Tag Archives: printer ink

what is oem ink

What is OEM Ink? The Difference Between Name Brand & Generic Ink

Buying replacement ink for your printer? You should know the difference between “OEM” and “non-OEM” ink. Essentially OEM comes directly from the original manufacturer, and “non-OEM” is the generic equivalent. Here’s a full explanation:

So, What is OEM ink?

OEM stands for original equipment manufacturer.” It’s just a fancy and confusing way of saying that it is “genuine brand name ink.”

OEM ink comes directly from manufacturers like Canon, HP, and Epson. OEM ink is always more expensive than it’s “non-OEM” equivalent.


Then, what is a “non-OEM” ink cartridge?

A non-OEM ink product is a generic, or “compatible” version.

Compatible ink is essentially ink or toner manufactured by a third party that is designed to work with specific printers. The concept is very similar to that of generic drugs, as name brand compatible ink is much cheaper than what is known as name brand “OEM” ink.

Compatible ink has been a thorn in the side of big brand names like Canon and Lexmark, as it has grown to a multi-billion dollar business; commanding about 25% of the replacement ink and toner market. This has spurred a number of lawsuits from large brands claiming copyright infringement and unfair competition against companies like 123inkjets and 4inkjets 

The result of  a 2007 lawsuit against 123inkjets brought by Epson reaffirmed that these “compatible” inkjet cartridges must be labeled as such (or as refilled, or remanufactured) so as not imply that they are being sold or endorsed by the original company. It also restated that a number of regulations be enforced against compatible ink including manufacturing, quality, and import laws.

*New: 500 Business Cards for $10 from Vistaprint!


How is compatible ink different than recycled ink? 

The two products are actually similar in a lot of respects, but the main difference is that compatible inkjets are made with all new parts and materials, whereas recycled, refilled or remanufactured” ink is sold in the reused containers of name brand ink.

  • 10% off + free shipping at 4inkjets.com!

Reusing these mostly plastic containers allows purveyors of recycled ink to make the claim that their product is friendly for the environment.


Is Generic (Compatible) ink as good of a quality as name brand ink?

Most third party tests show little difference between compatible and OEM ink, but there is debate among some customers as to whether they are equals.

Although most compatible ink performs to high quality standards, (known as iso 9001 standardsa number of the negative reviews that I have found claim that the color prints and copies from compatible ink are not as bright and durable as OEM inkjets and toners.


OEM Ink: Our conclusion

I think that it is a personal choice whether to buy name brand or compatible ink the same way there is often a choice between name brand and generic at the drugstore. If you are printing photographs or high quality glossy images, I think you should lean towards paying extra for the real McCoy, aka, “OEM,” even though they are excluded from coupons.

If you are like me and mostly print out things that won’t be scrutinized for quality, you should lean towards the cheaper compatible inkjet alternative.

Also, if you run a small business or print a large volume of pages each month, the cost difference becomes more of a factor, as that 20-50% that you save with generic ink could mean hundreds of dollars.

printer ink cost wine

Printer Ink: More Expensive Than the Finest Wine (and No Buzz!)

Printer ink price per ounce is insane: Do you realize just how much name brand printer ink costs?

“very elegant on the palate, with rich, ripe but tightly wound cassis and chocolately flavors nicely framed by silky tannins. Finishes lively, floral and long…”

Ah, yes; Chateau Petrus, which has a reputation for being one of the best, and most expensive vintages of wine available.

In fact, silly humans can pre-order a bottle of it for about $1600 online, although don’t plan on bringing it to dinner next Friday night (to compliment Mom’s meatloaf?) as it might not ship for a few months.

“Wow, I would never splurge on something that decadent,” you say! Something so extravagant is surely only bought by fat cats who wear monocles and light their cigars with $100 bills, right?

Name Brand Printer Ink Can Cost $70 Per Ounce!

printer ink how expensive

Actually, depending on how you price it, you might already be buying something just as lavish. As you can see in the graphic above, the price per ounce of printer ink is actually more than this legendary wine.

For the more expensive name brand inks, you could be looking at over $70 per oz.(and, it doesn’t have a lively, floral finish)

Printer Ink: The Most Expensive Liquid You’ll Ever Buy?

Anyway, the point being illustrated here is that printer ink is probably the most expensive liquid that you are ever going to buy.

Companies like EpsonHP, and Canon are willing to actually take a loss when they sell you the printer itself, because when you need replacement ink, they know you’ll be back. (This is the same business model as the razor industry, which is built on you needing replacement blades.)

