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Canon MX870 cartridge refilling

Discussion in 'Canon InkJet Printers' started by torch, Nov 21, 2010.

  1. Nov 21, 2010
    torch

    torch Newbie to Printing

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    Ok, first of all I need to say that nothing below is new information. I gleaned everything from this site (well, mostly this site) over the last day of reading and following threads. This is just a summation for other new MX870 (or MX860 -- basically the same printer) owners to find with Google.

    A short background: Once upon a time I refilled carts. Back then (1/4 century ago) I had an HP500C and refilling was a nasty job of cutting cartridges apart. They could only be refilled a limited number of times before they had to be replaced. Then I got a Brother that had remote ink tanks with tubes to the separate printhead -- basically an OEM Continuous Ink Supply System that was easily refilled. I miss that thing. Naturally, when I got it's replacement, I leaned towards a CISS and my last printer was a Canon MP830 with a Rihac setup. It was fiddly and finicky, needed extra seals, had to be at exactly the right height to work and dumped ink all over everywhere when a line fitting blew out. But when it worked, it worked well and pumped litres of ink through the printer, saving me thousands in the process. Of course, Canon's chip ensured the warranty was voided by using a CISS, but every litre of 3rd party ink saved the cost of 3 printers. If I was to burn up a printer every year, I still saved money. That's not a warranty, it's a very expensive replacement program! So, despite the problems, when I bought it's replacement the other day - the titular MX870 -- I went looking for a CISS.

    Oddly enough, Google landed me at the German "Durchstich" refill method for the PGI-520/CLI-521 cartridges thread and I was surprised to see how simple, clean and easy refilling had become. As an added bonus, I can return to pigmented black ink for text (CIS systems don't really like pigmented inks). Some people seem to have trouble coming to grips with the underlying principle, but coming from a CISS background, this method of maintaining the internal pressure differential is so obvious I virtually slapped myself in the head and exclaimed "Now why didn't I think of that???" So I'm going back to the dark side, and here's what I learned (or think I learned) in the process:

    1. The reason I was so confused about what cartridges fit the MX870 is because that all depends where in the world you live. If you are in North America, your printer needs cartridges prefixed with a "2" -- CLI-221 for dye based colour/black, PGI-220 for pigment based black. If you are in Europe, your carts are prefixed with a 5 -- CLI-521 and PGI-520. And finally Asians are looking for an 8, as in 821/820. Canon is apparently trying the DVD route to control pricing -- the chips are the only difference and a cartridge from one area won't work in a printer from another. An assault on the global greymarket economy.

    2. The 221/521/821 inks are a slightly different tone than their CLI-5 predecessors. The ink itself will flow through the cart OK, but the colour will need to be remapped. The two most highly recommended ink types on this forum seem to be Hobbicolors and Image Specialties. Certain "mystery inks", usually from Asia, are suspected of causing damage to printheads, etc. Hobbicolors won't say were their ink comes from or who makes it, but IS is a US manufacturer of many housebrands and even some OEMs. Hobbiecolors does not yet have a line of ink color-matched to the 221 type carts, but Image Specialties does. Precision Colours (in Canada) and OctoInkJets (UK), among others, are suppliers of IS inks. All 3 can supply the required 2" long syringes for the Durchstich refill method. Of the 3, only Hobbicolors carries the appropriate chipsetter for the 2xx carts and only OctoInkJets carries the one for the 5xx carts. Precision Colours doesn't think there is one for these cartridges yet (I phoned him).

    3. Did I say "reset"? Yes! The encrypted chips that mystified everyone a few years ago are no longer impregnable. With the appropriate chip resetter, you can have your cake -- er, ink monitor, and refill too! (provided you get the right version resetter of course). There are at least 3 different brands of resetter out there -- red ones and blue ones, battery operated and USB powered. One seems as good as the next, by all reports, although for some reason the red ones seem to cost more. I gather they did the original development and the others are clones.

