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OEM inkjet cartridges vs. third-party ink cartridges and refills?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / July 10, 2009 3:59 AM PDT


OEM inkjet cartridges vs. third-party ink cartridges
and refills?

I get a lot of ads and see plenty of offers in stores for
printer ink refills and refill kits, and third-party ink.
Years ago I put supposedly compatible ink in a Canon
printer, and not long after had to have the print head
serviced. The tech warned me never to use non-Canon ink
again. I have to admit with the high relative price put on
genuine Canon ink cartridges, it is tempting to save some
significant cash and try aftermarket cartridges again,
especially after so many years since my bad experience.

Is the tech's warning just as valid in today's market, or
are modern nonbranded inks and refills improved and less
troublesome and just as compatible as OEM products? What are
your experiences? Is there a cheaper alternative to OEM
inkjet cartridges?

--Submitted by Joel A.

Here are some featured member answers to get you started, but
please read all the advice and suggestions that our
members have contributed to this question.

It really depends... --Submitted by John.Wilkinson

Over the years, I found... --Submitted by Willy

Alternative ink cartridges --Submitted by Zouch

Aftermarket cartridges, refill kits --Submitted by Robert Burns

Whether it makes sense depends upon a couple factors. --Submitted by BigGuns149

Third party cartridges and all depends. --Submitted by Anthony854

If you have any additional advice or recommendations for Joel, please click the reply link and submit your answer. Please share your experiences, recomendations, tips and tricks, and your opinions. Manufactures replies welcomed! Thanks!

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One word: don't
by filops / July 10, 2009 11:27 AM PDT

I got supposedly compatible refills for a perfectly good Epson printer years ago. Ruined it. Purchased the cleaner that was supposed to get the printer working again. Worthless. Had to replace the printer.

Never again.

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Not so sure about Epson..
by Dave.57 / July 17, 2009 1:11 PM PDT
In reply to: One word: don't

I was a diehard Epson fan. I?ve had several Epson printers and actually thru a couple of good 825 photo printers out. One had every day use. Epson ink was always used. I was tired of all the ink wasted on cleaning the heads. This was an issue when they were new too. I bought a hp, a cannon, and another cannon. So far so good

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My Epson printers
by JBDragon / July 22, 2009 5:26 PM PDT

I screwed up a couple EPSON printers with trying to use aftermarket Inks. I had a C80, and I tried refiling myself. I got one of them chip rester's, but it screwed up the Print head and never printed right after that until it wouldn't print anything at all a short time later. I also had a Photo 340 or something, and so I tried aftermarket Ink Cartrages, and it lasted a bit better, but didn't print as well and screwed up that printer also. I had to toss both. My newest Epson Artisan 800 printer I really like, but this time I'm sticking with Epson Ink with this one. It's just not worth it. I don't know what EPSON is doing to cause such destruction with aftermarket products used in their printers but I wouldn't recommend doing it. On other brands of printers I'm sure it's just fine. I know it can be a whole lot cheaper, but too many people are screwing up EPSON printers trying it.

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Using aftermarket inks and cartridges
by edtalkingbird09 / July 22, 2009 6:04 PM PDT
In reply to: My Epson printers

Years ago, after I gave up on my dot matrix IBM printer, I got a Canon. Even then, OEM carts were prohibitive so I started refilling. This meant that every time I did, I had to spend a few days getting the ink off my hands. I then went to Lexmark. I won't go into that. I then tried HP but stuck to OEM, which didn't impress me. I wanted to be able to print on CDs so I picked up an Epson R280. As soon as I used up the 4 drops of ink that came in each of the 6 cartridges, I went on a search for aftermarket. I tried a number of them until I found LD and all its entities. They worked great, color great, everything great until I guess Epson found out about them and all of a sudden LD can't supply that particular cartridge. I have also had good success with InkjetsRUsa, although they supply the 78 series carts which have half the ink of the 77 series. Hopefully soon, either LD will be back in action or InkjetsRus will add more ink. Hope this helps some of you.

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cleaning a printer
by hrhmar / July 17, 2009 9:37 PM PDT
In reply to: One word: don't

Just use alcohol - I found that online and it makes sense when you consider the molecular configuration of most inks and alcohol's ability to dissolve/cleanse...

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ink cartridge third party ink.

