How We Find the Best Printer Cartridges

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Welcome to the May edition of ''Computer & Printer Tips' newsletter.

This month we're offering a special newsletter only discount coupon. If you were holding off and waiting for a good time to restock on your printing supplies, you'll be able to take advantage of some extra savings.

This month we've got an interesting article that covers a little bit about how we choose our suppliers. As you may or may not know, the printer cartridge aftermarket is huge. Consequently, there are a lot of cartridge manufacturers that have good quality and a lot out there that have horrible quality.

You've probably heard horror stories of someone buying a cartridge once that was the worst thing even, and ruined their life (and so on...). We've heard them too, and although they are based on actual experiences of some people it's not representative of the whole market.

The reality is that there ARE lots of poor quality products out there. Refilled cartridges that you might get of eBay could quite easily be from an individual sitting in his garage with a universal refill kit and a hypodermic needle.

Good for you however, is that we stay far and clear from vendors of that caliber. It's not worth our time to deal with companies that are only going to cause problems for us and our customers. The companies we use have top of the line equipment in mulitmillion dollar facilities. Their products are thoroughly tested and only the ones that rise to the top of the quality scale become our suppliers.

I hope you enjoy the article...

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FEATURE ARTICLE: How We Find the Best Printer Cartridges

There have been many times over the years when we have been asked about the products sold through our web site. Specifically, we hear questions regarding price, packaging, and model numbers listed on the box or ink quality. So in an effort to answer them all at one time, we thought it was time to share with our customers how we find the best printer supplies to sell.

We buy our products from many different companies, everything from OEM suppliers to compatible cartridge importers to domestic companies that specialize in remanufactured inkjet or toner cartridges. We try to find the best few companies in each category in order to supply our customers with top quality products.

There are two reasons for this diversification. The first reason is specialization. Currently, there are an estimated 250 companies just within the United States that remanufacture inkjet and toner cartridges. Some companies may remanufacture HP cartridges very well but may not have a good process for Lexmark cartridges or vice versa.

Some manufacturers have engineered wonderful compatible Brother cartridges but their Epson compatible cartridges may be unreliable. Individual models of a particular compatible cartridge perform differently even if they are coming from the same company. Cartridges such as the T032120, T027201, and T043120 have large variances in reliability from one manufacturer to another.

Buying from companies that specialize in one brand, type or even specific model of printer supplies ensures our customers are receiving the best the industry has to offer.

The second reason for buying from multiple companies is to reduce the number of out of stock items. Sometimes, specific remanufactured cartridge models (especially newly released models) may be hard to acquire due to a shortage of empty OEM cartridges. Shipping delays (foreign and domestic) from the factory are also another good reason we buy from a select few vendors to ensure our customers we see a minimum of out of stock items.

Selecting the best suppliers from the 100's of companies that produce printer supplies requires a rating system for the products to be evaluated. We are always looking for the best of the best so it may help explain why a specific model of cartridge looks different from year to year while others never change.

Typically, a supplier sends us a price list of what products they produce after initial contact. We usually look on-line or in trade magazines to establish the credibility and size of the soliciting company if we are not familiar with them. From that point we ask for a few samples to be sent to us. From the samples, we evaluate a number of key components of the cartridge to see if it meets our strict quality requirements.

Remanufacturing process (for remanufactured cartridges and toners): The cartridges must come from "virgin cores" (empty OEM cartridges that will be refilled for the first time). If it is an inkjet cartridge, the remanufacturing process must have a double test incorporated into the process. The cartridge must be tested after the being filled with ink and a second time 1 day to 3 days later for best reliability before being packaged and shipped to our warehouse. The volume of ink must be at the OEM amount or higher.

Many companies skimp on the empty cores they use. Using "non- virgin" cores or cores that have already been refilled at least once already can save on cost, but reliability will be a factor.

Personally, we do not buy "drill and fill" or "non-virgin" cartridges. They may be cheaper, but are not the same quality.

Function: Do the sample cartridges consistently perform under test conditions? No horizontal banding, vertical lines, streaking, inaccurate or missing color. No electronic errors, flashing lights or contact issues. Print should be crisp and accurate. Again, we look for superior performance.

Failure rates: For remanufactured cartridges, we look for a less than 1.5% failure rate for the black cartridges and less than 3% for color cartridges. For new compatible cartridges the failure rate (black or color) must be less than 1%. If a cartridge doesn't meet the standard we will look for another supplier for that particular model of cartridge.

*Some remanufactured cartridges have been taken off of the site because they were not up to our reliability standards nor has a company been able to reach the requirements to date (eg. C6625, M4640, M4646)

Ink: While no company can copy the any OEM ink formula exactly (for patent reasons) the ink formula should be matched to the make and model of cartridge. One type of ink cannot be used in all cartridges or even in all brands of cartridge, they must be engineered to the specific requirements of each printhead for best results.

The test cartridges are used to print test pictures (same one always used) on photo paper so that likeness to the OEM control can be assessed in a side by side comparison.

Ink: While no company can copy the any OEM ink formula exactly (for patent reasons) the ink formula should be matched to the make and model of cartridge. One type of ink cannot be used in all cartridges or even in all brands of cartridge, they must be engineered to the specific requirements of each printhead for best results.

The test cartridges are used to print test pictures (same one always used) on photo paper so that likeness to the OEM control can be assessed in a side by side comparison.

Warrantee: The supplier must stand behind what they sell to us. If a company offers quality products, this shouldn't be a problem.

If all of the quality components are within company standards, the price is the negotiated, (usually based on volume). Some companies produce an excellent cartridge but will charge too much compared to another company who provides the same quality at a lower price. Usually these are the big ones that have large-scale operations and multinational locations.

The danger is in the low quality companies out there selling poorly tested, unreliable products for cheap, and I'm afraid to say there are a lot of them. These companies sell to many online retailers but the reliability and quality of their products are below our requirements so we try to steer clear of the cheap supplies. We may not always be the lowest price, but its because we don't skimp on quality.

Packaging: Although packaging is less important than the other factors, we still value it. Does the cartridge fit the box appropriately? The space around the cartridge should be minimal to reduce damage potential when being shipped to the end-user. The cartridge should be sealed in a propylene or ESD (Electro static discharge) bag.

The cartridge ideally should be packaged in a quality box, preferably glossy, sturdy and attractive. The box labeling should have an image of the cartridge along with the model number of cartridge.

Unlike remanufactured cartridges, compatible cartridge model numbers will many times change the model number on the box so that it does not exactly duplicate the original model number. A compatible manufacturer may add a unique prefix to the OEM model number. (Example: "T0441" may be listed as P0441, CET441, RB- T0441 etc)

If the quality, functionality, ink, price and packaging measure up to our current standards; a small initial order will be placed for a single model of cartridge. These will be sent out to a few test customers. Then a 1-month waiting period follows to see if any problems come up. If all indications are good, a single case order for the same model will be placed and used to fulfill orders being sent out to customers. Then a 3-Month waiting period follows to see if any problems arise. If the cartridge reliability remains within company standards at this time, the supplier will be added to our approved vendor list for that particular model and will be ordered regularly

About The Author

Bob Stephens writes for ASAP Inkjets. ASAP Inkjets offers ink cartridges & toner at up to 80% off. Signup for their free newsletter for tips & discount coupons at: or email:

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Ok, that's it for this month's issue.

We hope you found it interesting.

Don't forget about our discount coupon running right now if you're in need of any printer cartridges.

That's all for now... Untill next month!

That's all for now... See you next month!

Eli Fry
ASAP Inkjets

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