How to re-ink a dot-matrix printer ribbon ?


W

wylbur37

For those who still use a dot-matrix printer, getting replacemant
ribbons is becoming more difficult.

An alternative is to purchase ink designed to re-ink the ribbon
cartridge, but even that is not easy to find.

Some have said that they've used ordinary stamp-pad ink and it works.
But others have said that stamp-pad ink isn't good because
(a) it dries out too quickly and (b) it doesn't have the lubricating
ingredients that a printhead needs. Have you tried it?

And what about the possibility of making your own ink?
Does anyone know the recipe for dot-matrix printer ribbon ink?

....
 
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R

Richard Steinfeld

wylbur37 said:
Some have said that they've used ordinary stamp-pad ink and it works.
But others have said that stamp-pad ink isn't good because
(a) it dries out too quickly and (b) it doesn't have the lubricating
ingredients that a printhead needs. Have you tried it?

And what about the possibility of making your own ink?
Does anyone know the recipe for dot-matrix printer ribbon ink?
The traditional moisturizer in typewriter ribbons was glycerine.
I once freed up stuck pins in a Panasonic dot printer with ordinary
electronic cleaner/lube spray. At the time, it consisted of freon with a
tiny amount of silicon fluid. The freon evaporates, leaving behind a
very thin, microscopic coating of the silicon oil. This did the trick.

I can't say for sure, but silicon fluid may be the secret ingredient in
dot matrix ribbons -- like glycerine, it doesn't dry out, but also
provides lubricity. It is an excellent lubricant for rubbers and
plastics, and those in combination with metals. Note that silicon fluid
will not lubricate metal-metal interfaces, so if your print heads have
steel pins working directly in metal bearings, the head'll be trashed. I
suspect that perhaps all dot print heads use stainless wires working in
bearings of some self-lubricating plastic.

As I recall, silicon fluids and traditional oils do not mix. Petroleum
oils hold dust, which is abrasive -- therefore, that's what would not be
in ribbons because the print head would turn into a gloppy worn-out mess
(household dust is abrasive). Silicon fluids do not attract dirt. I
remember that these fluids are inert and pretty harmless; the stuff sure
makes my fingers slippery. There are also silicon lubricant compounds --
greases, and perhaps oils, as well. I'm wondering if printer ribbons
contain a mixture of silicon fluid and glycerine.

What I cannot tell you is where to buy silicon fluid, nor can I tell you
which viscosity to use. The viscosities (measured in Centistoke), run
from thinner than water all the way to thicker than honey. When I
obtained my supply for audio work, the manufacturers were General
Electric and Dow Corning. And I have no idea what the pigment is. Let us
know what you find out!

Richard
 
A

aalaan

wylbur37 said:
For those who still use a dot-matrix printer, getting replacemant
ribbons is becoming more difficult.

An alternative is to purchase ink designed to re-ink the ribbon
cartridge, but even that is not easy to find.

Some have said that they've used ordinary stamp-pad ink and it works.
But others have said that stamp-pad ink isn't good because
(a) it dries out too quickly and (b) it doesn't have the lubricating
ingredients that a printhead needs. Have you tried it?

And what about the possibility of making your own ink?
Does anyone know the recipe for dot-matrix printer ribbon ink?

...
Ah memories! Who remembers the Tandy lineprinter (forgotten the model
nmber - there were a few)? They were a smash hit in Australia but Tandy
did not stock enough spare ribbon cartrdiges. Consequently there was a
roaring second tier market. Trouble is those ribbons had an inferior
glue on the continuous loop joint and the ribbon would part in use.

The next exciting development was the daisywheel printer. It printed
just slow enough to be utterly frustratiung watching a page, but just
too fast to go and get a cup of coffeee without wasting time.
 
