HOW USING 3RD PARTY INK CAN SAVE-U-MONEY
HOW USING 3RD PARTY INK CAN SAVE-U-MONEY
2006-02-01 at 11:17:00 am #14084
How using third party ink can save you money
ONE OF our regular use inkjet printers had run out of ink and another was close to empty. Some months back OEM cartridges for our HP Officejet were bought, which cost around sixty dollars.
Now that both our regular use printers needed to be serviced at the same time, and an older machine needed ink as well, $164 for new cartridges and shipping couldn’t be justified – OEM cartridges direct from manufacturers. There had to be an alternative solution that would save us some dough.
Enter the universal inkjet refill kit from Computer Business Works Inc. The about page on the company’s Web site says the following: “Computer Business Works, Inc. was established in 1996 to develop and manufacture inkjet and laser toner cartridge refill kits and compatible cartridge replacements. We are the largest producer of inkjet and laser printer refill kits in the United States. Based in southern California, CBW, Inc. has a total annual volume of $75 million at retail. We manufacture and ship our products from our warehouse, which encompasses over 44,000 square feet and employs over 300 people.”
“Our products are carried by a number of large American chains, including CompUSA, Walmart, Fry’s, and Sam’s Club. The Universal Inkjet Refill Kit has been shown in several prestigious mail order catalogues and featured on infomercials on QVC and the Home Shopping Network. We have individual distributors in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as our website, and we are dedicated to supplying quality inkjet ink and toner to individuals, businesses, and educational institutions.”
CBW’s black and colour refill kits bought from Fry’s Electronics were $16.23 ($14.99) and $21.64 ($19.99) respectively. So total cost inclusive of sales tax was just under $38, which was a lot more palatable than the OEM cost of cartridges.
The HP Officejet 710 printer that was close to empty was our home printer. The Epson Stylus Scan 2500 machine that was out of ink was used for our business copying. The Canon BJ10 SX printer that needed ink as well had gone dry months before. Could it be revived?
As the Canon printer prints in black only and is over a decade old why use it? One reason is print quality. For an inkjet printer it’s pretty good – Canon claimed output quality of a laser printer. The HP Officejet couldn’t match it for quality but it prints in colour just fine. The HP machine has a tendency to bleed when it prints or copies text. So if the Canon cartridge can be saved the plan will be to use that machine for text documents.
In my experience this bleeding is nothing new. My first PC printer was a HP Deskjet 340. Its ability to print in colour was the reason it was purchased, even though my printing needs then were mainly black. But because of poor text quality, which was due to bleeding, exchanging the colour HP machine for the black only Canon printer we have today wasn’t a difficult decision.
Another printer we use to use was a Compaq IJ600, which was a rebadged Lexmark product. Compaq claimed: Experience outstanding print quality at home. That was certainly true as the black print quality surpassed that of the Canon and the colour quality for an inkjet printer was very good indeed. So you can imagine my disappointment when that printer gave up the ghost.
CBW’s about page also says: “Quality? All of our superior inkjet and toner refill kits and compatible cartridges are made with calibrated inks and an advanced filtering system to ensure quality equal to or better than the original equipment manufacturer. Our ink exceeds all industry standards for particulates and is photograde, archival (acid-free), and colourfast. The colours are vibrant, not dull, with a defective rate of well under 1%: performance second to none.”
The manufacturer claims compatibility with all inkjet printers and plain paper inkjet fax machines. The company then lists the printer manufacturers it supports: Canon, HP, Lexmark, Compaq, Dell, Xerox, Epson, Sharp, and Brother. I’ll be testing that claim against the Canon, HP, and Epson machines we use for our home and business printing.
Incongruously, the company does say in its instruction booklet that it currently doesn’t support the following Epson cartridges: T5431 to T5438 (eight cartridges) and T5441 to T5447 (seven cartridges), as they require speciality inks that currently aren’t available
The refill numbers
CBW claims that its colour and black refill kits reviewed “refill up to 6 times”. That number can be met if both black and colour cartridges hold 16 ml of ink – based on 96 ml total ink for both colour and black kits.
