Cheaper Ink For Your Printer — How Safe Is It?

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Cartridges from big brands like Canon or Hewlett-Packard compete with a plethora of more affordable supplies. Independent manufacturers let consumers save 20-70% with every purchase, which makes some wonder if these cheaper products are legal and safe. Read on to find out.

As third-party manufacturers do not have to spend billions of dollars on R&D, they come up with impressive offers. For example, a combo pack of HP 933 ink from the Smart Ink cartridge shop costs £15.99, while HP sells its original pack for £61. You can get a similar value for nearly a quarter of the price!

Types of Products

Independent brands produce two types of cartridges — compatible and remanufactured. The first term describes supplies that are designed and produced from scratch by companies not affiliated with printer manufacturers. They are smaller, and their operations are usually limited to provision of printer supplies. The second category (remanufactured) includes refilled original (OEM) cartridges.

Why Are These Cartridges Legal?

Compatible cartridges look and perform like their name-brand counterparts. Yet, they are not counterfeit as they are not replicas. Small differences in design make them perfectly legit. Big brands have attempted to outlaw these competing products previously but failed.

You can also buy refilled cartridges and use them without problems. As a consumer, you have a right to choose alternative supplies. It is enshrined in consumer protection legislation around the world. In the UK, manufacturers are not allowed to include anti-competitive terms into their warranties.

How Safe Are They?

The next question many consumers ask is, “Will this cartridge damage my printer?” As long as you buy from trusted manufacturers with a positive background and five-star reviews, the products should be safe. After all, it is in the companies’ best interest to provide excellent quality. The latter is also certified in accordance with such global standards as ISO, CE, and Reach.

Products from shady brands can potentially harm your machine. For example, they may leak or damage the printheads. Consumers seeking to save money should do some homework first.

How to Choose a Brand

Compatible and remanufactured cartridges are easy to find. They are sold in official stores, on Amazon and other marketplaces. Finding the right model for your equipment is just the beginning. Research the conditions focusing on the following benefits:

  • Certified quality (see above)
  • At least a 2-year warranty on all products (both compatible and remanufactured)
  • The latest version of the chip
  • Free shipping
  • Recyclable products

Printer manufacturers may not prevent you from using cheaper supplies, nor can they punish you for doing it. However, they may release firmware updates programming their equipment to reject non-original products. This is why you need the latest version of the chip. If recognition still fails, turning off the updates should solve the problem.