Best Alternatives to Original Ink Cartridges

Dec 23, 2021


The inkjet printer industry is a textbook example of the ‘razor and blades’ model. Basic equipment from HP or Canon can be impressively affordable. Yet, these products are also consumer traps — of course, if you follow the advice of the manufacturers and buy only original ink.

Take the Canon PIXMA TS6120, which costs around $160. One pack of original ink (4 cartridges) will set you back around $50, and $80 for XL. In a few months, you could spend more on the consumables than the equipment. At the same time, 5 compatible XXL Canon 281 ink cartridges from Smart Ink with free shipping cost roughly $43.50. You can get more ink for almost half the price, but why is this possible?

Research and Development Expenses

Ask Canon or any other giant about their pricing policies, and it will refer to massive R&D expenses. These companies invest billions of dollars in innovation, but customers cannot help feeling cheated. Price discrepancies between equipment and consumables are also found in other industries, which is why this model is known as “razor and blades”.

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Basic printers are sold very close to their break-even point, sometimes at a loss. Companies can afford to do it, as they are focused on capitalizing on ink. Fortunately for customers, costly original supplies have competitors — third-party products of comparable quality.

Compatible or Remanufactured?

There are two ways to save money on new ink — purchase brand-new cartridges produced by other brands or find original refilled ones. The latter are referred to as remanufactured. In the first case, an independent company designs and produces cartridges that fit popular models of printers. Thanks to slight design distinctions, these products are regarded as original.

Remanufacturing includes emptying and cleaning used cartridges, injecting new ink, testing and replacing any worn elements. This is the most sustainable option. Furthermore, the prices are often similar to those for compatible goods.

Where to Buy

The industry of cheaper printing supplies is massive, and some providers let their customers down. Make sure your store is well-established and has a positive track record. Check feedback on platforms like Trustpilot. Ideally, you should get the following benefits:

  • Certified quality of all products, including remanufactured cartridges (compliance with ISO and other standards);
  • The latest version of the cartridge chip to ensure instant recognition;
  • Tracking of ink level (supported by specific models);
  • A warranty (2 years is optimal);
  • Free shipping;
  • Sustainable practices.
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Is It Safe?

Printer giants urge customers to purchase only original supplies, but cheaper alternatives from reliable brands are just as safe. Do not worry about damaging the print heads or other issues. Using third-party supplies will not void your warranty for the equipment. What’s more, trusted stores have extensive money-back policies that remain valid for two years. 


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