Last updated: September 3, 2020

How we pick our products

20Products analyzed

21Hours invested

6Studies researched

80Comments collected

Printers are one of the basic tools of our daily lives. Whether you are a student, a professional or just making DIY projects at home, most people have a common need: to print out documents on paper. However, not everyone realizes just how important printer ink is or how many different types of ink are available. How much do you actually know about printer ink? How important is printer ink to the overall printing process? Let us show you.

Printer ink is what really drives the printing business because it generates the most profit. There are many types of ink with a large range of prices. Many people choose their printers according to the ink cartridge the printer uses.  Are you looking to buy a new ink cartridge but don’t know which one to buy? Don’t worry! We have prepared this article to help you learn everything there is to know about printer ink.

Key Facts

  • Printer ink allows images and text to be captured on paper when printing.
  • There are many ways to store ink. With inkjet printers, ink is stored in cartridges, which is what consumers usually buy. Printers usually have a black ink cartridge and a seperate cartridge that contains colored inks (“cyan,” “magenta” and “yellow”).
  • The printer ink you choose must be compatible with your printer, otherwise it may damage the printer, result in poor printing quality, or most often, it will not print at all.
  • There are different classes of printer ink, depending on the chemical composition, the manufacturing process, the intended use and the cartridges themselves (e.g., whether they are “remanufactured” or new).

Our selection: The Best Printer Ink on the U.S. Market

In recent years, printer prices have fallen significantly, however the price of printer cartridges–not so much. Within the printing business, printer ink is big business that is worth a lot of money worldwide. The following information has been assembled to help you choose the best printer ink on the U.S. market for both quality and value for money.

HP 63 Black & Tri-color Ink Cartridges, 2 Cartridges

This is a cost-effective generic printer ink cartridge from HP that is compatible with many HP printers. This package contains 2 printer ink cartridges (1 black, 1 color) for just $45.89! These printer cartridges are original brand-name products and offer worry-free exceptional quality.

The cartridges offer a yield of up to 190 pages per black cartridge and 160 pages per color cartridge while guaranteeing a high quality printing output. These cartridges work with the HP OfficeJet 3830 All-in-One Wireless Printer which is available for under $50.

GREENBOX Re-Manufactured Ink Cartridge Replacement for 63XL

Greenbox exclusive patented ink formula superb quality prints. This product is an XL alternative to the HP catridge in No. 1.  Whether you need to print images in vivid color, or pages with clear and crisp text, you can count on Greenbox cartridges to provide you with superior results.

This product offers high color saturation and high fidelity, leakproofing, compatibility and large ink capacity.  These cartridges have page yield of up to 480 pages per black cartridge and 330 pages per color cartridge, therefore they will last you a long time and meet all your printing needs.

E-Z Ink Compatible Ink Cartridge Replacement for Canon PGI-250XL

E-Z Ink ink cartridge replacements for Canon printers feature intelligent chips to ensure 100% compatibility with your printer, premium quality ink which delivers crisp text and graphics for clear, consistent and colorful printing, and a High capacity sponge which increases the number of printed pages.

With a page yield of up to 500 pages per black cartridge and 300 pages per color cartridge, these cartridges will last a long time for even those with the greatest printing habits. Each ink cartridge is methodically tested in their state of the art facility to ensure full functionality with its compatible printer model.

RETCH Re-manufactured Ink Cartridge Replacement for HP 61XL

Retch offers remanufactured cartridges for 61XL in 2 Packs(1 Black+1 Tri-Color) for just $22.99RETCH ink cartridges with 100% printing test print sharp text and vivid colors provide you with exceptional printing results. These remanufactured cartridges yield black 480 pages and color 330 pages per ink cartridge.  They provide high capacity, and print more pages compared to OEM ink cartridges.

All RETCH brand products are covered by 1-year limited warranty. One satisfied customer put it this way: “VERY user friendly instructions and the ink came out perfectly with very first print test. No smears of streaks AND the company has evne checked in with me a couple of times to ask about my satisfaction. Affordable and effective – I highly recommend RETCH cartridges!”