K

kountry ken

I used to re ink my dot matrix printer ribbon with Shoe Die (black). also I
have given the ribbon a light spray of WD40 lubricant spray oil

best of luck
ken
 
G

George E. Cawthon

Richard said:
The traditional moisturizer in typewriter ribbons was glycerine.
I once freed up stuck pins in a Panasonic dot printer with ordinary
electronic cleaner/lube spray. At the time, it consisted of freon with a
tiny amount of silicon fluid. The freon evaporates, leaving behind a
very thin, microscopic coating of the silicon oil. This did the trick.

I can't say for sure, but silicon fluid may be the secret ingredient in
dot matrix ribbons -- like glycerine, it doesn't dry out, but also
provides lubricity. It is an excellent lubricant for rubbers and
plastics, and those in combination with metals. Note that silicon fluid
will not lubricate metal-metal interfaces, so if your print heads have
steel pins working directly in metal bearings, the head'll be trashed. I
suspect that perhaps all dot print heads use stainless wires working in
bearings of some self-lubricating plastic.

As I recall, silicon fluids and traditional oils do not mix. Petroleum
oils hold dust, which is abrasive -- therefore, that's what would not be
in ribbons because the print head would turn into a gloppy worn-out mess
(household dust is abrasive). Silicon fluids do not attract dirt. I
remember that these fluids are inert and pretty harmless; the stuff sure
makes my fingers slippery. There are also silicon lubricant compounds --
greases, and perhaps oils, as well. I'm wondering if printer ribbons
contain a mixture of silicon fluid and glycerine.

What I cannot tell you is where to buy silicon fluid, nor can I tell you
which viscosity to use. The viscosities (measured in Centistoke), run
from thinner than water all the way to thicker than honey. When I
obtained my supply for audio work, the manufacturers were General
Electric and Dow Corning. And I have no idea what the pigment is. Let us
know what you find out!

Richard
First it would help if you spelled the most
important word correctly. It is "silicone" which
is entirely different from silicon which is an
element.

Second, silicone lubricants weren't generally
available when dot matrix printers became
available. So although later dot matrix ribbons
may use silicone, those commonly available in the
early 80's and earlier wouldn't have use silicone.

Third, WD 40 was a common substance used to
rejuvenate dot matrix ribbons by home hobbyists in
the 80's. Spraying the head with WD 40 was a
common practice and highly effective practice to
clean the head. I can tell you from personal
experience that WD 40 most definitely wets a dot
matrix ribbon and dissolves the dried ink and
cleans the head. Does the same for typewriter
ribbons. However, getting a ribbon with a
consistent "wetting" so that it prints a
consistent darkness is very difficult.
Finally, There are still many high speed dot
matrix printers for special jobs, so buying ink
should not be difficult if one looks for
commercial vendors.
 
R

Richard Steinfeld

George said:
First it would help if you spelled the most important word correctly.
It is "silicone" which is entirely different from silicon which is an
element.
Jeesh.
So sorry to have offended you, George. I admit that I get them mixed up
sometimes. I'm groveling. As I recall, "Silicone" is a brand name, which
is why I use the generic. Check it out.
Second, silicone lubricants weren't generally available when dot matrix
printers became available. So although later dot matrix ribbons may use
silicone, those commonly available in the early 80's and earlier
wouldn't have use silicone.
You talk so emphatically, I was doubting myself there for a moment; then
I recalled that I was using such lubricants in the repair shop at that
time; why I've even got a couple of cans and tubes in my workshop that I
acquired in the year 1984. It would help if you got your facts right. In
fact, a silicon spray lube was used on my car at a Mobil-owned garage in
the year 1971! The oil company had built the place and was building the
business in preparation for selling it to a franchisee or independent
operator; they were well-equipped with house-brand products.
Third, WD 40 was a common substance used to rejuvenate dot matrix
ribbons by home hobbyists in the 80's. Spraying the head with WD 40 was
a common practice and highly effective practice to clean the head. I
can tell you from personal experience that WD 40 most definitely wets a
dot matrix ribbon and dissolves the dried ink and cleans the head. Does
the same for typewriter ribbons. However, getting a ribbon with a
consistent "wetting" so that it prints a consistent darkness is very
difficult.
I'd rather use silicon fluid, with which I have confidence from
experience. WD-40 has a reputation for getting rather nasty with age
(check alt.antiques.radio+phono and other sources). On the other hand,
maybe you know something that I don't.

