German "Durchstich" refill method for the PGI-520/CLI-521 cartridges

y3kcjd5

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Wheeee signing up for another forum....

Anyways, I wanted to ask a question about refilling cartriges with the German method, specifically the CLI-X21/PGI-X20 cartridges (I have an MX860).
I'm using a somewhat modified version of the method in the first post (maybe more on that later), but I seem to be encountering minor banding when I'm printing significantly large areas of black or near-black. When I say minor I mean that my nozzle check patterns and most colors (or grays, as it were, again more later) print out fine, and sometimes if I print enough (10-20 pages?) at once the problem seems to go away, but since most of the time I print ~8 pages a go, I'm trying to figure out the cause. If it turns out that it's just the quality of the ink I'm using (OCP) them no sweat, but I'm most primarily worried that the ink flow out of my cartridges isn't sufficient somehow, either because I'm not refilling with enough ink, or because my cartridges are getting gummed up somehow (I'm using OEM, but I've never purged them), since either of the two could cause a print head burnout. To that end, I was hoping that I could find out what the 'specific ink capacity' (as in specific heat capacity, in this case, mL ink per chip reset) of the CLI-X21/PGI-X20 cartridges is. In other words, how many mLs of ink should I be putting into my cartridges per refill? I think I read somewhere that the capacity for the small tanks (CLI) is 11mL and the big ones (PGI) are 15mL, but I assume that the chip timers evaluate to something less than that. Currently I can get a little over 7 mL into the CLIs and a bit over 11mL into the PGI. How much is everyone else here (with these ink cartridges) putting in per refill? Are there any other possible causes of this kind of banding that anyone can think of? If the specifics of my ink mixing/cartridge refilling methods would help I'll add them later.

P.S. I refill my cartridges immediately when, but only after, the timer completely runs out (red 'X' level, not yellow '!' level)
 

Beaker

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pharmacist,
This is a very good instruction post, so good that it has determined me to try it for myself!
I have bookmarked for future reference.
 

PeterBJ

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Hi y3kcjd5

I have also experienced similar problems with underweight and ink flow with the PGI-x20/CLI-x21 cartridges refilled by the German method. I use Image Specialists ink for the dye cartridges and KMP-U for the pigment black. In many cases purging and drying the cartridges cured the malady.

I use a small digital scale to weigh the cartridges after a refill, and if the cartridges are underweight by more than one gramme for the dye cartridges or two grammes for the pigment black cartridge, I think it is time to purge the cartridges.

From MSDS data sheets found on the net, the specific gravity for Canon OEM inks is 1.0-1.1 and for Image Specialists ink it is 1.0- 1.05. I think it is similar for the OCP inks, so setting 1ml = 1 gramme is perfectly all right for our purpose.

The nominal capacity for the CLI-x21 cartridges is 9ml and for PGI-x20 it is 19 ml. You cannot empty the cartridges completely before they are marked empty, 1-1.5 grammes of ink is left in the cartridges. The amount of ink you can get into the cartridges depend on how much ink is left in the cartridge.

From weighing a set of new and unused set of PGI-520/CLI-521 cartridges I found these weights for the cartridges without the orange cap and vent sealing tape:

PGI-520: 35.3 g, CLI-521C: 20.3g, CLI-521M: 20.2g, CLI-521Y: 20.2g and CLI-521BK: 20.4g

So weighing your cartridges before a refill should give you an indication of how much ink is needed for the refill. Weighing the cartridges after refill indicates the condition of the cartridge. If it is underweight purging might be needed.

Recently I have noticed threads about problems with PGI-x20/CLI-x21 cartridges and German refill method, here are some of these threads: http://www.nifty-stuff.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=8200 , http://www.nifty-stuff.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=7822&p=1 , http://www.nifty-stuff.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=8208&p=1

See this post, I wonder if these newer cartridges are more easily damaged by the needle used in the German refill method than the older transparent cartridges? Maybe topfill is a better method for the newer cartridges? I still use the German method for the older cartridges, but have started using topfill for the newer cartridges: http://www.nifty-stuff.com/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=59280#p59280
 

ThrillaMozilla

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I have to wonder about all this need to purge the cartridges. I believe there are only two possible causes for this:
(1) dried ink in the sponge; and
(2) air in the sponge.

