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|If you are new to recycling -- in particular to the use of recycled ink jet cartridges -- we think it might be helpful for you to understand how your cartridges work and to learn more about what you should expect from your recycled ink jet cartridges. You already know recycling is good for the environment and that you can save up to 50% off the price of your cartridges by recycling. But just how long will your recycled cartridges last? Let's first look at how they work.
Most of our information generally concerns the HP, Canon and Lexmark (Compac) Printers. The information applies to Epson Printers, but the Print-Heads in the Epson Printers are much more a part of the printer than the other three. The Epson does the same general mechanical technology, but repair and general support are not available. That said . . .
The print head and circuitry which perform most of the work of the ink jet printer are contained on the small ink jet cartridge itself. In the case of the most popular cartridge style -- the HP 51626A high capacity cartridge -- there are 48 nozzles or 'jets' in the print head located at the bottom of the cartridge
Each nozzle or jet is smaller in size than a human hair and each is backed by a heater or resistor which heats on electric command and then cools with the ink from inside the cartridge. When the ink is heated a bubble forms. ~ When the heat source is removed, the bubble "bursts" sending a dot of ink onto the page through anyone of the 48 ink nozzles These dots form the characters on the page at the rate of up to 6000 drops per second The heating and cooling process is happening at very high rates!
Manufactures would have us believe that the heaters in the cartridges will only last for one use. But we've learned that the heaters will continue to do their work and the jets will continue to fire for more than one use in most ink jet cartridges. In fact, the heaters or resistors on most ink jet cartridges will continue to fire until they either burn out completely or weaken significantly. On the average, that happens from the third to fifth time the cartridge is used.
How many times a cartridge can be recycled varies from cartridge to cartridge. Up to 20% of all cartridges can't be recycled even once, and many cartridges can be recycled more than a dozen times. In fact, the only thing that is predictable is that all ink jet cartridges will eventually wear out -- and it probably won't happen at the same time the cartridge runs out of ink. Once you decide to start recycling your ink jet cartridges, keep in mind you'll eventually have to buy new cartridges. Ink jet recycling doesn't mean you'll never buy another new cartridge. It just means you can save money for several cycles until your cartridge needs replacing. Each time you do recycle, you'll see your savings mount.
So what are the signs that your cartridge is getting worn out? If a jet in your cartridge is "burned out," you will see horizontal bands or white streaks in your print . Print characters may appear incomplete and fill on graphics will show areas with no ink. A word or caution, these white streaks can also be caused by other problems, so don't assume your cartridge is gone when you see them. Some of the things that can cause the white streaks are fixable. Another sign that your cartridge may be nearing the end of its useful life is the appearance of dramatically lighter than normal print. This can mean the heaters are weakened and putting less ink on the page. Again, this can be caused by other "fixable" problems. Here are some common fixes that can often resolve a print problem in an ink jet cartridge:
1) Run a little warm tap water over the print head. This can dissolve any ink which may have dried in the cartridge. This is especially helpful if the cartridge has been removed and exposed to air for any length of time.
2) "Bad resistors" or heaters can often be cured by cleaning the contacts on the cartridge AND in the printer cartridge. This can be done with water or alcohol on a Q-tip or soft lint free cloth. After cleaning, snap the cartridge in and out a few times to be sure you have a good connection between contacts in the cartridge and the printer. Send your cartridge through the printers self test.
3) "Smeary" print can be caused by a build-up of ink an the wiper blade station found in most HP Deskjet models. If this is your problem, clean the wiper blade with a soft moist towel. Use one you don't mind throwing away, it will get black with ink.
If these tricks don't work, contact us to have your cartridge tested. Save a print sample to help us diagnose the problem We may other cleaning methods and other procedures which may just solve the problem. Once we have fully tested the cartridge, you'll either have the problem fixed or you'll learn the cartridge has reached the end of its useful life. Then it's time to buy a new cartridge and start recycling again.
Since we know all ink jet cartridges will fail eventually -- your dealer can't be expected to replace your cartridge when it wears out anymore than you would expect your car dealer to replace your car when it wears out. But, we will allow you to recycle another cartridge at no cost if your cartridge fails before it is less than 50% used. The warranties on most ink jet cartridges do have a time limit -- both new and recycled -- because ink jets can be harmed when removed from the printer for extended time. So contact us as soon as you suspect your cartridge may have a problem.
Although, ink jet cartridges won't last forever -- we know from successful testing and use throughout the world that recycled ink jet cartridges work and they can save you money. So don't throw those cartridges in the trash -- it's like throwing money away!