Aftermarket (Non-Epson) Refills

(especially the NU-Jet variety)

Contributed by Randolph H. Garth


Last Updated on April 4th, 1998




What is This?

This page details a rundown of non-Epson inkjet refills, notably the NU-Jet variety. It is basically all the writing (in Emails) of a great fellow I met through my original Epson page, by the name of Randolph H. Garth. All that follows is the contents of various Emails we've exchanged, and is reprinted here with permission and great thanks to him. Sorry it took so long to get this up on the site... Sometimes I can be outrageously lazy. :)

Introduction

The kits (both black and color will completely refill the cartridges a total of ten (10) times each.

Judging by the weight of the cartridges after refilling mine with the specified amount, it appears that Epson is NOT giving us our money's worth with the amount of ink that THEY put in their cartridges.

If you look at a color or black cartridge you will see a black arrow, if it is a color cartridges you will see a very tiny hole surrounded by a circular imprint. the tiny hole is the one you enlarge with the hand drill to allow the needle of the syringe to refill the cartridge.

What I meant by longevity was the length of time it took for an image to fade on a paper. I know that on Epson coated 720 DPI the image will fade immensely after 9 months. On Canon coated in three weeks (guess they dont like Epson's). The best lasting papers are unbelievably the Hammermill JetPrint (going 14 months with no apparent fade) which is very inexpensive and on the other end (very EXPENSIVE!!) the AT&T glossy which has only a tiny amount of fade after 14 months.

Will have to see now about the NU-Jet inks with the same papers.

If I sound excited, I AM. It used to cost me the equivalent of $100.00 United States dollars for a set of cartridges. And even in the US, you chaps pay close to $60.00 retail for the cartridges, so to find an alternative that is much cheaper and prints better with no danger IS definitely a bonus.

Description of the Refill

I thought that I would let you know about the inkjet refill kits from Nu-Jet in Texas who distribute them.

I ordered the Color Refill Kit and Black Refill Kit for the Epson Stylus Color, which can, of course work on the Pro and XL printer. According to the UPS tracking info I used it took three days for the inks to actually arrive in Jamaica (Caribbean), and about a week before that to sort out some shipping confusion, caused by the US Postal service. Anyway the time period was quite short, for my international order and a domestic US order would, of course, be quicker.

Customer service would rank as one of the best I have seen with quick and courteous replies, to my constant emails for info (I use this to test a supplier's patience, and response) and shipping addendum. These chaps are really on the ball.

The kits come in sturdy white cardboard boxes, that clearly label the type of inks, and the printer it is to be used in. Inside, the boxes are filled with items that must have carefully thought out , for completeness of use, In addtion to the inks (3 2oz. bottles for CMY, and 1 4oz. bottle for Black) there comes in each kit, a high quality syringe, injector needles that are non-lethal(blunt tips) ,a pair of surgical gloves, wet wipes, a small hand drill for drilling cartridges, and very clear and concise instructions.

I appreciated, and think all of your readers will also, how much thought must have gone into the preparation of the kits. Not just a few bottles of inks and a hospital syringe and needle, no, this kit was well thought out.

The actual refilling of the cartridges is very simple. Although one must drill holes in the Cartridges (three for the color, one for the black) the position of the holes are clearly marked in the instructions, AND by the way, on the cartridge itself! It's no sweat and each hole took me 8.5 seconds to drill.

One then adds the required amount of ink (6cc for the color, 12cc for the black) carefully and slowly and then put the cartridges back into the printer. I would advise all to clean out the syringes in rubbing achohol by drawing in alchohol and them injecting it out into a sink or drain. this will prevent any ink from cloging the syringe/needles.

I would also suggest labelling the syringes, as it is safer to use the same syringes with the same color ink each time you refill, to avoid any color aberations. However, if one cleans out the syringes and needles with alchohol in the above mentioned procedure, the risk of ink mixing is minimized greatly.

Okay, so now for the moment of truth! How do the inks print? Well in one word... SUPERBLY!! The black ink is at least 20% darker than the Epson Black ink. Text is very crisp, and there is no bleeding of the ink Colors produced by the color cartridges are in my opinion richer, with more density and contrast, with red and blue hue's being notably more accurate. I have noticed no problems with plain, Epson coated , and the AT&T glossy (IMHO, the best glossy) paper. The ink dries immediately just like the Epson ink, and has no weird bleeding or streaking.

