I intend this question is more of a community wiki than anything else.

Recently I had a problem with my HP Photosmart CS5300 series inkjet printer. I've been printing 99% black draft text documents for about a year. However, the printer was reporting that ALL the cartridge levels were going down. What? how strange I thought. Then I discovered that these levels were actually an estimate and the printer wasn't reporting a true ink level.

What happens when the estimate reaches zero? I discovered the answer to this at just the wrong time. It stops printing anything and just shoves out totally blank pages.

So, Googling around I discovered this is actually a very common problem with many brands of printers. It seems that the industry has decided to protect their investment in ink and make the cartridges expire so that refilling them will not work.

However, it seems there are some solutions to this problem. I don't care too much to refill my cartridge I personally just want to use the ink that I paid lots of money for. This is what I did for the HP CS5300 printer.

On the printer itself, press the settings button (on the right hand side next to the help button). Select Tools. Now select to print a printer diagnostics page. I just so happened to also select to a clean print heads as well. One of these or both may be needed. Once I did this, I found I was able to print normally even though the printer says that there is no ink. Well that fixed it for me.

What methods have you found to get the rest of the ink or toner out of your printers?

  • Welcome to planned obsolescence – mouviciel Dec 20 '11 at 9:03
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    Longer term, buy a mono laser printer, They come in at about $80 these days and should do about 3000 pages for a $25 toner unit. Best thing i bought in ages. My one you can even pour more toner into the end of the unit with a rubber bung on it. – Sirex Dec 20 '11 at 9:11
  • Totally agree with that. I am thinking about a mono laser. – Matt H Dec 20 '11 at 9:29
  • This sounds more like your printer head was dirty then planned obsolescence, although I agree, the ink levels is not accurate. – Ramhound Dec 20 '11 at 13:54
  • @Ramhound - Planned obsolescence includes the lack of techniques for cleaning the printer head or for preventing it from getting dirty. Why no printer builder did come up with such a technology since the introduction of ink jet printers more than twenty years ago? – mouviciel Dec 20 '11 at 14:16

Many printers manage a counter of printed pages for handling the inaccurate "no more ink" indicator. It is possible for some printers to reset that counter by downloading a special firmware. Recipes are on Internet, but they are not as easily accessible as facebook.

By the way, my long term solution to this problem has been to switch to monochrome laser printers for work and administrative print jobs and to photo lab for family pictures.

  • Ditto. Especially as monochrome lasers don't cost any more than a good deskjet, and their toner is enormously cheaper per page. – music2myear Dec 20 '11 at 14:28
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    Apparently some laser printers do toner estimation and stop printing when it's estimated low! – Matt H Dec 21 '11 at 0:23

With dells printers, (and possibly lexmarks), its a matter of hitting the ok button on the printer when it says its empty, them saying ok when it says it will void your warranty, and ok again when it asks you if you really really want to print with an empty cart.

Canons just keep printing. The transparent tanks mean that they can't get up to such shenanigans

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