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Ink Cartridges: What are they? How do they work? Types? and everything you need to know

C ink cartridges: features and characteristics

The ink cartridges are essential for the printing process but there are few data that we have regarding their characteristics and operation. In this text we try to solve this lack. 

The ink cartridges are one of the essential elements to make a print job. However, there is little knowledge we have regarding these devices. A debt that we want to solve with the following text, in which we focus the different features and characteristics that determine the ink cartridges.


In the first place, it is necessary to refer to its definition. And is that when talking about ink cartridge we refer to consumables used to project and store the inks of the printers. Its operation, also, takes place from the following process:

In the printing equipment there are several heads, which are placed on a mechanical mechanism (carriage of printing) that works to move the paper, support on which the ink is projected according to the orders that have been given from the computer or device. emission of the impression.

 Two elements are required for the ink to adhere to the paper : pressure and capillarity. In the latter case, we are talking about the absorption of ink by paper, a condition in which the quality of paper plays a decisive role. On the other hand, the pressure depends on the speed at which the mechanism of the ink cartridges that maintains the heads works, in addition to the amount of ink that each of them injects.

This video explains very well how a printer works, the control of the drop and how an HP ink cartridge is manufactured .

Both procedures depend on the brand of the printer and the ink cartridges that are used because the quality of the print will increase if it has a fast mechanism, on one side, and if the capacity of the heads to inject ink is higher.

Thus, these last elements have nozzles grouped in three groups, which is why they can launch the different basic ink types from which the rest of the colors are generated. These types of ink are outlined from the three primary colors, cyan, magenta and yellow. However, almost all ink printershave a fourth ink cartridge that contains the color black. This is because the mixture of the three colors on the white does not give a pure black, which generates a dark brown color as you can see in the following image. So you know, if the printer starts printing a brown or greenish black it may be that the black cartridge is failing.

three superimposed circles of cyan magenta and yellow colors with the superpositions green blue red and black in the center

By assuming this procedure, inkjet printers consume significant amounts of this liquid, a procedure that only affects the consumer’s budget. Therefore, more and more users who choose to buy compatible ink cartridges , and leave aside the original ink.

Although the trend in our country is still a minority if we compare the behavior of Spanish consumers with the Americans, for example the percentages are reversed because it is an alternative that offers more competitive prices than the cartridges of OEM ink of the original brands.

How does an ink cartridge work?

They could be summarized in two types of printing or two types of different technologies for a cartridge to work: Bubble cartridges and piezoelectric cartridges

We link with a couple of videos from an Argentine channel that explains very well in Spanish the types of ink printers, and the history of how the first hot bubble ink cartridges were invented.

Bubble cartridges

Cartridges with piezoelectric mechanisms.

Print by ink jet is a complex process, in which the head plays a leading role. This element houses a mechanism consisting of approximately thirty nozzles, spaces through which ink and heat passes, thanks to which the vibrations necessary to eject the ink to the outside are also generated.

In this sense, you should know that there are several techniques to perform this process. In certain printers, an element of resistance is used that heats the ink of the nozzle , which boils until it evaporates, creating a bubble. This bubble is growing, so it works as a lever to drag the ink out. In spite of everything that has occupied us explaining it, the process lasts only one thousandth of a second.

On the other hand, other printer models use a small crystal (piezoelectric) , which they place in the outlet of the nozzle. In parallel, they add an electrical signal applied to said crystal, which creates an action very similar to a liquid pump, which pushes the ink droplets out of the nozzle.

The phase change is the third inkjet printing technique that we are going to comment on. Solid ink is used here , which is heated to liquefy it, and subsequently, it is put in contact with a glass that is located at the outlet of the nozzle. The ink is expelled to the outside through a signal that provides a piezoelectric element that contains the printer. In this case the ink solidifies when it reaches the paper, avoiding later problems.

Finally, we must add a process, which concerns color printers . This procedure is possible because the nozzles are grouped into three groups, which release ink of cyan, magenta and yellow tones. To expel the ink, a color object that reflects light is used, which is perceived by the viewer as a color. Thus, during this process some tones of the spectrum are absorbed by the object and others are reflected, giving rise to different colors.

Quality of recycled ink cartridges 

The quality of the reusable cartridges is questioned at present.

A fact that should not occur because it is a product subjected to intense controls, whose guarantee is established.

The increase, on the part of the users, of reused ink cartridges, has provoked numerous criticisms around them. They focus on the quality of these devices, which is questioned. In this post we want to analyze the quality of recycled ink cartridges, focusing on the case of A4TONER.

