How to Fix an Air Bubble in an Ink Cartridge

Bubble in Ink Cartridge

Air Bubble in Ink Cartridge

This isn’t the first time this has happened, and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but for those of you new to the blog I wanted to remind you of a quick, simple, fun and healthy…yes HEALTHY way to fix this problem.  I would love to figure out why this happens occasionally though so I can avoid it in the future.  For now though, lets take a look at how to fix an air bubble in an ink cartridge.

How to Fix an Air Bubble in an Ink Cartridge

How to Fix an Air Bubble in an Ink Cartridge

So the picture above probably instantly gave away the solution for how to fix an air bubble in an ink cartridge.  Its a topic that we first visited back in 2009 thanks to the smart suggestion from a reader, and here we are 5 years later with the situation at hand again.  Simply tape the ink cartridge to a spoke of your bicycle wheel with the writing tip pointing out away from the center of the tire.  Please keep in mind the obvious potential hazards of this operation.  Sloppy taping or just bad luck could easily cause the pen cartridge to come loose or maybe just the tip to shoot out leading to a probably not so desirable splattering of ink everywhere.  It’s probably a bit alarmist to say “don’t try this at home” but guess what….don’t try this at home.  If you read between the lines there, it really means “don’t sue me if this backfires because its obviously got risk associated with it.” :)

Bubble in Ink Cartridge Fixed After

Bubble in Ink Cartridge – Issue Resolved

With a good solid 60 seconds of pedaling away with the ink cartridge attached to the spoke, you can now see that the air bubble has disappeared because the centrifugal force of the pedaling forced the ink back into place eliminating the air bubble.  I have to assume that continued pedaling would lead to issues because that ink is going to keep wanting to follow the rules of physics and flow towards the tip of the pen.  If you are a glutton for punishment and don’t mind making an absolute mess, I’d be curious to know if there is any amount of pedaling that will get the ink to start actually leaving the tip of the pen.  But again, I feel compelled to tell you…”Don’t Try this at Home!”

Bubble in Ink Cartridge Fixed After Pen Body

Bubble in Ink Cartridge Fixed After Some Brief Cycling

And there you have it, the final shot of the newly restored ink cartridge thats ready to return to a life of writing.  After a bit of testing things are going well, there don’t seem to be any unintended consequences of this experiment.  I will be keeping an eye on things though because obviously I have not written enough to have the results of any long term use of the pen after this experiment.  When we did this experiment last time I completely forgot about it and lost track of how the pen performed.  Oh and one last minor thing, yes my bike is set up to ride indoors for those of you that may have noticed from the pictures.  I use an indoor trainer (via Amazon) that is really pretty awesome.  I have the older version of that one, but its solidly constructed and its great because it eliminates any weather related excuses I may try to justify when being lazy and not wanting to ride.

©2015, Brian Greene. All rights reserved.


  1. 1
    Amanda says:

    Nice! Never would have thought to try this. However, as a devout student of physics, I have to correct you and say that it is the inertia of the ink that forces it back towards the tip. Imagine the cartridge when it comes around the top of the arc: if the tape were suddenly to break, the cartridge and the ink inside would fly off horizontally, at least for a little while until gravity brought them back to the floor. Since the tape does not break, the cartridge continues around and around, but the ink inside has its own inertia and will keep trying to slosh a bit in a tangential (the fancy word we use for that straight line path) direction until the it hits the walls of the cartridge. Since there is room for it to move a little bit, it does, until it reaches the top again and has no more room to fill in. This same situation applies to brain damage that occurs in car accidents because your brain has a little bit of room to move around in your skull and thus when your skull comes to a sudden stop your brain does not right away.

  2. 2
    Margot C says:

    How clever. As a cyclist and a lover of all pens this like my two worlds colliding.

    PS: thanks Amanda for the explanation. I f’ing love science!

  3. 3
    Brian Greene says:

    @Amanda – Thank you! Thats an awesome explanation!

    @Margot – I can’t take credit for the idea, but it was definitely a cool way to resolve the issue.

  4. 4
    David says:

    Great, now I gotta buy a bicycle…

  5. 5
    Brian Greene says:

    @David…you could always just go to a local gym, but you might get some strange looks. :)

  6. 6
    Peter Lavelle says:

    A good chuckle, that’s for sure, but a real solution! Haha. A bit more preventative measure with covering the tip maybe? Sometimes if my pen acts up, I grab it near the end opposite the tip, and just wiggle it, like you would a ketchup or sugar packet! That generally works for me :)
    Now, were did you get the Signo? Are they still making them in that shape, with the metal tip?
    Again, thanks for the tip, Brian!

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