Remanufactured ink cartridges: What are they and should you buy them?

Remanufactured ink cartridges: What are they and should you buy them?

Printer ink can be expensive but remanufactured ink cartridges can help with that and save you money. If you've visited the best discount ink cartridge sites you've probably seen remanufactured ink cartridges but perhaps wondered what they are and how they work. This guide will explain all you need to know.

The first thing to know is that it can be far better to go for remanufactured ink cartridges, both for a money saving and for the environment. With a wide selection of options including laser toner, inkjet cartridges, original equipment manufacturer (OEM), and remanufactured ink cartridges - picking the right one can be puzzling. 

Generally an ink cartridge will be remanufactured by a specialist company. This is nearly always the best option as you know it's being worked on by the company that knows what they're doing with that particular cartridge. In this case you may also be covered by a warranty too, for extra peace of mind.

This is a very environmentally friendly choice too. Not only are you saving money but you're avoiding throwing out the old printer cartridge case, in favor of reusing it. You may find that you not only save money and help the environment with a remanufactured ink cartridge but you could end up with more ink too. Yup, when refilling these cartridges, companies can be more generous than when sticking to the rules of the original manufacturer of the printer itself.

All that said, there are some companies that do a better job of refilling than others, meaning the end print quality can vary. So it pays to read up on this more. It's also worth keeping in mind how long your ink will actually last so you don't waste it - read out ink expiration guide for more on that. And now, here's what you need to know to get the most ink for your buck.

What are remanufactured ink cartridges? 

Remanufactured or recycled printer cartridges are sent to a manufacturer who will restock the ink and replace or repair any parts that are damaged or not working correctly. Once the cartridge has been restored back to its original form a quality test is performed on each cartridge. Generally, remanufactured ink cartridges are copyrighted and cannot be replicated by another manufacturer.

Remanufactured ink cartridges are made by taking a recycled, used ink cartridge from a printer, taking it apart, and refilling it with new ink or toner. The best compact printers or all in one printers will make it easy for you to recycle your cartridges, which can not only save money but be very beneficial for the environment. 

What is a remanufactured ink cartridge?

(Image credit: HP)

Advocates of these products assert that remanufactured ink cartridges are less expensive and better for the environment than new cartridges. Switching to remanufactured cartridges can result in a cost savings of between 15% and 50% per order. 

This is because merchants that deal mainly with remanufactured products are able to set their own prices as opposed to having to adhere to the prices established by companies such as HP, Epson and Dell. 

Remanufactured cartridges also are filled to capacity while the cartridges that come from the manufacturer oftentimes are not. For consumers who are concerned about the environment, remanufactured ink cartridges preserve our natural resources while keeping unnecessary metals and plastics out of the landfills.

Remanufactured ink cartridges: What are the drawbacks? 

There is a lot to be said for remanufactured ink cartridges, including their low cost and environmental sustainability. However, many worry that the printing quality afforded by remanufactured cartridges may not be consistent among manufacturers. 

Although most recognized suppliers and online discount ink cartridge stores, such as 4inkjets and 123inkjets, back up their products in case anything goes wrong, the same cannot be said for all retailers. Here are some things to consider before ordering remanufactured ink cartridges:

  • Check out the retailer and manufacturer by conducting an online search, reading customer reviews, asking your friends and family, or checking the Better Business Bureau.
  • Find out what kind of warranty or guarantee is offered. Customer satisfaction is important to a business so most reliable merchants will refund your money (minus shipping and handling) if their products do not function properly. It is important to note that contrary to belief, using remanufactured ink cartridges or any ink cartridge that is not an OEM does not void the printer's warranty.
  • Check that the retailer's remanufactured ink cartridges meet or exceed OEM standards and if they are Standardized Test Methods Committee (STMC)-certified. That means an independent third party has tested the cartridge's print quality.
  • Don't believe everything you hear. Good quality remanufactured ink cartridges will not damage your machine's print heads, cause ink to leak, or result in substandard print quality.

These are just some of the things to keep in mind when you are considering buying a remanufactured ink cartridge. This information will help you determine whether these cartridges are right for you.

For more printer information, check out the difference between inkjet vs. laser vs. thermal printers. You should also know these five tips on how to maintain your printer

Ian Stokes

Ian Stokes is the Tech Editor here at Top Ten Reviews. He has extensive experience in tech and games journalism, with work published on IGN, Kotaku UK, Waypoint, GamesRadar, Trusted Reviews, and many more. You'll find him covering everything from smartphones and home computers to 3D printers and headphones. He's also our resident cocktail expert.