Waste ink collector conversions for Epson printers
Epson (and most other ink printers) use some form of print head priming mechanism. It's used to fill the print head with ink when the first set of ink cartridges is installed in a new printer. It can also be used anytime the print quality declines or to establish prime again, if the printer hasn't been used for some time, or when replacing the cartridge(s).
Epson printers use a small vacuum pump that attaches to the print head and "sucks" a small quantity of ink through it during the head cleaning. The ink is dumped into a waste ink tank in the bottom of printer, into a layer of absorbent felt - which soaks it up. Note: It is not the felt strip you can see when you open the printer lid.
The waste ink pad eventually becomes saturated with ink and you can either:
1) get an Epson repairer to replace the waste pads. Be prepared to pay around $80+ for this 2) replace the pads yourself, if you are handy. Getting a service manual for your printer will make the job much easier 3) leave the ink pad full and keep using the printer. Ink might eventually start leaking from the bottom. Sit it on a stack of newspaper to soak up any ink that leaks out. Be prepared for leaks, if moving the printer! 4) fit an external waste ink collector bottle to your printer
Most people find method # 4 the most agreeable. This involves diverting the waste ink tube from inside the printer, so the waste ink is dumped into an external bottle. Some models have an inspection door at the back and these printers are the easiest to modify, because the waste ink tube can be accessed through there. On some models, the top printer housing will have to be removed, to get at the ink tube. With some recent printers, the waste tank is clipped onto underside of printer and is very easy to get to and modify.
Whichever method you choose (except #1) you'll also have to reset the printer "waste ink full" error, before you can use the printer again. Even if you modify a brand new printer, so no ink is going into the waste pads, the printer will still come up with "waste ink" error at regular intervals. The errors can be reset with free software from SSC for older Epsons. SSC don't support any recent Epson models, but there are other companies on the internet that offer similar reset utility. Do a google search for: "waste ink reset+your printer model" or something like that.
You can source the bits for the conversion yourself, or buy a waste ink bottle kit below. The same kit can be used with most model Epson and other printers. Each kit includes 125ml bottle with pre-drilled cap, length of plastic tubing, connectors and instructions. If your model doesn't have an inspection door you have to work out how to remove the top housing too.
Note: Some Epson printers (eg R1800, R1900, 2400 etc) use two waste ink tubes. Two collector kits are required for these models.