MARKET GROWS FOR REFILLING INK CARTRIDGES

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MARKET GROWS FOR REFILLING INK CARTRIDGES

 user 2006-03-13 at 10:02:00 am Views: 56
  • #14788

    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.”