Compatible cartridges are those designed and manufactured by a third party company, rather than by the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). They are designed to be used once just like OEM cartridges and will work in your printer in almost exactly the same way as an OEM branded cartridge.
They will look slightly different to the equivalent OEM cartridge but usually provide the same features such as being chipped to show ink levels or having LED status lights etc.
Buying compatible cartridges also tends to be much cheaper than buying those from the OEM whilst providing all of the benefits!
Compatible and remanufactured cartridges are often mixed up and thought of as being the same thing. They're not, and there are some important differences...
Whereas a Compatible cartridge is a brand-new product, a Remanufactured one uses parts of an OEM cartridge – usually the shell and the printhead, and refurbishes it. This is done by cleaning, refilling, testing and repackaging it.
A good way to think of it is like a recycled cartridge. Remanufactured cartridges tend to be cheaper or contain more ink compared to equivalent OEM cartridges and can be recycled many times, however, they are not as economical as compatible cartridges but the printers are usually cheaper to purchase.
OEM, Original or Genuine Ink Cartridges are manufactured by the Original Equipment Manufacturer e.g. Canon, Brother, Epson and HP!
These cartridges are the most expensive option for your printer and have been designed in such a way that they will not be restricted by any printer firmware updates.
When purchasing a new printer, you normally receive an OEM starter pack of low capacity setup inks to get you up and printing.
Due to legal design patents held by OEM's, some cartridges supplied may be classed as a Patent Free compatible. This means that they are manufactured to a significantly different design to that of the OEM cartridge in order to be sold.
This may include cartridges looking smaller than an equivalent cartridge, being a different shape or structure and it may also have a different chip in terms of location or orientation
Please be assured that these cartridges have been fully tested to work in your printer despite the many differences in appearance.
Although we sell Remanufactured cartridges that have been refilled, we do not sell any equipment or ink to perform this task yourself!
All of our Remanufactured cartridges are professionally serviced and packaged in a sterile environment ready for resale.
It is perfectly normal for Remanufactured cartridges to display an error such as 'Empty', 'Low Ink' or 'Replace Ink'. Sometimes this will be immediately after installation or sometimes further down the line.
Because they are manufactured from previously used cartridges, they have already had the Ink Levels depleted and will likely report as empty. When this message appears it is usually just a matter of holding down the 'Resume' button on the printer for >between 5-15 seconds until you hear internal movement. Overriding the Ink Monitor can vary between manufacturers but specific instructions should be included with the product.
Unfortunately, this is one downside to using Remanufactured Ink Tanks and if ink monitoring is an important function for you, then we suggest using Genuine OEM products.
Compatible cartridges often feature a plastic 'PULL' strip that covers a small air hole, usually located on the spine of the cartridge. With this air hole covered, a vacuum is maintained inside the ink chamber. This needs to be released before the main nozzle cover is removed.
For this reason, it is imperative that the 'PULL' strip is removed BEFORE any nozzle cover. The biggest cause of leaking is when the nozzle cover has been removed prior to the 'PULL' strip, or if any adhesive is left behind blocking the air hole.
As Ink Cartridges are basically little containers of coloured liquid that have been through the postal system, we don't recommend opening them anywhere near your cream carpet, white dressing gown or anywhere you wouldn't want anything spilling... Just on the off chance!
Cartridge capacity can be measured both in terms of the ink volume in millilitres or 'Page Yield at 5% Coverage'. Generally toners are measured in Page Yield but it is becoming more common for higher capacity ink cartridges to be measured in the same way.
The '5% Coverage' term is an industry standard measurement by the ISO (Industrial Standards Organisation) and is designed to compare the volume of Ink Cartridges and Toners across different manufacturers accurately.
The quoted page yield figure is not a guarantee of the number of pages you should expect from a particular cartridge, but is the expected yield if that cartridge was continuously printing at 5% page coverage. Of course, in real life use this rarely happens and in fact most pages are printed at 10% or more coverage, so fewer pages are possible.
The figure should be used as a standard by which to compare cartridges against each other in terms of value for money when deciding on which printer to purchase, rather than the actual expected output.
The Compatible Canon cartridges we supply feature a Red status light as part of the cartridge and can indicate when there is a problem.
Solid Red Light - Cartridge is installed correctly and recognised by the printer.
Flashing Slowly (3 sec) - Cartridge is low on ink but can continue to be used.
Flashing Fast (1 sec) - Cartridge needs to be replaced.
No Light - Cartridge is not recognised. Remove, wipe chip and re-install.
