Trade Resources Industry Knowledge Ink Cartridge -- Ink Container in a Inkjet Printer

Ink Cartridge -- Ink Container in a Inkjet Printer

Ink Cartridge -- Ink Container in a Inkjet Printer

The ink or ink-jet cartridge is the disposable component of a printer. The plastic body of the cartridge holds ink in one or more separate reservoirs, and is fitted with electric contacts and sometimes a chip that allows the cartridge to communicate with the printer.

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Depending on the size and style of the printer, variations of cartridges is the rule. Cartridges are basically designed to work with a particular series or line of printers.

As well as size and brand of cartridge being vital for a printer to work properly, the type of ink cartridge needs to be correct when doing special print jobs such as photographs. Two types of commonly used ink cartridges are thermal and piezoelectric.

The table below describes these two types of ink cartridges.

Ink Cartridge

Used By



Canon, HP, Lexmark

The printer is connected electrically to the cartridge. A command causes ink to be heated and forced through the print nozzle and onto the paper.



A piezoelectric crystal is inserted into the nozzle which when energized by the printer changes shape and forces ink through the nozzle.

Ink cartridges are typically more expensive than consumers might expect – sometimes a substantial fraction of the cost of the printer. To save money, many people use compatible ink cartridges from a vendor other than the printer manufacturer. The high cost of cartridges has also provided an incentive for counterfeiters to supply cartridges falsely claiming to be made by the original manufacturer.

Buying Tips

For the most part shopping at these sites is easy. There are, however, some things you need to keep in mind when choosing a product. Whether you are a first-time shopper or a return customer, here are some of our tips for buying discount ink cartridges.

Consider buying remanufactured cartridges. These “recycled” items are taken apart and all the components are checked, including the drum, corona wire assembly, roller and wiper blade.

Plan on spending more for color inkjet cartridges. No matter which discount ink cartridges store you favor you can expect to pay about 30 percent more for color ink than black.

Save money by purchasing your inkjet cartridges in bulk.

Printer manufacturer versus generic cartridges. The majority of printer manufacturers also have their own line of ink cartridges but that doesn’t mean the compatible version won’t work in your printer.

Refill ink cartridges aren’t for everyone.

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Related Laws

Many programs have been implemented in the United States and Europe to encourage the recycling of ink cartridges. New York has implemented a recycling law for businesses and consumers regarding toner and ink cartridges.In California the Public Contract Code (PCC) section 12156 encourages businesses to purchase recycled ink and toner cartridges. In the UK, large compatible cartridge manufacturers have implemented recycling programmes in order to receive back empty cartridges for refilling of HP, Lexmark, Dell, etc. cartridges, as no compatible version is readily available.

The world of inkjet cartridges is not as confusing as it can first appear, and there are many options available to buyers, depending on the printer they have (and their budget). Consumers should always research a printer’s cartridge needs before buying it. In addition, consumers should understand that where they choose to buy their inkjet cartridges can also make a difference in overall costs. Online marketplaces like are a great place to buy quality cartridges at an affordable price.


Written by Nicolas Yang

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Topics: Office Supplies