The HP Officejet 710 colour cartridge holds 22.8 ml of ink (7.6 ml per colour chamber) and its black counterpart 40 ml. That’s 4.2 refills for the colour cartridge and 2.4 for its black brother. The Canon BJ10 SX cartridge holds approximately 27 ml of ink, so that’s just over 3.5 refills.
The Epson Stylus Scan 2500 print head is separate from the Epson S series cartridges. So the Epson cartridges only hold ink. To avoid the print head from drying up, Epson designed the printer so that when it registered out of ink to the user usable ink still remained in the cartridge.
The usable ink that remains caused Epson America a legal problem in 2003. Epson had to defend a lawsuit, as Epson printer owners didn’t like throwing away inkjet cartridges that still had usable ink inside. I don’t know what the outcome of that case was but I would have sided with the manufacturer.
The average amount of ink injected into the chambers of the Epson Stylus Scan 2500 colour cartridge was around 7.5 ml (22.5 ml total). The Epson colour cartridge holds 35 ml of ink (11.7 ml per colour chamber). So on average 4.2 ml of ink (35.9%) was still in the chambers prior to ink refilling. The black cartridge was the same. Even though the black Epson cartridge holds 24 ml of ink only 16 ml was injected, which meant a third hadn’t been used.
If the Stylus Scan’s ink cartridge refill figures were based on what they held it’s clear they wouldn’t be accurate. To be more accurate the ink refill figures will be based on the amount of ink injected into the cartridges – 16 ml for black and 22.5 ml for colour (7.5 ml per chamber). So the Stylus Scan’s refill figures are 6 for the black cartridge (96/16) and 4.3 for its colour counterpart (96/22.5).
It should be clear that there are big savings to be made if the inkjet cartridge refill kits deliver.
What are the potential savings?
As an example of the potential cost savings, if Epson’s ink cartridge life figures for the Stylus Scan 2500 are used — black cartridge: 900 pages of text (ISO/IEC 10561 letter pattern), 634 pages of graphics (5% coverage); colour cartridge: 300 pages (15% coverage) — the cost differences can be calculated – assuming CBW’s ink has the same life figures as the Epson product. The savings would still be significant even if they were worse.
Cost of OEM black and colour Epson cartridges with shipping for the Stylus Scan 2500 was $29.95 each. Cost of CBW ink per refill for the same printer was cost of inkjet refill kit divided by the number of refills. So for black: $16.23/6 = $2.71 per refill. For colour: $21.64/4.3 = $5.03 per refill. So buying OEM black and colour Epson cartridges are respectively 11.1 ($29.95/$2.71) and almost 6 times ($29.95/$5.03) more expensive than refilling used cartridges with CBW’s ink.
Cost of printing per page
Cost of Epson Stylus Scan 2500 black inkjet cartridge ($29.95) divided by 900 pages of text output and 634 pages of graphics output respectively costs 3.3 and 4.7 cents per page. That’s around 30 and 50 cents for every ten sheets printed, which is no small change.
Cost of CBW black ink per refill ($2.71) divided by 900 pages of text output and 634 pages of graphics output is respectively 0.3 and 0.4 cents per page. At under half a cent per page for both types of output that’s a very significant saving.
Cost of Epson Stylus Scan 2500 colour inkjet cartridge ($29.95) divided by 300 pages of colour output is 10 cents per page. Cost of CBW colour ink per refill ($5.03) divided by 300 pages of colour output is 1.7 cents per page. That makes printing in colour with a OEM colour cartridge 5.9 times more expensive.
Don’t forget the cost of paper. If a ream (500 sheets) costs $5 that’s a penny to be added to the cost numbers above.
Getting down to business
Both CBW’s black and colour refill kits reviewed contain 96 ml of ink and 25 ml of cartridge and print head wash. The colour kit’s ink is equally split between magenta, cyan, and yellow – 32 ml each.
The refill kit instruction booklet is concise – the same one covers both kits. Inkjet cartridge pictures – in colour where necessary – are arrowed to show exactly where the refill holes are, which aids the refill process. Seven sides of paper at the end of the instruction booklet are reserved for writing down notes, which is a nice touch. There is an accompanying CD-ROM as well, which includes refill instructions, instructional videos, FAQs, and free high resolution photographs.
