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Refill Kits

Ink refill kits have vastly improved over the decades. While once a single refill kit was supposed to service multiple brands and printer models, today’s kits are often tailor-made to specific manufacturers and printers.  If you’re up for the challenge of refilling your own cartridges yourself, you could stand to save a lot of money.  But the refill process can be a bit technical—and refilled cartridges are typically more prone to error than using other third-party cartridge options.  So should you try refilling your cartridges yourself? Here’s a look at the pros and cons.

Do-It-Yourself Cartridge Refills: The Benefits

While printer ink refill kits are a more adventurous option than simply ordering third-party cartridges, they do have significant benefits. Here are a few reasons why some users swear by them.

Reduced cost. Refill kits are usually the cheapest option out there for third-party cartridges—often cheaper than both remanufactured and original third-party cartridges. You can save thousands each year in printing costs by using refill kits exclusively or by incorporating them into your cartridge buying habits.

Environmental impact.  Printer cartridges do damage to the environment when disposed of in landfills. Leftover ink can leak into soil and water, and chemicals from plastics used to make the cartridges can also contaminate the environment.  It can take up to a thousand years, theoretically, for a plastic cartridge to completely biodegrade.  Despite these truths, only 15% of cartridges in the U.K. are recycled.  Using a refill kit allows you to recycle your old printer cartridges instead of throwing them away.

Convenience.  If you have a refill kit, you won’t have to go to the store every time your cartridges run out—you can just refill them and put them back in the printer. The added convenience makes a difference to some users.

Drawbacks of Refill Kits

Of course, with greater savings comes greater risk.  Refill kits may not be for everyone, and here are a few reasons why you may not be as satisfied with a refill kit as you would with a remanufactured or original third-party cartridge.

Room for mistakes. Because you’re refilling your cartridge by hand, there’s room for some human error in the process. If you don’t insert the ink into the cartridge correctly, for example, you may have air bubbles in the syringe that can result in uneven ink distribution on the page.  You’ll have to read the directions and follow all the steps carefully to make sure your ink is properly injected.

In addition, if your cartridge is old and worn out, you may not be able to tell—this is a problem you don’t encounter with remanufacturing companies, because they replace worn-out components of used cartridges before selling them.  And if you insert ink into a cartridge that’s been empty for a long period of time, the sponge may be dry—and this could cause problems with printing later.

Cartridges are getting more complex.  As ink refill kits get more and more specialized, manufacturers are going to greater and greater lengths to prevent users from refilling the cartridges themselves. Today’s cartridges have computer chips and other high-tech features that can get in the way of injecting your own ink.

Possible warranty void.  It’s a myth that any use of third-party ink or cartridges will void your printer’s warranty out of hand.  But if the damage caused to your printer is obviously from a third-party ink, this may cause problems with your warranty. Read your fine print carefully before making the decision to go with an ink refill kit, as they typically have more room for error than other third-party ink options.

Ink refill kits can save you a lot of money. They also do something good for the environment by allowing users to recycle their own cartridges instead of throwing them away.  However, they do have their drawbacks—and not everyone is comfortable with doing it themselves. If you still want to save money without risking problems from human error in the ink refill process, you can still find cheap cartridges through companies that sell remanufactured or original third-party cartridges built from manufacturers’ specifications. With all the options out there, you’re sure to find a discount cartridge option that fits your needs



With the high prices of printer ink, toner, and other peripherals, it’s no wonder millions of customers are clamoring for a discount. It’s difficult to find low-cost printer ink and toner in stores, however and many people look online for affordable cartridges. But not all online vendors are created equally, and it’s important to shop carefully when buying printer ink online. Here are a few tips for choosing an online vendor you can trust.

Know what kind of ink you’re looking for. There are several different options for shoppers looking for discount ink.

Third-party or OEM-compatible cartridges are made new by third-party companies using the original manufacturer’s specifications. This ink tends to be the most expensive of the cheap ink options, but it’s also the most dependable—and it’s still cheaper than an original manufacturer’s cartridge, often by as much as 50%.

Remanufactured or refilled cartridges are original manufacturer’s cartridges that have been refilled with ink made by a third-party company. Remanufactured cartridges tend to be cheaper and more widely available than third-party cartridges, and you may be able to save more money by selling your old cartridges to the company as well.

Home refill kits are the cheapest type of discount ink source. The company sends you a kit including a syringe, a bottle of ink and detailed instructions, and you refill the cartridge yourself. While home refill kits have a reputation for being difficult and messy, they’ve definitely improved over time—companies now make kits tailored to specific manufacturers, making the refill process easier and less time-consuming.

The type of ink that’s right for you depends on what’s available, your budget, and your tolerance for handling the refill process yourself. If you’re willing to, you can save significant money. But most discount ink customers are more comfortable buying refilled or third party cartridges.

Check out their reputation. It’s tough to choose based on the length of time the company has been in business; discount ink is not an old industry, and many reliable vendors have only been in business for a few years. However, the vendor you choose should have accumulated a good track record online. Do a search for the company’s name and look for accounts from other customers. Customers will often post in forums and other websites detailing their complaints and disputes with companies like these, and if you find frequent accounts of unfulfilled orders or low-quality ink damaging print heads, look elsewhere.

Look for testing. While it’s much more rare the major manufacturers would have you believe, it is possible for compatible or remanufactured cartridges to clog your print heads. Look for a third-party company that ensures its ink is safe for use through rigorous testing before it leaves the factory. Most companies that test will advertise this on their website; if the company you’re considering doesn’t, call or email them to ask about their testing process.

Look for the guarantee. Any online company should have a strong guarantee. With discount ink sellers, it’s doubly important that the company stand behind its product. The company you choose should offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee that allows you to return your purchase and get a refund for any reason within a reasonable length of time.

Real contact information. Can you get in touch with a real person if you have a problem? Look for a company with a phone number. This ensures the company is genuine and willing to make itself available to customers, even if there’s a problem. If the only contact option you have is an email address, you risk being ignored if something goes wrong with your order.

Read the fine print. How long will it take their order to ship? Will they deliver to your address? What are the terms of their guarantee? Make sure you read their policies over before ordering so there are no surprises later on.

It’s easy to find discount printer cartridges online. But it’s not always easy to find a vendor that sells high-quality products at a great price, with a guarantee and fine print that work for you. Take your time in choosing an online printer ink vendor, and you’re sure to find one that suits your needs.

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Types of 3rd Party Ink Cartridges: Exploring Your Options

December 5, 2008

Interested in buying ink from a third-party provider? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of people buy cartridges and ink from third-party online vendors, and for the most part, the ink is high quality and safe to use. However, there are several types of cartridges sold by third-party vendors, and each has its benefits and [...]

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