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Do original equipment ink cartridges, meaning those shipped with new printer, contain the same amount of ink as replacement ink cartridges? Or why does a $30.00 printer need $40.00 worth of ink?

There are a couple of questions here: how much ink did your printer come with, and are cheap replacement inkjet cartridges a viable alternative to those sold by the original equipment manufacturer?

The answers are "probably not much", and "maybe".

Let me explain why, and what you need to look for...

To answer the first question: it really depends on the manufacturer. When I purchased my HP printer, they definitely shipped it with smaller ink cartridges than the commonly available replacement cartridges. I did have the option of getting the same, smaller cartridges as replacements myself, but why would I want to do that?

As you've alluded to, inkjet cartridges are expensive. Especially when compared to the cost of the printer. Why? I believe it's a case of the old adage "give away razors, sell razor blades". The printer manufacturer's can sell printers at or below their cost, knowing that they'll make it up in eventual ink sales.

I keep wanting to using refurbished or refilled cartridges. I've tried a couple of sources over the years, and each time I come away disappointed. In every case I've tried, the print quality has suffered.

It could just be me, and the services I've tried. I know of others who've had great success with aftermarket, third party refilled cartridges, or even the do-it-yourself refill kits.

But for now, I avoid the trouble by purchasing cartridges from the manufacturer of my printer.

Article C2419 - September 5, 2005 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

September 13, 2005 5:59 AM

You might be right, Leo; I had always been leary of "Compatible" replacement ink cartridges. But my girlfriend had been using them for quite some time in her Epson printer without any apparent problems. So after doing a little research I decided to purchase a Canon Pixma IP1500 for $50, because the compatible replacement cartridges could be purchased for $1.50 a piece for the color/b&w, respectively, when purchsed in groups of 10. That translates to $30.00 for TEN PAIRS of color/b&w, or THREE BUCKS to replace the entire set, compared to around $22.00 for the Canon OEMs. I figured the worst I could be set back if the whole thing went south was $80.00. So far, I've replaced the color and b&w cartridges once each, without any degradation whatsoever in print quality. If anything changes, I'll repost. But so far, so good.

September 19, 2005 4:24 PM

My wife happens to work for a company that produces recycled cartridges and sells them at about 20-50% of the original manufacturers retail prices. I won't mention the company's names so you know this isnt just a self promotion, but the cartriges are great! print quality is wonderful and they seem to last much longer. We buy our own cartridges there and while we have gotten 2 or 3 bad cartridges over the years the company has always been happy to replace them.

But the market is big and not all of the companies care about quality in fact some can be very shady about how they handle business and customers I suppose this is why so many people have bad experiences.

September 20, 2005 7:33 PM

Just remember the following:

Companies like HP and others put billions of dollars and effort in their printing technologies including the inks and how they drop.
This voids your warranty, and can damage the internals of the printer, so if you buy a 300 dollar photo printer, yea it is a little more expensive but just think of how you would feel if you had to replace the printer because a bad non oem ink cartridge didnt work as intended. Maybe it only makes sense to me

September 24, 2005 9:08 AM

I have an HP 940c Deskjet good Printer Expensive
OEM ink, tried a few companies
but now I get
Remanufactured Cartridges from "Ink Cycle " of Lincoln, they`re cheap & ((send a prepaid bag)) with an order, to post your old cart`s back to them, I`ve had no bad stuff from them ( yet) ---they will replace any faulty cart`s tho
been using them for 2 years , cheers from ezz

November 24, 2005 7:19 PM

I have been using Inkjet cartridges from China and taiwan for some time now and all of them are not original, anyway I use them because I always assure every Inkjet I use if not original at least can offer some level of quality specially ISO-9001 and other International standards.

This is a very nice blog and very active also I like to visit and read thru this frequently, I also read this ink website, this has helped me to save some big bucks!

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November 24, 2005 7:20 PM

the site is:

December 8, 2005 11:58 PM

I seem to have trouble using compatible ink cartridges with the Canon BJC 2100 inkjet printer.
Always complains when I put one of the "compatible" cartridges in. Like it "knows" it isn't really a Canon. Anyone else have this same problem?


December 29, 2005 7:34 AM

Ive used HP940c and Cannon 330 compatible replacement cartridges.
The Cannon compatibles seemed to have much less ink in them, printing far fewer pictures
The HP compatibles work fine for the first 6 or so from one supplier and 3 from another. After that every one received from both suppliers did not work at all or ran out of one or more colors after a few prints. Both suppliers sent replacement cartridges. They didnt work either.
I also tried refilling the OEM cartridges. The HP color refills never worked properly and the Cannon refills started leaking.
I went back to using OEM cartridges again and have had no problems.