As far as glycerine goes, that's what my father was using to get more
mileage from his typewriter ribbons during the 50s.
Finally, There are still many high speed dot matrix printers for special
jobs, so buying ink should not be difficult if one looks for commercial
vendors.
Geesh, George; that was a pretty troll-esque opening. I'd prefer better
manners if we're going to get so close and personal.

Ricard
 
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G

Gary Tait

Ah memories! Who remembers the Tandy lineprinter (forgotten the model
nmber - there were a few)?
DMP130? I have two, one a 130 and the 132. The former I regularly used
before I got a laser in the late 90s, and used a Ko-Rec-Type brand
compatible cartridge after the one I got with it quit.

Or do you mean the dasywheel serial printer? Or something earlier?
 
M

MCheu

For those who still use a dot-matrix printer, getting replacemant
ribbons is becoming more difficult.

An alternative is to purchase ink designed to re-ink the ribbon
cartridge, but even that is not easy to find.

Some have said that they've used ordinary stamp-pad ink and it works.
But others have said that stamp-pad ink isn't good because
(a) it dries out too quickly and (b) it doesn't have the lubricating
ingredients that a printhead needs. Have you tried it?
It's not good for dot matrix ribbons. The stamp pad ink is alcohol
and water based. It "might" work short term, but only because the
alcohol may redistribute the oil in the ribbon before it evaporates.
Since the printhead uses metal striker pins to create your printout,
you probably don't want to expose those to water.

The Ink on a dot matrix ribbon uses an oil for the solvent. One of
the tricks we used to use in the C64 days to extend the life of a
ribbon was to open the ribbon cartridge, and spray the ribbon with
WD40. Often times, it wasn't so much that the ink on the ribbon had
run out but that the solvent/lubricant had dried out. It also helped
redistribute some of the particulate components back to the middle of
the ribbon. It was usually enough to give you a few weeks more
service out of a cartridge until you had time to go shopping for a
replacement.
And what about the possibility of making your own ink?
Does anyone know the recipe for dot-matrix printer ribbon ink?
Nope, sorry. In the old days, it was claimed that the main components
of black ribbon ink were light mineral oil and carbon dust. The thing
is, I don't know the specifics like: granularity of the carbon (it'd
have to be fine, but I don't know how fine), the ratio of carbon to
oil, and whatever other ingredients were added to thin the stuff out
and preserve it. The mineral oil you see in drug stores and hardware
stores might be too thick for this. Anyways, I wouldn't recommend
homebrew ink. You'll definitely run into problems if you don't get
the mix right.

Also, re-inking a ribbon isn't as easy as refilling an ink cartridge
or just dabbing the ribbon with ink. If you've ever opened one of
those cartridges, you'll know that there's typically several feet of
ribbon stuffed inside the cartridge body in accordion fashion. You'll
need an inking machine for that, as doing it by hand is ridiculously
messy and time consuming.
 
B

budgie

For those who still use a dot-matrix printer, getting replacemant
ribbons is becoming more difficult.

An alternative is to purchase ink designed to re-ink the ribbon
cartridge, but even that is not easy to find.
(snip)

Don't know what the practice is on your side of the planet, but here on Oz the
corner cartridge re-inkers all seem to still support dot-matrix ribbon re-inking
too. I'd check out a few reinking shops in your area. Beats the hell out of
the mess too.
 
L

Lou

wylbur37 said:
For those who still use a dot-matrix printer, getting replacemant
ribbons is becoming more difficult.

An alternative is to purchase ink designed to re-ink the ribbon
cartridge, but even that is not easy to find.

Some have said that they've used ordinary stamp-pad ink and it works.
But others have said that stamp-pad ink isn't good because
(a) it dries out too quickly and (b) it doesn't have the lubricating
ingredients that a printhead needs. Have you tried it?

