having it fail to print. This appears to be a new thing,
    because I have refilled them in the past.

    However, I've given up the refill route, and started using I can get 5 off-brand cartridges for the price of
    1 epson cartridge, and the shipping is less than the sales tax I'd pay.
    Also, I always ruin something with an ink stain when I try to refill a

    Bob Monsen

    Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its
    creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain
    too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.
    Albert Einstein
  5. Zak

    Zak Guest

    Indeed. ISTR that HP uses a serial number in the cartridge and the
    printer keeps track of the score for the last three or so cartridges seen.

    So, if you have 3 empty ones to 'use' in between it will have forgotten
    about the cartridge that you refilled and that will work again.

    Don't know about the different models though.

    I've also seen that there are commands to send to teh printer to set the
    date. I'm wondering why, but it could be to reject cartridges that have

    I'm glad the EU has adopted ruling that prohibits anti-refill
    mechanisms; but it seems no-one has started to beat up on the manufacturers.

    Even Canon, whish had no anti-refill measures at all (but sued clone
    manufacturers) has started doing so.

  6. Bob Monsen

    Bob Monsen Guest

    According to the Epson c84 service manual (which I found someplace on the
    Internet) they use the date to determine the last print date/time, and
    so whether they need to pre-charge the heads with ink, or something like

    Bob Monsen

    The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own
    reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he
    contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous
    structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a
    little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.
    Albert Einstein
  7. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    Oh, make no mistake - Canon has a very significant anti-refill mechanism,
    at least on the BC-02. I once paid $25.00 for a reinking kit, and ink got
    everywhere EXCEPT into the cartridge.

  8. Guest

    Having worked in a research setting where printheads of this type were
    abused for alternate purposes, I'd point out that the details of
    getting them to work are quite touchy. It's really an impressive
    amount of engineering to take an appartus that requires just the right
    (often negative) pressure, freedom from air bubbles, ink viscosity,
    clean orifice plate, etc and package it all into something the consumer
    can carry around in a little foil bag and then pop in and use.

    That doesn't serve as an excuse for going out of the way to make the
    things even harder to refill, or for rejecting refilled cartradges, but
    it does suggest that even absent these things getting good results
    without making a mess can be difficult.

    BTW, the original deskjet head isn't hard to drive... I forget the
    details but a 12-14 volt supply, a mosfet, and something to generate a
    pulse of the right width and you have one jet going. This can be quite
    usefull for the class of physics experiments that used to be done with
    a spark gap and thermal paper. It's pretty easy to burn out that
    jet... but you have a lot more to play with when you do.
  9. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Since you mentioned the original DeskJet: These were a perfect example
    of how easy and reliable the technology could be. I have refilled their
    cartridges with ordinary fountain pen ink. The pot of ink cost about $5
    and contained enough for a dozen refills. You could refill these things
    3-4 times until the nozzle area was literally scraped off. Also, the
    print quality of the original HP DeskJet was IMHO about on par but much
    more consistent than that of "modern" inkjet printers. Oh, and I bet
    that old DeskJet of mine must have cranked well over 10,000 pages. It's
    still there because I could not bear throwing it out since it wasn't
    broken, just replaced by a faster LaserJet. None of the new ones ever
    came close.

    So, where is the "progress" here? My personal take is that the "modern"
    inkjet printer I bought a little over a year ago is also going to be the
    last inkjet printer I ever bought. Where have the HP engineers gone who
    designed 'the good stuff' like the early DeskJets, indestructible
    calculators like my trusty old HP11C and so on?

    Regards, Joerg
  10. Jim Yanik

    Jim Yanik Guest

    After I re-inked my Canon BJC-620 cartridges,they leaked thru the
    printhead,destroyed it. I tried everything to seal the cartridges to keep
    them from leaking.

    AND the black ink faded to brown after a couple of months,even with docs
    stored in darkness.
  11. Why not just toss it into the trash and get a laser printer?

    Best regards,
    Spehro Pefhany
  12. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Hello Spehro,
    For color that can become rather expensive.

    Regards, Joerg
  13. Bob Monsen

    Bob Monsen Guest

    The progress is that the printer now costs $29.99 on sale. The point is to
    sell cartridges; it's like giving away shavers, and selling razor blades.
    Given that fact, one can't expect these things to last as long as a
    printer that cost $500 10 years ago. I've replaced my c86 twice on
    warranty, and my c84 once. You need to talk to a tech, and they just send
    another one (after first asking whether you are using 'genuine' Epson
    cartridges.) Postage is free. They have a 1 year warranty. Not too bad for
    printers that cost me $40 at Frys. And one of these failures was probably
    due to Frys repackaging broken stuff, since it was dead when I got it

    Bob Monsen

    Yes, we have to divide up our time like that, between our politics and
    our equations. But to me our equations are far more important, for
    politics are only a matter of present concern. A mathematical equation
    stands forever.
    Albert Einstein
  14. Not so bad these days. They start at $250 US, and promise no more
    clogged printer heads or expensive ink wasted on head clean cycles.

    Best regards,
    Spehro Pefhany
  15. budgie

    budgie Guest

    Exactly. The bean-counters realised that making the perfect inkjet was a
    poinless exercise in engineering, however "H.P." that might have been. From the
    marketing point of view, consumables was the money-spinner. And that explains
    entirely their views about refilling, especially with aftermarket ink - all of a
    sudden their cashflow dries up faster than an Epson printhead nozzle. So they
    "chip" the carts.
  16. I mentioned in another post that I was able to get a cartridge filled by
    using a 10$ ink refill kit by Nu-kote. Seems to work fine for its
    purpose(quality might be a little degraded but can hardly tell the
    difference... not sure if its the ink or print quality). Anyways, only took
    1 min to refill with no mess. What I'm curious about is the "pressure"
    aspect of the cartridges. The instruction manual mentions that if your
    cartridge leaks then it is due to the pressure but why? How would the
    printer keep the presure stable in the cartridge without some mechanism
    inside it(which I didn't see one when I tore it apart)? and wouldn't the
    pressure change as the cartridge was used up? Is it just a gimmick? I
    didn't seem to have this problem but just curious as to why it might exist.

  17. Guest

    For color that can become rather expensive.
    Until the toner pukes all over the transfer rollers on some color
    lasers, requiring premature replacement of said cartridge. We went
    through 3 in a printer at work, at $115 a pop. Not a warranty item
    either, apparently.
  18. Robert Baer

    Robert Baer Guest

    I have a Canon 4100/4300 and have been refilling the cartridges for a
    number of years with no problems.
    I have found that one needs to watch the quality carefully; any
    dropout especially white lines thru a color block means *IMMEDIATE* ink
    refill is mandatory, else the resistive heaters in the head will burnout
    verrrry fast and one will have to replace the head.
  19. Robert Baer

    Robert Baer Guest

    The mention of pressure is bogus, except in inking systems that have
    *large* tanks of ink that feed the heads thru long tubes.
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