Refilling a Pen with InkJet Ink

DISCLAIMER: This is one of those refill-a-hollic type things that is done for FUN more than to save money, so don’t ask “Why don’t you just buy a new pen?”

I’ve been using my inkjet printer ink to refill my rolling ball pens for a while and have had mixed success, but for the most part I’ve been successful and have been having a bit of fun. Here is my pen of choice to refill, a Pilot Precise “V series” pen (this is the Pilot Precise V7 fine tip).

My first attempt went pretty well, I used a hot paperclip to make a hole in the top of the pen barrel and injected the ink. The final step wa closing it up with some hot glue. It was almost too easy.

My next attempt was full of disaster. I did the same thing as before but as I was injecting ink into the pen it all came flowing out the tip of the pen. At first I thought the pen was broken, but I realized that I had removed the vacuum from the pen and created an open system for ink to freely flow from the top to the bottom and out the tip. Based on this I had two options:

1) Make the hole towards the tip of the pen and hold it upside down when injecting the ink. The problem with this (as seen above) is that the refill hole is exactly where I’d be holding the pen.
2) Seal the tip of the pen and proceed as before. I tried this with hot candle wax and it worked okay the first time, but subsequent times were problematic as the wax ball at the tip of the pen kept coming off.

I’ve settled with option number one as it gave me the least amount of problems with the least amount of mess. I’d still like to find a way to fill from the very top of the pen, especially through the extreme top, the flat part of the pen.

The next issue I’ve had to deal with is sealing the refill hole. As discussed in my inkjet forum here, it is tricky sealing holes in ink containers. As with my inkjet printer I tried hot glue, sticky tac, and duct tape. All worked to one degree or another, but none of them worked 100% as well as I’d like. With my inkjet printer I’ve found a great way to seal the holes, a stainless steel screw and an o-ring. Unfortunately this solution won’t work very well with my pen because the screws I have are too long for the barrel of the pen. If I could find a way to fill the pen with the tip down then I can burn a hole through the top of the pen and then seal it with the screw and o-ring.

I’m posing the question to the forum here and will see what I get!

5 thoughts on “Refilling a Pen with InkJet Ink”

  1. I’ve refilled these types of pens for years. The really easy way is to grab a pair of pliers and pull/twist the lighter blue tip off of the body of the pen. You want to do all of this over the sink.

    I generally wash the parts down as I go (usually doing a batch of 10 or so). Put the the tips in a glass of water as you go. wash out the tops, etc.
    Then just start putting them back together. Don’t overfill as they will leak. Dry the tips and snap them back in.

    When you first change colors you have to use the pen quite a bit to get the ink out of the tip.

    It’s much easier this way…

  2. Jack, I’ve got to try this the way you describe! My previous attempts have been… um… less than stellar. 🙂 I’m very interested in what comes out when you pry off the head of the pen and exactly where / how to get ink into the chamber?

    You mentioned cleaning the parts and the tops? Why is this? Just to remove ink from being messy, or to keep the pen working?

    I’ve noticed that after a few refills the roller ball starts to get scratchy. I’m not sure if this is caused by buildup, the refilling, or the type of ink I’m using.

    I’ll give it a go next time I have an empty pen and post more details!

  3. Rob, it will be clear once you unsnap that head out of the body. I’m just cleaning up. There is a section with all the slotted plastic where the ink is allowed to expand and contract and it gets pretty dirty. You can see it in the picture above.

    I also don’t want the pen to leak. You can help prevent this by cleaning that area and not overfilling.

    On the roller ball not working, I think its the formulation of ink we use vs. what they use. Theirs tends to stay wet in the roller. I use ink from an art store. I don’t know what their formulation is. It would be interesting to see their MSDS.

  4. Hey Jack! Good news, I decided to give your process a try. It took a bit of pressure and the whole top (bottom?) pulled out. Well, it popped loose, then took a bit more pulling to remove the whole ribbed innards.

    I refilled a green pen with a mix of yellow an cyan and put the top back on. Less messy than I expected.

    Unfortunately I’ve got no ink out of the roller. I don’t know if the ink simply needs to settle back into the ribbing by gravity, or if I need to roll and roll and roll until ink comes out. Any thoughts?

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