And the quality of these products is guaranteed, for several reasons. First of all because it deals with products that are designed, planned and elaborated through a meticulous process of study and analysis.

Thus, before being put on sale recyclable cartridges undergo a  process of continuous review in factories , through quality testing tests that are carried out through printers of all brands. Therefore, the possibilities of not being able to be used by specific printers are tiny.

This plus is significant, since it converts compatible cartridges into an option for users to achieve high quality prints at a price that in most cases is much lower than that of cartridges belonging to original brands. A perfect tandem in these times. And is that despite the macroeconomic indicators that presage the end of the crisis are many users who opt for these consumables, after verifying the savings it generates their respective budgets.

However, the quality of the recyclable ink cartridges does not stop there, because they are mechanisms that contribute to an  improvement of the environment . This is the result of the use that this type of consumables suppose, since their plastic components of biodegradable character are reused.

Thus, users should not be prejudiced when buying a reusable ink cartridge because, as we have observed in this particular journey, it is a product whose quality is proven through the mechanisms and procedures of analysis to the that is submitted.

This process fosters the quality of printed documents and works, on the one hand, and facilitates that more and more users are opting for these consumables, because as has been observed in the specific case of A4TONER the reusable cartridges are compatible with practically all the models of each existing brand in the market.

With this panorama, it is not surprising the number of users that every day are passed to the consumption of reusable cartridges. Is it your case?

Factors that influence the replacement of an ink cartridge

There are various data that we must know when replacing the ink cartridges of our printer. This post summarizes them and facilitates the task of changing these elements.

In a previous title we analyzed some of the features and characteristics of ink cartridges. On this occasion we want to emphasize the procedures for replacing these elements. Procedures that many users will get to know and, therefore, will appreciate, but in which different factors influence.

It is convenient to start by noting that each ink cartridge contains one or more independent ink tanks. Likewise, and depending on the manufacturer, they can also contain electronic contacts and a chip that communicates them with the printer, so the replacement of these consumables and the knowledge about their procedure is important for the users.

And is that the ink cartridges function as a device for containing ink or toner. Therefore, each brand has its own models of cartridges, although not all cartridges have the same shape or dimensions, reasons why they can not be standardized.

These features make it difficult to purchase original ink cartridges since most of them are not compatible with all printers but are aimed at your own model and brand of software equipment. Thus, each printer uses its own cartridges, which can be identified through a manufacturing code.

Does this mean that there are no hegemonic tendencies in the ink cartridge sector? No, quite the opposite. In fact, there are two methods of printing that prevail in the current market. On one side thermal printing and another, the piezoelectric printing system. Although they work through different procedures, both have the same objective: to transfer the ink to the time to materialize the desired text or image.

With regard to its placement, we can currently find home inks of six independent cartridges, although in their origins these only contained black ink. The most common sets, however, are black, magenta, yellow and cyan (although photographic printers also include light magenta and light cyan).

Among the features that differentiate the cartridges we can find that some of them include headers that heat the ink through small voltage differences, which generate micro drops that stain the paper according to the requested print. Likewise, methods of reusing each cartridge have also been developed so that it constitutes a practice that decreases the generation of garbage that the original cartridges suppose. An ecological practice that gains followers day by day.

Savings on recycled ink cartridges

More and more people are buying recyclable or reusable ink cartridges.

This trend is due to the savings that can be achieved by these practices, which is estimated up to 90 percent over the price of the original cartridges. The consumption of recycled ink cartridges by Spanish consumers only increases. In spite of being a young sector with little incidence in our country, the numbers confirm this trend of the users of printers and toners when deciding on recyclable and reusable mechanisms.

A situation that fills with optimism the companies that are part of this sector. And although the number of purchases of recyclable cartridges by the Spanish does not yet reach the trend of other countries, as is the case in the United States, where purchases of original and reused cartridges are on par, our country already registers a  average of 20 percent of recycled acquisitions  versus original ink cartridges.

The secret of this change of trend? The multiple advantages of recycled ink cartridges, especially in terms of money terms. And it is that some years ago that the printers manufacturers stopped having a monopoly in regards to the manufacture, distribution and sale of ink cartridges, a reason that has made compatible cartridges a  safe and affordable purchase option .

In fact, in the case of the A4TONER cartridges we are talking about a saving in the cost of the cartridges of up to 90 percent, if we compare the price of these mechanisms with that of the original cartridges.

