Last updated: August 6, 2021

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You can't see them, but they are always there when we want something in black and white. Printer cartridges help us put our thoughts on paper every day. But not every printer cartridge is the same. There are many differences in what you should look out for, such as the design of the printer cartridge or exactly which printer it is suitable for. That's why we've taken a close look at different printer cartridges and compared them in this article to help you choose your printer cartridges.




Summary

  • There are several criteria for buying printer cartridges. These include what shape the cartridges are, whether they are refillable or not, and whether they are for an inkjet printer or laser printer.
  • There are also different types of printer cartridges. These are printer cartridges with sponge, foil or vacuum printing.
  • Printer cartridges are available almost everywhere. In return, you must not dispose of them in household waste.

The Best Printer Cartridges: Our Choices

Buying and evaluation criteria for printer cartridges

In order to find the right printer cartridge, we have compiled a few evaluation criteria here that you should look out for when buying.

Now we explain the criteria in more detail.

Design

The shape of the printer cartridge is crucial because it prevents the ink from leaking out of the cartridge. Printer cartridges can have different shapes. They are available with a sponge, with a foil or with a vacuum system. In the case of the sponge variant, the sponge ensures that the ink does not leak out. The printer cartridge works in a similar way, except that instead of a sponge protecting against leaking ink, this time the foil adapts to the contents and contracts as the printer cartridge is used. This prevents the ink from leaking. In the cartridge with the vacuum system, the ink is contained in an ink chamber and cannot leak out due to the corresponding vacuum.

There are also differences in the print head, which is used to apply the ink to the paper. There is the print head, which is never replaced because it is in the printer, and there is the print button, which sits in the cartridge and is therefore thrown away when the cartridge is empty. Both versions are not unknown and have proved their worth, although the variant with the print head in the cartridge is somewhat more environmentally unfriendly than the print head in the machine.

Printer type

The inkjet printer is probably the most common method. As the name suggests, ink is used for printing. This process therefore requires printer cartridges with ink cartridges. While the cartridges are often inexpensive, they also need to be replaced more often because they run out faster. Even though the colours come out well with the ink, the printing process is slower than with an LED or laser printer.

Unlike inkjet printers, LED and laser printers do not print with ink cartridges, but with toner. Toner consists of a powder made of magnetisable metal oxides, synthetic resin and pigments. With toner, you can not only print faster than with an inkjet printer, but the size of the print jobs is also more. On the other hand, the cost of toner is higher than that of cartridges for inkjet printers.

Refillable

There are also printer cartridges that you can refill yourself. These have the advantage that you don't have to keep buying new printer cartridges and are doing something for the environment. Whether the printer cartridge can be refilled by yourself and how the refilling process works depends on the type and brand of printer cartridge. Of course, only printer cartridges that contain an ink cartridge can be refilled.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about printer cartridges answered in detail

There are a lot of unanswered questions about printer cartridges. We now answer the most frequently asked questions about printer cartridges.

What types of printer cartridges are there?

There are printer cartridges that vary in their design, i.e. with sponge, foil or vacuum process, as well as printer cartridges that vary in their printing process, i.e. with ink cartridge or with toner. A distinction must also be made as to whether the print head is located in the cartridge or in the printer device and whether they are refillable.

Printer cartridges are available for different types of printers. (Image source: stevepb / pixabay)

How long do printer cartridges last?

Regardless of usage, the shelf life of ink and toner in printer cartridges is between 2 and 3 years. However, how long they last with regular use still depends on the type of printer cartridge and the type of printer, as well as how much is printed.

What does a printer cartridge cost?

The price of a printer cartridge is usually determined by the manufacturer and the printer model. But factors such as single or multi-colour, i.e. in which colour can be printed, and the filling quantity also play a role in the price. The following table shows how prices are determined:

Price range Available products
Low-priced 10 - 20 €) Single-coloured, average filling quantity
Medium-priced 20 - 30 €) Multi-coloured, average filling quantity
High-priced 30 - 50 €) Multi-coloured, large filling quantity

You can get good printer cartridges for very little money. Depending on how much and in which colours you want to print, the price range changes.

Where can I dispose of printer cartridges?

Printer cartridges can be disposed of not only in electronic stores or drugstores, but also at recycling centres and at the manufacturer. However, they may not be disposed of in household waste.

Are there alternatives to printer cartridges?

There are no other alternatives to printer cartridges.

Conclusion

There are different types of printer cartridges. In most cases, it also depends on the printer which printer cartridge you should use. It is always important to know which printer you have and which printer cartridges are compatible with it. However, you should also keep the evaluation criteria in mind. If you want to live and print in an environmentally friendly way, you have plenty of options, such as refillable printer cartridges. However, since you can buy and return printer cartridges almost everywhere nowadays, it is not too difficult to recycle them.

(Cover picture: Piyaphun Juntraverot / 123rf)

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