Amongst the office (or even home) supplies that need to be replaced often are the ink or toner cartridges of the printers. If you usually in charge of resupplying the printer, you might have noticed that cartridges come at a fairly expensive price – to the point where you will spend a comparatively larger amount of money on the cartridges than on what was spent on the printer within a few years. Since this is an expensive investment – and done regularly to boot – it is important to be knowledgeable about the purchases you are making.To begin with, ink and toner cartridges are different. Most people might believe there is no difference between the two, but in fact, they are quite different, for perfect ink cartridges basically rely on liquid ink, whereas toner cartridges rely on plastic powders. Ink cartridges are known for their better quality colour outputs (hence why bubble-jet and ink-jet printers are recommended for colour prints), but they can suffer from smudging, blurring and bleeding as a result of their liquid ink. On the other hand, with much faster dry times are the toner cartridges, which rely on heating the plastic powders and having them aligned magnetically on the paper to print (hence why laser printers are recommended for basic, everyday office print work).When it comes to ink cartridges, there are further differences in how the ink within them is moved to the page – the most common varieties of ink cartridges are the ones with thermal ink printer ribbons and ones the piezoelectric print heads.
HP and Canon ink cartridges, for example, feature the former variety. The thermal ink printer ribbons basically have the printer connected to the cartridge electrically, and push the ink through the ink nozzles following a command to heat up the ink and force it through.
On the other hand, piezoelectric print heads, which can be seen on Epson ink cartridges for example, feature a piezoelectric crystal within the nozzle, which changes shape when electricity is passed through it, and pushes the ink through the nozzle. Whilst the methods are different, both cartridge varieties rely on liquid ink, which means that they share the common advantages and disadvantages associated with liquid ink.Beyond the technical differences with cartridges, what customers are more inclined to be bothered about is the type of the cartridge: whether it is OEM, compatible or remanufactured. The first stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer, and are basically cartridges bought straight from the brand; compatible cartridges, instead, are third-party built cartridges that work with several types of printers; lastly, remanufactured cartridges are basically refurbished: old cartridges are refilled and have broken parts replaced. Depending on your needs and the budget you have, the type of cartridge you buy will definitely be an important choice, so make sure to look into it.