Canon PG-245 Black Ink Cartridge

There is nothing like the quality and assurance of an original product, which is exactly what this genuine Canon black and color ink cartridge package will offer you. These cartridges advertise a yield of 400 pages for the the black and color cartridges and promise added sharpness, detail and quality to your printing. This genuine Canon product comes with a full  warranty that allows you to return the product in case of any product defects or problems.

At $17.97, this is one of the least expensive, geniune ink cartridges on the market. Many people choose their printer based on the cost of the ink, and this brand offers excellent customer service with a toll-free number. Additionally, genuine Canon ink cartridges allow free access to exciting exclusive content via Creative Park Premium.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Printer Ink

Running out of printer ink is like to running out of gas in your car. It literally stops the printer from working! When it comes to replacing your printer, and considering which pritnr to buy according to which ink it uses, it is not always clear which is the most suitable to buy. The following section will cover the most common questions about printer ink to ensure you are well informed before you make a purchase.

Man checking ink cartridges in photocopier

It is essential that you consider the model of your printer before buying ink cartridges.
(Source: Auremar: 71652291/ 123rf.com)

What exactly is printer ink?

The ink used in inkjet printer cartridges is a liquid that contains various pigments or colorants with a purpose of printing onto a paper surface. Ink cartridges are the replaceable containers that are inserted inside the printer to inject ink onto the printing paper.

What types of printer ink are available?

With inkjet printers, you will usually find different types of ink available, especially at the chemical composition level. Remember that the most typical colors of printer ink are cyan, magenta, yellow and black (sometimes referred to as CMYK). The table below shows the main characteristics of the basic types of printer ink.

Ink type Advantages and disadvantages
Pigmented ink The ink pigment remains on the paper surface when printed, which is advantageous.

It takes less ink to generate the same color intensity as others types of printer ink.

Ink based on colorant Generally much stronger than pigmented ink and can produce more colors.

As the dye dissolves in the printing phase, the ink has a tendency to be absorbed by paper.

It is a less efficient printer ink.

UV ink Unlike the above inks, UV ink cannot evaporate from the page. UV ink dries very quickly which reduces overall print time.

The disadvantage is that it is an expensive ink and requires advanced equipment.

Dye Ink A low-cost type of ink commonly used in standard “black and white” monochrome printers.

It is not water resistant and requires time to dry.

How are printer ink cartridges installed and replaced?

The cartridges store the ink inside the printer and the printer head injects the ink onto the paper as required. The process for installing and replacing ink cartridges varies from model to model, but generally it follows a series of similar steps. The common steps can be summarized as follows.

  • Turn on the printer.
  • Hold the handles or sides of the printer and lift the ink cartridge access door.
  • Make sure the print carriage is idle and not printing before continuing.
  • Lift the cover of the first ink cartridge storage slot.
  • If ink replacement is required, remove the installed cartridge by lifting it upwards.
  • When installing the new cartridge, first remove the protective plastic tape that is around the new ink cartridge.
  • Insert the new ink cartridge, with the nozzle facing the printer.
  • Close the ink cartridge storage slot cover to secure it in place.
  • Repeat steps for other cartridges, if required.
  • Close the ink cartridge access door.

What is the difference between printer ink cartridges and toner?

Simply put, ink cartridges are used in inkjet printers and toner is used in laser printers. The main difference is the material: ink is a liquid and toner is a powder. As a general rule, toner is best for printing large text documents and ink is recommended for photos that require a higher definition.

The table below summarises the differences between ink and toner printers:

Speed Quality Capacity Price Target Consumer Group
Ink Less precise and slower than a laser printer. Prints a higher quality and better color definition. Supports different printing capacity, depending on the brand. Ink cartridges are usually cheaper than toner, but need to be replaced more often. Ink cartridges are more suitable for home or family use.
Toner Usually print faster than ink cartridges. Prints at a very high quality, except for photos. Capable of large print jobs. More expensive to replace, but provides a larger output. Laser printers with toner suit small, medium and large enterprises.

How long do printer ink cartridges last?

As we noted earlier, the life of an ink cartridge depends on the brand and model of the cartridge as well as the printer itself. It is difficult to determine the exact length of time that each cartridge will last because each printed page varies in the amount of ink used. The more of the paper surface that is covered by ink, the shorter the life of the ink cartridge will be.  Although there is no definitive answer, there are factors that can be taken into account to determine how long a cartridge will last, such as the following:

  • Cartridge Size
  • Cartridge Type (compatible or manufactured)
  • Level of Care

What are manufactured ink cartridges for printers?

