A while ago, the team at BCHTechnologies did a broadcast in which we discussed and demonstrated how to make a refillable Canon ink cartridge that wasn’t spongeless. Even though this process would be nearly identical for almost any of Canon’s ink cartridges, the specific models we focused on were the PG-245, CL-246, PG-240, and CL-241.
Today we’ll be going over everything we covered in that broadcast. In a previous video, we purchased a Canon printer and showed you how to make the default cartridges refillable. In this video, we ordered some used cartridges off of eBay, and we showed you how to refill these and one method for unclogging their printheads if needed.
There are three advantages of using refillable cartridges instead of the default ones that Canon gives you. The first is that you’ve got more volume to work with. The starting cartridges are tiny, so we want to increase the ink capacity. The second advantage is that refillable cartridges are easier to unclog and maintain than non-refillable ones. If you notice a problem while printing, it’s also easier to diagnose and repair with a refillable cartridge. The third advantage is that they have a much longer lifespan, which means you’ll save money since you won’t have to buy new cartridges all the time. Refillable cartridges last an average of ten times longer than their non-refillable counterparts.
The ink kit we used for the refills in our demonstration is KD600XCC, which you can purchase from my website, BCHTechnologies.com, under the “refill ink for canon” section of the refill ink tab. This kit will come with three bottles of black ink and one bottle of each of the colored inks. These BCH brand inks will last quite a long time. The kit also includes the needles and syringes you’ll need for refilling and a few other accessories.
You’ll also need a sponge conversion kit, which is also available at BCHTechnologies.com. We also sell a priming kit that would be very useful but is not necessary for the success of this process. I also highly recommend investing in some BCH brand cleaning solution. Some other things you’ll need that aren’t available for sale on my website include a utility knife, sandpaper, gloves, and a lot of paper towels.
We demonstrated with some dry, used cartridges to show you the process of unclogging the printhead and how to convert the cartridges to be refillable. Put the gloves on to ensure safety before beginning the process.
The first step you’re going to do is find a bowl large enough for the printhead(s) to fit in. Pour in the BCH brand cleaner until it’s about ¼ of an inch deep. If you really don’t want to buy the cleaning solution, you could substitute warm water, but that will be far less effective.
Unclogging the Printhead
Set the ink cartridge(s) into the bowl with the printhead on the bottom. Make sure the printhead is completely submerged, but the electronic component remains completely dry. Getting the electronic component wet will probably cause it to short circuit, which will, in turn, cause irreparable damage. Let the cartridges soak for a while (even though you’ll be able to see some of the dry ink dissolving almost immediately).
Opening the Cartridge
Once the dried ink and particles have dissolved, it’s time to open the cartridge up. This is where you’ll need that utility knife we mentioned earlier. In addition to wearing gloves, now would be a good time to put down some paper towels to cover whatever surfaces you’re working on to prevent ink from getting everywhere and staining. Ink is messy, hard to clean up, and doesn’t take long to stain.
If you look at the top of the cartridge, you’ll see a seam separating the lid from the rest of the cartridge. Starting at one of the corners, wedge the utility knife into that seam. Be careful not to let it slip and cut you by accident. Wiggle the knife back and forth until the lid separates from the cartridge and use the utility knife to pry it off.
Once you’ve taken the lid off, you’ll be able to see that there’s a sponge inside the cartridge. This sponge is there to hold the ink stored inside the cartridge and keep it from flowing out of the printhead.
If you’re following along with the broadcast, you’ll see that the sponge in the cartridge we opened was almost completely dried up. Notice how the sponge isn’t taking up the entire inside of the cartridge, and even that small sponge is only half full of ink? That’s partially because Canon barely puts any ink in their cartridges. After all, they want you to spend more money and buy more cartridges.
However, there is a legitimate reason behind this (at least a bit). The sponge size dictates the volume of ink the cartridge can hold. When refilling a cartridge, it’s important not to overfill. Despite what people think, there isn’t supposed to be a swimming pool of ink inside the cartridge.