And what about the possibility of making your own ink?
Does anyone know the recipe for dot-matrix printer ribbon ink?

...
Try Ebay for any ribbon needs.
 
R

Richard Steinfeld

Not only that, but there's the matter of the stench of stamp pad ink. It
smells so foul, gets me so pissed off that the first thing that I want
to do is track down a troll and punch him out real good. Real good. So,
if you don't want me to get my hands on that troll and punch him out
real good, don't send him 'round with no stamp pad ink for my printer,
do you hear me?
Nope, sorry. In the old days, it was claimed that the main components
of black ribbon ink were light mineral oil and carbon dust. The thing
is, I don't know the specifics like: granularity of the carbon (it'd
have to be fine, but I don't know how fine), the ratio of carbon to
oil, and whatever other ingredients were added to thin the stuff out
and preserve it. The mineral oil you see in drug stores and hardware
stores might be too thick for this. Anyways, I wouldn't recommend
homebrew ink. You'll definitely run into problems if you don't get
the mix right.
My father, an artist, didn't like being charged so much for art
materials. This included India Ink (tm), which he felt was a ripoff (it
was). So, he decided to make his own. He dug up a recipe at the
marvelous New York Public Library, and went at it on the kitchen stove.
The instructions were similar to witch's brew ("...eye of toad, wing of
bat, toenails of a newt..."). The resulting product was a vat of foul
brown swill -- he had made a few gallons of this, and presented me with
a couple of quarts.

Maybe it would be good in an inkjet printer...

However, now that I think about it, I'd much rather just punch out that
troll. How do I find the bastard? He's asked for it: I want to punch him
out real good.

Richard
 
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B

bill brown

wylbur37 said:
For those who still use a dot-matrix printer, getting replacemant
ribbons is becoming more difficult.

An alternative is to purchase ink designed to re-ink the ribbon
cartridge, but even that is not easy to find.

Some have said that they've used ordinary stamp-pad ink and it works.
But others have said that stamp-pad ink isn't good because
(a) it dries out too quickly and (b) it doesn't have the lubricating
ingredients that a printhead needs. Have you tried it?

And what about the possibility of making your own ink?
Does anyone know the recipe for dot-matrix printer ribbon ink?
From 1980 to about 1996 we bought ink and re-inking supplies from a small
company in Portland Oregon named Computer Friends. I checked Google and
they are still around, www.cfriends.com, and still selling their MacInker
re-inking machine and other ink and supplies

We had an IDS printer and ran a couple hundred pages per day. I drilled
and mounted a small foam rubber roller where the ribbon would hit it
before going back into the cartridge. Every day, as it was printing the
End of Day info, I would put 2 - 4 drops of ink in the center of the
roller. We could run a ribbon for 2 -3 months before it would just plain
wear out, and it would be as dark as ever.

We used WD-40 for cleaning ink drips and it was one of the few things that
would clean your hands of ink and not leave them chapped.
 
G

George E. Cawthon

Richard Steinfeld wrote:
((Snipped)
Jeesh.
So sorry to have offended you, George. I admit that I get them mixed up
sometimes. I'm groveling. As I recall, "Silicone" is a brand name, which
is why I use the generic. Check it out.
You didn't offend me since I don't take your or
anyone else's misinformation personally. I was
just pointing out a rather common error which
generally means that the person may have much less
knowledge than they profess.

