Restoring Dot Matrix Printer Cartridges For 2023

The sound of the dot matrix is as associated with 1980s computing, as the modem would be a decade or so later with the desktop experience. In 2023, dot-matrix printers are still useful devices. And why not. They’re cheap to operate and can produce surprisingly good quality when paired with suitable drivers. The only problem is that while consumables for many popular models are still available in cartridges, others have long been discontinued. [Drygol] After discovering that all of his cartridges had become non-functional on an Apple ImageWriter II, he looked into how to get them working again.

A fabric ribbon, similar to that found in a typewriter’s cartridge, is contained within a dot-matrix cartridge. It’s not on a roll but folded into the space, and it’s drawn through by a pair of rollers. In addition to the fabric being dried, the foam of the rollers was also disintegrating. After some careful dismantling and replacement of the rollers with O-rings, a solution was found. Those and a bit of mineral oil to soften the ink had the vintage Apple printing again as though it was the ’80s once more.

It’s a subject we’ve looked at before, as it turns out WD-40 makes a good ink solvent.