This difference in price is due to the methods and places of production, since most of the compatible cartridges that are currently used have a  manufacturing located in large industrial plants in Asian countries , reducing their costs significantly and having an impact on the final price of them.

In the same way, remanufactured cartridges are also manufactured, which are those products whose origin comes from the recycling of an original cartridge, and which are also registering a notable increase with respect to the purchases recorded and executed by consumers.

However, saving is not the only component that has turned the balance towards the side of recycled and reusable cartridges. Another fundamental reason is the  promotion of care for the environment that generates this type of practice , since we are talking about the ability to reuse the biodegradable components of each of these cartridges. A possibility highly valued by users, very aware of the environment in which they live.

Ink cartridges are consumables used to project and store printer inks.

The operation of the ink cartridges occurs as follows: there is a series of heads on a mechanical mechanism that moves on the paper, from one side to another printing, according to the orders given to it from the computer.

The name derives from the fact that it corresponds to a hard container that is inserted inside the machine and that contains ink either on the basis of water or a special solvent.

The ink of the ink cartridges is adhered to the paper through two mechanisms: capillarity and pressure. The capillarity of the ink cartridges consists in the absorption of ink by the paper. The quality of the paper plays a fundamental factor (in laser printers the quality of the paper is not as important as in the printers that use ink cartridges). The pressure of the ink cartridges depends on the speed at which the mechanism of the ink cartridges works that keeps the heads and the amount of ink that each of them injects in the paper. The pressure is directly related to the manufacturer of the printer and the ink cartridges. The print quality of the ink cartridges will be higher if the printer has a faster mechanism,

The heads of the color ink cartridges have the nozzles grouped into three groups to eject the ink. In color printing ink cartridges of the three primary tones are used: Cyan, Magenta and Yellow, which combine to form the other colors of the spectrum. The black color and all the gray shades are achieved by combining the ink cartridges of the three colors in the same proportions. But almost all ink cartridge printers incorporate a fourth printer cartridge with the color black.

Currently in Spain the consumption of original printer ink cartridges is greater than the consumption of compatible ink cartridges. In the more developed countries, however, the situation is the opposite: the percentage of sales of compatible ink cartridges is higher than the original ink cartridges. However, consumers of ink cartridges are betting more and more for compatible ink cartridges, because it offers much cheaper prices than the original ink cartridges.

In a4toner we have any type of  ink cartridge you need, you can buy compatible ink cartridges and original ink cartridges. We have a database, which we constantly update with all models of printers on the market and various kinds of ink cartridges that require (black, cyan, magenta, yellow, light magenta and light cyan ink cartridges) .

Each ink cartridge contains one or more independent ink tanks. Some manufacturers also add electronic contacts and a chip that communicates with the printer. The replacement of consumables is an important use of the cartridges. These are used in printers to contain ink or toner. There are several brands of printers with different models of cartridges: Hewlett-Packard, Epson, Lexmark, Canon Inc., Brother Industries, Okidata, among others. The cartridges are usually characteristic of the brand and almost always also of the model, there is no standardization.

Not all cartridges have the same shape and so are not compatible with all printers. Each printer uses a series of cartridges that are its own and that can be identified by its manufacturing code. There are two printing methods that prevail in the market: the thermal printing system and the piezoelectric system. The objective of both, by different ways, is the same: to bring the ink to the leaf so that we can see the image.

Originally the cartridges only contained black ink but they were enlarged over time to also have colored ink. Currently you can find printers for home use up to 6 independent cartridges. The most common sets currently are:

Black (Black) Magenta (Pink Magenta) Yellow (Yellow) Cyan (Blue) and also in the case of photographic printers: Light Magenta Light Cyan

Some cartridges also include the head that corresponds to the device that by means of small voltage differences heats the ink enough to generate the micro drops that color the paper according to the requested print

In the last time and due to the appearance of a large number of alternative brands of ink cartridges, printing companies have decided to introduce in their cartridges detection chips that count the amount of printed sheets and uniquely identify the cartridge. With this they have managed to detect and reject the original cartridges and also avoid or hinder the refilling of the cartridges. To avoid this type of devices, self-resetting cartridges and continuous printing systems have been created.

There are several methods to reuse each cartridge. This practice decreases the generation of garbage represented by the original spent cartridges. Currently there are cartridges companies, called depot, that receive and reuse spent cartridges and fill them. It is considered a good ecological practice.

