How to Buy Remanufactured Ink Cartridges

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How to Buy Remanufactured Ink Cartridges

Ink cartridges for inkjet printers are a significant expense to anyone who does a lot of printing. The cost of new ink cartridges is compounded by the number needed for the popular colour printers. Some colour printers use a single tri-colour cartridge to produce the array of colour blends seen in some graphics or photographs. Other colour printers require individual cartridges for the blue, red, and yellow tints necessary to produce the assortment of multi-coloured pictures the printer is capable of producing.

One way of reducing the cost of print cartridge purchases is to use remanufactured ink cartridges. One can purchase remanufactured ink cartridges at some office supply stores and computer stores; small computer shops and some specialty print cartridge shops also frequently sell remanufactured ink cartridges. For competitive prices with a large inventory, however, as well as the equipment to refill ink cartridges at home or the office, one should turn to eBay.

Understanding the Difference between Refilled and Remanufactured

Some buyers confuse the terms remanufactured and refilled. While both processes provide a cartridge full of ink, the steps that the cartridge goes through differ greatly. Understanding the difference between a refilled ink cartridge and a remanufactured ink cartridge can help buyers to select the process they feel is best for their situation.

Refilled Ink Cartridges

A number of companies refill ink cartridges for retail sale, and while the process varies by the firm doing the work, the basic concept is similar. Recycled cartridges are inspected for damage or cracks and then tested to make sure the electronic circuits on the cartridge are operational. Remnants of old ink are usually removed from the cartridge and the print head is cleaned. A generic ink is injected into the cartridge; the cartridge is tested and then packaged for resale.

Remanufactured Ink Cartridges

Depending on the remanufacturer, this process is somewhat more involved than a basic refill. Remanufactured cartridges are also inspected and tested electronically. The cleaning process for remanufactured cartridges, however, is usually quite extensive and may include vacuum boiling to completely clean the remnants of ink still remaining in the inkwell. The print head is also given a more thorough cleaning to remove dried ink and other deposits that form on the metal surface of the print head. A completely rejuvenated cartridge is then refilled with ink. Factory remanufactured ink cartridges are often filled with the original type of ink with which the cartridge was produced. Aftermarket manufacturers can use a close match or a cheaper generic, depending on how they advertise and market the product. Lastly, the cartridge is relabelled and packaged.

Do-it-Yourself Refill Kits

Kits are available that allow buyers to perform the ink cartridge refill process themselves. An ink cartridge refill kit usually includes ink, a syringe, and a needle with instructions to puncture the cartridge in a specific place. The do-it-yourselfer draws ink into the syringe and injects it into the cartridge. Some kits include rubber gloves to protect hands from being ink-stained during the process, and occasionally kits include an alcohol swab or other cleaning substance to wipe down the print head.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each process. The following chart provides a reference for buyers to consult when considering the type of cartridge to best suit their needs and help them make an informed purchase decision.




Do-it-Yourself Kit






Closest to original

Good for draft-quality printing

Print quality generally declines with each refill of the same cartridge

Ease of Use

Similar to original

May require more frequent print head cleaning

Ink leakage and ink bleeding are possible issues with older cartridges


Best quality

Moderate price

A single refill kit can do multiple cartridges, least expensive


Highest price

Occasional electrical failure

Cartridges eventually wear out

Remanufactured cartridges are very similar to original ink cartridges when purchased from a quality remanufacturer. Refilled cartridges are good for everyday use where the best-quality reproductions are not essential. Do-it-yourself refills perform satisfactorily for a few cycles, but the cartridge eventually wears out and must be replaced.

Identification Features of Specific Ink Cartridges

Each original manufacturer of ink cartridges gives their product a series of identifying numbers and letters. When consumers are shopping for remanufactured ink cartridges, understanding what the identification features mean helps them select the best ink cartridge for the printer they own. The following list provides identification information for some of the more popular brands of ink cartridges.