I nave used HP multi printer for printing several hundred multipage color brochures. I was buying quart size ink from a vendor near Pittsburg Pa. I would use a *diabetic" needle to redil the cartridges. It takes a little time for the sponge in the cartridge to absorb the ink. I did get the warnings from the printer about non hp ink etc but I ignored it. I used the printer for several years without any problems.
W Farell

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ink for refills
by buzguy / July 18, 2009 5:21 AM PDT

Where can I get ink for my HP?

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My Experience with Ink Cartridges

I have a Canon i560 printer, several years old. Like many people, I found the price of "Genuine" Canon cartridges to be higher than seemed reasonable, and for some time purchased third-party cartridges. Using the latter, I could never get skin tones to look as they should do or how they appeared on the screen. I contacted the local plant of the third-party cartridge manufacturer, and they were very helpful, including changing cartridges just in case I had bought a bad one. None of this helped, and it was only when I went back to the Genuine Canon cartridges that I achieved prints that looked the way they should do.

Perhaps another brand of third-party cartridge might have been better, but I didn't try any others.


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Third party ink cartridges.
by wakleem / July 10, 2009 11:34 AM PDT

I have been using third party ink cartridges in my Epson printers for about 12 years with no problems and I have saved lots of money. I tried refilling the OEM's and that was unsatisfactory.

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Last advice to all
by Joe M. Winters / July 10, 2009 3:02 PM PDT

Point one never walk away from your printer when you shut down. Turn it off when you shut down the computer. This will help because the printer drivers will refresh after you boot, and turn it on. It makes no difference what kind of printer you use. If you use a substitute Ink you will have to check the Gamma, and curves.

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Epson won't allow third party ink
by fasquak / July 17, 2009 3:21 PM PDT

I purchased a bunch of third party ink for my Brother and Epson. My Epson 420cn is very fussy about them. I've gotten by the error messages in the past, but for some reason when I put a new generic cartridge in this time I can't seem to get past the "does not recognize" message. I cant close it and restarting doesn't work. Any ideas?

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Epson isn't the only one - HP won't accept other cartridges
by sandsurfer13 / July 18, 2009 5:04 AM PDT

A few months ago I tried to save money at an Office Depot, that makes their own cartridges (which are - according to them, just as good as Hewlett-Packard) and as soon as the cartridge was installed on my 6310xi, I got an error message saying the cartridge was faulty. I reloaded it several times, just to make sure it had been installed correctly, and I still got the error message. And wouldn't allow me to print anything. This was a real bummer since I was on a deadline, it was 8pm, & I had to drive across town to get HP cartridges. So aside from spending more on the ink, I paid the gas for two trips to the store as well.

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HP cuts cartridge life
by larrybio / July 18, 2009 11:21 AM PDT

I have had an HP G85 printer for half a dozen years. My wife kindly bought me a J6480 All-in-one which duplexes and accepts input wirelessly. Unfortunately the cartridges now have a life expectancy for me of three weeks where I used to get three to six months from my older All-in-one. On the G85, I also experienced the problem that Office Depot cartridges were rejected by the HP printer as not "legitimate". So much for Gillete's over-priced rasor blades. The rasor at least was free.

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You have it wrong.
by ziguofm / July 20, 2009 12:49 AM PDT

Its not that it was a new cartridge that office depot makes. They are just taking a virgin (never refilled) OEM cartridge and are refilling it. Some companies check the electronics on the cartridges to make sure it is viable for refill and then they do a series of test prints to make sure it is working properly. Do your research and homework and you will find refill shops around that do nothing but refill cartridges all day and will have a great understanding of what they are talking about.

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Third party ink supply is a good alternative way.
by sanggnas / July 18, 2009 9:22 AM PDT

This is a confident message to all ink jet printer users.
Over the course of 2 years I have been using third party ink supply for my ink jet printer which is Epson RX595.

I bought this printer for all most nothing which was 49.99 CND, well Epson thinks selling this 6 cartridge printer for that kind of money is like give it away. They think we will pour some money in their pocket latter by keep buying the OEM cartridges, because the printer will not recognize ANY non Epson cartridge, even if we drilled hole and refill them because each cartridge has a computer chip built in.

This remarkable photo printer has excellent resolution even on printable blank CD-DVD. I bought the CISS (Continuous Ink Supply System) consists of 6 separated containers, each container has volume of 100ml of ink color, all connect by 6 tiny gel hose to 6 cartridges.

