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Two Main Components In All Types Of Printer Ink

2010-06-06

Ink has a long history, starting with soot mixed with animal fat and/or water, and evolving into complex compounds of sophisticated chemicals with extremely specific purposes. They can facilitate drying, improve the bonding of the ink to the paper, allow for a greater number of colors, and so on. Yet, two ink components are universal and are direct counterparts to the most primitive form of ink. One is the colorant, which produces the actual print image and the other is the carrier, which delivers colorant to the print.

The colorant in inkjet printer ink cartridges can be either a dye or a pigment. Pigments are solid particles suspended in the carrier that deposit onto the paper to achieve a print. Dyes are soluble substances that soak into the paper. Each has its advantages and disadvantages: pigments are more colorfast, but they're more expensive and have a lesser range of color; while dyes are more colorful but can bleed into the paper and produce blurry images. The other universal ink component is a carrier, which are either water-based or solvent-based liquids, and each has its pros and cons. Aqueous inks are less polluting than solvent based inks but can smear when they are freshly printed, while solvent based inks will dry faster but not bond as well to the paper. Paper quality also plays a role.

There's one other universal ink component for inkjet printers - expense. The price of inkjet printer ink is extremely high. This is because printer manufacturers take a loss on the printer but garner all of it back, on the refill cartridges. When printers produced mostly black and white documents with some color for accent, this was not a huge expense, but with the rise of sophisticated photo printers, the extra costs can add up. Hence, the rise of alternative replacements for the Original Equipment Manufacturer's (OEM) cartridges: third party manufacturers, remanufactured OEM cartridges, and printer ink refills.

Third party manufacturers produce compatible, but not identical cartridges for many printers, but quality varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Remanufactured cartridges are used cartridges that have been reworked to bring them to original specifications. They are valuable for use in certain manufacturer's products which don't allow for use of compatible cartridges for patent reasons. Printer ink refills are the most economical alternative. They consist of a supply of ink, an injector, and sealant to keep the replacement ink inside the cartridge. The same cartridge can be used multiple times for a fraction of the cost of new.

By careful choice of printer ink refills, even inkjet ink cartridges can have long and illustrious histories, instead of being the short-lived and expensive drains on one's wallet they were designed to be.