Anybody else, besides me, ever notice how much printer ink costs these days? Know why? Does the name Gillette, ring a bell?
When I was just a kid, early TV in America was dominated by the advertising of Gillette razors – it seemed as if every month, they had some new kind of razor that they were advertising – and the amazing thing was that these razors were in fact quite reasonably priced! In fact, they were almost free!
How could a company that heavily advertised almost give away its products? Simply because they were almost the sole producer of the blades that were necessary in order for those ‘almost free’ razors to function – and those blades were anything but free! The only real competitor to Gillette in those days was Schick, and they played the game with as much, if not more, gusto than did Gillette. It was well into the 60s before I ever saw a new competitor enter the market, when Personna introduced a good, generic blade in America – but that was about the same time that the electric razor was emerging, and it soon would almost make blade shaving a thing of the past.
This is why excellent printers today can be bought very cheaply – the printer manufacturer knows you’ll need ink to make that printer work, and they have done everything in their power to make it difficult for you to get that ink from anyone but them. They are playing the same game that made Gillette such a cash rich corporation.
I know about this primarily because I spent many years making sure my business spent as little as possible on things like ink for the many printers we were using. Our strategy was to pick out a really good printer and to buy a large number of them at one time – and we always got a very nice price because the printer manufacturers wanted you to buy THEIR printer, so that later, you’d buy THEIR ink. But, we didn’t do that – we taught our staff how to refill the ink cartridges on those printers, and we saved HUGE amounts of $$$.
Initially, this was a very easy thing to do – but as the printer companies realized what was happening, they took steps to make it increasingly difficult to refill those ink cartridges. Currently, ink cartridges usually come with ‘smart chips’ attached that make it impossible to use any ‘compatible’ cartridge made by another company, in place of a cartridge made by the original printer manufacturer. But what it does not do is to make it impossible for you to refill that same cartridge, again, and again, and again. I’ll tell you why – and then I’ll tell you how.
Many people think that refilling an ink cartridge is illegal, but actually, the opposite is true. The printer manufacturing industry has brought many law suits to the courts on the question of whether it is legal to refill an ink cartridge, or not – in the U.S., they have few victories to show for their efforts (I can’t speak for any other country.). The courts have, over and over, asserted the established precedent that a company that manufacturers a device that requires a consumable product to function properly, cannot force an owner of that device to purchase the consumable solely from them. This would be tantamount to General Motors requiring you, as a new buyer of one of their cars, to buy your gasoline from them as well. Additionally, The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act states that the warranty of a printer cannot be voided if the owner decides to use a non OEM ink in a refilled cartridge. Case closed.
OK, so now you know you are allowed to refill your ink cartridges, but how do you do it? Well, here is a neat little tutorial explaining the process , which is known as the German “Durchstich” refill method – now this process is for an inkjet printer, which I’m quite sure is currently the most common printer in use worldwide. My own personal printer is a Canon MP560 inkjet, which is a wonderful machine, and I love it. Frankly, I know nothing about any other kinds of printers, and if you have some other kind, you’ll need to do a bit of research to see if refilling is possible. But if you have an inkjet printer, the above process will work well. And if you’d like to see how a refill is done in real time, check out this video.
Now, lest you exit this post today with a sense that drfugawe is a thief and a crook, let me share with you just a few more facts about your printer that perhaps you did not know. Are you aware that when your printer tells you that your ***** ink cartridge is empty, and that it will no longer continue to print until you replace it, that there is actually 25-35% of your ink still in there? Yes indeedy. An ink cartridge has two sides, one is an ink reservoir (that side will be empty), and the other side is a sponge which holds the ink until it is drawn into your printer during the print process. If your printer were to suck every bit of available ink out of the cartridge, damage could be done to the printer’s delicate printhead – so long before all your ink has been used up, your printer protects itself by shutting down until you get a new cartridge. Cute huh?
There’s only one way that I know of where you can have an opportunity of using that surplus ink -that has cost you $15 / $20 / $25- and that is if you refill that same cartridge with new ink. Otherwise, you are only throwing away even more money in a process that is already cost prohibitive.
There’s one more little thing that you need to know about your printer – few people have actually experienced ‘a waste tank failure’, but if/when you do, I guarantee you’ll never forget it! Your printer is an amazing piece of technology, but one of its weaknesses is that each time you ask it to print, it wastes a blast of ink to get itself ready to print, and after it has printed, it has to clean off the printhead, which it does with a tiny squeegee, so that no leftover ink is left to dry and clog the works – result: far more ink is wasted in these necessary procedures than is actually used for printing itself. And where does all that ‘waste’ ink go? It collects at the bottom of your printer until there’s so much that your printer gives you a Waste Tank Full message. If you think I’m kidding, you must watch this video.
What this all means is that not only is the ink we are all using prohibitively expensive, but we’re actually not even getting to use the majority of it for the purpose for which we bought it. Don’t know about you, but to me this translates to a corporate giant who is not only playing cruel tricks on its customers, but it’s also stealing from them. I think refilling is a right I’m entitled to.
Here’s my bottom line: one- it is my legal right to refill the ink cartridges I have already purchased; two- I shall do that using the best method developed to date, which is the “Durchstich” method noted above; and I shall save hundreds of dollars each year in the process. If you are interested in doing the same, I would advise you spending some time learning as much as you have time for, before actually trying a refill. Take it slow and easy.
Have I told you everything? Not even close – so do your homework – Here are a few more resources that would be helpful.
Best website I’ve ever found for help with refilling: http://www.nifty-stuff.com/forum/
Good sources for high quality inks in bulk (do not use cheap Chinese inks – they may ruin your printer):
And of course, I’d be happy to help if you get stuck – just leave a comment, or email me. Now, have fun and save lots of money.
top photo courtesy of http://www.trustedreviews.com/printers/
bottom photo courtesy of http://www.nifty-stuff.com/