If you follow the Smart Office blog, you know that it is completely illegal for printer manufacturers to void your warranty for not using name brand inks. This is great if you use an inkjet printer, because those run through ink pretty quickly. I use an inkjet and it sometimes seems as if I am buying a new cartridge every other day! Since printer ink is a recurring expense, it’s a good idea to find ways to save money. You have three options when it comes to replacing ink cartridges: OEM cartridges, OEM-compatible cartridges and re-manufactured cartridges.
OEM means “original equipment manufacturer.” OEM ink cartridges are made or purchased by printer manufacturers and marketed under their brand name. OEM ink cartridges are guaranteed to work reliably and produce great looking documents, but they also costs the most. The other safe bet is OEM-compatible ink cartridges. These ink cartridges are generics made to OEM specifications, so they generally perform reliably. They also cost significantly less than OEM ink cartridges. For example, if your office uses a Hewitt Packard Officejet K8600 Series printer, you’ll pay about $29 for the OEM cartridges at On Time Supplies. The OEM-compatible cartridges from Innovera are only $22.
Finally, there are remanufactured or recycled ink cartridges. These are used OEM cartridges that have been refurbished and refilled. Re-manufactured cartridges are the cheapest option — some quick Googling turned up $26 5-packs for the HP Officejet printer. They are also the riskiest option — they may be filled with inferior inks that can clog your printer, produce poor quality documents, break down or otherwise fail to perform reliably. Use these at your own risk.