The tools and materials provided in the kit were sufficient to get started. Some of my own tools and materials were used as well.
After the refill process CBW’s ink was used in a real world home and business environment, which pretty much meant daily printer use – so this wasn’t a normal lab test. The two month test period was from the first refill of the Epson and Canon cartridges until they had been successfully refilled a second time. The problems with the HP cartridges will be discussed shortly.
It can be a cake walk
The Canon BJ10 SX printer cartridge was the easiest to refill. An Xacto knife easily removed the reusable plug. As the cartridge had been dry for months two ml of cartridge and print head wash was injected before the ink. Reinserting the plug wasn’t a problem.
The Epson Stylus Scan 2500 black and colour cartridges were not hard to refill. The output ink delivery holes were covered in transparent tape that wasn’t taken off when the cartridges were reinstalled. That was done to not only prevent ink from leaking but also to tell the printer that refilled cartridges had been installed – the breaking of the transparent tape seal resets the printer to full ink status.
The supplied syringe was then pushed through the label of the Epson cartridges to inject the necessary ink. Transparent tape was used again to seal the refill holes. Since the instruction booklet said the cartridges might have to be left in the printer for up to 24 hours before running any output, the ink was left to do its job overnight.
But it’s not all plain sailing
The HP Officejet cartridges were the hardest to refill. A breather hole on the bottom of the black cartridge was sealed air tight with electrical tape. That was done to prevent ink from leaking when the cartridge was refilled. A hole was then made in the plastic cover so ink could be injected. The tools supplied did that job just fine. The black cartridge was then injected with 2 ml of cartridge and print head wash that was left for two minutes and then drained. The cartridge was then refilled with ink.
Sealing the hole made in the black cartridge cover was a problem I had to solve. The instruction booklet said use the supplied plug or electrical tape to ensure the hole was airtight. Both suggestions were tried but the desired result wasn’t obtained. To fix that problem a one inch square cable tie pad was cut to size and its very sticky backing sealed the hole in question. Unfortunately, the time it took to find that solution caused ink to leak, so hands and fingers got dirty.
Removing the HP colour cartridge cover was challenging. The cover does eventually come off but patience is required. A thin metal blade was used to take the cover off. The cover was then taped in place after the cartridge had been replenished.
For both the colour and black HP cartridges further patience is required. After the cartridges have been filled with ink they have to be stood upright. For the black cartridge only, air was injected using the supplied syringe. Both cartridges then leaked ink until the internal pressures of both cartridges normalized. That took some time so plenty of paper towel was to hand.
Post refill print problems
When a page was printed immediately after the refill process the Canon cartridge went dry before the page finished. However, the same page fully printed when the printer was left overnight.
After the Epson printer was switched on and a copy was made of a price list, the table borders of the copy had smeared. Cleaning the print head fixed that problem immediately. But when the printer was used the following day the smearing problem continued. Cleaning the print head again fixed that problem. After several days of printer use the smearing problem stopped.
When the Officejet colour cartridge was reinstalled a wrong colour cartridge error message was given. Googling found some suggestions to fix that problem but none of them worked. The only solution left was to buy a new colour cartridge. To save some money a remanufactured Innojet cartridge was purchased. That saved over eight dollars and fixed the error problem.
When a black price list was printed in best quality mode two tables in the printed document had horizontal separator lines missing – that didn’t occur in normal mode. A self test page was printed to see what the Officejet problem was. White gaps in the diagonal pattern of either cartridge are indicative of defective nozzles. The black cartridge had that problem. The remanufactured Innojet colour cartridge also had white gaps along the magenta and cyan diagonals. So that explained the missing horizontal separator lines in best mode and also made plain why the colour quality of the Innojet remanufactured cartridge was poor. The print heads were cleaned several times but to no avail.
There was an annoying problem with the black Officejet cartridge. After turning on the printer, a message on the printer’s LCD panel said remove and reinstall the black cartridge. Doing what was requested got the printer to work. Unfortunately, after about the fifth time of doing that it no longer fixed that problem; a new black cartridge would have to be purchased.
