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1. Does HP prevent the use of refill inks in its printers?

No, HP does not prevent the use of refill inks in our printers because we believe in customer choice. However, we believe it is very important for customers to have access to the right information so that they can make an informed choice. HP does not recommend the use of refill inks because of possible quality and reliability issues that could incur hidden costs for customers — offseting any initial savings on purchase price. An independent study shows that problems occur in over 60% of refilled cartridges on average1.

HP print cartridges are intended for single use, so output quality and consistency may suffer if their use is extended beyond the designed lifetime through refilling. Furthermore, given that HP ink formulations are patented, and that ink design itself affects the performance and efficient ink usage by the printer, consumers might be taking unnecessary risks by using refill inks. This is especially since the different brands of refill inks vary significantly in price and quality — how can you be sure which to choose? With original HP ink cartridges, it is a single safe choice that gives you peace of mind.
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2. If I'm only concerned about cost, aren't cheap refill inks the best for me?

If you are only printing some drafts for proof-reading, which you will later throw away, refill inks might seem attractive because of the low purchase price. However, when you invest in an inkjet printer, don't you use it for a variety of important printing jobs — school assignments, resumes, photos — where reliability, print quality and fade resistance matters? Also, printing cost is not just cartridge price! Some of the problems you could encounter when using refill inks incur hidden costs that could outweigh the price difference between buying an original HP cartridge and refilling. See answers to questions 3 to 6.
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3. What are the print quality/fade resistance differences between HP and refill inks?

Using HP ink Using refiller ink
HP: Crisp text Non-HP: Fuzzy text
» Enlarge image » Enlarge image
10-year simulated light exposure on photo printed using original HP inks (3-ink printing) and HP Premium Plus Photo Paper 10-year simulated light exposure on photo printed using HP Premium Plus Photo Paper but "HP-compatible" remanufactured ink (3-ink printing)
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4. How reliable is HP compared to third-party cartridges and how does it affect cost?

QualityLogic, one of the world's largest, most qualified independent quality assurance organisations providing testing services to major printer manufacturers, conducted a study that tested leading remanufacturer brand cartridges against original HP cartridges. The study found that:

  • Original HP inkjet print cartridges required less reprinting than remanufactured cartridges and produced 25 percent more frame-worthy photos and prints customers can count on2.
  • Nearly one out of every six remanufactured ink cartridges was dead on arrival or failed prematurely2.
  • On average, over 60% of refilled inkjet cartridges from leading refill shops tested had reliability problems1.

When potential costs (reprints, replacement cartridges, etc.) from problem cartridges are considered, you could end up spending more than what they paid initially.
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5. Will I still get efficient ink usage and the same page yield if I use refill inks?

Think about it — a top European consumer magazine3 recently tested a few refill ink shops and found that "sometimes a cartridge isn't even 50% refilled" and "the number of pages you can print with 46 of the 47 refilled cartridges is lower than with the original. On average the refills produced 33% fewer prints, but it can go as high as 77% fewer."

In addition, your printer's efficiency, i.e., how much ink it uses to print a given number of pages based on your typical start-and-stop printing manner, would impact your cartridges' page yields. HP printers, cartridges and ink formulations are designed together to ensure maximum efficiency so customers can save ink and money.

HP ink formulations are highly pure and have anti-crusting properties that prevent printhead nozzles from clogging when the printer has not been used for a few days. Hence, the system is designed with no need to "flush" the nozzles clean with large amounts of ink. When you use inks not specifically designed to such HP specifications, you risk jeopardising the sophisticated HP efficient-system design, risking the printer's efficiency, the page yields of your cartridges, and possible printer damage.
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6. Why will using refill inks cause possible printer damage?

HP ink formulations are highly pure and have anti-crusting properties that prevent printhead nozzles from clogging when the printer has not been used for a few days. Hence, the system is designed with no need to "flush" the nozzles clean with large amounts of ink. When you use inks not specifically designed to such HP specifications, you risk jeopardising the sophisticated HP efficient-system design, risking the printer's efficiency, the page yields of your cartridges, and possible printer damage.

Shopping around for the "best" refill brand is a hassle due to the availability of so many brands! Some refill kits are very messy to use — why get your hands all dirty when you don't have to? Reliability issues can also be frustrating — and costly — e.g., ink leaks that stain your printer or cause it to short-circuit and stop working, so you end up having to call the service centre.
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7. What happens to my printer warranty if I use refill inks?

According to industry practice, while using refill inks does not automatically void your HP printer warranty, repairs for damages found to be directly due to refills are not covered. See also answer to question 6.
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8. Besides quality and reliability, why else should I use original inks?

