The Publishr The Ultimate Guide to Buying HP Cartridges

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The first thing that you'll need to recognise about printers such as the K550, K5400, L7580 (and earlier printers) is that they already are a pre-built continuous ink supply printer.  The printhead feeding system and the tubing are included in the printer (unlike in Canon and Epson printers where the CIS design includes tubing and cartridges that feed ink to cartridges in a moving printhead).  As a result these HP printers are ideal for the complete amateur, afraid of moving parts and making a mess of the more complex CIS kits of the other printers.

There are 3 options:

1. High Capacity Cartridges
You can buy high capacity cartridges for your printer and receive between 17ml for cyan, magenta and yellow and 58ml for black without changing anything.

2. Remanufactured Cartridges

Purchasing 3rd party non HP cartridges is also possible but it is best to go with use the same design as HP originals.

How do HP Cartridges Work?

Normally inkjet printers work on the basis of gravity with the cartridge providing all the pressure required to get ink to flow into the printhead before being jetted across the page.  

Within these HP printers you will notice a small rubber bulb on the bottom of your cartridges.  Ink flows into this bulb from the cartridge.  A piston in the printer then pushes against this to pump the ink into the printhead.  This 'pumping' action is important as

1. It is used by the printer to determine if the ink has run out (it can detect insufficient resistance to its pump action)
2. It stops air being sucked into the printhead if the ink supply is insufficient
3. It was designed this way to provide ink at the pressure required for the printer to work

3. CIS Kits (Refillable Cartridges)

Many of the CIS kits for these HP printers use cartridges that replace the rubber bulb with a hard plastic mould that provides no pumping mechanism.  Instead these kits rely on a constant pressure from the 'reservoir design' to provide the necessary pressure.  The hard plastic mould is there simply to fool the printer into thinking there is ink in the cartridge so that it functions normally.  

While this may work it is not ideal as it avoids a system HP designed to make the printer work at an optimum level in the first place.

Potential problems include missing bands of ink; burnt out printhead and wasted ink (this is due to ink being forced out as a result of the printer falsely believing it  feels pressure and assumes ink is present).

These problems occur as air has been pulled or pushed into the printhead through insufficient pressure or poor ink management in reservoirs.

However as HP printheads are closed units that contain 4ml of ink, once they get air inside them it is pretty impossible to remove it.   Once your printing starts to show extreme banding that won't go away for more than 5 minutes or even half an hour, its time to consider purchasing another printhead.

In closing, refillable or remanufactured cartridges may seem the best way to go to save some cash whilst printing on your HP Officejet.  However due to the likelihood of the problems described above I would strongly recommend purchasing high capacity compatible cartridges and gaining technical assistance whilst installing your cartridges to avoid potential problems.
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