In defence of the Officejet cartridges they were the hardest to refill. Consequently, they were handled, installed, and removed more often then their Canon and Epson counterparts. Also, having the electrical contacts and print head exposed on the cartridge itself made those parts easier to damage. So the extra handling probably contributed to the problems that I experienced. knowing now how to refill those cartridges, I don’t think I’d experience those problems a second time around.
Post refill print quality
The Canon machine degraded, which was very noticeable in high quality print mode. The economy mode output wasn’t as bad. The cause was defective print nozzles, which was verified by missing horizontal lines when the Canon check pattern test page was printed.
Even with the degradation, economy mode text output was more than acceptable for our home printing needs. Also, printing in economy mode doubles the life of the ink, which saves more money, so for us this degradation is not a major problem.
The instruction booklet said soak the print head in cartridge and print head wash, which was tried. But that didn’t make a difference. So the moral of the Canon cartridge story: don’t leave an empty inkjet cartridge unfilled for months – refill immediately.
Connecting the Epson machine to a PC revealed that the printer had been busy. After about three weeks of heavy use the black ink level was 50% depleted and colour was down by 38%. It was an opportune time to test print quality when printing from a PC as the third party ink was now fully in the system.
A colour flyer and a black letter and price list were printed. The black print output was very good indeed. The colour quality easily bettered the Officejet – when referenced to OEM cartridge/ink output.
The plan post the refill process was to use the Canon and HP machines to print our master black and colour copies and do the volume copying on the Epson printer. Seeing what the Epson machine is capable of doing and the ease of refilling its cartridges, I’m now rethinking our printing and copying strategy.
The acid test: photo printing
So called photo printers use more than the four colours that are used in the majority of printers in use today. The Epson Stylus Scan 2500 is one of those old school printers; so could it handle photographs? The Stylus Scan’s promo material states “photo quality printing”. But with third party ink was it up to the job? The answer was an absolute yes. Indeed, the picture quality is so good that my wife is already planning which pictures are going to go where within our home.
The paper used for the photo printing tests was Kodak’s 4×6” and 8.5×11” ultima high gloss photo paper – yes, Kodak’s best photo paper, which is ideal for framing and displaying.
The camera used almost matched the photo paper. The Kodak DX6490 EasyShare digital camera only has 4 megapixel picture resolution. That means the camera is not capable of capturing a picture that would print in full fidelity using 8.5×11” letter size photo paper – a “quality” five megapixel camera wouldn’t have that problem.
It is possible to print a letter size picture from a 4 megapixel source but picture quality is noticeably degraded close up; further away it doesn’t look too bad. So was money wasted? No. With the right software it’s possible to print multiple pictures within a letter size page without degraded quality. So two 5×7” pictures would print on 8.5×11” letter size photo paper just fine.
Photo paper is another cost consideration. Sixty sheets of 4×6” Kodak ultima photo paper costs $15.14 ($13.99) inclusive of sales tax, which is 25 cents per page. Kodak letter size ultima photo paper costs $11.90 ($10.99) with sales tax, so the 15 sheets supplied cost 79 cents each.
CBW also sells six colour photo printer ink. The two additional colours besides the four standard ones (black, magenta, yellow, and cyan) are light cyan and light magenta.
Post test printer checks
Connecting the Epson machine to a PC made it possible to run some printer checks. One utility program checked the nozzles for blockages and another tested print head alignment. No nozzles were blocked and the print head didn’t need alignment. So CBW’s ink was doing its job after three weeks of heavy printer use.
Post second refill events
When the black Epson cartridge was reinserted after the ink filling process the printer didn’t begin charging the ink delivery system, even though the black cartridge had reset the black ink level to full ink status. The printer was switched off and on again. When a black copy was made the output was very poor. The printer was then left overnight so ink could flow to the print head. Another copy was made but the output was still the same. An attempt was made to clean the print head, but at that moment the colour ink ran out so the cleaning process couldn’t be completed. After the colour ink had been replenished a test page showed some black nozzles weren’t printing – the colour nozzles were fine. Cleaning the nozzles several times still didn’t fix that problem, but the printer worked fine the following day with no problem nozzles.