Since the sponge is there to prevent the ink from flowing out of the cartridge’s printhead freely, you should never put in more ink than the sponge is capable of holding. Oversaturating the sponge will cause it to be overwhelmed, and all of that excess ink will come spilling out of the printhead, ruining whatever it is you’re trying to print. The sponge conversion kit I recommended will contain a new, larger sponge that we’ll use to replace Canon’s tiny one, allowing you to put more ink in at a time.
Preparing the Black Ink Cartridge
We will demonstrate with the black cartridge first for the next part. We’ll be using sandpaper, so I recommend putting a piece of tape over the electronic component first to reduce the risks of it getting damaged.
Do the same for the printhead, but try not to let the adhesive come in contact with it. That would make it sticky, thus causing more debris and particulates to get stuck in it and potentially cause a clog. You could also use plastic wrap instead if you’d prefer.
Now place the sandpaper down on a flat, even surface. After you’ve removed the sponge, flip the cartridge upside down and rub it on the sandpaper until the top is level. Do not let any plastic dust get inside the cartridge, as that would get down into the printhead and potentially clog it.
When you refill the ink cartridge, you want to ensure the ink gets to the bottom. A little trick I’ve picked up over the years is to squeeze the ink into the base before inserting the new sponge and then placing the sponge on top of it.
It is now time for us to put on the new cover, which you will also get in the kit. Unlike the default cartridge cover, this new one is see-through. Before gluing it in place, I always do a few trial placements first. The goal here is to make the seal air-tight. It’s not the end of the world if your seal isn’t air-tight, but unclogging the printhead later on down the road is a lot easier if it is.
Once you’re confident about placing the lid correctly, it’s time for the glue. I personally prefer the translucent gorilla glue, as it dries fast and has a strong, even bond. Make sure you apply the superglue in an even layer across the tops of the cartridge’s walls. Place the lid on and hold it in place for however long your chosen brand of superglue says it takes to dry. If it takes a while and you don’t feel like standing there and holding it the whole time, you can use a rubber band to hold it instead.
Preparing the Colored Ink Cartridge
The process will be basically the same for the colored cartridge. The main difference is that the colored cartridge will have three sponges, while the black ink cartridge only has one. Just like we did for the black ink cartridge, we’ll start by using the utility knife to open the lid.
Starting at the corner, wedge your utility knife into the seam and use it to pry the lid off. Sand down the top of the cartridge. Put some of each of the inks into their respective chambers before inserting the sponges. It’s crucial to ensure the inks go in the correct sections. The square sponge goes into the top compartment, and the rectangular sponges go into the bottom.
After you’ve put in the inks and sponges, apply an even layer of glue to the top of the cartridge’s walls. The walls should have glue on top, not just the exterior ones. Each of the chambers should be sealed separately, so put glue on the walls separating them from each other.
After the glue has dried, it’s time to refill them. For the colored ink cartridges, I recommend either cleaning out the syringe between each color or using a new needle for each to avoid cross-contamination. Each chamber can hold 5 mL of colored ink, and the black cartridge can hold 10 mL of black ink.
The refilling kit includes a short needle attachment for the syringe that is designed to prevent you from penetrating the filters underneath the cartridge while refilling the ink. There’s also a long needle attachment to make getting ink out of the bottle easier.
If you got the priming kit from my website, as I recommended, you can use that to prime the cartridge. If you didn’t order the priming kit, plenty of other videos on my YouTube channel go over various methods of priming an ink cartridge.
When all of those steps have been completed, we need to see if everything was successful. To test this, reinsert the cartridges back into the printer and print off a few test pages. If they don’t print out perfectly on the first try, you can try running your Canon printer’s built-in cleaning function once or twice. Sometimes that’s enough to fix the issue, and it’s a lot easier than taking them back out and going through the priming process.
Your cartridges should now be ready to use, and your printer good to go. Now you can print as much as your heart desires. Still, make sure to keep an eye on the print quality so that you’ll know when it’s getting to be time to refill the ink again. Sometimes Canon printers struggle to keep track of the ink levels in a refilled cartridge.