Aftermarket Inkjet Print Cartridges

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Jan 3, 2011
I often see people asking about cheaper alternatives to buying OEM ink supplies and just as often they get incorrect responses, So hopefully I can clear a few thing up here.


The makers of inkjet printers are following a business model that involves making very little profit (if any) on the sale of new inkjet printers. They in turn make this up by charging far more for their ink than its actually worth.
It makes no sense to blame the printer companies for trying to make a profit on their ink, they have to make a profit somewhere and that doesn't stop you from being a smart consumer and maximizing your savings.

Printer companies will try to scare you into buying only their ink. They will tell you that buying non-OEM ink might destroy your printer and this is certainly true if you buy crappy ink from disreputable companies.


The good news here is that printer manufacturers charge so much for their ink that their are plenty of companies that can supply very high quality inks at a great savings to (you) the consumer and still make a profit. Some non-OEM inks are even better than OEM but, you do have to do your research to find good suppliers and photography forums are a great place to start.


You can use aftermarket inks on all inkjet printers but the brand that stands out as being the best for aftermarket ink is Epson. The reason for this is that all Epson's have printheads that are part of the printer. Some other printer manufacturers like Cannon do as well but, these are usually only in their more expensive printers. I admittedly don't know enough about which do and don't to go to far into this, as my experience is predominantly (but, not exclusively) with Epson inkjet printers.

If you refill or use a CISS (continuous ink supply system) with an Epson inkjet printer you will be running the ink through Epson's printhead that are designed for longevity and made to stay with the printer for life whereas with most other printers you will be using the printheads in the carts that are meant to be discarded after the cart is empty.

For this same reason Epson's are known to generally have a higher quality printhead than printers of the same value with disposable printheads but this also makes them more prone to clogging since the printhead is never replaced and Epson's software head cleaning utility uses allot of ink. The good news is that ink is real cheap when you use aftermarket ink and if you print often with quality aftermarket ink, clogs are not much of a problem.

Again with most non-Epson printers the printheads are part of the ink cartridges so at best they should not be refilled more than a few times (if at all)

You can buy refillable ink cartridges and CISS (continuous ink supply systems) for non-Epson printers which should have printheads designed for long use but, IMO to expect refillable ink cartridges and continuous ink supply systems to also have quality printheads designed for long use at a reasonable price is just expecting more than what is reasonable.

The only non-OEM ink supplies I would recommend for most non-Epson printers are single use (not refillable) ink cartridges. That said, this can still offer considerable savings!

Since I only have personal experience using aftermarket ink supplies with Epson printers from this point on all of my comments are referring to Epson printers.


"Non-OEM ink will ruin or shorten the life of your printer" This is absolutely NOT true, quality ink will not harm your printer and in some cases it will even help it last longer.

"Ink cartridges that have chips cannot be reused because they will only be recognized as empty cartridges." Again not true. Sellers of aftermarket ink supplies also sell chip resetters and most refillable ink cartridges and continuous ink supply systems now come with built-in automatic chip resetters.


While it's very important to use good quality ink it's also important to stick with the type of ink that your inkjet printer was designed for.
most inkjet printers use Dye Ink however some of the more expensive inkjet's use longer lasting Pigment Ink.

You can buy Pigment Ink (supposedly) designed for use in dye ink printers but I don't think it's a good idea, your printer will function better with the type of ink it was designed for.

If you want to use the better more expensive pigment Ink it's best to buy a printer designed for that purpose.


1.) The easiest is to just buy re-manufactured or full aftermarket ink cartridges. This can result in a savings of 75% or more and at best you can get very close to the original print quality.

2.) The cheapest of all is to buy a refill kit for your original ink cartridges, a chip resetter and ink if not included. This is a little bit of a pain since you have to drill holes in the cartridges, add ink with a syringe and reset the chip. It can get pretty messy if you cant see into the cartridges and the cartridges may not reset indefinitely but, the upside is that you can buy some very high quality inks and your costs will be very low.

3.) A better easier way is to buy a complete set of see-through refillable ink cartridges w/auto reset chips and some ink. The initial set up and continued use is much easier than #2

4.) IMO the best and most trouble free is a CISS (continuous ink supply system) W/Auto Reset Chips. While this might require some very minor modification. It is the most maintenance free of all in the long run once it is set up. The ink carts are connected to larger ink tanks that sit outside of your printer and each color ink has an amount equivalent to 9-14 OEM ink cartridges, meaning you don't have to mess with it for a long, long time.


1.) Complete set of 6 OEM ink carriages $104.97 / equivalent set of quality non-OEM ink carriages $25-$30 = 75% savings

2.) Complete set of Refillable Ink Cartridges W/Auto Reset Chips and 600ml (6x100ml) ink $75 / Epson OEM equivalent $1,000 = $925 savings

3.) CISS (continuous ink supply system) W/Auto Reset Chips and 600ml (6x100ml) ink $60 / Epson OEM equivalent $1,000 = $940 savings

4.) 600ml (6x100ml) Epson Claria Hi-Definition equivalent ink refill for CISS and Refillable Ink Cartridge and $40 / Epson OEM equivalent $1,000 = $960 savings.

These are not prices for the cheapest aftermarket ink supplies, these are prices for quality ink supplies.

If you are still on the ropes about aftermarket ink supplies, ask yourself this; how much aftermarket ink would you have to buy before your savings could pay for a brand new printer?

Not very much! :benetton:
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