Ink Refillers Get Serious

By on August 4, 2004

If you’ve ever used a refurbished or third party ink jet printer catridge, you may have been disappointed with the results. But Forbes reports that some companies are hoping to turn that around and make the ink-jet refilling business a major threat to the printer companies.

In the lab, which is run by Chris Wencel, technicians use steam cleaners and ultrasound equipment to cleanse the cartridges and their sensitive nozzles that spray the ink.

They replace any parts that fail, tossing about 7 percent of the cartridges altogether. Then they use an automated vacuum filler to shoot ink into the cartridges, filling them up in about 30 seconds without spilling a drop. The refilled cartridges are tested on any of the dozens of printers housed on racks.

The smart thing for the printer manufacturers to do would be to start charging a little more for the printers and less for the cartridges, but what will likely happen is that they’ll start shipping EULA’s with the cartridges, suing the refillers for violating DMCA, and threatening customers that they’re violating their license agreements by giving their empty cartridges to refillers. Why adapt to changing business when you can try to litigate away any innovation?

Via kottke.



  1. I have to agree. The wise decision would be to stop trying to fool the customer about the cost of ownership by underselling the printers and overpricing the ink. I have an all-in-one system that cost me around $100 and meets my neads. It costs me about 1/3 of that for a new set of cartidges. It really seems odd that all that hardware is so cheap compared to some ink and a print head.

    As someone that cares about the environment i live in, I’d rather reduce waste by refilling/recycling those ink cartidges. But because of the marketing game, I’m forced to chuck the old cartidges in the trash and buy new ones.

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