Stirling Bunnell
February 9, 2006 9:57 PM

At my blog sight,, I describe how to refill any 3 color bubble jet type of printer cartridge for less than 5 cents per refill. To make a long story short, you use food coloring. Buy it in the economy 1 quart size at restaurant supply houses for about $2.75 per quart bottle. Get one each of the colors blue, red, and yellow totaling about $8.50. This provides an equal or better replacement for the normally available ink refill kits and provides hundreds of refills. My blog sight's purpose is to expose many discoveries , inventions, inovations, tec that I am responsible for creating.
Stirling Bunnell

February 13, 2006 12:02 PM


March 29, 2006 6:56 PM

Well, it's been a while since my original post. Since that time, the venerable, inexpensive Canon Pixma IP 1500 has gone through approximately 6 or 7 pairs of color/b&w compatible cartridges purchased at, for $3/pair. I've had to periodically use the cleaning and deep cleaning utilities, and it's probably time to replace the print head now. However, since the cheapest OEM print head I could find was $57.50 (at precision, I decided to purchase a brand new Canon MP130 for $90 on ebay, because it uses the same ink as the 1500. All I can say is that for the $21 it cost me for ink with the 1500, I saved over $200-$250 compared to what my previous Epson would have cost. So the $90 I just spent for the MP130 seems like a steal. Plus, the MP130 is a scanner and photocopier as well as a printer.

April 22, 2006 11:11 AM

Do you have printer ink cartridge problems? Focus on the printer, not the ink cartridge.

Further into HP's efforts to deceive the unsuspecting consumer. HP goes through this ruse of support and troubleshooting, print cartridge errors..... 99% of which ends up meaningless!

"HP cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of refilled or remanufactured cartridge"

What does this exactly mean? The quality? It means my standards do not meet HP standards. Is this why HP makes my printer inoperable? Reliability. If a refilled or remanufactured ink cartridge fails, it fails! I'll just send it back. But, for the life of me, I cannot understand why I cannot operate my printer? Can HP tell the world, under what specific technical conditions has HP determined that the ink cartridge has failed, and therefore making my printer inoperable? Their answer would be crucial to HPs credibility on the issue.

Recently, when the recycled red ink stopped working, as indicated by my test page, on a more than 3/4 filled color cartridge, past warranty period, the recycler sent me another one, at no cost. Why then, as I questioned in my letter to Mr. Hurd, the test page ran fine, but the next day, the printer immediately stopped working? HP company policy of shutting down a consumers printer is saying, all recycled ink cartridges are not of HP standards, and we will not allow our printers to operate, or the consumer, the free choice, to decide quality choices in the use of the purchasers printers.

In order to let you think that your recycled printer cartridges choices are inferior, and damaging, HP goes through this whole procedure as outlined in their website reference manual.

Problem. A message or flashing light indicates a problem just after a new cartridge is installed A message indicates that there is a problem with a cartridge...Solution... Make sure the cartridges are compatible with the printer. See the manual for a list of compatible cartridges.

If the steps above have not solved the problem, follow the procedure below to wipe the cartridge contacts.... Wipe the copper-colored electrical contacts with a clean, dry, lint-free cotton cloth.... Be careful not to touch the nozzle area. .... If the steps above have not solved the problem, follow the procedure below to wipe the cartridge contacts..... Remove both cartridges..... Wipe the copper-colored electrical contacts with a clean, dry, lint-free cotton cloth.

If your cartridge doesn't look exactly like one of the illustrations above, locate the contacts by looking for an area with a number of small copper squares....If the steps above do not fix the problem, follow the procedure below to clean the electrical contacts more thoroughly: Gather cleaning supplies: Clean distilled water. Use bottled or filtered water if distilled water is not available. Clean cotton swabs or any soft, lint-free material that will not stick to the cartridges (coffee filters work well).... Remove both cartridges. Lightly moisten the lint-free cleaning material with clean water. Clean the cartridge contacts. Avoid touching the nozzles. Replace the cleaning material if it gets dirty. Using a new swab, clean the electrical contacts inside the printer, in the carriage. The illustrations below show contact locations for some representative carriages. If the steps above have not solved the problem, repeat them. .

If the error still occurs after repeating all the steps, replace the cartridges. If you have already replaced the cartridges once without solving the problem, click the link below to contact HP. The printer may need to be serviced.

