What is the difference between refilled ink cartridges, compatible ink cartridges and OEM ink Cartridges?
Firstly, the most obvious difference is price. Refilled ink cartridges are cheaper than original cartridges and if they are done properly, can be pretty much the same as the OEM ones. In fact, HP and Canon have a recycling programme where they take back the empty cartridges and after testing, refill them and sell them as new cartridges.
Although it isn’t that common to see refilling happening in shops anymore, where it is done, the quality of the product can vary a lot as what most shops do is take an empty cartridge and then simply refill it with a generic ink that might work well or might not work well your printer.
Compatible cartridges are basically refilled cartridges that are processed in factories. The process is that the empty cartridge is inspected for damage and if passed, any residual ink is flushed out and then an ink that is nearly the same (it cannot be exactly the same as the manufacturer’s own ink as they patent their ink) is put back in the cartridge. Good quality compatible cartridges have ink that is very similar to the original cartridges and tend to be more expensive than ones where generic ink is used. We only supply the best quality cartridges with ink that has a very close colour match to the original ones. We have a test where we print pictures of Big Bird and then check that the yellow is proper yellow and not sort of orange or muddy brown. We call this the Big Bird Yellow test. We use Oscar the Grouch for green, Cookie Monster for blue.
Most original cartridges have small amounts of ink in them which is why there are standard size cartridges and XL cartridges. The actual cartridges are the same size, it is only the amount of ink in them that differs. Many of the compatible cartridges have more ink in them than the original ones and will thus print many more pages than the originals. The price of a good quality compatible cartridge is around 40 per cent cheaper than the original. (some are even cheaper but they tend to have lower quality ink so don’t produce good colours or leak a lot because the ink viscosity is low.
Original ink cartridges are the ones that are made by the manufacturer and are the most expensive. They are usually available as standard capacity and XL capacity. The XL capacity ones are the best value as they will print twice or three times as many pages as the standard capacity ones but only cost 50 per cent more.
The above all applies to ink cartridges with a printhead included in the cartridge. For printers that have the printhead included in the printer we do not recommend using compatible inks for business printing or for higher value printers as the risk of damage to the printhead negates the savings that can be made.
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