This has to be one of the most uniquely disruptive uses of 3D printing I’ve seen: an ink refill company has successfully 3D-printed a Kodak ink cartridge, refilled it, and printed with it. Using a Makerbot Replicator 2 and some PLA, the company created an exact replica of the Kodak cartridge casing and stuck in an ink bladder of their own devising, thereby creating a sort of Frankenstein’s monster of ink delivery.
To be clear the company, InkFactory, is fooling no one here. The ability to print an outer casing for an inkjet printer cartridge is fairly limited and is useful only if you have a nice supply of bladders or you break your cartridge. This holds doubly true for cartridges with chips and delivery systems built-in. Until we can make high-resolution, soft prints using a 3D printer, there is no real way to make an entire cartridge on a home printer and there is almost no way to replace the cartridges that have proprietary circuitry built in.
That said, the ease with which they replicated the casing and placed their own ink in is heartening. The fact that you can now measure, design, and build a proprietary object should strike fear in the hearts of ink merchants everywhere and there are plenty of people out there who would, in a fairly unscrupulous manner, supply the proper ink bladders to home makers who simply want the nozzle and ink container and will make their own PLA or ABS cartridges.
As a proof of concept it’s great. It’s a perfect storm of righteous indignation – ink refillers stick it to public enemy #1, ink salesmen, by using the tools of mass production. If Marx had a tech blog, he’d be all over this. It’s a cute, if sensational, way to get the word out about ink replacement and I’m sure it will send someone at what’s left of Kodak scrambling to type up a cease and desist letter.