I like a fool, duped by this deceit, followed HP instructions, plus taking my printer apart. Nothing worked! Nowhere in these HP instructions does it mention you cannot use other suppliers remanufactured ink cartridges. If it had, it would have saved me a lot of trouble. Before making my printer inoperable, can HP tell me how many times must I purchase remanufactured recycled ink cartridges, allowing them to be fully depleted, and full use of my printer?

These HP service instructions are not meant for HP ink cartridge users, but mainly for fools like me, who risked destroying my perfectly operable printer. This is the reason they write this, 'whole support & troubleshooting guide'. Duped consumers who for one reason or another choose recycled, or ink filling methods to satisfy their particular print quality needs. HP tells you to replace the cartridges, knowing full well most are not HP remanufactured ink cartridges, but remanufactured ink cartridges from other suppliers. Closing you down!

I have 6 ink cartridges. They are mine, I paid for them. If I wanted to use grape wine as ink, that is my choice. Grape wine is not an HP patent. Why then can I not operate my printer on grape wine, and why would HP shut my printer down? (Perhaps someday HP will drag somebody into court over grape wine ink)

Charges for servicing the printer. Hp psc 2170 series all-in-one reference guide state on page 66 , For any hardware Product, the use of a non-HP print cartridge or a refilled print cartridge does not effect either the warranty to the Customer or any HP support contract with the customer. However, if Product failure or damage is attributable to the use of a non-HP or refilled print cartridge, HP shall charge its standard labor and materials charges to service the product for the failure or damage.

You see what their scheme is, and to unsuspecting consumers, HP..the printer may have to be serviced. I wonder how many times consumers have shipped, and allowed HP to service their perfectly operable printers, with absolutely nothing at all wrong with them? Serviced, and replaced only with HP ink cartridges, at a handsome profit. This happens because HP turns off the printer at specific times, for specific reasons unrelated to a ink cartridge problem. It all has to do with greed, and the fast buck.

What damage has there been to the printer? (Other than the damage done when taking one apart.) This all having nothing to do with print ink cartridges, or the printer. but with HP deceptive, and anti-competitive practices. And the free choice decisions of consumers.

By Michael Singer
Staff Writer, CNET
Published: June 8, 2005, 11:46 AM PDT

Hewlett-Packard settled its patent lawsuit with a Kansas City company that refills used inkjet cartridges and resells them to business retail outlets.
InkCycle said it has paid HP an undisclosed sum as part of the settlement. The patents cover the ink found in refurbished cartridges that are compatible with HP cartridges numbered 49, 57 and 78. HP initially filed the lawsuit in March after it discovered that
refilled inkjet cartridges sold under the Staples brand contained patent-infringing ink.

I ask again. What has this to do with my printer being shut down?

April 27, 2006 5:13 AM

To be perfectly clear

Hewlett Packard recycles their ink cartridges by promoting that HP cartridges be returned for recycling, using a self addressed, stamped envelope. Allowing HP, through their refurbishing and reselling effort to conserve resources, using the various recycling facilities of manufacturers around the world contracted by HP. Thus, the mere fact that there also are other recyclers available to refurbish, and recycle ink cartridges, but except for lower cost, and the free choice of the consumer, HP has restricted the consumer the full use, and the operation of HP printers.

Smith and Robersons Business Law, ninth edition. West Publishing. Chapter 43; ANTITRUST.
Characterizing a type of restraint as per se illegal therefore has a significant effect on the prosecution of an antitrust suit. In such a case, the plaintiff need only show that the type of restraint occurred, she does not need to prove that the restraint limited competition.....Tying arrangements. A tying arrangement occurs when the seller of a product, service, or intangible (the "tying" product) conditions its sale on the buyers purchasing a second product, service, or intangible (the "tied" product) from the seller....Because tying arrangements limit buyers' freedom of choice and may exclude competitors, the law closely scrutinizes such agreements.

Hewlett Packard has, unbeknownst to customers who purchased HP printers (tying product), tied as a condition, the purchase of new HP ink cartridges (tied product), or HP recycled ink cartridges, through the use illegal anti-competitive consumer practices.

Again, I say Hewlett Packard, play your silly games by cheating consumers on ink cost, and supplies. I say go ahead! But dont stop me from the use of my printer.