Where can you buy cheap ink cartridges?

One of the main costs involved in maintaining a printer is precisely the ink used to print documents. The investment that generates buy cartridges for printer is usually not negligible and unless we overdo much money, it is usually important to know how much the consumables of our printer will cost before acquiring it. Unfortunately it is too usual not to know how much the inks are worth until the initial inks that normally accompany the printer are worn and that they are usually partially loaded, so that we have to start consuming new cartridges as soon as possible.

Thus, with our eyes on our printer, it is time to analyze the different alternatives we have to buy ink cartridges without that act ruining our economy whether domestic or business.

We have several options to have our printer live and kicking in full color. Let’s talk about the three most widespread purchase options: the original brands, the online purchase and the recycled cartridges.

Original cartridge brands

If we are among those who buy original cartridges for our printer for the sense of security offered by official or original ink cartridge brands , is a very legitimate option, perhaps the thing is that these inks have the counterpart of being significantly more expensive than compatible or remanufactured. Acquiring original cartridges sometimes may not even be an option but an obligation, since we can find references that are not for sale in the market, either because they are very new cartridges and have not yet reached the compatible market or because it is a low rotation product difficult to find. In these two cases, and in the third that is «I want original», that is to say we are faithful even with our printers, what we have to do is look at the price, ask in our store and in what is not our store always to be able to compare. It is easy that we can find a good place to acquire print material at a good price even if it is an original product. Many times, there are offers on websites and specialized stores with discounts not insignificant discounts that facilitate access to ink cartridges at a lower price than at first had.

Compatible inks

Although the option of buying original cartridges can give you some security, it is not usually the most inclined users, who increasingly seek more competitive offers offered by a medium as particular as the Internet. Thus, in the network there are numerous online stores that allow the purchase of ink cartridges compatible with the various printer models that make up the market.

In these cases the prices are much lower than the option we contemplated at the beginning. In the same way, these stores that sell over the Internet also encourage commitmentof the clients offering them the possibility that the shipping costs will be completely free from a minimum purchase. It is very important to see the minimum purchase to be free shipping, or on the contrary to see how much you cost before you finish the order. We could find that the cartridges are very cheap but then we have to pay some freight that can be more expensive than the product itself. When we buy online we divide the postage for everything bought to see the real price that we are paying for the products. Many times they bring us home or work can make life much easier and we are good at paying what they tell us, since it is a service that they give us and we value very positively.

As a last option are the cartridges recycled or reused, which can be purchased both in physical establishments as online stores or ecommerce . This option has the particularity that the prices are doubly reduced, firstly for its recycled component and second, for its condition of online sales.

For those who are inclined to use recycled ink cartridges, finally, it is important to take into account ignore the myths that have been spread by the use of this type of cartridges, because they are products that offer The same guarantees and possibilities as the original ink cartridges. It is important to note that the company we buy has customer service and that it has a technical department in case something does not work well, what can happen with some cartridges as well as with the others.

Buy cheap OEM ink cartridges

En general si lo que buscáis son los mejores precios con la mejor calidad, lo mejor que podéis hacer es conocer y hacer confianza a una empresa que distribuya cartuchos compatibles y remanufacturados, que sepas que te da buena calidad y buen servicio postvenda. Que lo compres en una tienda o online, todo depende, si tienes la tienda cerca de casa es cómodo ir a buscar directamente a la tienda, pero primero mira el precio online y en las tiendas cercanas no estés pagando el gusto y las ganas por no tenerlo al día siguiente, que usualmente es lo que tardan las empresas online a enviar tus compatibles, 24-48 horas. En cualquier caso aunque el precio es un factor decisivo, evidentemente, es importante evaluar si la calidad que nos aporta es la deseada, puesto que solo valorar precio sin tener en cuenta la atención personal a las dudas o problemas y a la calidad en si del producto, nos puede dar disgustos posteriores, que nos harán perder la ilusión del buen precio.

The market also has its price fluctuations according to the time of year. In holiday periods, there tend to be better prices and more offers and promotions . If we use these times to make the purchase of both original and compatible consumables, we will surely get better prices.

We finished the article putting a little humor on the ink cartridges.


When working with printers there are several types of consumables that we can use. This time we are going to focus on the use of cartridges . For those who use these we have made a guide to help you. We will identify the different models of printer cartridges that we have in the market. We explain the differences between them.

Differences and characteristics of the printer ink

We must choose the printer cartridge for its price, efficiency and profitability.

