Refilling Canon BCI-3e & BCI-6 ink tanks

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General Information:

This guide is specifically aimed at refilling the specified Canon type of ink cartridges.  However, the basic principles apply to most other cartridge types as well. The initial instructions are written for cartridges specifically designed to be refilled more than a couple of times.  I recommend the kits from places online that not only sell the cartridges but also the plugs and cradles with their refill kits. These cartridges have slightly larger ink reservoirs and a different sponge type than OEM cartridges.

Please note I DO NOT recommend refilling OEM cartridges more than twice.  The sponge in them IS NOT designed to be refilled multiple times.

Refillable cartridge instructions:

NOTE: This step by step example uses ink jet cartridges designed for the refill process. The reason for this is that the ink tanks are easier to refill than the OEM ones. They are essentially designed to be refilled. The sponge material is slightly different than the OEM sponge as is the original seal. Both are designed to make refilling easier. I should also point out that the acrylic casing makes it easier to refill cartridges outside the printer. If you are refilling OEM or ink tanks other than this kind you may want to refer to the instructions at the end of this guide.

As mentioned above this refill guide is based on using a certain type of cartridge and acrylic casing which allows the ink tank to sit sealed at the bottom shown on the lower right.
If you are using an OEM ink tank or a different after market ink tank then please see the bottom of this page for some adjustments for those type of cartridges.

First thing you will need to do is make sure your ink tank is seated firmly in the acrylic clip. Once it has been properly seated tape off the air vent towards the front of the ink tank. (shown as #1).
The next thing to do is peel back the two top labels on the top of the ink tanks. First peel back the cover label (#2) and then the top seal (#3).
Peeling these back can actually be done simultaneously, but do not need to be done in this fashion 

The next step involves removing the original plug. (shown just below the pin in the next picture). Be very careful when removing this plug as it can be used over and over. Also, be observant at this point. After removing this plug take a look into the fill hole. You'll notice that there is a lip on the inside of the fill hole. The fill hole is just deep enough to support the plug. The lip will allow the plug to rest at the proper height without going into the ink tank. 

For removing the plug I am going to use an advanced refill tool called a push-pin =D. You can also use one of the supplied needles, a pin, or the supplied twist tool. Do not push all the way into the plug. Only insert enough so that you can remove the original plug. Pry out plug gently so that it does not tear.

Fill injector to 21mls if you are refilling the BCI-3e Black ink tank. For all other ink tanks please refer to your refill kit instructions. Insert needle into ink tank fill hole. Do not try to push needle in all the way to the hub. Make sure some of the metal from the needle is exposed. Slowly inject ink into the ink tank. The rate of speed that you use to inject ink has to be slow enough so that air can escape through the top of the ink tank. Basically if you are blowing ink bubbles your going too fast. Once you have reached 10-12ml mark stop injecting ink. Wait for thirty seconds. This is an important step.

During the waiting time you should notice that the amount of ink in the reservoir has slowly been absorbed into the sponge side of the ink tank. This is good. To assist in getting ink to the sponge portion you may tilt the ink tank slightly. After waiting thirty seconds continue the refill. 

Fill your ink tank enough so that the amount of ink on the reservoir side is slightly lower than the right side. In the tank shown below this is about as close to equal height as you should get. Any more ink in the reservoir and the sponge will absorb too much ink and may enter the vent at the top of the ink tank. This causes drips - and this is messy inside your printer. I learned this the hard way ;).

Once refill has been completed clean any residual ink at the top of the ink tank with a paper towel. Take the original plug and place back into ink tank fill hole. Press to make flush with the ink tank casing. There is a small stem in the bottom of the acrylic clip that should prevent the ink tank from moving. Even though this stem is there be gentle when pushing in the plug. 

Now add the new top seal. The top seal runs opposite of the original seal and label. Apply one end of the top seal to the ink tank side and wrap around the ink tank covering the plug. Attach other end of top seal to the opposite side of the ink tank.

The next picture shows the top seal in place over the plug.

Reapply the original seal and top label. 

Let ink tank sit for ten minutes.
If you are storing ink tanks make sure the tape over the air vent remains in place. Do not store ink tanks in a location where temperatures increase and decrease dramatically throughout the day. When removing ink tank it is not uncommon to see a small amount of ink bubble on the pad. This is not uncommon and nothing to worry about. Clean excess ink with paper towel.

If you do not have these kind of seals or plugs to seal the top of the ink tank you can also use one of the following to seal the tank:
1. Blu Tac or putty. Yes, believe it or not this will also create an air tight seal.
2. Glue from a hot glue gun. Though this is not my preferred method it does work very well with some of the other aftermarket ink tanks and OEM ink tanks (this is a bit more permanent than Blu Tac though).

OEM Cartridge:

If you do not have an ink tank designed for refilling you will have to tape the bottom of the ink tank before the refill. Taping the ink tank is simply applying a decent quality tape over the ink exit hole before refilling. Make sure that the ink exit hole is clean of all ink before applying tape.
One of the most advanced mistakes individuals make is to seal the top of the ink tank by pressing the tape down with their finger. This is not a proper way to seal the ink tank.
Take a look at the image below. A finger is not flat and when attempting to press the tape into place it will actually force tape to come into contact with the sponge material. This in turn will wick ink out of the tank and will continue to do so as long as the tape is in place.

To properly seal the ink tank you must use a completely flat surface. Shown below is an ink tank pressed against glass. This will create a seal level with the ink tank casing and will not force the tape to come into contact with the sponge. 

Another one of the major mistakes made is improperly cleaned plastic around ink exit holes. Though the ink exit hole may look clean it probably is not. Make sure you clean the casing around the ink exit hole. The image shown below is a good example of how non-visible ink at a glance can make a difference when it comes to taping the bottom of the ink tank.


CONGRATULATIONS!  You have just refilled your cartridge.  Now pop it back in your printer and do a Nozzle check (on the Canon maintenance tab - under printer properties). This may include a head clean if the nozzle is slightly blocked. You've just saved yourself heaps of $$$ from not buying a new OEM cartridge, and you'll know what to do next time your tank starts to run low (note I said run low - I don't recommend you let the ink reservoir run empty; especially in an OEM cartridge as this tends to dry out the ink sponge).

Hope you find this guide useful. Please vote for it if you did.

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