September 27, 2006 3:24 PM

Thanks to finding out here that Precision Roller ( had the least expensive print head around, I did get a new Canon print head (Multipass F30) from them and that was indeed my problem and am totally satisfied. I have since been ordering Canon compatible inkjet cartridges from them - $3.50 apiece as compared to $10-11 in stores - so it's almost cheaper to get them than to refill them myself - and no mess. Their delivery and customer service is awesome, and I'm hard to please. I order half a dozen of each color at a time so get free shipping. Thanks for mentioning this company. I'd have never found it on my own.

December 1, 2006 8:00 AM

I have an HP3745 inkjet...the simple FREE home made solution to clean the cartridge head is.... just dip an old used tooth-brush in..... warm water / car shampoo / soap solution / Brut after shave and just clean the cartridge head 2-3 times....
why old used tooth-brush ??? wont hurt the head but at the same time clean it by removing the dry ink and other paper materials clogging the holes of the cartridge head.
I have been using a soap solution / after shave combination....and have refilled the cartridges(black and color) 5 times in the past 2 yrs.....the cost of refill is just 1/25 of the price of new cartridge.....i prefer cleaning them once in 3 months.......
NO ISSUES TILL DATE.....going fine

August 30, 2007 6:24 PM

Stirling at, Thank-You for Your insightfull advice. I have been using the Food-Coloring idea and it works fantastically...Great Man!

August 30, 2007 6:29 PM

ps: i use an HP Deskjet D2330 - Yes with Food-Coloring in the original tri-color cartridges. I have not had a problem of any nature, (fingers Crossed) go to Stirling's blog at for info.
Great Man Stirling!

September 6, 2007 2:06 PM

Note To "Wave" or "stirling bunnell"... I am looking for Stirling's blog site with ink replacement info. When I go to "" address, the only choices are both back here. Did Stirling shut down? If so, did he start up elsewhere? Just bought an HP6310. Uses HP 95/Tri Color & HP 98/Blk. Sure would like to obtain Sterlings instructions.

June 12, 2008 3:48 AM

I purchased replacement Epson Picturemate ink cartridges (not original Epson product) on e-bay last year for a very good price. They were made in China, but worked just as good as the Epson (actually lasted longer than the original Epson product) If you own a Epson Picture Mate, you know that it is rare to use all of the ink in the cartridge before the sponges get saturated and it will not print. When the print quality becomes inferior you are asked to do a nozzle check, if it shows a broken ink pattern on any of the colors
you are directed to do a print head cleaning. This works great, until the sponges in the ink cartridge become saturated and it will no longer allow you to clean the print heads. It will say "sponges are saturated, please install a new ink cartridge to complete the ink head cleaning"
It's frustrating when the ink cartridge shows more than 25-30% of the ink remaining, but you can no longer use it. As mentioned, the replacement cartridges made in china worked great,
and the price was remarkable, although when you first installed it, the printer didn't recognize the ink cartridge, so it took a couple of attempts to get it printing (really not a big deal) I recently tried to purchase the same product from the seller on e-bay, but he / she is no longer listed there. Just to let you know that I have tried replacement ink cartridges (not original Epson products) and was very pleased with the products performance. Can't speak for all
manufacturers, I'm sure that there are sub-standard replacements out there, but my experience was a good one. Hope this helps if you are considering purchasing ink cartridges for this printer.

August 20, 2008 6:13 PM

Some of the problems with inks relate directly to the chemicals used in the inks. OEM type inks are specifically designed for the particular type and size nozzle used by a mafr. some inks have very different expansion and drying rates. what this means is that if there is still trace inks from diffrent makers mixing together, you may have problems with inks that dont mix...some inks will just dry too quick and clog nozzles they werent designed to operate with. no, i'm not trying to make excuses for the mfr's, but these are just plain facts. During the 1990's epson printers had huge problems with clogged (and thus stuffed) heads and nozzles, whereas cheaper printers had no problems with replacement inks.
What it boils down to, if you are going to use replacement inks, that is fine. But you may not get the quality or consistency of color you expect. And, if your heads or nozzles do clog, no printer mfr will cover you under warranty. So saying, most replacement inks now are being made to a higher standard than the dodgy stuff we used to get in the 90's, and the print color quality is more than good enough for most stuff, except for maybe high quality photos.
The behaviour of some like HP's antics, are a little off the scale. They are protecting their own product, but should not be shutting the printers down if aftermarket cartridges are used. I'd suggest swapping brands...

July 16, 2009 4:21 PM

I recommend a new brand of remanufactured cartridges that I use. They are called "briteColor" and they are really good

November 8, 2010 11:35 AM
Closing comments on this article. It's simply turned into a spam-magnet.

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