Your recollection is rather faulty, silicone is
not a brand name. Suggest you use a dictionary to
find out what it means instead of recall.
You talk so emphatically, I was doubting myself there for a moment; then
I recalled that I was using such lubricants in the repair shop at that
time; why I've even got a couple of cans and tubes in my workshop that I
acquired in the year 1984. It would help if you got your facts right. In
fact, a silicon spray lube was used on my car at a Mobil-owned garage in
the year 1971! The oil company had built the place and was building the
business in preparation for selling it to a franchisee or independent
operator; they were well-equipped with house-brand products.
Emphatic? I don't think so. Notice I said
"weren't generally available" not "were not
available." Reminds me that I saw a microwave
oven demonstrated in '54 or '55. But I know they
were uncommon in households for at least the next
10 years and didn't become fairly common in
households until the late 70's.
I'd rather use silicon fluid, with which I have confidence from
experience. WD-40 has a reputation for getting rather nasty with age
(check alt.antiques.radio+phono and other sources). On the other hand,
maybe you know something that I don't.
"Rather" all you want, WD-40 was the commonly
recommended home product for reconditioning a
printer ribbon among computer hobbyists. Note
that I indicated that it didn't work well for me.
Apparently I do know something that you don't.
As far as glycerine goes, that's what my father was using to get more
mileage from his typewriter ribbons during the 50s.
Is this an argument, since I never mentioned
glycerin. Never heard of anyone doing anything
more than buying a new ribbon, since they lasted
so long and were relatively cheap. For home use,
the major reason for changing ribbons was that
they frayed or had holes punched in them at the ends.
Geesh, George; that was a pretty troll-esque opening. I'd prefer better
manners if we're going to get so close and personal.
Never fear, we aren't going to get close and
personal. I prefer to remain objective, even if
it requires bluntness.
 
G

George E. Cawthon

MCheu said:
It's not good for dot matrix ribbons. The stamp pad ink is alcohol
and water based. It "might" work short term, but only because the
alcohol may redistribute the oil in the ribbon before it evaporates.
Since the printhead uses metal striker pins to create your printout,
you probably don't want to expose those to water.

The Ink on a dot matrix ribbon uses an oil for the solvent. One of
the tricks we used to use in the C64 days to extend the life of a
ribbon was to open the ribbon cartridge, and spray the ribbon with
WD40. Often times, it wasn't so much that the ink on the ribbon had
run out but that the solvent/lubricant had dried out. It also helped
redistribute some of the particulate components back to the middle of
the ribbon. It was usually enough to give you a few weeks more
service out of a cartridge until you had time to go shopping for a
replacement.


Nope, sorry. In the old days, it was claimed that the main components
of black ribbon ink were light mineral oil and carbon dust. The thing
is, I don't know the specifics like: granularity of the carbon (it'd
have to be fine, but I don't know how fine), the ratio of carbon to
oil, and whatever other ingredients were added to thin the stuff out
and preserve it. The mineral oil you see in drug stores and hardware
stores might be too thick for this. Anyways, I wouldn't recommend
homebrew ink. You'll definitely run into problems if you don't get
the mix right.

Also, re-inking a ribbon isn't as easy as refilling an ink cartridge
or just dabbing the ribbon with ink. If you've ever opened one of
those cartridges, you'll know that there's typically several feet of
ribbon stuffed inside the cartridge body in accordion fashion. You'll
need an inking machine for that, as doing it by hand is ridiculously
messy and time consuming.
---------------------------------------------
Thanks.


MCheu
A man who knows what he is talking about!
 
A

Arthur Entlich

Richard,

George seems easily offended, best to ignore it (and often him ;-))
However, on rare occasions he is correct (as well as right (as in
right-wing)) ;-)

Silicon is the element Si

Silicone is a polymer usually made of silicon and oxygen atoms, and used
in adhesives, lubricants and insulators.

Art
 
G

George E. Cawthon

Arthur said:
Richard,

George seems easily offended, best to ignore it (and often him ;-))
However, on rare occasions he is correct (as well as right (as in
right-wing)) ;-)
Oh thank you Art!
 
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R

Richard Steinfeld

Arthur said:
Richard,

George seems easily offended, best to ignore it (and often him ;-))
However, on rare occasions he is correct (as well as right (as in
right-wing)) ;-)

Silicon is the element Si

Silicone is a polymer usually made of silicon and oxygen atoms, and used
in adhesives, lubricants and insulators.