It is the blackness, of the black ink and the richness and density of the other colors that have impressed me most. My next test will be longevity but that will take a few months.

By the way the Inks cost about $60.00 US and I recieved a FREE addtional 4oz bottle of the black ink...

What if You Have Problems?

Problem Solved!!

After spending $73.00 on calls to Epson (800 numbers do not work in this part of the world) and getting nowhere with the advice they gave, I took a chance and tried to help myself.

I will relate the story to you because:

The People at Epson (very friendly, BTW) seem to advise most people that experience problems with colors not printing after a cartridge change to reseat the cartridge, by releasing the cartridge holders, gently lifting the cartridge about 1/4 up and then reseat and reapply the hold down clamp. They do not recommend totally removing the cartridge and then reseating, but rather just a "gentle" reseat.

They will then advise you to run the cleaning cycle by pressing "Pause" and then pressing simultaneaously "Alt" and "Economy/condensed". This cleaning cycle was performed by me 96 times yesterday. 96 times!!! and only resulted in one of the colors (along with black) being printed.

BTW this problem is not as rare as one would think, as the technician kind of hinted that they have had quite a few calls from people with this problem.

With no success after trying everthing including your advice (thanks), and with a print job for a customer due within 48 hours I did the following.

I lifted out the cartridge (which, remember, was new!) and observed three "nipples" about 1 inch long in the color cartridge well that apparently feed the spray nozzeles that are underneath the cartridges. These nipples have about twelve exceedingly small holes that take the ink from the cartridge to the where it is then sprayed on the paper.

I took pharmacy grade rubbing alcohol (low in water), and put it in a syringe type device and gently squirted the alchohol into these tiny holes WITHOUT AT ANY TIME TOUCHING THE HOLES OR THE NIPPLES. The excess ink mixed with alchohol that ran into the cartridge well was VERY, and I mean VERY carefully mopped up, this excess with a Q-Tip swab trying to get nowhere near to the tiny holes. These holes in my opinion could be easily clogged by even a human hair, let alone a napkin or Q-Tip fibers.

I then replaced the cartridge and performed the cleaning cycle three times, knowing that the cleaning cycle purges the nozzles with air an would blast off the ink mixed with alchohol. The printer immediately printed perfectly and in my opinion , better than I can remember, especially in 360 dpi mode with "high speed" enabled.

Why did this work? A printer that is not used continuosly can have the ink harden or have the nozzles clogged by airborne debris. The Epson cleaning cycle apparently cannot clear a clogged jet in all cases. It may clear 99% of the nozzles, in 99% of all cases, but there may be cases (like mine) where nothing works but the "800 pound gorilla" method of clearing/cleaning the nozzles.

I would say that this should only be tried in cases where replacing the cartridge, and using the cleaning cycle 20 or more times has failed. Extreme care, and I mean EXTREME care must be exercised in not getting any type of cloth or paper fibres near the tiny nozzles that are located in the cartridge well.

At no time should the holes, or any part of the tip of these three nozzles (the black cartridge has its own for a total of four in all) be touched bv the syringe needle that is dispensing the alchohol. I would not use more than one or two cc's of alchohol for each nozzle. And I believe laboratory or pharmacy grade isopropyl/rubbing alchohol should be used as it will evaporate leaving no residue. Some ink/alchohol solution WILL run down the nozzles into the cartridge well and this liquid should be VERY, VERY carefully mopped up WITHOUT touching the nipples that have the tiny holes.

In closing let me just state that I was one step away from giving up, and buying another printer as, the cost of sending my printer to the United States for repair would have equalled its cost. I am happy that this radical procedure worked. Epson, in my opinion, would not reccomend my solution but for me, their suggestions failed, and I was desperate for a solution.

BTW ever looked inside a Epson Stylus cartridge? I did. There are three sponges that hold the ink and act as low grade mechanical filter, and a exceedingly fine (1 micron or less) screen filter that leads to where the nippples mentioned above "dock" or "mate" with and flow ink to the spray nozzles. As you mentioned the ink dispensing holes on the bottom of the cartridge DO have rubber seals to prevent in leaking aroung the "nipples". Epson's profit margin on these cartridges must be tremendous as, even though they are well made they are not simply a container for liquid ink.



All images are (C) 1994-2005 by Michael Holve