Nowadays it is rare to not find a home and especially an office where there is not at least one printer. Both for domestic use and for professional use, they have become an essential element in order to have our most important documents printed. Once we have decided on brand and model of printer, there are some features that we need to know about the different types of cartridges that we can buy.

Depending on the type of printer we will have to use one or more cartridges. Among all we can find, the cheapest is the option of four cartridges because we only have to replace one by one as they run out.

¿ Cartridges compatible ink , recycled cartridges or original mark?

In this sense, it is striking that recycled cartridges are so criticized today, especially in everything related to the quality of these products. However, it is important to add that the print cartridge is a product subject to various controls, so the guarantee of printing your work is verified, as can be said of the final quality of this type of products.

Una creencia errónea que, lamentablemente, se ha extendido más de lo que debiera entre la sociedad. Es por ello que se han de focalizar los esfuerzos para romper con este falso mito, por lo que a continuación exponemos algunas pinceladas en torno a la comprobada calidad de los consumibles reciclables. Esta afirmación se argumenta en varios principios. El primero de ellos es por el diseño, planificación y elaboración a través de los cuales se fabrican estos productos, los cuales son el resultado de un proceso de estudio y análisis amplio.

How? Through a quality check test, which takes place before the recyclable ink cartridges are put on sale and where they are tested through their implementation of printers of different brands. Hence, the chances of not being able to be used in certain printers or that these pose flaws in their use are minimal. An example is the HP compatible ink cartridges , which are mostly recycled, these coartuchos (example:  compatible cartridge hp 302 ) and are tested before and after the process, it is the same product with the same quality.

A feature that makes recyclable ink cartridges an option for customers to be able to print in high quality without sacrificing the savings of buying a recycled ink cartridge, as the price of these components is much lower than the price. that establish, to this day, the original brand cartridges.

However, the reasons for acquiring ink cartridges do not end there, because they are mechanisms that contribute to the improvement of the environment. This is because it is a product resulting from the use, since its plastic components are biodegradable and such materials are used again without difficulties. Hence, thanks to these advantages, customers have less and less prejudice when buying a reusable ink cartridge because, as has been observed, they are products whose quality is verified through different procedures, so that both The quality of the work as the security guarantee of these cartridges for the users, are key for customers to opt for buying them, in the case of cartridges of the original brands .

Original printer cartridges:

The printer manufacturers also produce original ink cartridges , which offers us great quality and undoubted effectiveness. The problem is its high cost, which limits us when buying them. These consumables usually have a chip that allows us to detect that the ink is running out and thus be able to provide us with new ones.

The price of these printer cartridges is usually worrying and it is not surprising, since a liter of ink costs approximately 1,800 euros, one of the most expensive liquids in the world. The manufacturers of this type of consumables justify the high price to the need for investment in innovating and creating new technologies that improve their products. We are all surprised that an original ink cartridge costs almost as much as buying a new printer.

Compatible printer cartridges:

They are cartridges manufactured by different brands than our printer but as its name suggests has a compatibility that allows its use. The great advantage of this type of consumable is that we can print at a much cheaper price .

On our website you can find a wide variety of compatible printer cartridges .

Once the compatibility has been checked and the cartridge has been installed and detected, we can start printing. This type of cartridges is usually chosen for its low cost since the savings can be up to 80% with respect to the original cartridge. It is a very good option since it is a kind of effective cartridge with which we will hardly notice a decrease in the quality of printing but that however if we notice in your pocket.

As we told you earlier in our blog , one of the problems that we can find when using compatible cartridges is that our printer does not detect them , so we recommend you not update it. Manufacturers often launch updates to detect if our printer is not using original brand cartridges. If you see one, it is better to reject it.

Both these and the original cartridges generate waste that can be recycled to reuse their materials and cause a lesser impact on the environment.

Rechargeable printer cartridges :

Rechargeable printer cartridges are those that are specially manufactured for refilling , so do not confuse them with recycled cartridges. These cartridges come empty and have a hole to be refilled with compatible ink and reused more times.

The ink to recharge this type of consumable comes in formats of different sizes and can be either original or compatible ink, which is obviously also cheaper. There are refillable cartridges for different types of ink: pigmented, dye ink or sublimation ink.

A great advantage of this type of consumable is that it reduces the ecological impact. By not using and throwing like the previous ones, its use generates less waste. We can fill these printer cartridges ourselves, that we must be very careful or we will end up staining everything.

