Is Buying Cheap Compatible Cartridges a Good Idea?

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In recent years, the industry of alternative supplies for inkjet printers has been booming. The demand is hardly surprising as consumers can save hundreds of dollars per year just by opting for other brands. How good are their products, and can they damage your machine?

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How Much Can I Save? 

OEM products are the most expensive type of supplies. For example, owners of models like HP Officejet Pro 8110 need to buy four cartridges (black, cyan, magenta, and yellow). In the official store, the black pigment alone costs around $63 for the XL volume. Meanwhile, Smart Ink offers a value pack of XL HP 950 ink (five cartridges) for merely $27.99. This means you can save over $100 per purchase. Here are the basics:

  • You can find similar offers for Canon and Brother printers. 
  • On average, compared with OEM ink, consumers save between 20% and 80% every time. This depends on the model of the printer and ink volume. 
  • Both XL and XXL products are available. 
  • Over the course of a year, total savings may amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. 
  • Owners of laser printers can buy third-party toners and save money, too. 

What Is Behind the Price Differences?

The most basic inkjet printers are sold for as little as $100. They look like bargains until you check the prices for the manufacturer’s supplies. Every printer brand urges customers to stick to its official product range. On the one hand, OEM products have guaranteed quality. On the other hand, there is no rationale behind the prices other than R&D costs.

The companies behind more affordable cartridges are not affiliated with these giants. They do not have such gigantic R&D budgets, either, which lets them compete on price. What’s more, the quality is often similar.

Types of Cheaper Products

Third-party cartridges are divided into two categories — compatible and remanufactured. The first group includes original products designed by smaller brands. They are similar in appearance and performance to OEM items but cost less. 

Remanufactured cartridges are recycled OEM products. After cleaning, they are fixed if necessary and filled with new ink. If you prioritize sustainability, this category is your best bet. You can often find refilled and compatible cartridges at the same stores.