You are considering rebuild cartridges but you don’t dare? Something’s holding
you back? The primary and highest costs for sign makers are material costs.
There are good alternatives for your creative enterprise to survive and
flourish. Careless printing at a fraction of the cost to create added value. We
are happy to explain what you may encounter and help you out with that.


Installing a rebuild inkcartridge in your wide format printer is very simple in the case of plug-and-play compatibles. In the case of HP machines, it is particularly important that the ink is perfectly color-matched. The printheads supplied by HP for the Designjet range contain a small
(10ml appx.) reservoir of OEM ink – so, if an ink supplier is proposing re-profiling the machine to compensate for poor color-matching, there will be problems every time a printhead is replaced.

This reduces the “cost of adoption” as it is possible to just replace an OEM cartridge that has run out of ink, and not have to discard part-empty OEM cartridges just for the sake of changing all the cartridges at the same time.

All inks are designed to be miscible with, and color-matched to, the OEM ink.

There are several points to consider when starting to install rebuild cartridges into a printer, and these are listed below:

CHIP PROBLEM – cartridge not accepted

The chip on the cartridge communicates with the printer through gold plated contacts on the backplane circuit board of the printer. When the cartridge is inserted, a “handshake” procedure is started by the software of the printer. If this procedure is successful, then the cartridge is accepted and the printer is ready to print.

Contacts on chip

In some cases a messages such as “not a genuine HP cartridge – “do you want to continue?” may be displayed – in this case, just agree, with the yes option. It will not cause any problems, and is only a method for the OEM to persuade the enduser to buy their expensive cartridges.

In some cases, it is possible for a message like “cartridge fault” or “cartridge not accepted” to display. In this case, the printer will not continue. This can be caused by a faulty chip, but is more often a contact problem with the gold-plated pins on the backplane. Cleaning the gold contacts (carefully) on the small chip board at the leading-edge of the cartridges, with a tissue or cotton bud will often resolve this, as will inserting the cartridge 2 or 3 times.In extreme cases, the gold pins on the backplane may become bent or dirty. It is difficult to resolve bent pins without intervention by a technician, but dirty contacts can be resolved by taping a cotton bud to
a pencil, or other long thin object, and wetting the bud with isopropyl alcohol – the bud can
be used to gently wipe the gold contacts.


Identify what cartridges are currently being used – this may seem a simple point, but it is quite important. Our inks and chips are designed to work seamlessly with OEM inks and chips. Customers may say that they are currently using OEM cartridges, but actually have a mixture of various third-party cartridges in the machine. It is impossible to test against ALL third party inks, so there could be communication errors with third party chips, or problems with ink mixing. This is not a common problem, but it is worth considering whenever a problem occurs at


Check the printhead lifetime – thermal heads have a limited life span, normally measured by the volume of ink that flows through the head, and are often a customer-replaceable consumable part. When installing a rebuild cartridge, it is useful to make a note of the printhead information from the diagnostic panel on the machine – this can normally be found in the menu as “printhead information” or “Printhead diagnostics”. This is important, as there are customers who will buy an ink that has a warranty, simply because the printheads are at end of life, and they feel they can make a warranty claim on the ink supplier.

For example, HP guarantee the printheads for 1 litre of ink, though, depending upon the type of usage, they can last for as much as 3 litres. If the head information is printed out before the rebuild cartridge is installed, it avoids the accusation that the ink has destroyed a “perfectly good printhead” when that printhead was already at the end of its life.


Multi-pass (scanning) printers can manage to print perfectly acceptable prints with several printhead nozzles blocked, or electrically failed. This is because of the multiple passes that the printer carriage does. Subsequent passes over a missed nozzle position will be filled in by an adjacent (working) nozzle. The quality of the printheads can be identified by carrying out a “printhead quality” print from the operator panel. This will show exactly which nozzles are firing in which printheads. It is also the ONLY time a pure color is printed, as printed images can be confusing due to the mix of colors defined by the printer’s profile. For example slight “too magenta” image can be because the Cyan or Light Cyan head has missing nozzles. A gray
that has a blue tint can be because of missing nozzles in the Magenta or Light Magenta head
etc. etc.


There are occasions when a customer will say “as soon as I put your ink in my machine it started printing badly” – this is not literally possible. The printheads have a reservoir of about 10ml of ink and there will be a further 10ml or so in the ink lines, depending on the model of printer, so it could take 30-60 minutes of print before the ink from the new cartridge is flowing onto the media. It is important to know this, especially if you are witnessing a comparison between our ink and OEM – it takes quite a lot of printing to switch from one ink to another and be sure that all of the original ink has been purged. It is possible for a technician to hasten this by drawing ink out of the machine via syringes, or similar, but this is a
job for a professional.

If our ink is following
a cheap third party ink which is using dubious ink chemistry, it is worth letting the printer
print large blocks of color for a period of time to let this purge.


There will be occasions when a customer says that the ink is causing blockage in the printhead, this is unlikely and some logic must be applied when dealing with this situation. It is unlikely that ALL colors will be affected, the only way to establish which colors is, as mentioned above, by using the printhead diagnostics within the printer’s firmware. This will show exactly which printhead is failing.

Bear in mind that some printers like HP split the colors across 2 printheads, and some have a complex mixture of colors in the color channels.
The Canon iPF range uses 2 printheads (left and right) with 6 channels per printhead. The 12 color machine uses each channel for a discrete color, the 6 color machine doubles up the colors, the 10 color machine doubles up SOME colors etc. The printhead nozzle check print will show exactly the
configuration for that machine.

ATTENTION! — It is not possible to swap Canon heads from left to right or vice versa, or to use an 8400S head in an 8400SE – the heads are just one part number across the range, but, once installed, the
printer writes codes to the printhead to tell it what machine model (and side) it is in.


One of the primary but also highest costs in the process is material costs. An important way to reduce costs is ink. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of digital printers have always insisted on purchasing only their own brands of ink.
The reasoning for this was that other “third party” inks would not give the same quality, bad results and possibly damage the printer. In fact, most of these inks have always been manufactured by specialized Original Digital Ink Manufacturers (ODIMs) on behalf of OEMs. More and more often we see ink from the ODIMs being marketed under own brands, which have the same quality and reliability at a much more realistic price.
The issue then becomes service. OEMs and their dealers are understandably reluctant to service equipment where they do not enjoy high profit margins from inflated ink prices.
Refusal of service is a powerful tool for forcing companies to keep buying expensive branded ink.

Which is true, and believe us, we have experienced it, not everything from the Far East is good enough for the European market.
The inks, cartridges and chips from are manufactured in Western Europe (Germany and UK) by the highest standard, are Premium and deliver high quality output for significantly lower costs.

Rebuild cartridges? Good for your business, the world and your wallet.