McCue Cartridge Expert
ProVac Training Manual
Inkjet Cartridge Refilling System
Version Draft 1g with videos
• Single Fill ProVac system shown.
(Can fill a Black or Colour cartridge)
• Dual Fill ProVac system shown.
(Can fill a Black and Colour
cartridge at the same time)
• Very simple to use
• For non expert users
• No need for a mouse
• You do need to plug it in
• The ProVac has been designed so that it is the expert. The
user does not have to become an expert on the technicalities
of refilling inkjet cartridges.
• It is however very important that user follows the correct
procedures and follows exactly what it says to do on the LCD
• Please read the documentation thoroughly before using the
There are two main types of cartridge :-
Those with Print heads attached. (These are the expensive
type only available new from the OEM or as remanufactured
items. Strong patents prevent other company’s from
manufacturing compatibles / clones)
Those with no print heads attached. These are effectively just
Ink tanks and are often available as very low cost compatibles
from the Far East. This type are generally not cost effective to
refill. Note many now have non re-settable chips fitted.
• The ProVac fills the most popular cartridges with a Print Head
attached. These include most cartridges from HP, Dell, Canon
Cartridge Expert is working on adaptors to fill some of the
new, more popular ink tanks.
Construction of Ink Cartridges
• It is advantageous for the user to understand a little about the
construction of a cartridge.
• A cartridge is not simply a container of ink.
• The cartridge head is a precision device. The nozzles are
extremely small and there are often hundreds of them. They
are easily damaged or can get blocked with dried ink or tissue
Internal wall so smaller
foam is fitted by OEM to
reduce its capacity!
Typical construction of a modern Inkjet Cartridge with Print Head
The First Task
• Check that the cartridge you wish to refill is on the provided list
- Nearly all HP, Lexmark, Dell and Canon cartridges with print
heads attached can be refilled.
• Check you have the appropriate cassette in stock for that
Ask the customer important questions :-
• When did they last use the cartridge? If not used for months it
may have dried up and may not refill successfully.
• Did they stop printing soon as it streaked or kept printing for a
long time? If printed for a long time after the ink ran out they
may have burnt out some of the nozzles and the cartridge may
not print satisfactorily after being refilled.
• How have they stored the cartridge since it was emptied? If
stored in a hot environment or badly handled then the cartridge
maybe damaged and unlikely to print satisfactorily if at all after
• It is always preferable to have a cartridge refilled a.s.a.p after it
is emptied. The cartridge should preferably be stored in a zip
up plastic bag to help prevent it from drying out and to protect
the fragile print head.
Cartridge Condition Checks
• Weigh the customer’s cartridge – Is it within the Print Empty
range of weights on the list?
• If significantly heavier than expected, ask the customer why.
Maybe the cartridge has not been used for a long period and
dried up when they came to use it. (Thoroughly clean the
cartridge before refilling and consider a manual empty of the
cartridge before attempting to refill the cartridge)
The Dab Test
• The simple to perform Dab test is essential before and after a
• A non embossed white kitchen paper towel is the best type to
• Coffee filters are also a very good alternative to paper towels
as they are lint free and the fibres are less likely to clog the
The Dab Test
•Simply press the head of the cartridge against a clean paper
towel and look for an imprint from the head. It is best to place
your finger directly behind the head with the paper in between.
•Dab the head, never wipe it as fibres from the tissue can be
pushed into the cartridge nozzles permanently blocking them.
The Initial Dab Test
• Colour – A continuous line of each colour
• Black – A continuous line of black ink
Note - Cartridges rarely give a good dab until after they have
• Clean the cartridge before and after refilling
• The optimum method is to use an ultrasonic bath containing a
shallow amount of clean solution of de-ionised / distilled water
and Dead Head Recovery Fluid. (sometimes referred to as
• Only the nozzle plate (Head) should be submerged in the
• Prior to a refill – a 1 minute or longer clean is ideal.
• Post refill – 10 Seconds maximum or there is a significant risk
that the inks in the cartridge will be cross contaminated and /
or diluted leading to the initial prints having weak or dirty
Repeat the Dab Test
• After the cartridge is initially cleaned, the Dab test is more
likely to be successful as the cleaning process not only
removes dried on ink but also helps re-establish the all
important ink link within the cartridge and nozzles.
Poor Dab Tests
Good Dab Tests
Interpreting the Dab Test
• The better the Dab imprint, the more likely the cartridge will
work successfully after a refill.
• A poor Dab may not necessarily mean that the cartridge won’t
refill ok, but the chances are smaller.
• A cartridge has to be very empty not to give an imprint of some
description after the initial clean cycle.
• Often repeating the initial clean cycle until a good Dab is
obtained will help.
• The ProVac does not connect electrically to the cartridge so it
does not test it. Electrical testing is not really needed if the
correct procedures are followed.
