Considering the rise in the price of ink cartridges, several users started to resort to alternative solutions, such as the purchase of similar cartridges (cartridges manufactured by a manufacturer other than the original one, but compatible with the printer), refilled cartridges (used original cartridges, reloaded with new ink) or refilling Epson cartridges themselves, in a process that consists of manually reloading the cartridge with new ink. That last procedure is the cheapest one, and offers the greatest economy possible for the user, as long as it is done correctly.
The main problem is refilling the cartridges for the Epson printer. Original cartridges from Epson printers have a small memory chip that works as a counter. As the printer uses the cartridge, it updates that small memory. When the cartridge is empty, that circuit knows there is no more ink. Simply putting more ink in the cartridge does not enable it for use, since its chip will still indicate that the cartridge is empty.
Another problem that happens is that the memory of the cartridge may indicate that the cartridge is empty and yet there is still some ink in it. Because of that we may discard a cartridge that still has some ink.
In order to be able to refill an Epson cartridge at home, you will have to reset the counter chip of the cartridge, so the cartridge “knows” it is full. That can be done in two ways: through a special device or through software.
The special device is called Epson Chip Resetter or simply SK168 and costs USD 6.95. It is a device into which you fit the cartridge and in a few seconds the chip of the cartridge is reset. That device is sold at inksupply.com.
The software solution is even better, because it is free. You may download the software that resets the Epson cartridges from ssclg.com. That software is capable of resetting the memory of the cartridges from most Epson inkjet printer (a full list of the printers the program recognizes is available at its website). The program is extremely easy to be use, but be careful, because it can only zero USB printers on Windows 2000 and XP. For parallel port printers, you will have to use the program on Windows 9x/ME.
Be on alert, because some people sell this program, even though it is freeware.
[nextpage title=”Models That We Can’t Reset the Chip”]
Some (few) Epson printers can’t have their cartridge chip “zeroed” by software. Thus, you won’t get to reload the cartridge of those printers as explained last week. The models that have such limitation are Stylus C41, C42, C61, C62, C82 and Photo 830.
To use refilled cartridges in those printers you will have to freeze the printer ink counter. To do so, you will need a new and full original cartridge. Install that cartridge in the printer. Then execute the program indicated (available at ssclg.com) and use the option “Toggle CSIC disabling” from the program. That option will freeze the ink counter of the printer, that is, the printer will always “think” that the cartridge is full. Then, click on “move to exchange position” to make the head go to the center of the printer. Replace the new cartridge with the reloaded one and the click on “move back.” Presto! Your printer will use the refilled cartridge for its printing jobs.
Several readers wrote to us complaining that they had download the program didn’t understand how to use it. To make things easier, next we explained the main functions of the program.
- Head Cleaning: Procedure to clean the printhead.
- Hot Swap Functions: Procedure to replace the cartridge after “freezing” the counter. Procedure used in printers that don’t permit resetting the cartridge chip. That is the procedure we described above.
- CSIC: Procedures related to the cartridge chip.
- Toggle CSIC disabling: “freezes” the cartridge counter. Procedure used in printers that don’t permit resetting the cartridge chip. This whole procedure was described above.
- Reset black CSIC ink counter: Resets the black cartridge chip.
- Reset color CSIC ink counter: Resets the color cartridge chip. Clicking on that option, you may choose between resetting the chip for all colors (yellow, cyan and magenta) or only for a specific color.
- Protection counter: Procedures related to the pad used to clean the printhead. Similarly to what happens to ink cartridges, the printer controls the use of that pad. When that pad is totally used (full of ink), we needed to replace it. After replacing it you will need to reset its counter, using the option “Reset protection counter”. Don’t use that option if you have not exchanged the printhead cleaning pad. Using the option “Get Current Value” you may see the current position of the cleaning pad counter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, absolutely. Manufacturers these days, however, make it more and more difficult to do so because they have caught on to what regular folks have been doing for what seems like ages. You’ll have to reset the cartridge itself, first and foremost, just as we have described in our article. From there, all you need to patience to refill it without making a mess out of your table, clothes, and so forth. There’s a reason why refilling a cartridge is cheaper: it can get messy if you’re not careful and it takes some time to get it done.
Yes, it’s a good idea as long as you execute it properly. Refilling your own ink cartridges increases the risk of overfilling, which can lead to damage to your printer. You also lose some print quality when you choose third-party refill ink, though you’ll get about the same yield of pages before you run out of it. Bottom line: be careful when you refill your ink cartridge and make sure to only use qualitative ink.
Some older printers still allow you to print without one cartridge if you adjust your printer settings properly. However, newer models are way more restrictive, thus forcing you to buy a new cartridge. Some may say this is late-stage capitalism at its finest, others may find corporate greed to be at fault, and some may defend this measure saying that it’s for the better, as having all of your cartridges filled may produce better colors. Whatever your take is on this matter, it sure is inconvenient.
No, Walmart does not and probably never will refill your cartridges as to not upset their partners. However, as of the time of writing this, they do offer cartridge refill kits to make your life a little easier.
A regular OEM printer cartridge lasts anywhere between two and six refills depending on its quality, the ink that’s being used, and how well you have refilled it without going overboard.
The Bottom Line
With a little work and some trickery, you can still refill Epson ink cartridges. Make sure to profit off this, as many more brands are working tirelessly to stop people from doing so in the future.