Remanufactured or remanufactured printer cartridges:

They are original ink cartridges that once the ink is exhausted it is refilled. For recycling by a process in which the worn or damaged parts are cleaned and replaced. Its price is lower and we can save more than 60% . There is usually reluctance to consume this type of printer cartridge because it does not convince its reliability. This mistrust is not necessary because today its use is more than proven. Despite what you may think of using this type of cartridge, it does not have to damage our printer or void the warranty.

With this type of consumable we also avoid leaving less waste as we reuse and prolong its useful life. It is one of the best options, both economic and ecological.

Printer cartridges: several options, similar results

We already know the characteristics of each printer cartridge. Now having the account the price that we are willing to spend, it only remains to decide. The ecological footprint is also a factor to take into account so if we care about the environment. There are several options that are less polluting that are the most appropriate.

Now that you know the different types of printer cartridges that you can use, you only have to decide on the most suitable variety. We remind you that you can find them in our online store.

All the Facts About Ink Cartridges

What Is An Ink Cartridge?

An ink cartridge is a disposable container which has the ink that is used by an inkjet printer. You can have just one ink cartridge in an inkjet printer. This can be of the color black or hold the four primary colors – CMYK – cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.

Inkjet printing can be referred to as a type of computer printing which propels droplets of ink onto paper or plastic to recreate a digital image. Inkjet printers are the most common types of printers and they are of all types from cheap and affordable models to expensive and branded machines.

Inkjet printing is a concept that has been around since the mid-20th century. But it was only since the 1970s that inkjet printers could be used to recreate digital images for printers made by top companies such as Canon, Epson and Hewlett-Packard.

While there are many companies that make inkjet printers, there are four brands that lead the market. They are: Canon, HP, Epson, and Brother.

Inkjet technologies make use of print heads that feature piezoelectric crystals or thermal DOD to deposit the materials on the paper, plastic or other substrates.

Most inkjet printers are based on two technologies – Continuous Inkjet (CJI) and Drop-on-demand (DOD).

Types of Ink Cartridges

There are different types of ink cartridges that you can choose from. The type of ink cartridge you need will depend on the model and make of the printer. You will have to do your research on the various options that are available and how much the replacement cartridges cost before buying the printer.

It is possible that you might end up paying more than you really wanted to, which is why you should most certainly spend time on your research. Here are the different types of ink cartridges.

OEM Ink Cartridges

OEM ink cartridges are those made by the original manufacturer of the printer. These cartridges are of a very good quality and they are also on the expensive side. You can be 100% sure that they will be perfect and fit the printer. The yield will be as high as it gets and the failure rate is very low. You should go for them if what you want is precision and durability. Do bear in mind that these cartridges are not cheap.

Compatible Ink Cartridges

Compatible ink cartridges are those that are made by another company, or a third party vendor or manufacturer, which is different from the company that made the printer. These cartridges are generally cheap in comparison to OEM ink cartridges. You can find some that are an exact replica of the OEM cartridges, but don’t expect them to be perfect. These cartridges will not give you the same sort of quality as OEM cartridges, and not the same type of print accuracy, durability and crisp quality. But they are certainly serviceable and fit the design of the printer reasonably well.

Other Ink Cartridge Types – Refurbished and Refilled Ink Cartridges

You can also choose from other types of ink cartridges such as refurbished or remanufactured ink cartridges. These cartridges are basically older products that were refilled and used again after reconditioning.

Basically, the vendor takes empty and discarded ink cartridges, cleans them up and adds ink. The quality of these refurbished cartridges will vary depending on the company that supplies them.

Refilled cartridges are different from refurbished cartridges are they are only refilled, and not reconditioned. Refilled cartridges can be quite messy and they do not have the expected quality. So between refurbished and refilled cartridges, opt for the refurbished ones.

Drop on Demand Printing

There are two types of drop on demand (DOD) printing you should know about – Thermal DOD and Piezoelectric DOD.

Thermal DOD

Most of the inkjet printers you see in the market for home use, such as those by Canon, Hewlett-Packard and Lexmark, make use of the thermal DOD process. This means they make use of thermal energy to move around minute drops of ink on the page.

Thermal DOD printers were developed by a product manager called as John Vaught and his team at the Corvallis Division of Hewlett-Packard. A similar project was carried out by an engineer from Canon, Ichiro Endo. Endo was working on the piezoelectric effect for moving the ink out of the nozzle. He observed that the ink would shoot out of a syringe whenever it was heated with a soldering iron.

