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Archive for October, 2009

Buying Ink Cartridges: What Makes a Printer and an Ink Cartridge Compatible?

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Compatibility between an ink cartridge and a printer is a love story as old as Romeo and Juliet — the cost is often high and there are requirements one must follow. Like the Montagues and the Capulets, HP and Epson have very distinct and patented ways for ensuring their printers use the compatible ink cartridge. For instance, there is no such thing as “universal ink.” This is because it is not the ink that makes the printer work, it is the cartridge. Some printer inks will not perform well if used in the wrong printer and can do damage. Because there are two main types of cartridges, you must ensure you are purchasing the correct one or you risk damage to your printer.

The two main types of printer cartridges are sponge-filled cartridges and vacuum retained cartridges. The sponge-filled cartridge is the most common type, used especially by inkjet printer cartridges. Hewlett-Packard mainly develops vacuum printer ink cartridges for their printers. The vacuum printer ink cartridges are Original Equipment Manufacturer, or OEM. OEM cartridges are cartridges that are branded and made by a specific printer manufacturer specifically for their printers. Manufacturers are able to sell their printers cheap because the consumer is required to purchase rather expensive OEM ink cartridge replacements. This is where the manufacturer makes the most profit. To offset the high costs of ink, many manufacturers offer lower cost printers and postage free returns for ink cartridge recycling.

Additionally, printer manufacturers like Epson change the way their printers access the chip on the cartridge. Due to this, a newer cartridge won’t work on an older Epson printer. Even within the same printer model, one cartridge may work with a compatible and another may not. Many times it’s possible to swap out sets of cartridges from various manufacturers in a printer, but you are unable to combine parts of each set for use at the same time. This is due to the patented “chip” or printer head used by the manufacturer.

Finally, there is a huge technological market for printers and ink cartridges. According to, Hewlett-Packard spends $1 billion a year on printing and ink research. This is a figure that generic vendors can’t compete with. This heavy investment is why ink costs thousands of dollars per gallon and why the company thinks consumers will stick to high-quality brands.

The ink cartridge is outfitted with a printer head that is read by the printer’s sensors.

If the head is correctly coded, the cartridge is accepted. If not, the printer will not work and damage could be done to it. Like Romeo and Juliet, the printer needs the compatible ink cartridge to work — without the correct one, it dies.

Is it Worth the Mess? Refilling Printing Cartridges Yourself

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

When financial times get tough, many people often choose to save money by refilling their printer ink cartridges instead of buying a new printer cartridge. There are many kits that can be bought to refill a cartridge at home. Although there are many benefits of refilling the ink cartridge, it can also cause quite a mess. Is refilling an ink cartridge really worth the fuss? If you use special tips to avoid making the mess, than the answer is yes.

Pros of Refilling
If you go through multiple printer ink cartridges a year, it can be easy for you to save money by refilling an empty ink cartridge yourself. By doing this, you will no longer have to pay for the whole ink cartridge, saving you, on average, 70 percent of what you would have paid to do so. Not only will this save you money, but refilling the ink cartridge is great for the environment as well. Printer cartridges are made up of materials that don’t decay, so they sit in landfills taking up space. It’s just another reason to feel good about doing it yourself.

Cons of Refilling
Although there are many benefits to refilling printer ink, there are also some downsides to doing it yourself. It is very common to make a mess when you first begin refilling a printer cartridge. The spilled ink can stain tables, clothing and skin. Luckily, there are many tips you can use to avoid and clean up the mess.

Avoiding the Mess
One reason people are often discouraged from refilling ink cartridges is because you can easily make a huge mess. However, there are many tips that can be used to make the process easy and almost fool-proof, minimizing the mess. It is important to remember practice makes perfect. — the more times you refill the ink, the more practice you will receive. This means the mess will decrease with each refill to the point where you will eventually make no mess at all. To avoid any spilled ink from staining the surface you are working on, place newspaper or cardboard over the surface. This way, if ink is spilled the newspaper or cardboard can simply be thrown away. It is also common for you to get ink on your hands the first few times you refill the printer ink. You can wear gloves to avoid this. If you happen to get ink on your skin, you can use a mild solution of bleach and water to remove the ink from your skin.

In the grand scheme of things, it seems worth a little mess and hassle to save a decent chunk of money by refilling the ink cartridge for your printer on your own.

Taking Care of Your Ink Cartridge

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Taking care of your ink cartridge is important. When an ink cartridge is properly cared for it will allow for extended use, thus saving you money in the long run. Once you are in the habit of caring for your ink cartridges, it is a can almost become second nature.

The first thing you must know is how to store the ink cartridges that you are not using to keep them in prime condition. They should remain in their original packaging and be kept in a cool, dry place. Heat and moisture can negatively affect the printer ink. They must also be stored in the upright position, so the cartridges do not leak. When you are ready to load the ink cartridge into your printer, you may remove the packaging. It is imperative that when you remove it from the packaging and are handling the cartridge to only touch the plastic part of the cartridge located on the sides. Never touch the top of the cartridge, as the top contains the chip that allows the cartridge and the printer to work together. Also, be sure not to shake it as ink may leak. Your printer will have details on how to properly install the cartridge.

