Melvin D. Nimer of Orem could have found someone else to solve the problem of used laser-printer cartridges a year ago but instead chose to get into the business himself.

The result has been a rapid expansion of Recharge Services Corp. from small warehouse working space and home offices to a new facility at 8160 S. Highland Drive in Willow Creek Plaza.From an operation that recharged 50 cartridges per month a year ago, RSC now has the capability to recharge 2,500 cartridges per month. It now has space for expansion and additional services.

With partners Doug Olsen of Sandy and Monte Golding of Springville, RCS has three part-time employees who recharge the cartridges and three full-time sales people.

RSC employees refurbish laser- printer cartridges for all Canon engine machines, including Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Wang, Sony, QMS, Canon and many others. New cartridges cost about $130 each and last from one or two days to several weeks depending on use, but the recharging process costs half that amount.

For several years, the way to recharge a laser-printer cartridge was to drill a hole in the casing, pouring in the toner and sealing it with tape. That wasn't a reliable method because the toner often leaked and damaged the expensive printers, Nimer said.

So, RCS employees dismantle the cartridge, clean the parts, inspect for damage to the drum and moving parts, refill the cartridge with Canon or Super Black toner and reassemble. They also add 30-50 percent more toner than the original cartridge contained so the customer gets many more copies.

Nimer said some customers worry that recharging the cartridges rather than purchasing new ones would void their service warranty on the printer. He said it won't, but the company provides an additional warranty to cover the cost of repair in the event the printer is damaged by a recharged cartridge.

Some customers are still afraid of recharged cartridges, Nimer said, so his company sells new cartridges and takes the old cartridges in exchange. These old cartridges are recharged and retained for sale for those customers wanting the recharged models.

In addition to recharging cartridges for commercial laser printers, RSC recharges cartridges for personal computer copiers.

Nimer said Series 1 cartridges are larger and can be recharged between five and 10 times, depending on the kind of use and care taken by the owners. Series 2 cartridges are smaller and can be recharged up to three times without a significant loss of quality.

Will the laser-printer cartridge business increase? Nimer believes it will because there are between 10,000 and 15,000 laser printers in Utah with dozens being sold each week.

The drum of the cartridge is coated with a light-sensitive material that wears off during use so he is looking for a company to recoat the drums. "If they can be coated in the first place, why can't they be recoated?" he asked.

And because the toner is imported from the Far East, Nimer is looking for a company to manufacture it in the United States. He also is looking for new ways to market his recharging service by getting into laser- printer retail outlets.

RSC has 250 customers, but the partners' goal is to have 10 percent of the market, Nimer said.