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How to Refill an Empty Toner Printer Cartridge

Updated on September 19, 2013

The Cost of New Toner Cartridges

We've all been there, very pleased with that bargain laser printer we picked up in the sales.

You can't believe how cheap they were, such an incredible bargain !    

Then it happens, it seems barely days before the multitude of toner cartridges inside your shiny new laser printer start to fail.  Often this is because you begin life with starter cartridges, which are generally only half or quarter full of toner powder to get you started.

It's terrible really when we are trying to restrict waste, that someone will go to the trouble of manufacturing something with a deliberately short life.   Ah well, you throw your limited cartridge away and find that the cost of brand new shiny cartridges cost more than the laser printer did in the first place.

This is how the printer companies make the majority of their profits, it's not from the printers but the consumables that you have to buy to keep them going.  The costs are deliberately subsidized in order to suck you in, then you have no choice but to buy their cartridges.

But you do have a choice ! 

In the vast majority of cases, the only thing your laser cartridge needs when it stops- is more toner, yep it's just run out of ink. Years ago in a less commercial world, you could simply pour in some more toner through the little refiller cap on the cartridge. However the printer companies discovered that they made loads more money if they made you buy a new cartridge so they slowly disappeared, but fear not you can still refill your toner cartridge and I'll show you how.

It's quite simple really if you have the right tools, all your cartridge needs is more ink. The parts haven't worn out, the rollers aren't about to pack up, a cartridge will usually keep going for much, much longer if you just refill toner.

Is Refilling a Cartridge Difficult?

I thought it would be, but actually it's quite simple as long as you have the right tools.   You can buy toner refill kits from many places, or you can put one together yourself.  The objective is quite simple just get the ink into the toner cartridge without messing around with it. 

It's actually very simple to do and only takes a few minutes.

A Toner Refill Kit
A Toner Refill Kit

Here's an example of a sample toner refill kit, none of it is really essential but just makes the job easier.  Gloves for the toner ink, a soldering iron to make a little hole in the cartridge to pour the ink through and some stoppers to close the hole after you have refilled it.

That's all that's involved really

1) Make Hole

2) Pour in Toner 

3) Put stopper in hole.

The beauty is you don't touch any other part of the toner cartridge, so you don't mess around with the rollers, or any internal mechanism.  Just filling up with ink.   The only tricky bit would be the making of a hole big enough to pour the toner in.  In many kits they supply a handy little adapter which you can see below.

I have never used a soldering iron in my life and I can say it was extremely easy using the little tool.  I switched it on, waited for a minute to heat up and pressed it into the top of the toner cartridge, when I pulled the soldering iron away it left a little hole the same size of the stoppers.

Of course if you don't have the kit and you're handy with a soldering iron, you can just make a hole and close it with tape.

Here's the soldering iron I used with the special adapter.
Here's the soldering iron I used with the special adapter.

After making the hole, you have to shake the toner bottle to make sure the ink flows in easily. It's actually so fine it's like a liquid. As long as you shake it before hand it's very easy to pour into the cartridge. Obviously it is ink so it could make a mess if you spill it, so put some paper down and don't work on the living room carpet!

Below are pictures of two refilled cartridges, one with the plastic stopper, the other one just using tape. Both worked fine for me.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Cartridge Refilled with a StopperSample refilled Laser Toner Cartridge with Tape
Cartridge Refilled with a Stopper
Cartridge Refilled with a Stopper
Sample refilled Laser Toner Cartridge with Tape
Sample refilled Laser Toner Cartridge with Tape

That's all there is to it. Of course you can only refill a toner cartridge so many times before other components will fail but you can certainly cut the cost of your printing by between 60-90% in my experience but obviously this will vary depending on the printer you have.

It's best to have a new toner cartridge on stand by, when you notice the quality failing just stop refilling and recycle your old cartridge. It's important also to mention the environmental saving -each and every toner cartridge costs between 1 and 2 litres of oil - every time you refill you are saving that environmental cost too.

There's nothing difficult about it really, if there was I'm sure I'd have messed it up !

If you want to learn more about how you can save money and help the environment by refilling your empty toner cartridges then visit here - .


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