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Inkjet Cartridge Ink-fills

Aug 18, 2007
With huge numbers of households (and most small businesses) now owning and using at least one printer, the thorny subject of inkjet cartridges remains shrouded in mystery for the majority of users.

In recent years, all the major desktop printer manufacturers (including HP, Lexmark, Epson, Canon and Brother) have introduced smaller, faster machines that take up less space on the desk which is great.

The downside however, is that the ink cartridges inside the machines have generally become much smaller, containing less ink and therefore need replacing more frequently.

Go back just a few years to the late 1990's, and the printers being produced then might take a black inkjet containing 40ml or more of ink the very common HP45 is a prime example, containing 42ml.

A tri-colour cartridge would typically contain 30ml or more the HP78A (38ml) being an example of a widely used cartridge. Although HP examples have been used here, the other manufacturers also produced and sold printers with bigger cartridges.

At the turn of the 21st century the price of digital cameras and desktop printers became much lower. The printer manufacturers realised there was much profit to be made selling printer consumables to a mass market, which was (and still is) growing at a phenomenal pace.

Supplying printers at an incredibly attractive price was a short-term expense, but leading to a longer term gain by way of very profitable ongoing cartridge and photo-paper sales.

Having successfully established this way of marketing some years ago, more recently the manufacturers have gradually reduced the amount of ink supplied with the printers from new, and inside the cartridges sold later.

These days a typical cartridge for a new printer will contain less than 10ml of ink many just 5ml. That's 5ml - one teaspoon.

Interestingly, many of the cartridges supplied with just 5ml of ink are exactly the same physical size as earlier models supplied with much more liquid inside. The reduction simply means cartridges need to be replaced more frequently, keeping the tills busy!

As the printer manufacturers are all too aware, there is a huge market in non-branded printer cartridges, from which they make no profit.

To combat this they make frequent changes to model ranges, and even the electronics inside existing ranges, in a bid to discourage the use of after-market goods.

The after-market (compatible or remanufactured) cartridges invariably contain more ink than genuine branded ones, and can cost considerably less to purchase.

Some would argue that the ink quality is not as good, but comparing printouts side by side, many would struggle to tell the difference.

Many ink cartridges (like most HP and Lexmark, and some Canon models) can be recycled, although the manufacturer will mark them 'Designed for single use only.'

A complete industry has emerged recycling this type of ink cartridge, known as remanufacturing. The empty cartridge is thoroughly cleaned out, refilled with closely-matched inks, and test-printed to ensure quality.

Many of the remanufactured cartridges contain double, or even up to three times the amount of ink offered in the same branded cartridge, giving the end user the choice of original branded goods, or perhaps considering a recycled unit for a lower price, that will last a lot longer.

It's not difficult to see why remanufacturing has grown in popularity.
About the Author
Shaun Parker has been at the forefront of the Printer Cartridge industry for 15 years. For more information visit http://www.inksave.co.uk
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