Ink cartridges for printers are expensive, even the third party brands. The biggest cost in owning any printer is the inkjet printer ink. The largest ink cartridge company is Hewlett Packard and they make billions every year from selling their ink cartridges.
Inkjet printers eat ink cartridges. Especially if you print a lot of photos or pages with a large amount of graphics. The published yields by most ink cartridge companies are best case scenarios much like the miles per gallon numbers on new cars. You will most likely never achieve the yield from real world printing that you see listed. Inkjet printer ink use is very hard to average out since each print can be unique.
Most printer manufacturers are making much more off of ink cartridges for printers than the actual sales of the printers themselves. If you look at a cost per ounce, inkjet printer ink is more expensive than gas, alcohol, or even many precious metals. Average ink cartridge prices are over $100 per ounce although you won’t ever see it broken out in ounces.
The ink cartridge for printers business is a 24 billion dollar per year market. The major ink cartridge manufacturers, HP, Canon, Epson, and Lexmark account for up to 85 percent of the ink replacement market. Most industry observers say that these major ink manufacturers make about 60% profit on ink sales. No wonder you can buy an inkjet printer for under $50.
Original Manufacturer Inks: The original manufacturers state that the ink cartridge technology and precision manufacturing methods are the primary reason the costs are high for their products. They also state that the ink and components are of much higher quality than any third party products. All major brands started using “killer chips” in their cartridges that send info back to the printer to tell it that is a genuine manufacturer ink cartridge installed. Third party companies soon overcame this issue by duplicating the chip although there is a constant battle between the two factions.
Are Third Party Inks Bad? The big names in the ink cartridge business state dire results if you use anything but their brand of ink cartridge. Depending on the third party, the ink can have less pigments, slightly different colors, and lower quality nozzles to disperse the ink. But for most users, it may not even be noticeable for most every day printing. When printing photos on glossy paper stock to get the best possible end result, experts may be able to see a small difference but the average user won’t notice for the most part. Can the third party ink cartridges damage your printer? Doubtful, the worst case scenario is you will just have to discard the ink cartridge.
What are the price differences? A lot, many times up to 60% savings. If you buy a brand name ink cartridge for $42, the third party equivalent could be as low as $19. I would think that most people would give a third party ink manufacturer a try for that amount of money. Especially if you replace your ink cartridges several times a month. That could add up to $100 per month in savings. Even if you have to throw out a ink cartridge for some reason every once in awhile that’s a substantial cost savings over all.
Who makes the best third party ink cartridges? That depends on several variables including what printer brand and model you use. Another factor would be what type of printing you do and on what kind of paper. Your best bet is to go search on eBay or in your favorite search engine and see what company looks to offer the best combination of price, return policy, and any feedback from actual users. Then choose one and give their ink cartridges a test run. If you see no difference on quality or yield, you have a winner.
And it’s not just the quality and the yield of inkjet printer ink, it can be in the actual cartridge too. Inkjet printer manufacturers love to make it as difficult as possible for the alternative inkjet printer ink manufacturers by making their cartridges difficult to reproduce.
Ink cartridges for printers can be a big cost if you print a lot. If your printer takes a pretty expensive cartridge, the savings certainly are worth the effort to test a few third party suppliers products to see if they will work for you.