What should have been done when the printer didn’t charge the ink delivery system was to have immediately cleaned the print head and then left the printer overnight so ink could flow to the print head.
It’s interesting to note that the Epson smearing problem didn’t occur this time around.
To see if the CBW ink colour was still vibrant, a photograph that was printed on the Epson machine after the first refill was printed again and compared. My wife and I could not detect any difference. So for us the colour quality was still the same.
The Canon cartridge wasn’t allowed to run dry. It was refilled with 10 ml of ink but dripped from the print head post refilling. Like the HP cartridges the dripping eventually stops.
The Canon output quality post the refill process was no different then before. But four days later it changed. The output now looks like a dot matrix printer, which means text output is still acceptable – high quality mode is now more readable than economy mode output. Additional nozzle failure looks to be the cause.
Don’t let an inkjet cartridge run dry.
It pays to be patient. Let time and the laws of gravity do its work.
If a cartridge drips post the refill process don’t let that ink go to waste – collect and use again. Of course, that can’t be done if the cartridge is multi-colour.
Avoid running additional charging and cleaning cycles by refilling both cartridges at the same time. The Epson printer cleaning cycles that were done post the second refill depleted the black ink level to 62.5% and colour to 75%.
Store ink bottles upright. One black bottle leaked ink from the cap after it had been opened.
Fully read the instruction booklet and the FAQs on the CD-ROM; they’re full of useful information
Watch out for the cost of ink
Future refill expenditures should only involve ink and if necessary cartridge and print head wash. As CBW ink can be purchased individually, and if required in larger volume, one would expect the cost per ml to be cheaper than the kits. But that isn’t always the case. Let’s take a closer look at the cost of ink.
Buying from Fry’s
Below is the cost of ink per ml for the black and colour refill kits reviewed, which is cost of kit divided by the volume of ink.
Black refill kit: $16.23/96 ml = 16.9 cents/ml
Colour refill kit: $21.64/96 ml = 22.5 cents/ml
Let’s now look at the cost of 60 ml bottled ink – black $9.99 and colour $10.99 before sales tax.
Black 60 ml ink: $10.81/60 ml = 18.0 cents/ml
Colour 60 ml ink: $11.90/60 ml = 19.8 cents/ml
Sixty ml bottled ink can look good value as the purchase price of individual bottles is lower than the kits. In this case the colour kit reviewed was 13.6% more per ml than coloured 60 ml bottled ink. But black 60 ml bottled ink cost per ml was 6.5% more than its kit counterpart.
It should be kept in mind that the kits reviewed came with 25 ml of cartridge and print head wash. If bottled ink and cartridge and print head wash were purchased together, the cartridge wash would have to be added to the cost of ink per ml. So let’s run the bottled ink numbers again with the additional $5.49 cost of one 60 ml bottle of cartridge and print head wash – smallest bottle size available .
Black 60 ml ink: $16.30/60 ml = 27.2 cents/ml
Colour 60 ml ink: $17.39/60 = 29.0 cents/ml
Colour 60 ml ink (3 off): $41.19/180 ml = 22.9 cents/ml
The cost per ml of ink can go up markedly when cartridge and print head wash is bought with bottled ink. Black 60 ml ink is now 61% more per ml than its kit counterpart.
When buying three 60 ml bottles of coloured ink and one 60 ml bottle of cartridge and print head wash, even though the total ink is almost twice as much as the colour kit reviewed, the cost per ml was not only 1.8% more, those consumables cost almost twice as much to purchase. So the kits are the better deal if cartridge and print head wash is a requirement.
Don’t pay double for ink
Consumable purchasers should expect to see cheaper across the board prices for ink and refill kits when buying direct from CBW’s Web site. But no; it can cost substantially more. Let’s see what CBW charged for the same black and colour refill kits reviewed – the prices below include the $5.75 Fedex ground shipping.
