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Is there a way to replace the factory firmware that came with the printer with a custom firmware that allows you to use aftermarket or generic ink cartridges?

A search on google doesn't reveal much except for printer vulnerabilities.

Alternatively, are generic printers available in the. Write which have refillable cartridges? If not then why hasn't anyone made them?

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I don't think so. None of the printer makers would allow this. It is what maintains the demand for their ink products. –  Dan D. Mar 15 '13 at 6:31

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Yes, of-course there is.

Your question is a bit vague, particularly you don't advise which printer. You can get generic ink/cartriges/refills for most printers, and they work fine. Some of the cheaper printers (Like the Samsung Color Laser I have) have DRM to limit the use of consumables but you can purchase unlocking firmware on eBay which I know for a fact works. [ In my case I get the toner in bottles and poor it into the cartridge - which has a hole which needs to be closed off with a stopper or duct tape.

You can also buy aftermarket ink/toner from eBay or elsewhere online. You do need to be a bit careful though, because the ink does need to be suitable for your printer, not all printers use identical inks.

Of-course, some brands (I like Brother Printers, but I'm sure they are not the only one) make life very easy, and you just remove a cap and poor in the toner, no hacks required.

You also get "Ink Systems" for Inkjet Printers which allow you to get bottles of aftermarket ink and feed this into an inkjet printer (Again, I think most brands are supported but Lexmark and HP are the main ones). I believe this is good if you are doing volume printing, but is not always a simple, pleasant experience.

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It was meant to be about printers in general. But I currently have an HP Printer so could you link me to a site selling this firmware ? Specifically, I own the HP Office-jet 5610. I ask this only because every time I use generic cartridges, my printer throws a hissy fit. –  viraj Mar 15 '13 at 14:41
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Sorry, Im unwilling to do your googling for you - particularly when you have not advised specifics for your problem - and anyway, buying recommendations are not allowed on this site. That said, I found remanufactured and OEM cartridges, Refills and a Continuous ink flow system within a few seconds of Googling your printer). You don't even need any firmware. You might also find h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/… usefull - without knowing more details it would appear you have a problem with your cartridge. –  davidgo Mar 15 '13 at 19:39

No, not yet at least, is answer to your question about replacement firmware to allow you to use incompatible or expired cartridges. I am not sure why this is the case. Possibly that printer manufacturers have succeeded in making a combination of unhackable products... though I doubt it. The fact this post is the most accurate information on the subject of custom firmware for printers suggests that maybe it just hasn't been thought of yet.

On the subject of refillable ink cartridges, many are available online and even in big stores like Walmart. These are not reliable because of the protection that manufacturers put in to their printers. It seems that we will only get reliable refill cartridges when there is custom firmware made to remove restrictions put in place by manufacturers. Until then, refills are hit and miss (in my experience miss) and official cartridges are expensive.

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It would be quite a project, my printer has not only the print heads as devices, but also a SD slot, a small LCD screen, a scanner, USB port, wireless and wired network adapters, a webserver, etc. Each model of printer differs in architecture and possibly the CPU's themselves vary. You would have to make a compact linux kernel, drivers for all possible devices, compile it to the right instruction set for the CPU, and make it fit on the flash area of the firmware. Even then, it is not known how much of the firmware is hard and what parts are flashable.....

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