Art
Yeah. I know. I got the outraged self-righteousness. I've got better
things to do than get into a pissing contest with him. He was right
about "silicone."

It would be interesting to try some silicon(e) fluid on my son's
Panasonic dot matrix printer. When it was new, I cured its sticking pins
with silicone fluid. Now, I don't know exactly which one to use; I've
still got a collection of at least 11 different viscosities of silicone
fluid, plus a few silicone greases (all from the mid-80s when George
says it didn't exist).

I got most of this stuff for experimenting with viscous-damped
high-quality phono tonearms. The damping fluid is used to stabilize the
arm/cartridge.

It would be cool to smear silicone fluid on the Panasonic's ribbon. The
only problem is that Panasonic was an early practitioner of the
"consumables racket." Consumer Reports could be counted on to fall for
that one (I wonder if they still do). The ribbons are incredibly short
and thin, so you go through them at a rapid clip -- there was no
dispensation about price, either. Typically, when you got the bright
idea to have a go at re-inking the ribbon, the damn thing was beginning
to shred. Epson would have been a better investment, but there was a
certain matter about the shrieking noise (remember?).

About the dot printer: it feels like a sturdy old friend; I can't bear
(bare) to throw it out. But then, I've still got that Olympia (Nakajima)
interfaced typewriter. It's a beaut (sigh!).

Thanks for the comment.

Richard
 
D

drc023

Computer Friends in Portland, Oregon - www.cfriends.com has been selling
dot matrix reinking supplies since the 1980's. A small bottle will last a
very, very long time.
 
F

Fred McKenzie

"bill brown" said:
From 1980 to about 1996 we bought ink and re-inking supplies from a small
company in Portland Oregon named Computer Friends. I checked Google and
they are still around, www.cfriends.com, and still selling their MacInker
re-inking machine and other ink and supplies
Wilbur & Bill-

Back in the 80s, Computer Friends was a nice company to deal with. I had
two of their inkers, what may have been the original and revision 1. They
did work, but re-inking was definitely not a convenient process.

The machine used something like a clock motor to slowly wind the ribbon
over the ink rollers. It was very time consuming, so you needed something
else to do while waiting. It was necessary to check it periodically to
make sure the ribbon hadn't bound or climbed off of one of the rollers or
the ink reservoir hadn't gone dry.

Did someone mention messy? I never tried the WD-40 trick, but it sounds
like a good way to clean up.

As Wilbur noted, ribbons do wear out. If you happen to have a rare
printer that has no replacements available, you're out of luck unless you
can find a blank ribbon (perhaps from Computer Friends). When the plastic
parts of the cartridge wear out, you may need some other duds to
canibalize!

Fred
 
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G

George E. Cawthon

Richard said:
Yeah. I know. I got the outraged self-righteousness. I've got better
things to do than get into a pissing contest with him. He was right
about "silicone."

It would be interesting to try some silicon(e) fluid on my son's
Panasonic dot matrix printer. When it was new, I cured its sticking pins
with silicone fluid. Now, I don't know exactly which one to use; I've
still got a collection of at least 11 different viscosities of silicone
fluid, plus a few silicone greases (all from the mid-80s when George
says it didn't exist).


Richard
Hi Richard:

Have a drink, relax, increase your reading skills
and think before you give advice where you have
very limited knowledge.

At least you admitted you were wrong about
silicone/silicon. I never said silicone products
didn't exist in the mid 80's, I said that before
the mid 80's they weren't common. Silicone
products were around in the 50's but they were not
for the consumer market, they were for specialized
markets, one was the electrical/electronic industry.

For your information, I used RTV silicone,
polymerizing product, to attach metal to glass in
1973, so I would never say it didn't exist in the
mid-80s, but it was ordered through scientific
supplies because it was primarily for the
scientific and electronics market. Starting in
the 80's silicone products became a fad with
silicone oils, caulks, cements, etc. The old RTV
silicone was put in the mass market, colored, and
packaged for numerous uses and names but was
essentially the same product.
 
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