Printer Ink Secret, Revealed!





Introduction: Printer Ink Secret, Revealed!

Are you tired of running out of ink? Here's a secret the ink companies don't want you to know!



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    Epson seems to have fixed this. No little hole to push any more. :(

    Great 'ible! I did one on how to squeeze out the last of the ink from a brother all-in-one by covering the optical reader on the cartridge. More of these 'ibles for other printers are needed. Inkjet ink is the most expensive liquid on the planet.

    Epson would save money on ink by fixing this, you seem to be suggesting that there's something devious about it? Please name the specific cartridges you refer to, because the ones I know are empty when they say they are. L

    4 replies

    I don't see how Epson would save money by fixing this, selling ink cartridges that only allow you to use half the ink means that people need to buy 2 cartridges to get one cartridges worth of printing. As for the cartridge I am referring to I have the same ones shown in the video for the Epson Stylus Photo R280.

    If they only put half as much ink in the result for the user would be exactly the same, but they'd use less in in the manufacturing. Conspiracy only works if Epson are making more ink than they can actually sell and getting users to dispose of it is their best way to get rid of the stuff. L

    If they used half as much ink wouldn't they have to label as such and if they didn't then reduce the price accordingly any competition would eat Epson's lunch selling cartridges. If they use full amount of ink and "rig" it to say it was empty when still half full they would sell more cartridges. Their price per cartridge would be the same but they should end up selling more of them in a given amount of time. I am not saying there is a conspiracy, just that there is a way for them to make it worth their while. I cannot recall the brand of printer we use at work. Its a cheap inkjet and we were always getting messages about how the cartridge was almost out of ink. One day, when we needed a bit more to complete a printing job we went right on using the cartridge and it was good for many, many pages yet. This has given me an idea for a conspiracy theory with gas companies and car manufacturers. What if they (car manufacturers) rigged the gas guage to read a quarter emptier than it actually was. Seems to me that would cause people to re-fill their tanks that much sooner.

    Do ink cartridges give estimates for pages or list vol in ml?
    If you only  get 1000 sheets out, at 95% empty you've still got 50 left.
    Our Brother Fax drains right down to the bottom, but the ink that's left would still be enough for a few more - only the machine reads empty on the cartridge (like a gas-tank there's a float-indicator in there), it can't look at the ink density on the prints.



    And when the reset run out.. shake it and reset again. good for 2-3 times ;)

    3 replies

    Strongly advise to put the ink cartridge inside a plastic bag before shaking it.

    That is a lot easier than cleaning up ink going onto your clothes and equipment.



    I agree, generally I just put a towel where the ink can goes out.

    ever seen somebody drop a whole tank of black toner?

    I did, I saw the result, I quickly left.

    BTY, breathing in the slightest amount of toner, apparently is really bad for your health.==nano-particles


    There was a class action lawsuit against Epson because of this, most of the time cartridges are more than half full because the fullness level is controlled by the number of prints made, not the amount of ink used. I know in the past you needed to by a chip reseter or use the SSC Service (if your printer was supported) to reset an Epson cartridge, maybe because of the lawsuit they have added this button to allow you to reset the cartridge. But it sounds fake to me

    3 replies
    From what I know, they can not actually measure ink used, or ink left in the cartridge, just the number of blasts of each ink nozzle.

    We got a local NZ wide franchise refilling cartridges. Their worldwide association I am told (the above came from there too) is going flat out trying to crack the unique coding in these chips, so they can be reset to zero. (i.e. the question is, is how is the number of blasts encoded, so the count register can have a lower figure put into it, dont  forget, the code for zero, will never be the same, for that chip, and similar chips)

    If commercial re-fillers can not do it, then its unlikely anybody else can, based on, if somebody finds a hack, the commercial people wont be far behind, or the person sells the hack to the commerial people..

    So what is on the cartridge chip? First, it must have a little R/W register to keep track of the number of times each colour nozzle is triggered, NOT has been triggered. That is a important distinction, meaning you can not trigger once the count reaches maximum, suggesting possibly a link to the nozzle is burnt out, once counter reaches maximum.


    A liquid (ink) when hot, expands, so one blast of a colour nozzle, would not use as much ink as if the ink was cold? That could mean you have ink volume left, when you run out of permissible nozzle blasts.

    Legally thinking, you are not buying ink by volume, but ink by the number of nozzle blasts. The printer manufacturer might then be guilty of breaking advertisng laws when it advertises ink volume and not the number of blasts.

    But with warm ink, your print out might not be a good quality as with a printout, with ink at the right temperature, where when the chip says the ink has run out, and it really has run out.

    Thus interfering with the temperature of the ink, to get more volume, and more printed pages, is not going to work.

    But think about this, using the printer continuously, means the print head can get very hot (at which point, the print slows down) and thus the ink expands, and less is used per nozzle blast.

    That could explain why some ink still remains for some users, these high use users would be more likely to notice ink remaining, than users whom dont do much printing.

    A printer's specifications don't highlight ink volume per colour as much as number of pages printed at 5% coverage. (last time I looked, it was 5% coverage) but that fails if you print a photo, taking a lot of photos outside, uses driffent colouring than the same number of photos taken inside.

    A nozzle only has a certain number of blasts, before it wears out, I understand from my informants that the nozzle can be enlarged by use, thus no longer giving that perfect micro-mico whatever of a millimetre perfectly formed micro-droplet. That's why if you can refill, you only do it once or twice before losing quality, while the printer manufacturer is conservative about how much ink to supply with the nozzles.

    Worn out nozzles (and warm ink?) would make a printout look fussy, which would tarnish the printer manufacturers reputation for selling great printers.

    Thus they count then number of blasts, and at a point they decide, the printer tells you,

    Not that the ink has run out. BUT that the ink nozzle has worn out.

