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Printer Ink - Choosing the right cartridges for your needs
This article has been written to help the existing owners of ink printers to identify the various choices available when selecting ink cartridges or ink refill kits for their printer. It is written in New Zealand, for New Zealanders, and while the information may be useful in other countries, it is not intended for use outside New Zealand.
If you do not yet have a printer, or are thinking of buying a new one, please refer to the associated article, "Ink Printers - Choosing the right one for your needs"
With few exceptions your printer will use one of two types of ink cartridge:-
- Print Head Cartridges
These are cartridges with the print head included so that every time you change the ink cartridge you change the print head. This type of ink cartridge is typically used by Hewlett Packard (but not always see below) Lexmark and now Canon have re-introduced these cartridges with some of their latest models.
- Non Print Head Cartridges
These are just a plastic box full of ink - sometimes with an electronic chip mounted on it. These ink cartridges fit into a print head inside the printer and are typically used by Brother, Canon (but not always see above) and Epson.
Hewlett Packard have a split system in their "Business Inkjet" series with a plastic box ink cartridge and a separate user replaceable print head for each colour.
You can significantly reduce the cost of printing by using alternative cartridges, refilled cartridges and ink refill kits.
The "Non Print Head" ink cartridges are freely available as copies, usually manufactured in Asia. You can get these ink cartridges refilled but new copy ink cartridges can be supplied at the same price as, or less than, a refilled ink cartridge.
Some of the "Print Head" ink cartridges, where patents covering the print head have expired, are also available as copies. Otherwise they are either commercially refilled or do it yourself ink refill kits are available.
If the "Print Head" cartridges are commercially refilled they must be individually tested by the refiller. Random testing is only reliable where the starting point for each item is identical, as with new products. Used cartridges provide differing starting points and therefore potentially different results even if they are all treated the same.
Ink refill kits are available to those who wish to gain the biggest price advantage. The best ink refill kits are really easy to use with two provisos. First the refiller must read the instructions before starting the refill. Second, the user must be happy about doing their own refilling. Refilling is more about the refiller's attitude than aptitude. A person who is nervous or unhappy about refilling should not buy a refill kit.
The quality of ink refill kits varies widely. The kit should have comprehensive instructions, a clip to hold the cartridge while you are filling it and the necessary ink and tools to enable you to fill the cartridge correctly. Refill kits are not complex but you should stay away from those that do not fit the above criteria.
These options give you a wide choice as to how you obtain your printer ink.
Finding your printer ink
Having decided to cut the costs of your printer ink by using one of these alternatives you must now find a source of supply. Be careful. The world is awash with printer ink and the internet has made it easy to buy.
Not all printer ink is created equal. You must use some basic principles or you may buy ink which will ruin your printer. These principles are generally true for doing business over the internet, regardless of the product you are buying, but are worth repeating.
When you look at the website do they display a physical address and genuine telephone number? Preferably an 0800 number so that you can telephone and talk to them. Do they have testimonials you can check? How long have they been in business? Do they offer a guarantee? Do they offer secure credit card processing?
Don't buy just on price. In this market there may only be a dollar or two between the highest and lowest prices but the inks could be as different as water and glue. So it's worth while doing some basic checking. Always remember that the dollar you save by buying on price alone could cost you your printer.
You want to put the ink cartridges in your printer and know that they will work, be true to colour and not react chemically with other inks. Buy from a reputable business that offers a comprehensive guarantee and you'll get these results.
About the Author
David Hickman has been involved with computer printers, and ink and toner cartridges since January 1994.
Ink supplied by the company, Second Image Ltd, includes a mixture of compatible ink cartridges (Brother, Canon, Epson Hewlett Packard and Lexmark) refilled ink cartridges (Hewlett Packard) and ink refill kits for the end user.
Compatible ink cartridges are supplied direct from the manufacturer who is an American Chinese joint venture. It took nearly a year to find the right supplier and, in just over two years, (January 2006) there have been no problems of any significance.
Hewlett Packard ink cartridges are refilled on the premises using state of the art vacuum filling equipment and ink imported from an American manufacturer. All refilled cartridges are tested before packaging for sale.
As well as ink Second Image supplies paper, including ink jet photo paper, laser printer and fax toner cartridges, new printers and fax machines and printer servicing and repair. Thanks to the internet the business now has customers throughout NZ.
How to contact us?
Phone Second Image on 0800 243 852 or email email@example.com if you need help with anything that you have read in this article, or help with your printer or printer consumable queries.
This is a 'Shareware' Article
(what's that? read on...) This article is shareware. Give this article away for free on your site, or include it as part of any paid package as long as the entire article is left intact including this notice. You have permission to change any links within the article body to link to your own web site but you must leave the "About the Author" section and "How to contact us" section unchanged. Copyright January 2006, David Hickman.
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