Stick it to The Man, Buy Generic Ink Instead

One way to stick it to The Man is to consider opting for “name brand compatible printer ink,” (aka “generic”) which can cost less than half as much as the “OEM” genuine ink. The market for it keeps growing, and it has become a billion dollar industry, to the dismay of those big printer companies.

Related: Winc Wine Club Review + $25 Off

Don’t just buy generic ink anywhere though. Like that ink you see displayed in the window of that stereo shop in Chinatown? (with a crudely drawn “Tony the Tiger” on the packaging) Skip buying that brand.

To ensure quality, you’ll want to be sure to buy ISO 9001 certified ink (meets quality standards) from a reputable online store like 4inkjets and 123inkjets.

how printer ink made

How is Printer Ink Made? Fascinating Video Shows You Exactly How

How is ink manufactured? Maybe it’s not as fun as learning how chocolate bars or beer is made, but there is an incredible science to the art of making 4-color, CMYK, process ink(This would be such of a nightmare job for me, being colorblind!) Although companies have their own unique manufacturing techniques, they all have a similar process.

I came across this truly fascinating video from the Printing Ink Company that illustrates the process; from the raw ingredients and mixing process, to the final ink that is sold. Seeing the video makes you feel even worse about how much ink is wasted in your printer! (Click below to view, & please share this page!)

How Ink Is Made: (Video)

Highlight of the video: Essentially, four base colors are made, from which all other colors are derived through mixing. These colors are Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black; commonly known as CMYK color.

How Ink is Made:

  • Printing ink is used for a wide variety of things; everything that you see with color on a paper like substance has been printed, including all of the packaging and print material that you see
  • Printer ink is composed of 2 primary things; the pigment (giving ink its color) and the vehicle, which is the carrier of the color
  • The pigment, a colored powder, is incorporated into the vehicle, which is a sticky varnish (like honey) that varies in thickness
  • First the vehicle is heated in order to thin it, so that the pigment can be incorporated. The pigment is then grinded in a bead mill, and then smeared in a 3-roller mill to reduce each pigment particle to its smallest size in order to maximize the color within
  • Quality control (QC) now becomes hugely important, ensuring that each batch of ink is the same
  • The ink is then subjected to a number of rigorous tests, including a grind test, and bleach test, which checks the color strength
  • Once approved, other ingredients are added, including waxes (for rub resistance) driers (so that the ink can dry quickly on paper)
  • The tack (stickiness) is tested, as it must be controlled so that the printer transfers it properly to paper
  • The ink is run again through another 3-roller mill, refining it further and adds more gloss and polishing
  • Before the ink is poured into a can and packaged, it has been through grinding mills, mixers, and a number of quality control tests.
how cmyk printer ink made

Yum… Looks good enough to eat!

Ink Manufacturing & Quality Control

Not only is the ink subject to internal quality control and scrutiny, but also must meet rigorous standards like ISO 9001.

Before buying ink or toner of any kind, make sure that it meets these industry standards. Drums of this ink may be sold to printing services like Shutterfly, or companies that sell inkjet cartridges.

The generic and OEM printer ink featured on this site from companies like 4inkjets, Clickinks, and 123inkjets, all meet these high standards. Remember to always look for a coupon before you buy ink anywhere.

printer waste ink cost

Did You Know: Inkjets Printers Waste 50% of the Ink You Buy?

Inkjet printers are inefficient and wasteful: We all hear those stories of government waste, and it makes us crazy. In fact, did you know we spent $2.7 million recently to encourage Chinese prostitutes to drink less. We were billed another $60,000 by the IRS for their awesome “Star Trek parody” video that was shown at their recent leadership conference(Wow, was that directed by Scorsese?)

Anyway, we can’t do much about how the government wastes our money, so let’s look closer to home. In fact, let’s look at your inkjet printer.

We’ve already mentioned how expensive printer ink is, so at least it’s being used efficiently, right?

Wrong! According to Consumer Reports, about 50% of that printer ink never hits the page. In fact, the worst offenders only output about 30% of their ink to the pages! So, why are inkjet printers so wasteful? It seems that the culprit is the intermittent use of our printers.

Print Less Frequently, Waste More Ink

wasteful printerBasically what that means is that most people don’t buy an ink cartridge and use it all up in one week. More likely, people print a few pages here and there, and this is where the waste begins. The printer uses much of the ink in self-maintenance and cleaning, and ends up sitting in a reservoir inside the printer. (What a little diva!)

Printer companies are well aware of this, and on HP’s website states that, “Some ink must be used to maintain the health of the print head; some ink is residual; and some ink evaporates.”

How many pages can you get out of an inkjet cartridge?

