Make Spongeless Refillable Cartridges

Today we’ll be recapping a live broadcast that the BCH team did a while back while making a spongeless refillable cartridge. Specifically, we’ll focus on the PG-240, CL-241, PG-245, and PG-246 cartridge models. To watch this broadcast now, you can view it as a video on my YouTube channel by clicking this link.

While going over how to make a spongeless refillable cartridge in the live demonstration, I will admit we made a mistake toward the end. We address this mistake in the video, and we will explain the correct procedure in this article. There is also a separate follow-up video on my YouTube channel addressing this.

To start, we will work with two cartridges in the demonstration -- one colored cartridge and one black ink cartridge. You can pretty much use this same process for any kind of cartridge, but we’ll only be focusing on four model types. Many people ask me if they need brand new cartridges for this to work, but you don’t. The ones we used for the demonstration were already in pretty rough shape, so we had to fix them up. One of them even came with the cap off; the colored one had already been refilled and re-emptied several times.

The first thing we’re going to need to do is clean the cartridges’ printheads. For this, you’ll need a bowl large enough to fit the cartridge(s) and some BCH brand cleaning solution. You could use warm water in place of the cleaning solution, but it won’t work nearly as well. You can find the BCH brand cleaning solution I recommend on my website at this link or under the anti-clogging section of the accessories tab.

Fill the bowl with enough warm water or cleaning solution to cover the entire bottom of the bowl about ¼ of an inch deep in liquid. Set the cartridge with the printhead side facing down in the cleaning solution. The printhead should be completely submerged, but the electronic component on the side of the cartridge should not be in the liquid. Allowing the electronic component to come in contact with the liquid will probably cause it to short circuit, which causes irreparable damage. Let it soak for a while to dissolve any dry ink and clogs in the printhead. It shouldn’t be long before you start seeing an effect, but I recommend leaving it in for at least an hour.

Next, wrap the printhead in Saran wrap, so you don’t accidentally get dust or other particles. Using a sharp knife or blade, we now need to take the cap off the cartridge. Be warned: this is probably the most challenging part of the process. Be careful not to cut yourself. I recommend wearing gloves and using paper towels or something to cover the surface you’re doing this on because the ink can be tough to clean off.

If you look closely, you should see a seam separating the lid from the rest of the cartridge. Starting at the corner, wedge the blade into that seam. Wiggle it up and down until the two start to separate, then use the blade as leverage to pry it off.

Work on the Sponge

On the inside of the cartridge, you’ll see that there’s a sponge. If you’re working on the colored cartridge, each chamber will have its own. These sponges hold onto the ink stored in the cartridge, preventing it from flowing freely out of the printhead. Due to the design of the new cover, we’ll be putting on the cartridges today, and we won’t need that sponge.

Go ahead and remove the sponges from the cartridges. It’s important to remember which colors go in which chamber of the colored cartridge, so I recommend putting the sponges aside in a way that will help you. Next, you’ll need a refillable ink cartridge assembly kit, which you can buy from the cartridge mod section of the printer modifications tab on my website. Or you could click here.

Inside this kit, among other things, will be two new cartridge covers (one for the black and one for the colored cartridge) and a priming syringe. The cover for the colored cartridge will have three colored plugs, which should correspond to the chamber each color should go in. These are for filling/ refilling the cartridge. They also have built-in ink/pressure regulators, which is why the cartridges will no longer need a sponge.

There are a few things I want to cover before telling you to glue the lid down. Firstly, the cartridge must be completely sealed and placed correctly. One way to ensure that you can seal it properly is to sand the tops of the cartridge’s walls to ensure that they’re level. Test out how to place the lid on the cartridge a few times until you’re confident that you’ll be able to do it properly.

Make Sure the Cartridge is Airtight

If the cartridge isn’t airtight, none of this will work, and you’ll have to start over. Air will be able to get in from the seam, so the pressure regulator won’t be able to do its job and prevent the ink from flowing out of the printhead. Test the lid to make sure it sits level before gluing it down.

I recommend using gorilla glue to glue the lid down (make sure it’s the clear one, not the white one or the wood glue). The white gorilla glue needs to be left to settle for a very long time (the bottle recommends around six hours), the brown wood glue makes a lot of film, grit, and unevenness (which we don’t want), but the clear glue dries pretty quickly, evenly, and firmly. If you glue it down and it’s not airtight, then you’ll have to remove the cap, sand off the glue and make the walls even, and then try again.

If you’re watching along with the broadcast, you’ll see that at around the 7:50 mark, I point out that our magenta chamber on our colored cartridge wasn’t sealed airtight. I was able to fix this by adding a little bit more glue along the edge where the gap was rather than redoing the whole process, but you may not be as lucky. When you glue the lid down on the colored cartridge, you need to seal each color separately, so make sure you also glue the interior walls that separate the chambers.

Put the Lid Back On

Putting the lid on the black cartridge is going to be pretty much the same process. Wedge the knife or blade into the seam and wiggle it until the cover is loose enough to pry off. Sand the top edges down so they’re level. Make sure the printhead is clean and has no clogs, and don’t get any debris from sanding the plastic inside the cartridge because that may cause future clogs. Saran-wrap the printhead to avoid dust particles contaminating it. Mess around with the placement of the new lid a bit until you’re confident that you can do it properly. Apply an even layer of super glue and give the cartridge an airtight seal.

Once the glue is dry and the cartridges are correctly sealed, it’s time to fill them up. Using the syringe and needle in the mod kit, get 5ml of ink for the colors and 7ml for the black cartridge. Remove the plug that corresponds to that ink from the lid. Insert the needle into the hole and inject the ink into the cartridge. Repeat the process for any other inks that need to be refilled.

This next part is where we start to differ from the video.

After refilling the cartridges, you shouldn’t need to use a priming clip, even though those are also available on my website when you put “priming clip” into the search bar, in case you need them eventually. Before assuming anything else needs to be done to the printhead or cartridge, put it back into the printer and print a few test pages. If it does not appear to have any issues, then you’re done and free to go back to printing as normal.

If the test pages don’t come out perfect and it prints stripes on the page, then you’re not entirely done yet. Using the priming syringe, blow air into each chamber in the problematic cartridge, about ¼ or ½ of a milliliter at a time. Blow the air in through the pressure regulator. If you start to feel excess resistance, stop. Pushing too hard or blowing too much air into the cartridge will cause an entirely new problem, which I address in a different video on my YouTube channel.

Test the Cartridge

You should be able to feel a little resistance, but not a lot. If you can blow air into the cartridge without resistance, your cartridge isn’t sealed properly, and the air is coming out of a gap in the seal.

Finally, you must ensure that the cartridge’s electronic ribbon and the Canon printer’s electronic contact pins are clean. If they aren’t, the printer will either send you an error message or fail to recognize that a cartridge has been inserted. To be safe, make sure the glue has had a couple of hours to dry before blowing air into the cartridge. Once that’s all done, you should be able to print cleanly.

I hope this article helped fix your problem!

Sep 30th 2022

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