Vaught made use of Endo’s discovery to develop a new type of printer that was fast and cheap. He found that the thin-film resistors used in the printer generated enough heat for firing ink droplets. The HP and Canon project were initially independent of each other, but later the two companies found that they had a lot in common and decided to share ideas

Basically, in the thermal DOD process the ink cartridges used by the printer consist of many tiny chambers. Each of the chambers contains heater, built according to photolithography. So when a droplet is ejected from any one of the chambers, a pulse of electric current passes through the heating element. This results in a fast vaporization of the ink in the chamber and the formation of a bubble, leading to an increase in the pressure.

When this happens the droplet of ink is propelled onto the paper. The surface tension of the ink and the condensation and contraction of the vapor results in the rushing of the ink into the chamber through a tiny channel that goes through the ink reservoir.

The inks used in these types of cartridges make use of colorants such as dyes and pigments and are water based. The inks consist of a volatile component which is responsible for the formation of the vapor bubble; this enables the ejection of the ink droplets. There is no special material used in them and the print head is not too expensive.

Piezoelectric DOD

Most of the industrial and commercial inkjet printers such as those made by Epson and Brother make use of piezoelectric material in the chambers behind the nozzle of each inkjet cartridge rather than make use of a heating element. So when you apply voltage to this, the piezoelectric material shifts shape and creates a pressure pulse in the fluid. This leads to a droplet of ink rushing out of the nozzle.

The Piezoelectric inkjet consists of a wide variety of inks, far more than what you will get with a thermal inkjet. The reason for this is that this type of printing technology does not consist of any volatile components and there is no problem with the buildup of ink residue. The only issue is that the print heads cost much more because of the lead zirconium titanate and other piezoelectric materials that are used.

Ink formulations

The main issue with inkjet inks is that you have to decide between coloring agents that stay on the surface compared to the fast disbursement of the carrier fluid.

You may be familiar with the inkjet printers that you use at home or office, which are based on an aqueous ink, which consists of a mixture of dyes, glycol, water and pigments. These inks are cheap to make but not easy to control when on the surface of the paper, plastic or other media. They require a medium that is specially coated for this.

The HP inks, which you may have used in the past, consist of a sulfonated polyazo black dye and other compounds such as nitrates. The aqueous inks that are a feature of many printers make use of thermal inkjet heads and they require water to work.

In this context you should know that aqueous inks offer the highest range of colors and the brightest colors. But they are not waterproof unless you add lamination to them after the print job. Dye -based inks on the other hand, are cheap and can fade fast when you expose them to light or ozone.

Here’s a look at the different types of ink formulations.

Solvent inks

The most common ingredient used in solvent inks are what are called as VOCs or volatile organic compounds. These are organic chemical compounds with a very high vapor pressure. You can obtain different colors using pigments instead of dyes with these inks. This is why they are resistant to fading.

The biggest advantage of using this type of solvent inks is that they are cheap and allow you to print easily on uncoated and flexible vinyl substrates. That is why they are used in the printing of billboard ads, banner ads, car and truck graphics and adhesive decals.

The drawbacks are that there is a vapor generated by this solvent and you will need to get rid of the used solvent. It is a hazardous material and cannot be allowed to remain as it is. The prints obtained from solvent inks are UV-resistant and waterproof, so you can use them for any outside use without any waterproof coatings.

UV-curable inks

UV-curable inks are made from acrylic monomers and come with an initiator. When the print job is completed, these inks are cured by exposing them to strong UV-radiation.

This exposure leads to a chemical reaction in which the photo-initiators force the ink components and cause them to cross-link to form a solid. Usually, a UV LED or a mercury-vapor lamp is used in the curing process. A strong power is applied for a brief period of time so that the curing inks can settle on the thermally sensitive substrates.

The UV inks once applied cure and set on the substrate, they do not evaporate because of the chemical reaction. This is all of the delivered volume is used in the coloration process and none of the materials are removed or lost due to evaporation. The chemical reaction is pretty fast and the graphic or anything that is printed as a result of this is dried almost instantly. You won’t have any solvents penetrated through the substrates and the prints that you get are of a very good quality.

Dye Sublimation Inks

Dye sublimation inks are special types of inks that contain sublimation dyes. They are used to print on to materials such as fabrics either directly or indirectly. They have a high percentage of polyester fibers. When you put these inks through a heating process, they sublimate into the fibers. What you get is an image with powerful and vivid colors which is also long lasting.