I know lots of you make a new hole in the cartridge, thereby bypassing Canon's carefully-designed maze and giving air direct access to the sponge. People who do this claim that they have never had any problem with drying out, but I have to wonder if in fact you do have a problem, but you're just not recognizing the evidence.
 

y3kcjd5

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I'll try weighing my cartridges, but I only have one of those ancient hand-held balances so I don't know how accurate it'll be. I know I can't do top-fill because it requires an air-tight seal that I can't produce (my German hole is all jagged from my attempts to cut off all the little plastic bits, and yes, I use scotch tape to plug the hole). Then again, why go through all the trouble of weighing the cartridges? Are you all using something other than a syringe to get the ink in? If you're using a syringe, can't you just read off the amount of ink that you can get into the cartridge (starting volume - end volume if there's any left in the syringe when it threatens to overflow)? The way I see it, if we all just record our refill volumes, they should all come out the same, seeing as how it's determined by ink flow rate and the timer chips. Since the timer chips should all be the same, the refill volumes should tell us if our inkflow rate is normal or not.

Also, I am mixing down my ink to cut costs, could the viscosity of the ink mixture cause this kind of problem?

P. S. My German hole is halfway up the cartridge right in the middle of the lettering, so I don't know how many of these hypotheses (sponge displacement, bunching) apply to my case.
 

irvweiner

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"I know I can't do top-fill because it requires an air-tight seal that I can't produce (my German hole is all jagged from my attempts to cut off all the little plastic bits, and yes, I use scotch tape to plug the hole)."

Not so! Buy a hobbyist's hot glue/melt gun and use it to seal the top fill hole. Seal works well and is easily removable for the nest refill.

Top filling have been satisfying for the past decade.

good luck irv weiner
 

PeterBJ

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If you want to topfill a cartridge that has been refilled using the German method, you will have to seal the German refill hole. Else the cartridge will leak during refill. This seal is not very critical, a piece of tape will do or you could use hot melt glue. The critical part is sealing the ink chamber properly after a topfill. Failing to get a 100% airtight seal will cause the cartridge to leak inside the printer. For a reliable seal I recommend a low profile silicone plug plus aluminium duct tape, but others have successfully used hot melt glue or screws plus O-rings. In case of using screws or normal height plugs you should check that there are no problems with height clearance. On some Canon MP and MG models the use of a low profile plug is mandatory. An instruction in applying the low profile plugs plus tape is found here: http://www.precisioncolors.com/Using the Zero Clearance Plugs.pdf

My reason for weighing the cartridges is that it serves as a health check of the cartridge and quality control of my refill: http://www.nifty-stuff.com/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=59248#p59248

The chip on the cartridge works together with the prism at the bottom of the cartridge. The chip doesn't measure the ink content in the cartridge, it stores an estimated value based on number of nozzle firings and number of printhead priming/cleaning cycles. When the ink chamber is empty the prism gives a signal and a count down routine starts to estimate the remaining amount of ink in the sponges. This works very well, if the sponges are in perfect condition as they are in a new OEM cartridge. But if there is a problem with the cartridges having lost some capacity due to dried ink or for other resons, the cartridge could run out of ink before the ink monitor signals that it is empty. If a cartridge is underweight after a refill, this indicates to me that there could be a problem with sponge capacity. So I would not rely on injecting a known volume of ink measured by the syringe. In case of reduced sponge capacity injecting a fixed volume of ink could lead to overfill problems like leaking or the vent maze getting blocked by ink.

A small digital scale with a capacity of 500g or 100g and a division of 0.1 or 0.01 g is perfect for weighing the cartridges and not very expensive.

Note that pharmacist's instruction does not mention millilitres or grammes, you just fill the cartridge. But I think weighing is useful for troubleshooting in case of problems.

I know of at least 3 things that could cause problems when refilling these cartridges using the German method:

1. Reduced sponge capacity due to dried ink or changed sponge properties.
2. Separation of the lower sponge and the outlet filter.
3. Lower sponge pushed against the wall between the chambers and blocking the grooves.

