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Remanufactured cartridges are becoming big business. Stores everywhere are starting to pop up to refill the ink cartridges of consumers at a reduced price. One shop, Rapid Refill Ink in Minnesota, is not only refilling ink cartridges, but getting in on the act of helping to recycle and educate the public about recycling ink cartridges.
Estimates peg the percentage of recyclable cartridges to be 90 percent. However, only 20 percent of all cartridges get recycled. Rapid Refill encourages their customers to bring in their empty cartridges and place recycling bins throughout schools and churches. The organizations then receive payment for their empty cartridges.
Rapid Refill doesn't just fill up ink, but goes through a 24-hour process of creating remanufactured cartridges. They first soak the cartridges to loosen the dry ink particles. Then they flush out the cartridges and send them through a spinning process. A filling machine puts ink in the cartridges to create the final remanufactured cartridges for sale.
It's only recently that people became aware that they have the option to buy a remanufactured cartridge rather than going straight for the printer manufacturer's version. According to Recharger Magazine, a publication resource for the printing industry, every second, someone is tossing out an old ink cartridge in the U.S. To produce just one toner cartridge, it takes 3.5 quarts of oil.
That's why using a remanufactured cartridge can be good for the environment. Rather than going straight to landfills and contributing to waste, consumers can use the remanufactured cartridge several times over with refilled ink. According to an article in the Colorado Gazette, people can save 30 percent to 50 percent off the cost of the manufacturer's cartridge with a remanufactured cartridge.
Users of the Dell and HP printers can find some relief from the high cost of replacing ink. Recently, Ink Toner, a UK-based company, has started offering Dell and HP refurbished ink cartridges for consumers. The Dell and HP refurbished ink cartridges will cover the Dell 922 & 9246, as well as the HP 339 and 344. These Dell and HP refurbished ink cartridges are serviced in the factory and fully tested. Since they are recycled products, they help ease the waste added to the environment. Ink Toner UK is an web-based retailer that supplies printer, copier and fax equipment for well-known brands like HP, Dell, Lexmark, Epson and Canon.
If you're wondering how long the prints from remanufactured cartridge inks last, here's the scoop. The inks you buy from original printer manufacturers can last several decades before you see any signs of fading whatsoever. However, when it comes to the remanufactured cartridge, the longevity of ink isn't proven.
According to Edwin Leong, editor of CameraHobby.com, you can't expect to have long-lasting quality prints when you're using a remanufactured ink cartridge. There is a lot of science that goes into the chemistry of optimized ink, including how the different colored inks react to each other, the type of ink used, the way the ink sprays out of the nozzles and the paper you use.
Still, for folks who just want to print black and white documents, the remanufactured cartridge seems a viable, affordable option as opposed to the high price of cartridges from original printer manufacturers. The principal of the Toronto School for Strings is perfectly happy using remanufactured ink for printing everything from sheet music to invoicing and cites no quality or performance downsides to using the inks for his purposes.
If you're looking for alternatives to the high cost of buying replacement ink, there are cost savings to be had. One option is to buy a remanufactured ink cartridge. The remanufactured ink cartridge is not quite the same as a compatible cartridge, which is typically a new product manufactured by a third party of similar or comparable quality to that of the original manufacturer. Instead, the remanufactured cartridge is an aftermarket solution ink.
Companies known as refillers or remanufacturers will often take an existing empty ink cartridge, drill a hole through it, fill it with ink, seal it and then return it to the customer for use. It's a process that can take just half an hour to do. Once remanufactured, the results vary, but some refillers claim the remanufactured ink cartridge can be refilled up to ten times. There are also kits available on the market that allow you to convert your old cartridges into remanufactured ink cartridges yourself.
Some consumers may be flocking to the nearest remanufactured cartridge retailer to save their pocketbooks on the cost of printing. Meanwhile, the printer manufacturers are devising ways to keep their share of the market. Lexmark has recently come up with a way to keep their customers coming back to them for ink. Lexmark has a new line of wireless-enabled printers. But, it's not just the technology that's interesting.
The new wireless-enabled printers, along with two entry-level printers from Lexmark, will be part of a return program where the company will offer $4 discounts on the cartridges as long as customers agree not to get remanufactured cartridge units from another party. Lexmark is not only offering the discount, but will have a chip to disable the cartridges if customers who are part of the program end up refilling them somewhere else.
There is no question that refill ink is a cheaper way to go than purchasing brand new ink cartridges every time you need it. However, is refill ink really worth the savings? The answer may depend on what your needs are. If you're printing documents on a regular basis without detailed graphics or photos, refill ink may suit you just fine. However, some folks in the photography world don't feel that refill ink measures up when it comes to their needs.
According to an article in PC World, third party inks tend to have higher failure rates than that of original manufacturer inks. So you have to take into consideration the lower print yields and problems like streaks and color bleeds. If you're a photographer who values color balance and consistency in your prints, using a third party ink may make getting that quality more difficult. With original manufacture inks, specific profiles are included that make optimizing quality easier. When you use a third party ink, you no longer have that profile to use and have to spend money on a color management suite in order to get the same results.
Nowadays, you don't have to buy a replacement ink cartridge or replacement toner solely from the manufacturer. Now, there are third party sources that carry replacement ink cartridges and replacement toners. So how do you distinguish from all of the different types?
You'll generally find three different types of ink cartridges and toners. There are OEM, remanufactured, and new ink cartridges and replacement toners. When you're purchasing an OEM or original equipment manufacturer, you're getting a replacement part that is from the manufacturer in its original condition. A remanufactured replacement ink cartridge or replacement toner is a used cartridge that has undergone repackaging and has been refilled with ink. A new replacement ink cartridge or replacement toner is one that is created of entirely new parts and is similar to the originally manufactured product.
You can save money over time by buying remanufactured ink and toner cartridges. For instance, a remanufactured HP 98 ink cartridge might run you $15, while the original would cost you $20. The question is whether or not that cost savings is really worth it to you in the long run.
If you ask HP, the company will likely tell you remanufactured ink and toner cartridges aren't worth your time and money. According to HP, the company's own ink and toner cartridges outperform remanufactured ink and toner cartridges in terms of reliability. HP cites independent research that has found their own ink and toner cartridges to be more reliable. Specifically, HP ink cartridges showed a 98 percent success rate when it came to working right out of the box. Remanufactured ink cartridges showed a 30 percent success rate. HP toner cartridges showed a 98 percent success rate of working right out of the box while remanufactured toner cartridges showed just a 20 percent success rate.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|