How to Keep Printer Ink Fresh


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Someone asked recently if it’s possible for the ink in their printer to harden. I don’t know for sure about getting “hard,” but the moisture inside of your inkjet cartridges are full of moisture. That liquid can evaporate, leaving you with something that is not usable. You have to exercise your printer so that doesn’t happen!

When I say exercise, I mean USE the thing, of course. Print out something small at least once a week – enough for the ink to actually be used. Wouldn’t it be great if we could automate that somehow? Let’s say there was a browser extension or desktop application that we could schedule… our printer would then automagically print something out like once a week to keep itself nice and fresh.

You may think it’s a “waste” of ink to print something if you don’t really need it. You’re wasting far more, though, if you let it sit and your ink goes to waste. Think of things in the long run, not just the here and now.

How to Turn Off a Printer That Won't Turn Off


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One caller the other night was concerned that his “new” printer has no off button. He had purchased a used Lexmark X125 machine for $25.00 and couldn’t figure out how to shut the thing down. The only buttons on it (according to him) either start or pause a print job. Keep in mind that this printer originally sold back in 2002.

This is only a guess, but there’s probably a port where your cable runs out of the printer. You can either unplug it there or from the wall. From the sound of it, there’s not really any other options. If there really is no power (or on/off) button, then you have to yank that cord out of the outlet when you want to shut it down.

This seems to be a case of “you get what you pay for.” Printers that cheap aren’t all that out of the ordinary. The ink is what usually costs you an arm and a leg.

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HP Photosmart Premium Review


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Yes, this is a printer. It happens to be connected to my network wirelessly. It also boasts bluetooth features and a touch screen! This HP Photosmart Premium allows me to print, copy, fax and scan. It also allows me to connect to parts of the Internet, such as coupons, Google Maps and more!

I can even print wirelessly using the HP iPrint application on my iPhone. It happens to be a free App, even! Without connecting my phone to the network, the App detected the printer on my network and sent the photo to it! How easy was that?!

The coupons feature is pretty cool, even if I do prefer my own coupons. These are ones that you can sort by category, and print out to use in your local store. Enter your zip code, and receive coupons to local stores! Who doesn’t love to save money?!

I can also print a map out for myself, so that I don’t end up lost anymore. I can target whatever location I want using Google Maps, and print out what I need. If you are subscribed to my Twitter, you know that my GPS system called me an idiot recently when I kept missing my turn. By printing out a map, that will hopefully never happen again!

I didn’t have to connect this printer to any computer in order to download updates or anything. This thing is really simple to use. If I wanted to, I could add or change the included widgets. This printer has just about every feature you could want, and then some! I love the fact that it’s connected to my entire network!

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A Word of Caution Concerning Printer Ink Cartridges

After reading my article about generic print cartridges, Teebo was moved to write to me about his experiences. He taught me a few things that even I didn’t already know… and hopefully you’re about to learn something, as well. Here is what Teebo had to say:

There are two types of ink cartridges today: one is a complete cartridge which includes a print head, the other is only an ink reservoir. The advice I was given when I bought my last printer was to buy one whose cartridges contain the print heads. That way, each time you buy a new ink cartridge, you’re getting a brand new print head.

My previous printer had the print heads built right in to the printer itself, not on the ink cartridges. One day, the print heads failed. I called customer service, and was told that it wasn’t worth it to fix the machine. They said I was better off buying a new one! I was so unhappy with their response that I DID buy a new printer – from a different company! I made sure to purchase one that uses ink cartridges that include the print heads.

Every time I buy new ink, I get new print heads. I never have to worry about them failing again. Generic cartridges don’t come with print heads, of course. My recommendation is to not buy generic ones… but to simply take your name-brand ones in for refills to save yourself money. These work great for home use. When the print heads finally do fail on the ink cartridges, simply throw them out and buy new ones. This is going to save you a lot of money, and a lot of headaches.

Excellent advice! Thanks, Teebo, for reaching out to help others refrain from making this same mistake!

Do You Want a MakerBot or RepRap 3D Printer?

If you didn’t already realize it, Gnomedex.com is currently promoting our next conference – coming up next month (August 20th – 22nd, 2009). One of the presenters is Bre Pettis, who is a “maker” extraordinaire. For the second time in the past couple of weeks, I’ve had someone from the community email me to let me know about Bre’s MakerBot.com – without knowing that (a) I know Bre, and (b) Bre is speaking at Gnomedex. Still, Christopher Benjamins explained Bre’s project to me…

Hello Chris! I’m not really in the chat, but I’ve seen a lot of your videos. I’ve been getting interested in 3D printers and stumbled on an old video you made back in 2007 talking about them. You mentioned that you read in a magazine I think that someone was trying to make one out of cheap stuff, well – he did. I wasn’t sure if you kept an eye on it or not or forgot about it.

I’m sure you know that the commercially-produced 3D printers are expensive; they now range from $20,000 to $500,000. I was lucky and got to play with one back when I took an CAD Engineering class in high school (I made a cool little spaceship in 3D). Recently, I found the MakerBot and the RepRap 3D printers. They are very cheap compared to the other ones. I’ve been thinking about getting a MakerBot, and then using that to make a RepRap. The interesting thing though about them is that they are open source projects. You can get the designs for them and built them completely by yourself. Or, you can get kits. Another interesting thing (specifically, the RepRap) is that 60% of the parts can be made by another 3D printer (it doesn’t have to be RepRap or MakerBot). They are self-replicating machines. The RepRap project is working on improving that ratio, and also allowing someone to print in more than just plastic. I think they have a solder and a plaster extruder?

3D printing is more than just prototyping now. Their dream is in the future instead of buying something online and having it shipped to you, you would download it, and print it yourself – like a mini personal factory.

Both of these projects work together to improve their designs. Actually, the founder of RepRap helped jumpstart and support MakerBot – both are different in a way. MakerBot is made from cheap stuff that anyone can find and build. RepRap is designed to self-replicate, but the downside of that if you don’t have a friend or some other resource who can give you those special parts (the ones that a machine would make), it’s difficult to make one. So people usually make one, to produce a RepRap, or make a temporary machine using the same motors and circuits to make the parts for it.

Again, you can meet Bre / MakerBot at Gnomedex – in person.