Black refill kit: $25.74/96 ml = 26.8 cents/ml
Colour refill kit: $30.70/96 ml = 32.0 cents/ml
Cost of black and colour refill kits are respectively 59% and 42% more expensive than Fry’s. When buying both kits the percentage numbers do come down as the $5.75 shipping covers them both. Let’s look at some eye-popping prices.
Black 60 ml ink: $18.74/60 ml = 31.2 cents/ml
Colour 60 ml ink: $24.74/60 ml = 41.2 cents/ml
Colour 60 ml ink (3 off): $62.72/180 ml = 34.8 cents/ml
Individual 60 ml coloured ink is the highlight of this group. They cost over twice as much as the same bottles from Fry’s. Buying three 60 ml bottles of coloured ink does drop the extra cost as the $5.75 shipping covers them all. Black 60 ml ink isn’t far behind though being 73% more expensive. Also note that the cost per ml of black 60 ml and colour 60 ml ink (3 off) is more than the kits above, and that’s without cartridge and print head wash.
New yellow ink was bought as magenta ink was accidentally injected into the yellow ink bottle of the colour kit reviewed. You guessed right; I didn’t pay double for ink from CBW.
Ironically, CBW says on the packaging of the 60 ml yellow ink that was bought from Fry’s: “Now that you have the knowledge and components to refill your inkjet and bubblejet cartridges you can take advantage of this 60 ml. size yellow refill ink.” Buying 60 ml ink from CBW clearly isn’t advantageous. Let’s look at some more CBW deals.
Four colour starter kit: $42.70/160 ml = 26.7 cents/ml
Four colour package: $61.72/240 ml = 25.7 cents/ml
When the cost per ml of ink is consolidated for the refill kits reviewed (16.9 + 22.5 = 39.4/2 = 19.7 cents/ml), the cost superiority over the four colour starter kit (magenta, yellow, cyan, and black) can be calculated: 26.7-19.7 = 7 cents/ml less or 36% more per ml than the refill kits reviewed. If the same calculation is done to the four colour package product (magenta, yellow, cyan, and black), that’s 6 cents/ml less or 30% more per ml than the refill kits reviewed. The four colour package product doesn’t come with cartridge and print head wash. If that was needed the cost per ml of that ink would be higher.
Can buying in bulk save the day?
Surely there must be some savings to be made when ink is purchased in bulk. Let’s check those CBW Web prices – purchases over $100 ships for free.
Black 250 ml ink: $50.74/250 ml = 20.3 cents/ml
Colour 250 ml ink: $75.74/250 ml = 30.3 cents/m
Colour 250 ml ink (3 off): $209.97/750 ml = 28.0 cents/ml
Black 950 ml ink: $105.70/950 ml = 11.1 cents/ml
Colour 950 ml ink: $139.95/950 ml = 14.7 cents/ml
Colour 950 ml ink (3 off): $419.85/2850 ml = 14.7 cents/ml
Black gallon ink: $165/3785.4 ml = 4.4 cents/ml
Colour gallon ink: $195/3785.4 ml = 5.2 cents/ml
Colour gallon ink (3 off): $585/11356.2 ml = 5.2 cents/ml
Amazingly, 250 ml bottled ink cost per ml is more than the kits reviewed – 20% more for black and 24% more for colour. Those percentage numbers go higher when cartridge and print head wash is added. The 950 ml and gallon bottled ink at last show some real savings, but if you’re a home or small business user who can justify the cost?
What all of this should tell consumable purchasers is that the cost of ink is variable. If consumers don’t check the value of the ink they’re buying they may save money on the one hand, because new inkjet cartridges don’t have to be purchased, only to throw it away on the other because the cost of ink wasn’t investigated.
Managing printer costs
When it’s possible to pay over double for ink it really does pay to shop around. For the needs of our home and business we were lucky enough to have bought the kits that best suited our needs. As we have a need for cartridge and print head wash our future consumable expenditures will be for the same kits reviewed.
If you’re in the market for a printer and you anticipate your ink costs will be high, and if you also plan to use third party ink then it’s a good idea to do some research on the ease or difficulty of refilling cartridges of a printer you may buy. It’s also essential to verify support, especially if it’s one of those latest technology photo printers.
