The lessons I've learnt from using desktop refillables over 9 years

  1. Some suppliers of refillables are better than others, and very few vendors (other than IJM) have any idea what they’re selling, i.e. how good they are. They all source their products from China, probably from I have had a lot of variation in quality and some have worked well, some with a little difficulty and some were rubbish. I give Jon and Dana credit because they at least went to China and did their best to assess who was any good and knew what they were doing.

  2. Refillables work better in new (recently purchased) printers, and less well as the head ages through use. Now I have no hard evidence to support this, but that’s what seem to happen to my trusty 2100, bought 11 years ago, and currently boxed up downstairs waiting to go to e-waste. (I’ve been through a lot with that printer, so much that I’ve half-tempted to get a new print head from China and try and install it myself.) Where I have used refillables from a quality supplier from new, I haven’t had any significant problems.

  3. Newer generation refillables are better than old. That’s another part of my problem with the 2100, IMHO. It’s been a long time since this printer was made, so there aren’t many in use, and so no-one has done any engineering work to adapt the newer designs to this printer. I guess the switch that IJM made with the R2400 is another example of this, although I think that the current 800/1800/2400 carts are still a design generation behind the current 1400/1430/1900/2000/2880 carts.

3½. A good nozzle check using OEM isn’t a guarantee of success. For a couple of reasons. One is #2, i.e. worn print heads are less tolerant of refillables than OEM. The other is that a printer can be in need of a clean and still work with OEM, but a dirty printer is less tolerant of refillables. Again no proof but a strong hunch

  1. Every nozzle check gap is different, and there are quite a few possible causes other than simply clogs.

  2. Head cleans cause more problems than they solve, if the source of the problem is something other than a genuine clog. Purge patterns are better.

  3. Faulty carts do happen, even from the most reliable suppliers.

  4. There are printers that just won’t work with refillables, due to manufacturing tolerances. Again, I have no hard proof, but that seemed to be the case with my own R2400, even when relatively new.

  5. This one is the really dirty little secret of refillables: they might sometimes work, and perhaps mostly, although I have no way of knowing. Never had any problems with piezo in my R1410 and hardly any in my R1900. But sometimes they just don’t. Perhaps it’s some combination of 1-7, but whatever, sometimes they just don’t work, no matter what you do.

  6. If it’s going to work, it should work relatively simply. Having to struggle and do multiple printer cleans is not a good sign (unless one or more carts is faulty, which does happen, even with IJM carts).

Anyone want to dispute any of these or add any more?

As a person new the world of refillables, I’m glad to see this. Perhaps the issues I’m having with my 2400 are tied up with #7 in this list…

I did pick up a well-priced 1400 the other day that will be my next foray into this world.

Thanks for this information!

I agree with all this Brian. We put a lot of time and attention into having the best quality products for our customers, and feel we do have the best products on the market as a result of our extensive testing, but as you pointed out, every printer is different, and I have found some situations just don’t make any sense, so suspect your point #7 may be accurate.

I just added lesson 3½.

An update to this thread,

We’ve been working hard behind the scenes (we pay attention!) to address some of these issues, mainly w/ updated cartridge designs.

See details: New Small Format Cartridges Coming Soon

The big improvements are better pressure control and exit valve/seal/lock design. Some of the larger (HighCapacity) carts may need to be primed the first time they are used (1 out of ever 13 or so, or optionally all of them) but this is a small trade-off to enable a cartridge that does not drop ink when a printer’s manifold and head go wishy-washy.


If you have solved this problem, that would be very good indeed, although only time and the experience of a number of users will tell.

I say this because this has been a long-running issue. Some people have had terrible experiences, and in the face of such reports, IJM repeatedly stated that the carts worked for them and most users, and if they didn’t then the fault must be a poorly maintained printer, or sawdust in the studio.

If this was the case then the carts should be guaranteed to work with new printers. That was true in my case, but poor old JeffG has had a terrible time with two new R1430s and one new R2000. I hope you will look kindly on people like him.

I assume that these new carts will be a lot more expensive than the old R1430 / R1900 R2880 carts.

Old carts do work with our printers (at least 1430s). I r&d all our ink with old carts and 1430 (hundreds Of cartridges almost every month so I should know).

Epsons are not built with the same tolerance control any longer. Our rd printers are several years old and good but a recent printer has had issues.

These new carts are built to address that looser variance!


FWIW, my view is that the tolerance of desktops has never been all that good, and that has been the main source of the problem. No-one has said that the old cart design never worked, only that the problem rate was too high, even on new printers. If the variation rate is even larger, then heaven help us. In fairness, I should also add that my experience is that that problem rate is worse with non-IJM carts, which is part of the reason we’re here.