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How to Re-ink an Ink Ribbon

Updated April 17, 2017

Reinking a printer or typewriter ribbon can save money over buying new cartridges. This is environmentally friendly, as it saves packaging from making it to the landfill and cuts down on carbon emissions from the shipping process. It may become essential; as typewriters become rare, the ribbon for your machine may become harder to find, and re-inking may become your only option.

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Place several newspapers on your table or workspace. This process is messy, and you should plan accordingly.

Prepare the ink. If you are using an ink pad, make sure it is fully saturated. If using a bottle, check that the opening allows for an even distribution of the ink.

Remove the cover of the cartridge. The exact style of cartridge determines the removal. Generally there are screws or clips on top that must be removed. Once you remove the screws or clips, pull the plastic top off to expose the ribbon.

Pass the ribbon across the ink pad, or pour the ink from the bottle over the ribbon.

Wind the ribbon slightly, and pass the next part across the ink pad. Continue the process until the whole ribbon is inked. Some ribbons don't wind. If this is the case, skip to Step 6.

Apply lubricating oil or silicone to keep the ink from drying out or to relubricate dried ink.

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Things You'll Need

  • Original ribbon or dot-matrix cartridge
  • Replacement ink
  • Lubricating oil or silicone

About the Author

Bryan Clark has been a freelance writer since 2002. His work has appeared in "The New York Times," "USA Today" and the U.K.'s biggest paper—"The Guardian," amongst other, smaller publications.

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