CBW’s FAQ page says a cartridge can typically be refilled three to ten times. Apparently, the longevity of a cartridge is determined by the electronics which control the printer jets. Resistors on the cartridge itself are said to overheat when ink runs out, so limiting the life of the cartridge. As previously mentioned, the print head of our Epson printer is separate from the cartridges, so they only hold ink. Because of that, I would expect the life expectancy of an ink only cartridge to be greater than what CBW is saying. If true, that would certainly be a deciding factor for me if I was in the market for a printer.
Unforeseen costs can also arise. For example, some inkjet cartridges have a chip built into them that has to be reset; once done the refilled cartridge can be used again. CBW’s Web site sells two types of chip resetters for Epson cartridges; one costs $9.99 and the other $54.95. A chip resetting device wasn’t needed for our Epson printer as the cartridges are chipless.
Volume ink users may be interested in a product that CBW recently launched. Called the Universal Continuous Ink System, it’s essentially a high capacity ink reservoir connected to a supported printer. CBW says it’s the same as using 5 to 8 ink cartridges per colour, so that would give volume ink users a pretty long breather between four or six colour fill ups.
Unfortunately, there isn’t universal printer support, which makes the product name a lemon. Currently, only two printer manufacturers are supported – Canon and Epson. Canon has two printers supported: the iP3000 and the iP4000. For Epson, the printer support is a lot better: 1270/1280/1290 and C63/C64/C65/C66 and R200/R210/R300/R310/RX500/RX510/RX600.
The cartridges of our Epson printer have already been refilled a second time. Now if only CBW made a truly universal continuous ink system kit for our printer; I’d only have to fill the ink reservoir once a year.
Did the refill kits deliver and was it worth the effort?
For the Epson and Canon printers yes. For the HP Officejet the jury is still out. There will be another opportunity to repeat the refill process as the Officejet cartridges will be replaced with genuine HP devices.
Did we save money?
As the Officejet cartridges will be replaced with genuine HP items, which cost just under $62 if bought from HP, our initial savings weren’t as high as originally hoped. As $102 didn’t have to be spent on new cartridges for the Epson and Canon printers, and $38 was spent on the refill kits instead, $64 was still saved. But the real savings are made over the long term.
Ink use for the Epson printer indicates that refilling both cartridges would occur once every two months or six times a year. The kits reviewed wouldn’t cover ink use over that period but four of them would – two black, two colour. Based on current use, one 60 ml bottle of black CBW ink would supply the Canon printer for a year.
If four of those kits were bought for the Epson machine they would yield 12 refills for the black cartridge and 8.5 for its colour counterpart. That’s 20 OEM cartridges, which would cost $599. The cost of those refill kits is almost $76, so that’s $523 that wouldn’t have to be spent. Black 60 ml ink for the Canon printer costs $10.81 from Fry’s, which would save $115 over the cost of OEM cartridges – $126 for three OEM cartridges.
Are we satisfied customers? Most definitely. If four refill kits and one 60 ml bottle of black ink was purchased instead of OEM cartridges, just like those above, the total savings would be $649 – assuming CBW’s ink has the same life figures as the OEM product.
If the Epson printer cartridge refill ink cost is used (colour: $5.03; black: $2.71) and the 60 ml black ink cost for the Canon printer as well ($10.14 – based on the 16.9 cents/ml kit cost), the weekly ink cost for both printers is $1.09 per week. So that’s one expense I no longer worry about. Also, when a PC and printer has been set up for the kids, I won’t have to keep reminding them to go easy on the ink.
Be a little green and help your local school
Don’t trash your empty cartridges if you don’t plan to use third party ink. My local kid’s school, and I guess others as well, will take them off your hands for recycling, for which they get a fee.
CBW will buy used, virgin cartridges – meaning original OEM cartridges that haven’t been refilled. Looking at what CBW will buy them for (50 cents to $3), I would just donate them to your local school. CBW also buys toner cartridges as well (50 cents to $12).}
What those who may be contemplating going down the ink refill road need to bear in mind is that this article only covered the CBW refill kits reviewed. Googling inkjet ink will bring up many companies that wish to sell you their products. So be aware. Do your homework before you buy