• Asking the customer if the cartridge worked ok prior to bringing
it in for refilling and how they have looked after it since is a
very good indication of its status and the likely chance of a
Starting the Process
• Press the Go Button
• Scan the cassette
• Follow the on-screen
and throughout the
Attaching the Cartridge Adaptor
• Attach and lock down
(The adaptor type is
stated on the screen)
• A Colour adaptor is
shown. Black adaptors
have just one connector.
• Note if the pull down
connector does not fit
easily into the adaptor
connector, push in its
silver locking tab.
Inserting the Cassette
• Insert the cassette into the
Station and pull down the
shutter. The vertical wing
on the cassette is closest to
you. (It is the handle for
removing the cassette after
• The system will now prime
the pumps, tubes and
Note – Never fit a Black cassette in the colour station as this may
cause the cassette to leak
Drilling the Cartridge Lid
• Lexmark, Dell, Canon and
some HP cartridges need
small holes drilled in the
• The list states which need
to be drilled.
• Do not drill too deep into
the cartridge. Penetrate
the top of the cartridge lid
• Hold the cartridge in the jig
and rotate the drill whilst
applying some pressure to
Inserting the Cartridge
• Follow the on-screen instructions and be ready to fit the Inkjet
Cartridge into the adaptor when requested to do so.
Inserting the Cartridge
• Ensure the cartridge is inserted with the head the correct
way around. The message on the screen will tell you
whether to fit the cartridge with head to the left or to the
• If the foam pushes the cartridge out a little, remove and
reinsert the cartridge a few times so that the needle
penetrates the foam in the cartridge rather than depressing
• The system will now start the automatic refilling process.
• The operator does not need to wait as the system will give
an audible indication when it has finished refilling the
cartridge. (Approx 4 to 6 mins)
The Empty Cycle
• The system will first empty all the old ink out of the cartridge.
This is an automatic process and usually takes between 3 and
5 minutes depending on the cartridge type.
• The cartridge has to be emptied first as the system will pump
in a finite amount of ink for that cartridge type regardless of
how much ink is remaining in the cartridge. Emptying it
completely first helps prevent it from being overfilled.
• Colour cartridges will always have different quantities of each
colour ink present in the cartridge when it is reported
empty/starts to streak, so it is essential to bring all the levels
down to the same level by emptying it before refilling.
• A vacuum is then generated around the cartridge and the
cartridge conditioned. (approx 1 min)
• The ProVac generates a very high vacuum in and around the
cartridge which is essential for a good refill and uses a similar
technique to that of the OEM.
• The vacuum removes all the air within the cartridge. Air
bubbles stop the all important ink link, causing streaking and
premature loss of a colour.
• The ProVac uses a special differential vacuum technique to
ensure that the ink is pulled down into the head/nozzles rather
than sitting arbitrarily in the foam.
• The ink is then accurately pumped into the cartridge and the
cartridge automatically primed. (approx 1min)
• Once refilled an audible indication will be given that the
process is complete and the operator is required.
• Remove the cartridge as soon as practical after the process
has completed to help prevent any ink loss from the cartridge.
• Follow the on-screen instructions.
Removing the Cartridge
• Unlock the adaptor and remove the cartridge holding the
head of the cartridge in a tissue to avoid getting ink on your
hands as there will be ink on the cartridge’s head.
• Insert the adaptor back into the chamber – no need to lock it
System Self Cleaning
Select the system self cleaning mode :-
• If another cartridge is waiting to be refilled then select the
Partial Clean option otherwise select the Full clean mode
which will flush clean water through the system and adaptor.
• Once complete remove the old cassette and dispose of it
• The adaptor can also be removed and stored.
Post Fill – Clean the Cartridge and the Final Dab test
• Clean any excess ink off the cartridge by dabbing with a paper
• Clean the cartridge head briefly in the ultrasonic bath. (No more
than 10 seconds)
• Check the cartridge with multiple dab tests. They should be
consistent and give good distinct imprints.
Post Fill – Weigh the Cartridge
• The cartridge should now be weighed and compared with the
range of weights for a full cartridge as stated in the list.
• The weights given are a guide and the refilled weight does
vary from cartridge to cartridge.
• A little over or under the suggested weight range is usually
• Significantly underweight suggests a problem with the
cartridge or the system. Repeat the refill process.
Note - Never attempt to refill a cartridge with a cassette for a
higher capacity cartridge of that type, as it will almost certainly
overfill and may permanently damage the cartridge. Colour
cartridges are likely to end up with cross contaminated colours
Protecting the Cartridge’s Head
• Turn the cartridge upside down and apply a small amount of
dead head recovery fluid to the nozzles.
• Apply a sealing tape or clip to the cartridge.
• Press the silicone pad of the sealing tape down firmly before
attaching the tape – this is very important otherwise there
maybe cross contamination of colours or the heads may dry out.
Packing the Refilled Cartridge
• Pack the cartridge in a small zip up plastic bag and then
preferably into a small box.
• Attach a label to the cartridge but not over or under the sealing
tape as it will be damaged when the tape is removed.
• Check / tick the box to say that the cartridge has been refilled.
(On subsequent refills check / tick the next box)