Epson offers a broad range of different models designed to suit your business or personal printing needs. They offer printers with all-in-one capabilities, photo quality, and high-speed laser in monochrome and color. Epson printers are all mostly diverse in that no two models are designed to function in the same way, though similar product lines will share component pieces designed to encourage their intended use. The same applies to Epson ink cartridges, which will vary in their ink capacity and composition, though they are usually around the same size and shape—thin, tall, and rectangular. Installing new printer cartridges in Epson printers is pretty straight forward. I will be discussing the process using the Epson Workforce WF-3640 printer, which uses the popular Epson 252 ink cartridge, as my example. If any step doesn’t match up with what you’re seeing with your model, consult your owner’s manual for more precise details and instructions.
A. Checking Ink Levels
If your printer isn’t alerting you to replace any cartridges and you wish to know which cartridges need replacing, you can check your printer’s ink levels by following these steps:
- Press the Home Button (HOUSE icon).
- Go to Setup then hit the OK button.
- You’ll see Ink Levels as the first option so simply hit the OK button.
- You can now see your printer’s ink levels on the LCD screen.
B. Installing New Epson Ink Cartridges
Before you begin, it’s important that you have your replacement cartridges on hand before you remove the empty ones. Leaving your print head exposed to open air can lead to clogs that are difficult to clean, and may result in the need for replacement.
- Turn on your printer unit using the power button.
- If you already have empty cartridges, you will see a message on your LCD screen noting which cartridges need replacement. Hit “PROCEED” and follow the instructions on the screen.
- If you are replacing a cartridge before it is empty:
- Press the Home button (HOUSE ICON).
- Go to Setup then hit OK.
- Scroll to Maintenance then hit OK.
- Scroll to Ink Cartridge Replacement then press OK.
- Lift up the scanner unit (not just the scanner cover), to expose the ink cartridges.
- Wait for the printhead to stop before taking out the cartridges.
- IMPORTANT: Be careful NOT to TOUCH the printhead and the flat white cable inside the printer.
- Squeeze the tab at the back of the cartridge you want to replace toward you and pull the cartridge straight up. It should slide out easily with a little wiggling at most. Be careful when you handle the spent cartridge, as leftover ink residue can stain your clothing, furniture, carpet, or hands. If you get ink on your hands, wash it thoroughly with soap and water. In the event ink sprays into your eye, flush it with cool water until clean. Keep ink cartridges out of the reach of children for all the reasons listed above.
- Gently shake your replacement cartridge up and down four or five times while it’s still in its sealed wrapper. Shaking helps redistribute the ink throughout the cartridge if it has settled.
- Remove it from the plastic package.
- Remove the yellow tape that seals the cartridge. This yellow tab is the only thing you should take off. DO NOT take anything else off.
- Do not remove the other seals as this will result in leaking.
- Do not touch the green chip on the cartridge.
- Do not remove the label.
- Insert the cartridge straight down into the carriage until it clicks. Repeat process for any other cartridges in need of replacement.
- Close the cartridge cover. Select “CHECK” on the LCD screen to make sure the cartridge is installed correctly. If so, close the scanner lid.
- Your printer unit will automatically start priming the new cartridge. Priming should take a few minutes. Once completed, you will see a message on your LCD screen saying that your printer is ready to print!
It’s important to note that installation instructions for some Epson inkjet printers might differ but they will follow the same basic steps. You can use the above instructions when replacing Epson 200 cartridges on the Epson Expression XP-310, XP-300, XP-400, and XP-410, Epson 220 cartridges on the Epson Expression XP-320, XP-420, XP-424, WorkForce WF-2630, WF-2650, WF-2660, WF-2750, WF-2760 printers.
C. Changing a Remanufactured Epson Cartridge
Reputable remanufactured and compatible cartridges come with chips designed to emulate those of original brand name cartridges to a T. In most instances, replacing your existing ink cartridge with a remanufactured or compatible cartridge involves the same process listed above, and your cartridge will be recognized without issue. On occasion, you’ll encounter connectivity issues that can usually be fixed in a couple of easy steps. The most common error message you’ll see when installing a compatible cartridge is one that reads “Low” or “Empty,” as though you didn’t just install a new, full cartridge at all. This message will often pop up when you install a new brand name cartridge sometimes, too, because your printer isn’t reading the new chip on the cartridge. Misreads will occur when there’s leftover ink on the sensor, as well as when the printer needs to be “reset.” Here’s how to do that:
- Remove the cartridge carefully. Remember, the inkwell is open and can spill, so you want to avoid jerking it out of the printer head too abruptly. Use a Q-tip or lint-free cloth to clean the gold chip on your cartridge. This chip is very sensitive—ink residue or dust can prevent it from interfacing with the printer cleanly, which produces errors.