    4. There are even auto-resetting chips available, as separate chips or as part of an aftermarket empty cartridge. However, there's a catch with those: They reset themselves when the power is lost. So they may claim the cartridge is fuller than it really is, running the risk of damaging a printhead by running out of ink if you rely on the ink monitor. Also, the printer may run many more purge cycles (possibly because it purges whenever it detects a new cartridge and the self-reset makes the printer think the cartridge was replaced).

    5. Counter-intuitively, 3rd party cartridges are frowned upon by many. Apparently the OEM version are better made, using different kinds of sponge materials to keep the air separated from the ink. Also, the ink outlet pad in some 3rd party carts may get in the way of the syringe for the Durchstich refill method. There are reports of people refilling a single cart dozens or hundreds of times (amazing considering the bad old days of refilling no more than twice). OTOH, others report using them quite successfully, particularly when refilling from above.

    6. Canon is introducing a replacement cartridge design (CLI-x25 and PGI-x26) with opaque sides to make refilling harder (can't see the levels anymore). When the old stock is gone, the third-party cartridges may more attractive.

    7. Pigment black cartridges require occasional purging to flush out accumulated deposits of pigment that might otherwise cause problems. Dye ink cartridges can be refilled indefinitely if not dried out. Dried cartridges should be purged of old ink before use. Purging methods and solvents abound -- everyone seems to have a different favourite. Use the search function and pick one that works for you.

    8. Refilled cartridges can be stored awaiting use if they are capped, sealed in a baggie and stored in a cool dry place for no more than 2 years.



    So, here's my plan: I'm buying syringes and IS ink from Precision Colours, and the appropriate resetter from somewhere else. I'll get one extra set of Canon cartridges so I can always have full spares bagged and ready to go.

    And I might even consider that extended warranty this time around...

    My thanks to all the real experts who shared all the above elsewhere in this forum.
  2. Nov 21, 2010
    RMM

    RMM Fan of Printing

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    Good summary. Thanks for the writeup!
  3. Nov 21, 2010
    ghwellsjr

    ghwellsjr Printer Master Platinum Printer Member

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    Just be aware that almost any warranty does not guarantee an exact replacement--if your model is no longer available, they can almost always swap any other printer they consider to be equivalent. I suggest buying a second identical printer now and that will give you your second set of cartridges making the price of the printer a bargain.
  4. Nov 24, 2010
    rcdavis

    rcdavis Newbie to Printing

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    QUESTION: After buying some cartridges for my MX870 on Amazon, I began getting error messages that my cartridge was not recognized. I could always get it to work by taking the cartridges in and out, and once I had to exchange some cartridges that had a faulty chip.

    NOW, I start getting a screeching noise when the ink cartridge unit finishes traversing left to right, finally ending up at the far left side of the cartridge slider, where the screeching noise occurs. It sounds like gears hitting against each other at high speed, causing a screech noise. Is it now a virtual certainty that my printer will be treated as out of warranty? Is it obvious to Canon that other ink has been used?

    For some dumb reason, I thought this was a free country, and that I could use the ink of my choice. There are no prominent warnings. I am unsure what to do at this point.

    I rarely use colored ink, and yet I am asked to change about two colored ink cartridges per month. This printer just guzzles ink, I have no idea where it all goes, though I do print heavy in black and white. If this is out of warranty, I would probably just throw this printer away, and purchase a black and white printer that doesn't have chips. I heard that Brother used to have one with a large refillable tank, but I doubt that it works under Windows 7 64 bit.

    I am outraged at this whole issue. Any company that puts a chip on their ink cartridges it pretty much admitting that they are gouging you on ink, and that their prices are too outrageous to compete with other inks. I now realize that these people are not in the printer business, but the ink business, and that company's are unashamed of their rapacious prices, and advertise this fact by using chips.

    I would greatly appreciate any help on how this should be handled with Canon, or if this is even an issue that a user can solve. Perhaps the printer is designed to break if you use someone else's ink, if the chip doesn't stop you. I now see the depths of desperation that "printer" companies go to jam their product down your throat, paying hundreds of extra dollars for cheap ink. Printers have really become a racket.