Hewlett Packard (HP) ink cartridges are identified primarily by a number printed on the label, which identifies the cartridge but must be cross-referenced with a chart that lists compatible printers. High-capacity HP ink cartridges, identifiable by the letters XL after the cartridge number, hold more ink and have a longer service life. When new, XL cartridges are advertised to produce 40 per cent more documents that the standard cartridge. Black HP cartridges have a single black dot to indicate colour. Most HP colour cartridges are the tri-colour variety and have a blue, red, and yellow dot. HP does produce single-colour cartridges, which are identified by a single-colour dot; blue for cyan, red for magenta, and yellow for yellow.


Lexmark ink cartridges are identified similar to HP with a number and with XL for the high-capacity cartridges. Instead of colour dots, Lexmark ink cartridges are marked with an image of an ink droplet in black, blue, red, and yellow. Tri-colour ink cartridges are more frequently used than individual colour cartridges for Lexmark printers.


Canon ink cartridges have a more complex identification configuration because Canon offers different types of ink. Canon dye-based inks carry the CL identifier, while Canon pigment-based inks carry the PG identifier. Dye-based inks cost less, dry quickly, and are generally better for printing text. Pigment-based ink is fade-resistant, water-resistant, and blends better for graphics. When the cartridge is listed as CLI or PGI, the I designates an individual colour ink cartridge. High-capacity cartridges carry the XL identifier and colours are signified by package colouring. Canon also offers a BCI series of ink cartridges that can be either dye or pigment ink. On BCI ink cartridges the type of ink is identified by the number and letter combination of the cartridge identifier number. Ink type can be an issue with remanufactured Canon ink cartridges.


Epson ink cartridges are one of the few brands that do not use the XL designation for high-capacity cartridges. Instead, the number of the cartridge signifies whether it is standard or high capacity. Number designations are usually only one digit apart: for example, the Epson 69 black and colour cartridges are standard capacity; the Epson 68 black and colour cartridges are high-capacity. Epson 68 and 69 cartridges work in the same printer. Colour dots on the cartridge and also package colour signify in colours for Epson ink cartridges.

Buying Remanufactured Ink Cartridges on eBay

For today's busy consumers, eBay's online marketplace offers the convenience of at-home shopping, the ease of product delivery directly to your home or office, and sellers eager for your business offering competitive prices on a wide variety of products. Buying remanufactured ink cartridges on eBay is easy: start by entering ink cartridges as the keywords in any eBay search bar. Narrow the list of results by selecting remanufactured, and choose a specific brand such as HP or Canon to see all of the options available, or by searching for black cartridges only or a specific colour of a remanufactured ink cartridge. You can also enter a specific cartridge number such as a Remanufactured HP 350 to see the listings only for that particular make and type of remanufactured ink cartridge.

The large selection gives buyer different options to choose from and individual listings provide information on the specific product offered for sale. Complete the purchase of a remanufactured ink cartridge by selecting the product you desire, buy the quantity needed and pay for the purchase using PayPal.


Remanufactured ink cartridges save consumers money on the purchase of both black and colour inks. For everyday printing, remanufactured ink cartridges produce sufficient quality output to serve as an adequate replacement for the original manufacturer's ink. Specialty print projects such as high-quality graphics, photographs, and jobs printed on some specialty papers may require switching to an original new cartridge for the clarity of print and the longevity of the ink. One should bear in mind that remanufactured ink cartridges may not provide the same results when used under conditions that require precise colour mixture, no ink bleed, and non-fade results; however, remanufactured ink cartridges work very well for printing notes, copies of emails, draft-quality documents, basic graphics, and colour pictures on plain paper.

Understanding the different designations and identifiers on cartridge labels and packaging helps consumers select the ink cartridge that best suits the tasks they have in mind. Buyers merely need to cross-reference the ink cartridge identifying number to the type of printer. Cross-reference guides are available anywhere ink cartridges are sold, as well as online at manufacturer sites.

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