- Power down your printer and unplug it from the wall for at least fifteen seconds. Wait for the printer to initialize, which may take a few seconds, and then install your freshly-cleaned cartridge back into the print carriage.
- If you’re still experiencing problems getting your printer to recognize your cartridge, there are a couple of other options:
- One, find a software solution. Using a freeware program called SSC Service Utility, users can reset ink cartridges from their desktop. You can also freeze internal ink counters, which helps you get all of the ink out of each cartridge. SSC Service Utility works with more than 100 Epson models.
- Another option is to purchase an ink cartridge reset tool. This inexpensive and reusable device acts as an interface between your cartridge chip and the printer to give refurbished and refilled cartridges the digital footprint of a new cartridge.
D. Refilling EcoTank Ink
One technology that sets Epson apart from the competition is EcoTank. Available for several printer models, EcoTank printers draw ink from refillable tanks instead of replaceable cartridges. They are designed to print cheaper than similar cartridge-based printer models and create less waste from spent cartridges (hence the “Eco-“). Refilling the tank is simple, but there are some procedures and precautions you should be aware of before you start:
- As mentioned above, avoid contact with your skin. If you get ink on your hands, wash thoroughly with soap and water. If ink gets in your eyes, flush them with cool water. In the event you get ink in your mouth, spit it out and consult with a medical professional.
- Epson does not recommend using ink that isn’t designed for your particular printer model. While this recommendation is meant to exclude third-party ink brands, I suggest confirming that the ink you are using is the right choice for an inkjet printer. Using ink designed for other types of print will clog your print head and give you poor print results.
- Refilling the EcoTank on an Epson Workforce ET 4500 is quick and easy. Here’s how you get started:
- Wear disposable gloves to avoid staining your hands. Keep damp paper towels on hand, and, in the event of a spill, wipe up the ink quickly to prevent permanent damage. If ink gets on your clothes, it may not come out, no matter how thoroughly you wash them.
- Place a sheet of paper under your printer to prevent ink splatter or spills from getting on your table or floor.
- Open the ink tank cover. Each ink pot has a cap that allows you to open up the well. Remove the cap and place it in the holder on the EcoTank. DO NOT put it on your table (or, worse, your pants) as it may have ink on it.
- Remove the tip on your new ink bottle and set it aside. Don’t lose track of it, though—you can replace it to save your leftover ink for later. If your ink bottle is sealed under the cap, very carefully remove the cap and peel away the plastic seal. Replace the cap, and you’re ready to start filling.
- Fill the ink tank for each color up to the top line on the ink tank. On the ET 4500, the colors go left to right Cyan > Magenta > Yellow > Black.
- Replace the cap on your ink bottle to store remaining ink. Put the bottle somewhere cool and dark, and leave it standing upright.
- Replace the cap on the ink tank and repeat for each color as needed.
- Close the cover, and you’re ready to print again!
Some EcoTank models use Ink Supply Packs rather than individual tanks, such as the R4640 model. This variety of bulk ink solution creates minimal waste and decreases the potential for catastrophic ink spills. Here’s how you install supply packs:
- When your ink pack is low or empty, a notification will pop up on your LCD screen indicating which ones require replacement. Individual ink colors have their supply bags of their own.
- Open the side compartment to reveal ink packs. Press the handle on the ink bag you are replacing, and it will pop out.
- Grab the handle and lift the bag straight up to remove it from the ink case.
- Unbox the new ink pack and remove any protective materials. Be sure not to touch the green chip on the handle area. Shake the ink pack from side to side horizontally around twenty times. Do not remove any labels or seals, as the ink can leak out.
- Insert the pack into the case, making sure the bottom of the ink bag fits into the base.
- Slide the handle on the ink pack onto the holder. Press in the handle until it clicks into place.
- Press “Check” on the LCD screen to ensure the ink packs are installed correctly.
- Close the ink case and you’re ready to print!
E. How to Save More and Print More with an Epson Printer
If you’ve browsed through the customer reviews of Epson printers, you’ll notice that most of them say the same thing: that Epson printers use up ink fast and Epson ink is expensive. While ink cartridges for newer Epson models have a lower price, they also have a low page count per cartridge making the cost per page still higher than average. So what’s a workaround to this dilemma?
Consumers have been switching over to compatibles more recently because of the price difference (up to 77% cheaper than original Epson cartridge prices) and because of the quality these alternative cartridges deliver. The aftermarket ink cartridge industry has been around for over a decade and have vastly improved their testing processes that they now guarantee compatible cartridges that can deliver a print output that’s practically indistinguishable from the original.
We hope to have answered your questions on installing / replacing new Epson ink cartridges. Browse our blog to find other super informational articles on how to take care of your ink cartridges.