Depend who you buy it from, my has auto reset chip built-in. When the printer warns to replace cartridge(s), I just lift 6 cartridge out, put them back in, turn the printer off for 2 minutes, turn it on, the printer starts to diagnose or alignment the print heads then it's ready for the print job.

I have been went through many pictures, DVD covers and DVD, CD itself. Right now I am waiting for my order of 6 refill bottles arrive, and this is my second refill.

My family and I are so happy which this printer and especially the CISS bought from eBay, The CISS was available long time on eBay, you can search one for your printer and read the comments from those happy users include myself before thinking throw that expensive ink jet and looking for color laser printer.

Trust me, I will respond your email if needed, because Ink jet printer to me is just a highway robbery, period.

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CSI ink System
by Derek R / July 21, 2009 8:42 PM PDT

My CSI system does not even require the removal of the the cartridges it just automatically resets itself then automatically goes through the normal priming system. My system has been in for years and I have never removed the cartridges.It will even do this in the middle of a long run print.Cost of ink per cartridge is approx 8 cents. Derek R

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hird party ink supply is a good alternative way.
by go4jc / August 5, 2010 5:13 AM PDT

Hi, pls tell me what brand CISS for your Epson printer, I bought ink cartridges for my epson 1400 printer from eBay, but printed photo color washout in two months. Please help me to get the right one. Thank you,

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Sure it does
by sweet frosty / July 18, 2009 1:55 PM PDT

I used a third party ink on my epson stylus cx5800f series for years. It always allowed me to use the third party ink. All it ever asked was do I really want to use generic ink. It showed it as a generic ink and always showed the ink levels. I did finally give up the third party ink when a cartridge leaked like a sieve. The best thing to do at that time was to toss the printer. I have a new epson which for now I use the epson ink. But rest assured one day I will likely go back to the third party ink from the same vendor.

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Lexmark same...
by morrie 52 / July 19, 2009 12:52 AM PDT
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Third Party in cartridges for Epson 12 years
by fasquak / July 17, 2009 11:38 PM PDT

I purchased a bunch of third party ink for my Brother and Epson. My Epson 420cn is very fussy about them. I've gotten by the error messages in the past, but for some reason when I put a new generic cartridge in this time I can't seem to get past the "does not recognize" message. I cant close it and restarting doesn't work. Any ideas?

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Can't clear message
by nearone / July 20, 2009 12:53 AM PDT

Go to You have to ask support for it. It is not in their FAQ's. Should be.

They have a download that will clear the event and it won't show up again. Hope you didn't throw the cartridges away.

And, by the way, you can put scotch tape on the cartridge if it is open, covering the punctured hole and it should last 6 months on the shelf. It will just puncture the scotch tape when you insert it and form a good seal.

The newer Epson printers do not stop you. They simply ask if you want to continue with the compatible cartridge. Say YES and OK

I sent some nasty messages to Epson about this same problem, but when you run the download, the problem goes away.

Be prepared for the "Parts in this printer have reached the end of their serviceable life" And, the printer just quits in the middle of whatever you were printing. They have a download and instructions for that one also. It is in the FAQ's (Can you believe built-in obsolescence?)

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epson sx415 printer
by edgewater2010 / March 2, 2010 11:51 PM PST

Can anyone tell how to get round the "cannot recognise ink cartridge"
error message in order to use third party cartridges. Every other epson printer eventually accepted the cheaper brands but this new printer will go no further. Any help would be appreciated. by this new member. Thanks in advance.

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Epson third party ink cartridges
by go4jc / August 5, 2010 4:33 AM PDT

pls tell me which third party ink cartridges use in your Epson printer. Thank you,

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I have a similar experience
by psedog / July 10, 2009 11:34 AM PDT

I bought a canon printer in 2003 and tried to use offbrank ink in 05. That printer head died shortly after. I have blamed the ink ever since.
I bought a Canon MP500 in 2005 and it still works today Happy I've only used OEM ink from pacificink dot com.
I'll take years of quality prints over a cheap ink refill any day Happy

The only way I would try off brand again is if I didn't want the printer again and needed an excuse to replace it Wink

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Pacific Ink same as Canon?
by pvsurfer / July 17, 2009 12:13 PM PDT

Aren't cartridges off-brand?

