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What Happened to Inkjet Refill Kits?

Are you looking for inkjet refill kits and can't find them anywhere?

InkMagic International Ltd. was one of the first, if not the first, manufacturer of inkjet refill kits in Canada. This was our 'flagship' product for over a dozen years.

Just a quick history to see where we've come from over the years:

Over the past fifteen years or so, we've seen a number of changes in the inkjet printer industry. Unfortunately most of these changes have benefited the inkjet printer manufacturers, rather than the consumer. For example, the first Epson inkjet cartridges were simply a box of ink with a sponge inside to hold the ink. Easy to refill ... just make a hole in the top of the cartridge and slowly inject ink into the sponge. As long as you didn't overfill the cartridge, it was virtually foolproof.

Epson then put chips on their cartridges "for the benefit of the consumer". Apparently the chip kept track of the ink levels better than previous methods, or so Epson claimed. What it really did was prevent the refilling of the Epson cartridges because the chip registered 'empty' regardless of how much ink you had put in it. The inkjet refilling industry then started producing chip resetters so that you could fill the cartridge and make the printer believe the cartridge was a 'new' one. Within a few years chips in inkjet and toner cartridges became the standard. It became a 'cat and mouse' game .... new chip ... new resetter .. new chip .... new resetter etc.

The next step in cartridges, again lead by Epson, was to produce a cartridge without a sponge. The ink would be held in by vacuum and the vacuum would be controlled by small valves. From a refilling viewpoint, this creates a problem. If you don't seal the fill hole completely air tight, all the ink will drip out into the printer. If one of the valves is damaged you get the same results. For an inkjet refill kit manufacturer, this leaves far too many possibilities for failure.

HP, LexMark and Canon have all developed their own way of making it difficult or problematic to refill their cartridges. The bottom line is, printer manufacturers don't want you refilling their cartridges because this is their cash cow.

So where is the inkjet refilling industry now?

To be right to the point, the inkjet refill kit industry has basically 'died' over the past eight years or so. I believe InkMagic International Ltd. was the last Canadian company to produce inkjet refill kits. We stopped producing inkjet refill kits in 2007. For this reason you will not find any refill kits on our websites. You will also notice that large retailers such as Staples, Office Depot and Costco, just to name a few, no longer sell inkjet refill kits.

The Canadian ink manufacturer we bought our ink from for over ten years no longer produces inkjet printer ink. Most, if not all of the American inkjet ink manufacturers, have also discontinued their production. Again, an indication of just how the inkjet refilling industry has 'died' over recent years.

About the only refill kits you might find are the 'universal' kits which claim "one kit refills all cartridges". They are so watered down that half the ink drips out. This is because the sponges and vacuum valves found in hundreds of different inkjet cartridges are made for vastly different consistencies of ink. We (InkMagic International Ltd.) had over 200 different inks in stock at any one time when we manufactured inkjet refill kits. That gives you an idea of how diverse each ink was.

The 'inkjet refilling booth' you saw in just about every shopping mall just ten years ago, are quickly disappearing. It is not only the change in the cartridges as mentioned above but the overhead to rent space in the high-traffic malls and the labour costs to staff the booths has pretty well made them obsolete. The fact that you can buy inexpensive, new compatible cartridges, often for less than a 'refilled' cartridge certainly doesn't benefit the refilling booths.

You can't find any refill kits, so what do you do?

The only solution that I see is to buy a printer for which there are inexpensive compatible cartridges available. If you can find a printer with high capacity cartridges and costs $15.00 or less, would you even bother to refill the cartridges? Probably not. For the vast majority of our 'InkMagic' customers, they do own such a printer and can print as much as the want, very inexpensively. We have taught our customers to find out which printer is the least expensive printer to run, BEFORE they buy a printer. Don't expect the sales representative in the store to be much help here. He will probably sell you the 'hot' printer of the day. If you buy that $30.00 printer stacked in the main isle of Walmart or Staples, I can pretty much guarantee that the first set of cartridges will cost you twice what the printer did!! So which brand of printer should you buy?

We (InkMagic International Ltd.) have compatible cartridges for some of the HP cartridges, such as the HP-02 series or HP #88 series, but most HP inkjet cartridges have a printhead which has patents, so you will never find inexpensive, compatible cartridges for these cartridges. Likewise all LexMark inkjet cartridges have similar printheads along with a number of cartridges for low-end Canon inkjet printers. I have written an article which will give you information on which printers have inexpensive compatible cartridges available.

What Inkjet printer should I buy?


The Conclusion:

1) The inkjet manufacturers have very effectively made the refilling of inkjet cartridges very difficult, to the point where most reputable manufacturers have ceased producing inkjet refill kits. You will probably not find any inkjet refill kits being sold in Canada other than 'universal' kits which, in our view, are a poor choice at best.

2) Before buying an inkjet printer, find out if there are inexpensive compatible cartridges available for it. We are currently recommending the Brother multifunction printers because our InkMagic Compatible Cartridges are high capacity and they are very inexpensive relative to most other brands of cartridges. The Brother inkjet cartridges do not have any printheads. They are just a box of ink. (See the article above for full details.)

3) If you do a lot of printing then seriously consider buying one of our recommended printers, even if your printer is fairly new. You can recover the cost of the printer in just one or two sets of cartridges.

This article is written by Dale Farrier, president and founder of InkMagic International Ltd. All opinions are those of myself.

All rights are reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in any form without written consent of the owner. Should you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact InkMagic International Ltd.

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