Balancing Quality and Price When Buying Printer Ink or Toner

by Dan

When it comes to purchasing printer ink or toner, there’s one good piece of advice that you can keep as a rule of thumb: if you have the money and are keen on producing good-quality printouts, then by all means, purchase only original printer cartridges made by your printer’s manufacturer. However, if you are like a majority of consumers out there, you’d probably leave no stone unturned just to be able to find a way to lessen your printing expenses.


If you want to save money but you have your mind set on getting only original equipment manufacturer (OEM) cartridges, your only recourse would be to buy in bulk. Brick and mortar retail stores often put significant markups on the goods they sell, but online retailers often give substantial discounts if you buy in bulk, so consider the internet as your friend.

However, this solution might only work if you use a lot of ink, whether for your business, for your work, or for a hobby. Ink and toner do have a shelf life, so it’s wise not to over-purchase. If you don’t think buying too much ink in one go is a good idea, then consider opting for non-branded alternatives instead.

A Short Background on Alternative Ink and Toner Products

For the longest time, major printer manufacturers have profited from the sale of their expensive ink products. The business model is simple yet effective. Original equipment manufacturers would sell their printers for very low prices and then make bank by selling their costly ink products.

A short background on alternative ink and toner products

It’s a very lucrative technique that has provided manufacturers billions of dollars in revenue. However, this system also served as a catalyst for the birth of what is today a thriving industry for alternative ink and toner products. Nowadays, consumers have the option of buying products like remanufactured printer cartridges and compatible printer cartridges, which cost significantly less than their OEM counterparts.

Quite predictably, printer manufacturers have often discouraged consumers from purchasing such products, stating that they spend millions of dollars in research every year to ensure that their hardware and their consumables will always perform at an optimum level. They warn that by using third-party products, consumers are only courting disaster because these non-braded consumables can damage the printers. But is there really any reason for buyers to be concerned about alternative ink and toner products nowadays?

The Question of Quality And Performance

In the past, the only available alternative ink products came in the form of low-quality recycled cartridges that had received refills either from DIY refill kits or from one of those shoddy ink refill shops that provide quick refill services. Because the empty cartridge shells were never properly cleaned and the quality of the third-party inks used also left much to be desired, these products became notorious for their poor performance.

Nowadays, however, we can thank innovative companies for developing state-of-the-art cartridge recycling procedures that made the production of high-quality remanufactured printer cartridges possible.

The modern remanufacturing procedure is a thorough, technical process that involves testing, cleaning, drying, refilling, and resealing the used cartridges to ensure that they will perform at a level on a par with OEM products. Remanufactured printer cartridges from reputable companies are so excellent that even government agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends the use of high-quality remanufactured cartridges in its Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines for Non-Paper Office Products.

Aside from remanufactured printer cartridges, choosing compatible printer cartridges can also help you produce good quality printouts while getting the best value for your money. These cartridges are not recycled; instead, they are engineered and manufactured from scratch. They are essentially identical to OEM products, performing just as good or even better. However, they cost significantly less, making them a great option for people who need to print but are currently on a tight budget.

Before making a final decision on which retailer to buy alternative printer cartridges from, make sure to do a background check on the company. Read about what their past customers had to say about their products and services, and make sure to browse their product listings thoroughly to ensure that your printer is among the models that their inventory supports.

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