    Much thanks to all.
  5. Nov 25, 2010
    torch

    torch Newbie to Printing

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    Assuming this works like my last Canon, the printer will tell on you IF you don't change the cartridge -- in other words, if you refill your cartridge and don't reset the chip. The printer will then pester you with a series of warnings, but give you the option of carrying on anyway. If you ignore all the warnings and carry on, the printer stores that fact in it's memory and Canon presumes you used 3rd party ink.

    If you change the cartridge with one that has a "fresh" chip or refill and reset the existing chip, then the printer thinks you installed a new cartridge and has no way of knowing what kind of ink is inside it. I don't know what the codes and procedure is on the MX870, but earlier models have a service mode and one function is to reset the printer memory. It resets everything, total number of pages printed, total number of faxes, etc. But it does reset the cartridge tattle-tale, leaving Canon with no evidence whatsoever.

    The screeching sound could be dried ink that leaked into someplace it isn't supposed to be. Have you had any problems with leaking cartridges?

    This could be evidence of your leaking cartridges. Possibly a flaw in the printer itself, possibly a flaw in the cartridges (less likely if it has happened repeatedly)

    The other thing that comes to mind: do you do a lot of duplex printing? My old Canon had a design flaw wherein it actually used the colour cartridges for duplex printing even when it was printing text or set to greyscale. I don't know if Canon ever fixed that issue. It may have been a deliberate time-saving technique so the printer didn't have to wait as long for the ink to dry before printing the opposite side.
  6. Nov 25, 2010
    torch

    torch Newbie to Printing

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    Update:

    Apparently Canon has changed the 220/221 cartridges so they are completely opaque, making it difficult to refill via the Durchstich method.

    However, Staples is offering "re-manufactured" cartridges -- original Canon carts refilled with their own housebrand ink. The new design opaque ones have apparently not yet made it into the stream (at least at my store), so they are a source of the original design genuine Canon cartridges.
  7. Nov 30, 2010
    rcdavis

    rcdavis Newbie to Printing

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    Thanks for your post, torch. I appreciate the tip about how Canon determines if you are using third party ink. I was in a hurry, so I bought some third party carts that were recommended, because they have the re-setting chips, and they allow you to see the ink levels, so that will allow me to quickly reset all of the carts. I am new to the forums, the use of needles, etc, so I know this isn't the cheapest way to go.but this solves the problem very quickly at a relatively low cost. Thanks again.
  8. Dec 7, 2010
    torch

    torch Newbie to Printing

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    Update:

    All went well refilling the original Canon cartridges that came with the printer. I bought the ink and 2" syringes from Precision Inks (220/221 specific) and the resetter from refillbay.com (blue, if that matters). Precision thoughtfully included a push-pin and I carefully positioned it so the hole would be right above the inside of the bottom and centered from side to side. The syringe slid right into place without too much difficulty.

    I had run the cartridges through the first low-ink warning and swapped them at the second warning. They only took 5-6 ml of ink each (total, after sitting for 5 minutes then topping off), so there must have still been 3ml or so of ink still in each sponge even though the reservoirs were empty.

    Edit: I forgot to add that the Staples cartridges come with a re-usable rubber push-on cap for the ink outlet that is way better than those silly hard plastic single-use caps that Canon uses. Perfect for refilling.
  9. Dec 8, 2010
    nche11

    nche11 Printing Ninja

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    If you need to wait for 5 minutes for the ink to settle in the sponges there is something wrong. It should not take more than 30 seconds before you can top off your cartridges. The total amount of ink it takes to refill could be as much as 10 ml. If it takes much less for an empty cartridge there is a problem right there.
  10. Dec 19, 2010
    nuclearcal

    nuclearcal Newbie to Printing

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    I have a Canon MX870. I am trying to use compatible ink cartridges with it but repeatedly get errors (alarms) that say the cartridges cannot be
    recognized. Is there any way to override the alarms to that the printer will run with the compatible cartridges?? Please help!! Thanks

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