What this means is that a manufacturer might imply that you can print 400 pages from one OEM (genuine name brand) inkjet cartridge, but in reality it’s going to be closer to 200 pages because of the intermittent use of our printers.

Consumer Reports also found no correlation between the amount of ink used in maintenance and performance, and no correlation to the price paid for ink and quality. In other words, (unlike a sweet 1970’s muscle car) it isn’t really necessary for them to waste that much fuel, or to pay for the high octane.

What can an honest taxpayer do? Well, as far as the government waste, we’re all stuck, but consider buying generic name brand compatible ink instead. Want to save even more money? Grab a coupon for 4inkjets or 123inkjets and save an extra 10-20%!

Want to save on custom printing online for business cards and more? Check out the latest coupons here.

inkjet or laser printer better

Inkjet vs Laser Printers: Which Printer Is Best for You?

Inkjet or Laser Printer? There are a plethora of printers on the market for home-use, but which one is right for you? The easy answer is this: If you print mostly black and white text, go with a laser printer for speed and savings on the cost of ink. If you print out graphics, you’ll want an inkjet printer.

Having said that, here are some considerations before you finalize that all-important decision:

Should You Buy an Inkjet or Laser Printer? (Video)



When I think of a printer for home use, I instantly think of inkjet printers. They’ve become kind of the “Renaissance man” of your home office. After all, they can print out emails, address labels, stickers, t-shirt transfers, or even photo-quality prints from your digital photos.

As if that’s not enough, many of the “all in one printers” throw in scanner, printer, and fax machine capability.

Inkjet or Laser Printer?

So inkjet printer must be right for me then? Maybe; consider the following before buying:

  • If you primarily print text, then a laser printer might be best for you. Laser printers are best for handling black and white text, (like emails, Word docs, and your taxes) and they are faster and less expensive. I know someone who prints out almost every email he gets for his records, and he must save hundreds of dollars a year by having a laser printer for this task. They can also handle address labels, which is nice around the holidays, or for bulk business mailings.
  • If you print a decent amount of photos, graphics, or color text, then an inkjet printer is best. I recommend not going with a color laser printer, as the costs of ink are significantly higher than black and white laser printers. Color laser printers use four toner cartridges, which can make the cost of ink even more than an inkjet
  • Don’t try to print photos with a laser printer. The quality will be marginal, and they aren’t meant for printing on glossy, or special photo paper. They also might not be able to print on sizes of paper other than 8.5 x 11

Do You Print Graphics or Photos?

So, if it comes down to whether or not you print photos or graphics, most people are going to choose an inkjet printer for their home. So, you’ll probably want to decide whether you need an all-in-one inkjet printer so that you can copy, scan, or even fax. Consider this:

  • When one component of these printers breaks, you’ll have to replace the whole thing. In our throw-away society, nobody repairs inkjet printers
  • The cost of replacement ink is high. If you bought a printer for $99 with a coupon, then that ink manufacturer has you on the hook for future ink purchases, which you’ll have trouble finding a coupon for. Recent tests from Consumer Reports confirm that many inkjet printers use less than half of the ink in the inkjet cartridges! (Canon had one of the worst ones tested!) Initially it looks like you save money by printing your own photos at home, but if you only print sporadically, much of that printer ink is being wasted in the “maintenance” mode of the printer.
  • Consider an inkjet printer that has 4 separate tanks for each color of ink. (CMYK) Over time this will save you money, as when one color runs out, you aren’t replacing the entire “color” inkjet cartridge.
  • Don’t buy less than 20-pound (weight) paper with your inkjet printer, or it may lead to paper jams. (Not as fun as strawberry, or other varieties of jam)

Big Print Job? Maybe Outsource It

TipConsider a discount online printing company to handle some of your color printing. Regardless of which printer type you go with, consider having your custom printing done by a discount printing company online.

It actually may be more expensive for you to print photos, invitations, and business cards at home, and you may not get the professional quality that you are looking for.

*If you have a Staples nearby, maybe they can print what you need?

Photo services like Shutterfly and Snapfish can bang out beautiful 4×6″ prints for as little as a 10 cents each now, while a sheet of the same photo paper will run about 25 cents. (add cost of ink, too!) They also offer weekly coupons, saving you money and even free shipping on many orders. You can also find coupons for sites like Vistaprint here.

TipConsider “name brand compatible ink” instead of what they call, “OEM,” or genuine name brand ink or toner. You can save up to about a third of the cost of printer ink when you go with the generic version. On top of that discount, you can also use a coupon or promo code for sites like 123inkjets, ClickInks.com, and 4inkjets.com for an extra discount.