I think 1. is independent of refill method used, 2. could be caused by drilling the refill hole too low and 3. might possibly be avoided using a sharp needle.

I have (temporarily?) changed my refill method to topfilling. If the problems persist, then the German refill method is not the cause of the problems, a periodic flushing and drying of cartridges should then solve the problems, and I will happily return to the German refill method, using plastic squeeze bottles and sharp 2" 21g needles.
 

mrelmo

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excellant post peter, i have 2 comments, the first one is an observation, i am not entirely sure on the purpose of the prism anymore (presently using 220/221 cartridges) i keep a close eye on ink levels to prevent printhead damage. so when the monitor reaches about 20% i pull the cartridge out and look at the level in the cartridge. (Due to my own fault of not entirely filling the cartridge to prevent cross contamination.) Several times the reservior has been empty, thus having an inaccurate reading from the monitor, i do know the sponge still has an amount of ink still available, so is the prism still part of the monitoring system, i believe so or they would no longer have it on the cartridges, but i am a little perplexed by it.
second the foil tape has been a disappointment for me, a hot glue gun has proven to be the best seal for non oem holes made. did i mention i top fill LOL
my 6 cents due to inflation
 

barfl2

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Very complete and informative post by PeterBJ. Whilst I can understand your reasons for weighing your carts, a lot of re-fillers would not completely fill the cart up and not have the requisite scales. I have a domestic set up to 1kg and they seem OK when I check weights for parcels posts costs. So I have not weighed mine. I thought I had ink flow problems associated with the carts. due to some problem caused by using the German method. But in spite of trying 4 different ones it did not make any difference. However changing the ink did and printer is great again

The Hat has always advocated approx. 75% and trying to squeeze that last bit of ink in achieve the target weight might cause other problems with over saturation of the sponge
ink in the maze.

Following your post I tried the top fill again but with only limited success. The Photoblack went reasonably well but took so much longer than the German method but the Cyan was a disaster. Ink pouring out of the outlet filter (clip on) with the tank barely 1/3rd full, ink welling out of the refill hole (original Canon one). I have read The Hats and other instructions again but cannot see what is causing it. Maybe syringes are better and more controllable than the squeezy bottles which I prefer. So I refilled using the German method and as I indicated Printer is fine.

Now getting interested in colour management downloaded various test files from Colour Collective/Native Digital/NorthlightImages. The Pixma MP620 is turning out some stunning results achieved so my problems thought to be caused by using the German Method are gone thank goodness.
 

y3kcjd5

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>>337
Sensor? What sensor? I looked in my printer (with a little mirror and a flashlight because of the angle) and I saw no sensor where the prism goes... My impression was that the cartridges are entirely chip-timed, meaning that the 'estimate' you mentioned would start counting down as soon as the printer starts using the new/refilled/reset cartridge/chip. As for what I said about volume, I meant that you fill the cartridge normally (I assume that, like me, you just fill the cartridge until it's full/threatens to overflow), and then read the volume that you put in off of the syringe, and use that volume to determine whether or not your cartridge is OK or not, much like you said you use weight. Since the amount of ink used before the cartridge 'runs out' is dependent only on the chip and its ink-time estimate, the amount of ink used (and therefore the amount of ink that you can refill) should be the same for everyone (since I assume that all the chips use the same timer value). Therefore, if the volume you refill falls below that average refill volume significantly, it would suggest inkflow or sponge saturation issues. I just don't see the necessity for weighing the cartridges when volume measurements can essentially accomplish the same function more directly.
For the 3 possible causes of improper ink flow you listed: The first sounds plausible, but I'll have to wait until another cartridge runs our before I can try any purging. The second doesn't apply in my case since my hole is halfway up the cartridge, and for the third I tried whacking the front end of my cartridges against a table to (try to) shift the sponge, as I read somewhere on this board. It may have helped, but it's hard to tell (I can still detect minor banding, I'm going to redo the print head alignment and see if it goes away).

>>336
I can guarantee you that I will make an absolute mess of the hot glue >_> and possibly fail to seal the hole properly anyways. Having to repeat the sealing process every refill will definitely be too involved for me to handle.
 
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