Head design

There are essentially two types of inkjet head designs – fixed head and disposable head. Each of these designs have their pros and cons.

Fixed Head Ink-Jet cartridges

When it comes to fixed head designs, you have an inbuilt print head which is also called as a gaiter head. This is built in a way to last the printer permanently. The philosophy behind this design is that you don’t need to replace the head every time the ink is exhausted. So the costs of printing can be made lower and the head itself can be made more efficient than a low cost disposable one. Also, this requires no calibration of any sort.

However, the problem with fixed head design is that if the fixed head gets damaged, getting a proper replacement head is not easy. It is expensive to begin with, and the removal and replacement of the head is not so easy either. Often in this case, the printer itself has to be replaced.

Fixed head designs are preferred in high end printers used for business or industrial use. They are not used in those that are used for home or office use.

Disposable Head Ink-Jet cartridges

Disposable head design-based inkjet cartridges are used in printers meant for home use or office use. These print heads are supplied along with the replaceable ink cartridges. So every time the printer cartridge runs out, the cartridge and the print head are both replaced by a new one.

The problem with disposable head design is it leads to a higher consumable expenditure and it is not so easy to manufacture a high precision head for a good price. The print heads made with this design are sometimes clogged and damaged after a lot of use, but that should not be too much of a concern as you can get them replaced easily without spending too much on it.

Hewlett-Packard is a leading maker of printers and printer cartridges; that has always preferred disposable print heads. Canon was in favor of this design as well, but not so much these days. Many printer manufacturers are choosing this design model as a way to compete against third party makers of ink cartridges. The reason is many of these third party vendors do not have the capacity to make specialized disposable print heads.

Hewlett-Packard inkjet printers make use of a disposable ink tank attached to a disposable head. This is replaced once in every ten ink tanks and is preferred in low-volume applications such as at homes and offices.

Cartridge Manufacturers

Here’s a list of the leading cartridge manufacturers in the printing industry…

  • Brother
  • Canon
  • Dell
  • Epson
  • HP (Hewlett Packard)
  • Kodak
  • Konica Minolta/QMS
  • Lexmark
  • Panasonic
  • Pantum
  • Pitney Bowes
  • Primera
  • Ricoh
  • Samsung
  • Sharp
  • Xerox

Let’s review a few of them briefly.

Epson Ink Cartridges

Epson makes some of the best printers on the market and they have an excellent collection of inkjet printer cartridges. Their cartridges such as T1285, T0807, T0715, and T0711 are of a very good quality and ideal for the popular Epson Stylus series.

HP Ink Cartridges

Hewlett-Packard is one of the biggest companies in the world, one that has been behind many of the cutting edge technologies in computing. They also make excellent inkjet cartridges. You can choose from a range of high quality HP inkjet cartridges available at an affordable price.

Dell Ink Cartridges

Dell is one of the leading makers of computers and computer accessories in the world. Dell printers are not the best, but for a cost conscious consumer they are good enough. You can choose from a range of Dell inkjet cartridges to do with the inkjet printers made under the Dell brand.

Canon Ink Cartridges

Canon makes the very popular line of Inkjet printers called as PIXMA. They also make top-rated ink cartridges under the Canon brand, such as the CLI-521 CYM, PG-510, and PGI-5.

Brother Ink Cartridges

Brother is a maker of affordable Compact Color Inkjet Multifunction Printers which are specifically meant for homeowners. They make high quality ink cartridges to go with that.

Lexmark Ink Cartridges

Lexmark is another company that makes top-rated inkjet printers such as the Color Jet, Optra and Medley inkjet printers. You can also choose from efficient ink cartridges to go with these models.

Panasonic Ink Cartridges

Panasonic is one of the highest rated brands in the printing industry. They make highly advanced inkjet printers and as you might expect, even their ink cartridges are of a very good, almost faultless quality.


Manufacturers of ink cartridges and toner

Within the manufacturers of toner and ink cartridges we can separate into two large groups. Manufacturers of original ink “OEM” and manufacturers of compatible ink cartridges

Original equipment manufacturer







Compatible ink & toner cartridges

Ninestar: con su marca G&G,  is a conglomerate of companies that ranges from small factories to brands of own printers as it is Pantum, until old companies OEM like can be Lexmark.

Print Rite :It markets several product ranges, compatible cartridges and toners and recycled printing consumables.

Speed Infotech: the best cartridge recycling manufacturer hp, canon, and lexmark