It's very rare to have one of these cartridges not recognised, but if the light doesn't come on after wiping the chip just get in touch and we'll replace the cartridge!
Compatible cartridges often feature a plastic 'PULL' strip that covers a small air hole, usually located on the spine of the cartridge. With this air hole covered, a vacuum is maintained inside the ink chamber. This needs to be released before ink can flow correctly through the printer and onto the paper.
Indeed, the main cause of poor print quality is when a PULL tab or tear off strip has not been fully removed from the cartridge. This is the first thing to check during installation.
Sometimes when the plastic strip is fully removed, adhesive can remain partially blocking the air hole beneath, again, restricting ink flow in the process.
A pin or paper clip can be used to ensure the air hole is clear.
Poor print quality is more likely to occur just after installing a replacement cartridge or when a cartridge is almost depleted.
When installing a new cartridge, not only is this an opportunity for air to enter the print system, but new cartridges will have been agitated throughout their journey to you and can contain small air bubbles within the formulation.
If you experience poor print quality after replacing a cartridge, and you've checked that any air hole is clear, it is usual practice to perform a Nozzle Check. This can be named Nozzle Check, Print Quality Test or similar but the resulting test sheet will contain several sections of pure ink from each individual cartridge. This will determine the cause of poor print quality much better than printing your own 'test' print.
If any areas are missing from the Nozzle Check sheet, follow this up with a Head Clean from your printer's menu. Both are usually found under the Tools or Maintenance menu.
It is good practice to perform another Nozzle Check after performing a Head Clean as this will show whether any improvement has been made. Sometimes up to 3 Head Cleans may be required but we don't recommend more than that are run consecutively. Some printers also provide a Deep Head Clean option should the standard Head Clean option prove fruitless. This will use more ink than a regular clean.
We do try to list as many compatible printers as possible on our boxes but it is not always possible! Not least because new printers are always being released in the newest ranges, but in some situations there are nearly 100 printers we'd have to list.
If you've received your order and are not sure if the cartridges are the correct ones, we're always happy for you to get in touch. With a few simple questions we can make sure you have the correct item!
Packing errors are very rare due to our accurate scanning system, so as long as you've ordered for the correct printer then 99.99% of the time you should have the correct cartridge.
You can always cross reference the cartridge code you've received with those already installed in the printer. Just bear in mind that cartridge codes can have slight variations when buying from different suppliers.
For example: CLI-551, C551, CLI551, 551C are all code variations of the same Canon CLI-551 cartridge range. Likewise, B-LC223, LC-223, LC223, 223BK are all code variations of the same Brother LC223 range.
This is probably the most common query we receive, specifically regarding the replacement Epson cartridges we sell
Our replacement cartridges for Epson printers are all 'Patent-Free' in order to ensure the product does not infringe upon Epson's intellectual property. As a result of this, it is to be expected that the cartridges will look significantly different to OEM cartridges and even other compatibles you may have used that do infringe upon Epson patents
This difference usually relates to the physical size or design of a replacement cartridge and this is perfectly normal! It may also need to be installed in a slightly different way or there may be differences to the retaining clip or chip orientation.
Check out our blog post and installation video Here!
We've been selling these Patent-Free cartridges for a number of years and while some Epson printers can be fussy when trying to recognise mixed types, please do get in touch if you're not sure about anything!
Again, another common query is where the toner cartridge we have sent looks either smaller or larger than the one installed in your printer.
If the new toner is smaller in size, 9 times out of 10 this is because your current toner will be installed inside a Drum Unit.
If you remove your toner from its Drum Unit you should see that the actual toner is a comparable size to the replacement we have sent.
Alternatively if your new toner looks larger than the one installed in your printer, we find the reason for this is usually one of two things. Either the toner still has a Black or Orange plastic guard attached or it has a larger handle by design which makes the toner look that little bit bigger.
Please also check you have ordered the correct product. We do find some customers order incorrectly, particularly when performing an internet or Google search before arriving at our website
Of course if this is not the case, we're always happy to double check everything is as it should be!
If you suddenly find previously working cartridges are not recognised by your printer, you may have received a firmware update from your printer manufacturer. Firmware updates are usually used to improve the functionality of a product but recently they have been used to prevent third party cartridges from being used.
If this happens, we have you covered. Our Firmware Guarantee protects your purchase in this instance and we will either provide instructions on how to install a 'roll back' firmware update manually, exchange the cartridges for a newer version unaffected by the update or a refund if you prefer.
We can also advise on changing printer settings to help prevent future updates from disrupting your printing. Contact us if you think you might be experiencing this issue.