The black ink cartridge for my inkjet printer recently ran out. Being one of unusual curiosity I decided to take it apart. The cartidge was a Genuine Epson T013 black ink cartridge. From the side and top it looks like this:

(side)                   (top)
#################        ################# 
#################        ###A###I#########
#################        #############VV##
#################        #################
###  ############
#S#

At the bottom, marked by a S, there is a plastic wrap covered outlet for ink. Inside of the printer there is a small nozzel that pierces this plastic covering to let the ink out. At the top there is a plastic label that covers most of the top, though not the area marked VV. This plastic label is quite clearly marked with "DO NOT REMOVE" At first it looks as though there is circuitry under this label, but after I took the label off I found it's actually a long thin passage for air. The passage connects the hole marked by A to a depression, marked by VV. My guess is that when the ink is used up this passage allows air to seep in to replace the lost ink. The passages are at the same time thin and long enough that dust isn't going to find it's way in, nor will ink find it's way out. The VV section is also covered by a removable plastic strip when you buy the ink cartridge, it says to remove before use.

After I took the label off I ran water into the holes at the top for about 10 minutes untill the water coming out the bottom ran clear. I then cracked the top off with a knife. Inside there's this neat little ink-impregnated sponge, presumably black to start with but mine was yellowish-brown with white spots at the top, probably parts that ink never got onto. You could see which of the two holes at the top was used for adding ink, below one it was white, below the other it was yellow-brown. What's interesting though was the ink didn't take up the whole cartridge, there was a lot of dead air farthest from the outlet nozzel, in total about %20 empty space!

At the bottom of the container, leading to the outlet nozzel, there is a filter of sorts. When I filled the cartridge up with water it slowly dripped out through the filter. This probably is to prevent contaminents from getting into the printer. Otherwise maybe to regulate the flow of ink.

One oddity I noticed what that the plastic that formed the whole thing didn't seem to be totally uniform. There were streaks of slightly lighter-colored plastic through the whole cartridge. Perhaps their plastic mixing machine wasn't working that day?

In the end I recycled the sponge and used it in my pottery class. I can't wait untill the color cartridge runs out... 3 more sponges for pottery!

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