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off market ink cartridges and refill ink
by Cirrus72 / July 17, 2009 12:41 PM PDT

never again My printers work on the ink from the manufacturers, and die on the off market cartridges and refills. I have a perfectly good Canon printer that went down for the sake of trying to save a couple of bucks.

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Canon printers and refilled cartridges
by kusarininja / July 26, 2009 9:55 PM PDT

Hiya all

I have 3 canon printers, IP4000, ip4300 and an IP3300. I've used refilled cartridges for years (ones I have refilled myself as I actually work in the refilling/remanufacturing business). I would not use compatible cartridges as I have no way of knowing what ink is in those cartridges.

The IP4000 is around 5 years old and has not given me any trouble with refill inks at all. The IP4300 and IP3300 are around a year old and again no problems at all.

I put refill carts in the IP4300 from day 1 of buying it. The oems were put aside. I did some test prints to show customers to our shop what the quality is like. The printer was then boxed up again and put away as It was bought for a backup for when my 4000 is due to be serviced. 5 months down the line i need to do a large print run for a friend so I set up the 4000 and 4300 togther and printed out on both for speed. The 4300 printed fine first time even though it's been boxed for 5 months doing nothing with refilled cartridges in. Try and do that with an epson or any other printer for that matter.

Yes there are some really inferior inks out on the market. Plus a lot of the refill kits are in my opinion bogus because 1 ink does not fit all. I have seen refill kits that state that it will work with hp epson and canon. 1 ink will not work across the board due to various thickness, viscosity, heating temperatures of ink, speed of machine, dpi etc..

that's my tuppence worth anyway Happy

The inks we use for the canon cartridges are superb and I would never ever buy an OEM cartridge for my canon printers again.

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Third-party ink cartridges

You mentioned having trouble with after-market cartridges for Canon printers. About a year ago I bought a Canon MX700 Multi-function machine (very nice machine by the way). Anyway, with the exception of one black cartridge from the OEM, I've either used refills from a local refiller or original cartridges I've refilled myself. So far I've had absolutely no problem with these non-OEM options, except for the fact that, when I refill the cartridge myself, the machine continues to tell me that the refilled cartridge is empty. (I buy bulk ink online, from Computer Friends, someplace in Oregon). So, this is not proof, just anecdotal experience from one user. The only thing I'd say is that these printers are so cheap, about $100 these days, that it makes very good sense, to my mind, to take a chance on after-market ink. Doesn't take too many refill savings to pay for the cost of a new machine.

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I agree
by Joe M. Winters / July 10, 2009 2:15 PM PDT

Third party Ink suppliers would not remain in business if their product didn't work, and most of them will help you solve any problems. They are afterall interested in staying in business. I have a solution, and that is to after every third replacement use the manufacuters ink. They make sure that using a catruidge other than theirs will not be recognised. I have two Epson printers, and Two Canon Printers. While the Canon printers require only two refills, opposed to six on the Epson's the print reproduction on the Canon is acceptable.

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Refill business is lucky
by ehermanson / July 17, 2009 3:44 PM PDT
In reply to: I agree

Refilling ink cartridges is a very bad idea. The only way these businesses stay in business is that the OEMs over engineer the cartridges in the first place.

HP, Canon and most of the manufacturers use a thermo-technology process for getting ink out of the cartridge and onto the paper. This is done by super heating a tiny wire in each of the nozzles that are being fired. Since the wire is constantly being heated and cooled, the life of these wires is limited. Eventually, the wires break and pixels begin to disappear. The "normal" life of these wires is caculated to the amount of ink in the cartridge. Fortunately for the refilling business, the wires typically last longer than the ink, so the refilling businesses hopes that this will continue so that they can make money.

Epson uses piezo eletric technology to squirt ink out of the nozzles. They accomplish this by sending an electric impulse to a very small disk. This disk flexes and forces a droplet of ink out of the nozzle. As with the thermo technology, the disk will eventually wear out and stop functioning. Epson has this times to occur when the ink is all used up, but the disks are over engineered and this is what the refillers count on.

So why is it a bad idea to refill if the wires or disks are over engineered? The first reason is that the nozzles are very small and could clog after the normal end of life. The second, and more important reason, is that there is no guarentee that the parts will continue to be over engineered. Without warning, the parts could stop functioning at the end of life and making the quality of the print very bad or none existant.

If you would like to understand more about the technology of inkjet printing, has the complete explaination.

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