What is a “Waste Ink Counter”

A waste ink counter resides in the printers firmware (non-volatile memory) and consists of an ambiguous value that the printer will increment over time with each operation that generates waste ink.

What causes a waste ink related error?

Each printer will have a pre-determined limit or trigger value that engineers have calculated will have generated a safe amount of waste ink that the waste ink pads can successfully absorb.

What increases the waste ink counter?

Any time the printer completes a mini-maintenance routine, a printhead cleaning function is run or even when cartridges are changed in the printer, this value/counter will increase according to a carefully calculated equation in the printers firmware.

Why stop people printing?

Presumably to stop people ignoring the waste ink error and eventually causing the waste ink to overflow/leak out of the printer causing damage to the user/owner property near the printer.

What reduces the waste ink counter value?

Time and a reset utility. The equation or algorithm used to calculate waste ink will (or has in the past at least) factor in how long the printer has been in use and adjust the counter trigger point to account for potential evaporation of the fluid from the waste ink pads. This is why some really old printers never seem to hit the waste ink message for years.

..and of course, if you reset the waste ink counter using a reset utility that will reduce the waste counter (to zero) too.

Do inkjet printers sense/measure the waste ink in the waste pads?

No. Desktop inkjet printers do not have any kind of sensor specifically for measuring waste ink volume.

Does fitting an external waste kit (or fitting new pads) stop/freeze the waste ink counter

No. As there is no sensor (see above) to detect the waste ink level, the counter will continue to increment/increase as it would normally.

Why reset the waste ink counter if it can’t stop the waste ink error happening in the future?

Each time you use a waste ink utility to reset the waste ink counter you effectively return the printer to it’s “as new” status (as far as the waste ink error is concerned) so it’s a lot like getting a new printer life again.

Does using WICReset utility cause the waste counter to increase quicker?

No, the reset process clears the waste ink value and returns it to zero. It does not change the equation/algorithm that calculates waste ink use.

Is there a limit to the number of times the waste ink counter can be reset?

No, none that we’re aware of. Some Printer Potty customers have reset their printers more than 10 times.

Do all Epson inkjet printers have waste ink counters?

No, Many newer (and bigger) Epson printers now have consumable units called Maintenance Boxes which are like an inkjet cartridge that accept ink rather than supplying it. These boxes have a chip that records the waste ink value so reset software utilities can’t change/reset them. They are however replaceable and physical hardware resetters that can reset the chips are becoming available over time too.

What about other brands of inkjet printer?

Each brand has a different approach to waste ink but a quick synopsis of what we’ve found is as follows:

  • Canon inkjets have waste ink counters that can be reset if the appropriate utility is available and the user knows how to get the printer into service mode. Canon appear to be adopting a combative approach to end-user self-repair that makes it difficult to fix their printers. It is still possible with research, patience and time.
    The G series, Megatank model range seem to be the main exception
  • HP inkjets mostly don’t have waste ink counters or sensors. From our experience they tend to fill up their waste ink pads to the point that the pads then soil the printheads with the waste and eventually this results in the printhead failing.
  • Brother inkjet printers have very low waste ink generation in our limited experience and some guides exist that show how to reset the waste ink counters using the button/touchscreens on the printers.

The above is not comprehensive and we lack long term experience of each other brand but we’d certainly welcome more opportunity for end-users/printer-owners to be able to resolve the waste ink limitations themselves and not be restricted by manufacturer designs and/or restrictive practices.

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