*NEWS*MARKET GROWS FOR REFILLING INK CTGS

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*NEWS*MARKET GROWS FOR REFILLING INK CTGS

 user 2006-03-13 at 10:01:00 am Views: 84
  • #14787

    Market grows for refilling ink cartridges
    Ryan Jarrell hated spending $25 to $30 each time the cartridge on his inkjet printer ran out. So a few years ago, he bought a home ink-refill kit.
    His cost of printing dropped to about $5 per cartridge, but the owner of the Louisville-based video-production company Phoenix Multi-Media found the downsides to piercing the cartridge with a syringe and squeezing it full of ink.
    “You’d best wear old clothes and have a splash mat down or you’ll spill on the carpet like I did, and your wife will send you to the doghouse,” Jarrell said. In addition, the refilled cartridges didn’t always work.
    Jarrell eventually stopped using refill kits but said he’d be willing to take his empties to stores that refill cartridges. He should have that opportunity soon.
          Refilling ink cartridges         
    New cartridges for inkjet printers can cost $35 or more, encouraging some users to turn to alternatives such as refilling used cartridges themselves. Refill kits cost $10 to $15 and can fill several empty cartridges.
    1. Assemble the syringe and needle and fill with the correct color. Insert the needle deeply into the filling hole.Slowly and carefully push the plunger in and fill the ink tank with a volume of 4 to 6 milliliters, then remove the needle.
    2. Clean the outlet and syringe.
    3. Reload the cartridge in the printer and run “head cleaning” utility two to three times before printing.
    Note: Instructions might differ slightly with different brands of ink replacement kits.
    Drugstore chain Walgreens soon will launch a service at 1,500 of its more than 5,000 stores that lets people refill inkjet cartridges in 10 to 15 minutes. OfficeMax and Office Depot are testing similar systems. The refilling services cost $12 to $15, about half as much as buying a replacement cartridge.
    That’s still about twice the cost of refilling a cartridge yourself, but store refills are guaranteed and quality tends to be higher, said Bill McKenney, CEO of Boston-based InkTec Zone. His company sells both home refill kits and the machines that stores are using to refill cartridges. He said that in the past six months, four equipment vendors have started selling store-based refillers.
    “There are entire factories across the United States where all people do is take apart cartridges, flush them and refill them, and they make money at it,” McKenney said. “That got a lot of us interested in how to offer a store-based service.”
    Because replacement ink cartridges are where printer makers make their money, profit margins are huge, McKenney said. That’s why stores can halve the prices and still make a profit.
    Lexington, Ky.-based Lexmark and other printer makers often lose money on printers but recoup it on ink. They defend their higher prices, saying their cartridges are as technologically advanced as the printers.
    “Refillers are providing you with used cartridges with print heads that were not designed for multiple uses and with ink that is not optimized for use with the printer,” Lexmark spokesman Tim Fitzpatrick said.
    Jana Munford, a Dallas-based analyst at market researcher Current Analysis, said printer makers have spent a lot in recent years updating inks for digital photos and other high-resolution printing. Refillers may be cheaper, but she said they can’t compete on quality.
    “I wouldn’t trust my photos to a remanufactured or a refilled cartridge,” Munford said.
    In September, Consumer Reports released the results of a four-month study that found that remanufactured and refilled cartridges are not as efficient at printing photos, so people don’t save much by using them.
    Consumer Reports said such cartridges may be the “smart choices when economy is more important than excellent photo quality. … With some off-brands, you can get excellent black text at a good price.”