Original Ink Cartridges vs. Re-manufactured and Refilled – What’s the Difference?

With so many kinds of ink cartridges available, it can be easy to get confused as to which kind will best suit your office.

Here’s a look at the three main categories of ink cartridges: original, re-manufactured and refilled.

Original Cartridges

These are from the original manufacturer and designed to give superb, long-lasting print quality. However, they will not do this at the best price.

Ink Cartidges

In fact some studies have shown that, drop for drop, printer ink bought this way costs as much as vintage champagne! Often, printers themselves are sold relatively cheaply since the manufacturers know they make most of their money from cartridges.

Not only is it perfectly possible to buy a £30 printer needing ink cartridges costing up to £40 each, but a printer can signal that the ink has run out even when the cartridge is still 40% full.

However, if you don’t print out that much, and what you do print out needs to be good quality, you will also want to be sure the ink does not dry out and block the print heads. With original cartridges, a chemical stops this from happening, so for very low printer use, it could be worth sticking to originals.

Compatible cartridges

As the name suggests, these are not from the original printer manufacturer but can work just as well. They are made by a third-party manufacturer which has no ties with the original maker. The big advantage is always going to be price. Costs drop significantly, and you can often expect more printer ink for your buck. This is clearly especially helpful for large volumes of printing, and you may well find that, for your purposes, compatibles work perfectly well. Compatible printer cartridges can be great for printing images as well as text, and it’s often just about impossible to tell any difference with original versions.

One disadvantage is you may find compatible images fade slightly faster than their original counterparts in the same conditions, but this is not an issue if you are putting pictures in frames or albums.

However, it’s also worth ensuring you get a quality-assured service.

That means looking for a provider which has testimonials saying service was good, and the promise of a returns service if any issue at all is encountered. You will feel more assured as well if there is evidence of the procedure for testing that the cartridges go through.

Bear in mind that for some newer makes of printer, your only choice may be to use compatible ink cartridges.

Refilled cartridges

Some printer ink cartridges can be refilled without being re-manufactured. You can do this yourself using bottles of ink bought separately. This is an eco-friendly solution, but they need to be cleaned properly between uses or they could harm your printer.

Essentially, it’s just knowing the different kinds of cartridges that are out there, and choosing the ones that best suit your business’s needs. It may be worth trying out several options before placing a bulk order.


Carl Barton is a director of Office Allsorts who has worked in the office products industry for 15 years.

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