Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

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?

share|improve this question

closed as too broad by bwDraco, Scott, fixer1234, JakeGould, Wes Sayeed Sep 21 '15 at 4:47

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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
I would love to know if anyone finds a way to replace printer firmware -- just like it's possible for wireless routers (OpenWRT) and digital cameras (Magic Lantern, CHDK for example)! – Jay May 22 '15 at 2:07
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Yes, of-course there is.

Your question is a bit vague, particularly you don't mention 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 firmware unlockers on eBay which works just fine. In my case I get the toner in bottles and pour it into the cartridge via a hole which needs to be sealed off with a stopper or duct tape.

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

Some brands like Brother Printers make life very easy. You just remove a cap and pour the toner, no hacks required.

You also get CISS (Continuous Ink Supply System) for Inkjet Printers which allow you to get bottles of aftermarket ink and feed this into an inkjet printer.

Standard CISS setup

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.

share|improve this answer
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
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… 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.

share|improve this answer

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.....

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.