Original cartridges for inkjet printers can seem outrageously overpriced. After all, a set of pigments for a basic model may cost nearly as much as the equipment itself. This price paradox frustrates consumers, but the industry of compatible and remanufactured products caters to their needs. You can save up to 50% with every purchase. On the downside, not every store deserves trust.
Suppose you need a cartridge for the Canon Pixma TS series. An original (OEM) set of XL cartridges costs around $80. This may seem like a bargain until you see this great offer for Canon 280 ink — five cartridges for just over $40. Depending on the intensity of use, you could save several hundred dollars per year just by switching to independent suppliers. Find answers to the most common questions about these products below.
1. Why Are Original Cartridges So Expensive?
Big brands invest billions of dollars in research and development to design cutting-edge equipment and supplies. This fact is their standard justification for expensive consumables. However, many customers believe the real reason is pure greed. This industry has used the “razor and blades” business model for decades.
Basic inkjet printers are cheap as they are sold below or at the break-even point. Companies can afford to offer fantastic deals, as their real goal is to profit from ink. Think twice before snatching a printer for $100, as you may discover that replacing the cartridges may cost almost as much.
Independent brands selling consumable and refilled cartridges do not invest in technologies so heavily, as they do not produce equipment. As a result, companies like Smart Ink can set very modest prices.
2. Are Cheaper Cartridges Legal?
Yes. Manufacturers of printers recommend buying only original supplies, but they cannot force customers to heed their advice. Using cheaper ink does not lead to voiding of printer warranty. Every consumer has the right to save money on ink. This is guaranteed by different regulations around the world. In Canada, every province has its Consumer Protection Acts that make warranty-voiding illegal.
3. What Is the Difference Between Compatible and Remanufactured Cartridges?
The first product category includes cartridges that are designed and manufactured by smaller companies — businesses not affiliated with printer brands. Despite compatibility with popular equipment, they are also perfectly original from a legal standpoint. Slight differences in design prevent legal action.
Remanufactured products are original (OEM) cartridges filled with fresh ink. This form of recycling involves a thorough cleaning, testing, and replacing any components if necessary. New ink may provide the same quality of printing. This option is also the most sustainable, as plastic shells are reused.
4. Can They Damage My Printer?
No, as long as you shop wisely. Before ordering anything online, check the background of the store, its reputation, and customer feedback from different sources. Today, almost every site uses five-star testimonials for promotion. Look beyond these e-commerce websites. Check independent sources like Trustpilot.
A subpar product can theoretically damage your print heads. Remanufacturing also requires strict procedures and special skills. Used cartridges must be thoroughly cleaned and filled with an exact amount of ink — no more, no less. Unskilled refillers can create bubbles inside the shell, damage sensitive elements, or make other mistakes rendering the product useless or harmful.
5. Can I Refill My Old Cartridges?
Cartridge refilling is a popular Google query. It is not difficult to find tutorials with DIY instructions for your model. Yet, refilling cartridges at home is not advisable. As shown above, this process requires special skills, so it must be performed by professionals. If you have no experience, you will only create a mess and damage your cartridge beyond repair.
You could find professional refilling services in your area, but are they really worth it? Instead of spending time on a trip to a physical outlet, you can order remanufactured cartridges of certified quality online. They come with the same extensive warranties as compatible products.
6. What Is the Most Sustainable Way to Replace Cartridges?
Inkjet printing causes a lot of waste, both plastic and electronic. These cartridges are replaced more frequently than printer toner. To reduce your impact on the environment, consider remanufactured models. The industry is gradually shifting towards more sustainable packaging and practices, so more eco-friendly options may appear in the near future.
7. What Is the Correct Way to Replace a Cartridge?
This procedure includes several steps. Do not remove the old cartridge in advance, as the print head nozzles in your machine may dry out. Never touch the electronic elements on new cartridges, and follow the steps below:
- Remove plastic covering
Products from different brands come with different protective elements. For example, you may see a red tab, a yellow tape seal, or a cap. You may also find a special piece of plastic — an adapter. If there is a pointed mechanism or additional transparent film, do not remove it.
- Turn on your printer
Do not try removing the old cartridge immediately. Give the equipment time to wake up and open the cover after it stops moving.
- Replace the cartridges
Inkjet printers have different numbers of carriages. Each of them is only suitable for a specific color. For example, a new yellow ink cartridge will only fit into the yellow colour carriage. Usually, cartridges clip-in. Sometimes, they work without clipping, or they clip from underneath. This depends on their type and printer model.
- Check recognition
If the equipment does not recognize a new cartridge, this could happen for several reasons. First, the printer may not recognize third-party supplies due to firmware updates, so you should disable them. If this does not help, try refreshing the memory.
Unplug the printer for around 10 minutes. Then, hold down its power button for 30 seconds and plug it back in to clean the memory. This should allow the machine to re-establish the connection with the cartridges. Check the quality of printing, but note that thick ink needs to settle first. Wait for a couple of hours before cleaning the heads and/or printing a test page.