Once the cartridge is properly placed in the printer, it can then begin to do its job. Never remove the cartridge until printer ink is gone and no longer being dispensed. Once the cartridge is fully empty, remove the ink cartridge. From here, you may choose to refill the ink in the cartridge. There are many kits for sale in stores and online that allow you to do this. It can be a cost-effective way to restore your ink supply. If you do this, do it in a timely manner. Without ink in the cartridge, leftover ink may dry out, rendering the cartridge non-refillable. Do not shake the cartridge, as ink may go flying, creating a huge mess that is difficult to clean.

If you choose not to refill your cartridge, be sure to properly dispose of it. There are stores, where ink cartridges can be purchased, that also accept them once they are empty. Never place empty ink cartridges with other household trash, as they contain toxic materials that shouldn’t be put in a landfill. You may place the empty cartridge in a sealed zip-lock bag and deposit it any the appropriate location. You can also research places online that will take your empty cartridges and pay you for them.

Properly caring for your printer ink cartridge can save you money and hassle. As long as you take the proper steps, cartridge may last you a very long time.

What is Toner and Do I Need to Buy it for My Printer?

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Printers are machines that take information from a computer screen and put it onto a piece of paper. This can be text, say from a typed document, or graphics, like images from a digital camera. Originally, this was all that could be printed, but now, anything seen on a computer screen can be printed, allowing users to make newspapers, wedding invitations or even mixed-media paintings. Of course, like a pen needs ink to write, a printer needs something to put on the paper, and in the printer’s case it’s either printer ink or toner.

Toner is a black powder that bonds to paper when heated, so pages printed from these printers come out warm. Photocopy machines commonly use this process as well. You may have noticed warm photocopies in the past. Printers that use toner are called laser printers. Here, a laser draws an image onto a printing drum. This drum attracts toner from a cartridge and rolls the toner onto a piece of paper. These printers tend to be more expensive than printers that use ink, however, the cost per page printed is significantly less in this method. This is the advantage of using toner. When these printers run out of toner, the cartridge is replaced with a new one, and the old cartridge is sent in for recycling. Refilling a toner cartridge is generally not done. In the past, toner was refilled by pouring the powder directly into the machine, but it was very mess and most printers use cartridges now. Due to their cost-effectiveness, laser printers using toner are generally used in businesses that create a large number of documents.

Printers that use ink are called ink-jet printers. Here, an ink cartridge moves from side to side and shoots out ink onto the paper. These write text or draw a picture line by line. Usually, these printers have one ink cartridge for black ink, and another for magenta, yellow and cyan (or blue) ink, allowing full color printing. When the cartridges run out of ink, they need to be replaced or refilled with printer ink. However, some manufacturers do not recommend refilling used cartridges. Ink-jet printers are generally good for home use, excelling in printing out digital pictures. Though ink-jet printers are very inexpensive, the cost of printer ink can add up quickly if high volume printing is required.

To summarize, there are two types of printers – ink-jet printers that use ink cartridges, and laser printers, which use toner cartridges. Knowing which type of printer you have will tell you what you need to purchase. Or, just write down the make and model of your printer, bring it to an office supply store, and they will bring you what you need.

What To Do With An Empty Ink Cartridge

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Curses! The printer ink is empty. That insipid empty ink cartridge is causing the power lights on your printer to blink. You look into your desk drawer trying to remember if you bought a replacement cartridge with your last paycheck. Printer ink can be so expensive! It’s time to make a change. No, not by reverting to writing in pen or pencil, but by looking at empty ink cartridges in a new way — a way that can help you make the earth a better place and even make you some extra money: Recycling.

PTO Moms have known for many years that by collecting used ink cartridges they can raise funds for schools, as well as keep the cartridges out of our landfills. These days there are many companies that buy back ink cartridges — in fact it’s a $350 billion industry.’s representatives say $80 to $100 checks are common for schools, clubs and fundraising organizations. This is because empty printer ink cartridges are valuable to recycling companies and can stretch your budget as well. Most companies pay on a scale commensurate with the re-sale value of the cartridges. Laser cartridges, for example, are typically worth more than ink jet. The more expensive, empty laser cartridges can fetch you nearly $5.50 a piece, while lower-end ink jet cartridges start as low as 50 cents. The price you get can also depend on brand. For example, Inkjet cartridges made by HP and Lexmark are more valuable as they are refilled and sold again at a lower price and they help the environment. Where as some just pay a flat fee. AAA Environmental pays a flat $1 for every cartridge selected for remanufacturing. Companies like even sends you recycling bags to return to them filled with empty ink cartridges.

Environmental advocates offer two great reasons for recycling ink cartridges. First, if not disposed of properly, printer ink cartridges can be devastating to the environment. They are made up of non-biodegradable materials that contain elements that pollute the earth. When they find their way to a landfill, they remain there for extremely long periods of time. The chemicals incorporated into their makeup are hazardous and can seep through the soil, ultimate getting mixed in with the ground water. Ground water can find its way to the ocean, or to our drinking water. The second legitimate reason to recycle cartridges is that the cartridge material is made from non-renewable sources that are better off being conserved. They are made from metal and plastic. We have no way of knowing how soon these finite sources will be exhausted.

So the next time your printer ink runs out, don’t worry. Be happy. Make some money and recycle!

Logos and brand names of manufacturers such as HP, Canon, Epson, Xerox, Samsung, Apple, Brother, Dell, IBM and others are registered trademarks of their respective owners. All references to brands are solely made for the purpose of illustrating compatibility of toner and ink cartridges. Their use on does not imply endorsement or association by respective owners.