Also called “refillable ink cartridges,” remanufactured cartridges are cartridges that have been used previously and are recycled for further use. Manufacturers check the cartridges, clean them, refill them with ink and replace parts as needed. Using this type of ink cartridge has its advantages and disadvantages, as explained in the table below.

Advantages
  • Cheaper than new or original cartridges
  • Contribute to protecting the environment through recycling
  • Helps to control ink consumption by only refilling the cartridge according to your needs.
Disadvantages
  • Ink quality may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer due to punching and filling methods
  • May not be compatible with the printer model you have

How long do unopened printer ink cartridges last?

As a general rule, the cooler the environment in which the ink cartridge is kept, the longer it will last, as exposure to air and heat can cause the ink to harden. It is difficult to provide an exact life expectancy of an ink cartridge as there are so many brands and manufacturers, however for new ink cartridges, the period of use is usually between 2 to 5 years. Manufactured or recycled cartridges usually last about 1 year.

To care for and conserve your ink cartridges, it is a good idea to store them with the head of the cartridge facing downward, and to keep the cartridges away from excessive light and heat. It is also recommended that you avoid inserting or removing the cartridges by force in and out of the printer.

foco

Did you know that historically, printers were designed to work with only one type of ink? Today, innovative manufacturers have dedicated themselves to making printers that can work with multiple types of ink.

Shopping Criteria

Inkjet printers are becoming more and more common in everyday life. However as we have learned, a good printer is not enough without the right ink. If you are still unsure about which type of printer ink to choose, pay attention to the following criteria. The following shopping criteria will help you to assess the most important factors when buying new printer ink.

Ink Compatibility

The first and most important aspect to consider before buying a new ink cartridge is compatibility with your printer. Not only because you the ink will not work if it isn’t compatible, but because incompatible ink cartridges are capable of causing irreversible damage to the printer heads.

Print On DemandPrinting and production experts

“The growth of the digital printing industry has undoubtedly been a result of the newest technologies. With each technological improvement, such as customizing products or doing short runs, digital printing has moved to new markets”.

Multi-Packs

If you print often, it’s better not to have to go out and buy new printer ink cartridges all the time. On the U.S. market there are package options that provide several cartridges (including with both black and color cartridges in one package) in a single purchase. It is important to take care of the cartridges that you are not using so that they don’t become damaged in storage.

Sustainability

Today, printer ink options include recyclable cartridges that manufacturers offer which are reclaimed and their parts reused. Another option you should consider is manufactured cartridges, which can be refilled whenever you need more ink. By using manufactured cartridges you will be helping contribute to the sustainability of the earth.

Security Measures

One factor that is essential to the proper functioning of printer ink cartridges is to ensure that they have the proper security measures in place. Ink cartridge security measures usually consist of plastic strips to prevent ink spills. For this reason, try to buy ink cartridges that are original or from reliable manufacturers to avoid damaging your printer with poorly manufactured cartridges.

printer and continuous ink supply system

The most typical colors are cyan, magenta, yellow and black.
(Source: Vitaliy Kytayko: 13984827/ 123rf.com)

Yield Per Page

Most ink cartridges include the number of pages they can generate in their descriptions. As explained earlier, this indicator is usually inaccurate due to the difference in page sizes, the amount of text you typically print and whether you are printing photos or documents. However, with that in mind, it is still advisable to purchase ink cartridges that describe a yield of at least 300 pages.

Summary

Ink is the most important part of inkjet printers and is also the highest expense when it comes to printing. Printer ink is stored in containers called cartridges that are very easy to install and use. Ink cartridges can be bought in various types and models depending on your printer model, intended use and budget.

Printer ink is the best option if you want to obtain high quality printing results, especially when it comes to printing photos. Ink cartridges are ideal for the family home and for those who use their printer for general printing purposes. Manufactured cartridges are an environmentally sustainable, economical and efficient printing ink option.

If you liked this article, please share it on your social networks so others know everything there is to know about printer ink. You can also leave us a comment and we’ll be happy to get back to you. Thank you very much!

(Source of featured image: Sasidis Sasisakulporn: 37666560/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?