    I recall around 150-years ago in 1983 (I am 53, but still feel 20) my first proper printer was a dot matrix impact with ribbon. Today the $1300 I paid for it back then, would  pay for a whole PC, a decent ink jet costs $350)

    The ribbon cartridge had a little button, you could press with a pen point, that set the ribbon, to run once only, in reverse, sort of giving you a second life.

    Maybe thats where the idea started, that began this discussion?

    As for a conspiracy about the amount of ink the manufacturer puts into a cartridge, and you can only get to use up half.

    Its true, the cost of the ink is all the same to the manufacturer, even if you only get to use half.

    1. The customer pays for all the ink, the manufacturer still gets paid, and still makes all the profit, as if ALL the ink gets used by the clients.
    2. The customers do sent half used ink cartridges off to the land fill. (rubbish tip)
    3. And thus the manufacturer sells a replacement a lot sooner (and oftener) than the customer expected when buying the printer.
    As expected, the printer manufacturer is laughing all the way to the bank, he is not moaning about selling twice as many ink cartridges as he should if he was honest, and if they get tossed out while still 50% full, why should he worry?

    That guy in the Mad comics used to say
    "What? me worry?".


    Well I know from opening up one of my "empty" cartages that it still had ink in it and the temperature thing seems like a good explanation for that. As far as the nozzle idea goes, the Epson I have has built in nozzles and they are not connected to the ink like some other printers do. Finally, there was a lawsuit agents Epson saying that the only cartiges that could be refilled were original Epson cartiges and that they could only be refilled once. If you really want to refill an Epson cartige you can buy a chip reseter, more information about there and where to get them can be found here.

    in NZ, if the nozzles are separate from the ink container, we dont call it a ink cartridge, but a ink tank. And with that, you have either a replaceable, or permanent print head. A cartridge has the whole combined.

    I would say, highly likely there is a counter inside your print head, counting blasts, nozzles always wear, one day you might get a warning your print head is close to expiring. Epson does not say so, but even a permantly built in print head has a finine number of nozzle blasts, before the nozzles wear out. (enlarge and/or change their shape====ink droplet shape.)

    If the tank has a chip (my cannon printer does) it can certainly still communicate with the counter on the print head, in order to determine usage by nozzle blast.

    So the interesting question would be, is it possible to put a thin flexible PCB between the tank's connector and print head connected, this thin flexible PCB I have seen inside an expensive camera, way back in the 70s, as a means of getting all the components into a very small space, by folding the PCB around the mechanical parts.

    using such a double sided PCB, etched to match the contacts, you could use another computer to moniter the signals between print head and tank, and then possibly modify the signals.

    Because of costs, I got a mono laser, a cheap ink jet, a good quality ink jet, and for photos, I use a on-line service with overnight return to me, with a old 6 x 4 photo printer for quick tests.

    Noting its always the ink that costs a fortune, with my cheap ink jet, when the ink runs out, its generally cheaper to go a buy a new prineter, whatever the brand, but as long as its on special.

    I noted overnight that mobile phone manufacturers have agreed to use one standard charger that fits all brands/models.

    Would it be too much to hope for, that the law makers force all ink jet printer manufacturers, to use a universal ink tank on at least 50% of their models?

    Each manufacturer can still use their own ink formula, the customer can decide which brand of ink, works best in his brand of printer.

    Doing so, would create competition in ink supplies, even non-printer manufacturers could formulate ink and fill the universal tanks.
    1. the price of ink would fall
    2. quality of ink would improve, so no longer dependent on printer quality for decent prints, that lessons the stranglehold printer manufacturers try to have over customers too.
    3. Such competition would encourage formulation of ink, thats less abrasive on nozzles..
    When I bought my first mono lazer, which had a replaceable photostatic drum I found  it cheaper to run than a inkjet, and once the drum wore out, it was better to buy a whole new printer, than a replaceable drum.

    Toner is cheaper than ink, but to buy a replacement toner tank, is lots more than a ink tank, some people just dont have that much money in one go.

    Having said that, I dont think it will be long until everybody has a colour laser for general work, and a hight quality ink jet for photo quality.

    Even then, ink jets are going out, as thermal wax photo printers come down in price.

    I once had a colour dot matrix printer, (1980, it cost maybe $400) with 3 colour ribbon, that was the only affordable option anybody had, do 3-4 printouts in colour, and the ribbon became contaminated, colours mixed together.

    You dont know how lucky you are today, with the ink jets.

    What will we have in 5-years time?

    A laser with sensitive paper?  (no photostatic drum in between, no toner either) the paper impregnated with colour molecules, the temperture of the laser beam, determing the colour?

    What is to wear out? And anybody could then manufacturer suitable paper, seeing we have a standard size, in NZ its the famous A4 size.

    but then, maybe printouts will be outlawed, dont forghet digital photo frames, and Ereaders are coming in.


    I don't see any such button on my HP 45 or my Lexmark 44xl carts. Wish I had it and that it was true.

    3 replies

    Thinking about costs of manufacturing, and complexity adding possibly faults, no manufacter in his righ mind, would go to the expense of adding a little mecanical type button onto his print cartridges.

    Today, if there really was such an option, its more likely to be a software instruction sent to the cartridge, by an instruction by the printer driver on the PC its connected too, or possibly a certain combination of the existing standard button's on the printer.

    If that button, costs the manufacturer only one cent, still on a million cartridges, thats $10,000 loss on profit. (NZ's million is 1,000,000)

    Yeah, I don't think my home cartridges do either, but the cartridge in the vid looks the same as the one at work, so at least I'll get to try it there! :)

    PS: I'm not saying it's not true, just that I can't confirm it....

    the video is not working anymore :-\