Troubleshooting tips for refilled ink cartridges

Alps MD-5500 Printer

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Reusing ink cartridges benefits both the environment and your pocketbook, but there can occasionally be an issue with a reused cartridge that causes it to not give out ink or fail to be noticed by your printer.

The following tips are generic and may not apply to your particular printer. If the cartridges you purchase from us are not performing to your expectations and the following suggestions either don’t work or don’t apply, please call us for specific solutions to your problem.

“My printer says the cartridge is low on ink or empty when I first put it in.”

Some printers are able to detect a cartridge that has been in another printer. This ability is provided by the software in the printer and cannot generally be over-ridden. The electronics on the reused cartridge isn’t resetting the page counter in the printer, and that page counter is the only way the printer has to know how much ink the cartridge contains. You can usually ignore these warnings of low or no ink and print normally. You will have to monitor the quality of your prints to know when the ink cartridge is running low since the printer won’t warn you. To dismiss these warnings, click the “OK” button until the dialog box goes away. Sometimes checking the “Don’t display this dialog again” option in the warning window will prevent the printer from popping up the same warning every time you start to print.

“My cartridge seems to have dried out and won’t print properly even though I’m sure there’s still ink in it.”

The first thing to do in these cases is to run the printer’s built-in cleaning process. You shouldn’t run it more than once as it uses a lot of ink. If that doesn’t produced the desired result, take a paper towel and slightly dampen it and place it on a surface that won’t be discolored or damaged by ink. Tile is a good surface. Hold the cartridge with the print head against the paper towel for about a minute. Since water is a larger molecule than ink, you should start to see a bloom of ink form around the print head. This is the water wicking out the ink. Usually this is enough to moisten the print head and get the ink flowing again if the only problem was ink dried on the print head. If the cartridge still isn’t printing correctly, bring it back to us and we’ll either fix or replace it.

“I bought the right cartridge for my printer but it doesn’t fit.”

We get a phone call like this about once a week; it’s not as rare a problem as you might expect. The usual cause is the failure to remove the tape and/or clip from the cartridge prior to installation. We use a very light adhesive tape over the printhead  on black inkjet cartridges to protect them from damage or even the casual touch and we combine the tape with a plastic clip on color cartridges. The clip is intended to prevent color mixing at the printhead and to keep air from getting into the printhead. When removing the tape, be sure to only remove the light adhesive tape. Do not attempt to remove the brass electronics strip that constitutes the printhead. This will guarantee the cartridge can never be used again. We like to say that if you can’t remove the tape with your fingers, you’re probably trying to remove the wrong thing. Pliers are not required to remove the tape.

“My photos look dull using your cartridges.”

First, make sure you aren’t printing photos in “draft” mode. Check the settings in “printer properties” and be sure you have “Best” or “Photo” selected for the print quality. Second, for the best possible results using our cartridges, be sure you’re using the photo paper recommended by your printer’s manufacturer. Inks are formulated to work with certain types of photo paper. Saturation and drying time are particular to the recommended paper. Printing photos on ordinary copy paper will result in dull colors and saturated paper.

For the very best results when printing very important photos, we recommend you use the manufacturer’s paper and ink. Because we have to manufacture our ink using different components than the OEM ink to avoid legal complications, we cannot make the same claims as the manufacturers do about photo quality and longevity. Our inks are not archival quality inks, and that, usually combined with acid-free paper, is required to attain the promises made by the manufacturers as to photo quality and their claims that their ink won’t fade for 100 years.

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