What about convenience? HP provides additional value through HP Smart Printing Technology in selected cartridges, which enables automatic print quality calibrations, monitoring of supplies usage and status, plus other ease-of-use features. This includes HP SureSupply, an automated, Internet-assisted supplies reordering system. When your ink runs low, HP SureSupply will give you an alert on your PC screen. If you wish to reorder, various options would pop up. These include Dial-a-cartridge, a service that delivers the cartridge you need right to your doorstep within the same day (subject to availability) — perfect if you've run out of ink in the middle of a job; Online HP Reseller Locator, which gives you contact details of the retailer closest to you; Click-a-cartridge, an order-through email service soon to be launched. Finally, HP offers you award-winning customer support on your printer and cartridges, so you can print without worries.
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9. I will use original inks if HP lowers its cartridge prices — why doesn't HP do it?

HP printing supplies are not commodities where "price" is all that matters. They are highly-engineered technology products with over 4,000 patents, and require millions of dollars to develop. For example, we introduced HP Vivera Inks and HP Premium Plus Photo Paper that produce superior photo quality and fade resistance of over 100 years — even with exposure to light; HP Advanced Photo Paper and HP 02 individual ink cartridges that not only enable breakthrough print speeds of 14 seconds per photo, instant-dry and water-resistant photos, but also (through special cartridge features) save ink and are easy to use.

On cost and price, HP has decreased overall inkjet printing costs by 68% while increasing performance by 900%4 — and there are no hidden costs from quality and reliability issues! We have also reduced the prices of our cartridges for low- to moderate-volume printing by over 45% 5. Today, our ink cartridges with integrated printheads are priced as low as US$14.99 — you can start printing with just one cartridge — and individually replaceable ink cartridges are priced at only US$9.99 each. You get hundreds of high-quality pages printed efficiently and reliably, as well as warranty backed by award-winning customer support.
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10. Ink is just coloured water isn't it? What has it got to do with printer performance?

Absolutely not. Printers are often blamed for poor printouts, but the problem could lie with the ink if you are using non-originals. All HP cartridges go through extensive research and testing before reaching you, including the patented ink formulations. By getting cheaper supplies for your printer, you not only end up with poor quality prints, but your printer could be damaged too. See answer to question 6.

Can you really see the print quality difference? Yes, and even if the differences are not immediately visible, they become very obvious over time. See answer to question 3.

Refill inks always sound tempting, especially when initial savings are involved. But you may end up disappointed with the quality of the prints, risk printer damage and end up wasting even more ink and paper by reprinting many times because of poor print quality and reliability.

HP's ink innovations:

  • Each new ink takes 3 years to develop
  • 100+ different formulas are tried till the perfect colour and fade resistance is achieved
  • 20 ink purity tests to ensure the ink is free of even the smallest microscopic particles, so they won't clog printheads
  • 70 other tests ensure the ink is just right

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11. Why does fade resistance matter?

Fade resistance matters if you want to share precious memories the way you remembered them with friends and loved ones, including your future grandchildren! Birthdays,graduations, weddings, anniversaries — faded photos won't do justice to these great memories.

Refill inks and non-HP paper typically perform poorly in fade resistance — your photos can fade very quickly, even in months, if you leave them lying around without protection of a photo frame or album. This incurs ink and paper cost if you reprint. Worse, you might not even be able to reprint if over time your digital file gets lost or becomes corrupted! More information on fade resistance can be found on www.wilhelm-research.com. See also answer to question 3.
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12. Isn't using remanufactured cartridges or refill inks better for the environment?

Not necessarily. HP takes a product life cycle approach to minimise the environmental impact of its printing supplies — from design to manufacture to end-of-life recycling.

Our Design for the Environment programme ensures that original HP supplies are safe to use and easier to recycle. HP also meets the requirements of ISO 14001 — the international standard for environmental management systems, when manufacturing its printing supplies. HP supplies carry eco-labels such as the US Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star — which helps customers choose products that meet high environmental standards. In 2005, HP was named one of the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World by Corporate Knights and Innovest Strategic Value Advisors, and the only company to be listed in the Computer and Peripherals Sector.

We also help customers be environmentally friendly by offering a free service for you to return empty HP print cartridges for recycling. This is the HP Planet Partners programme — available in over 40 countries/regions/territories worldwide. To date, it has recycled over 112 million HP print cartridges worldwide, preventing over 103,900 metric tonnes of cartridge material from going to landfills. The plastics and metals recovered are used to make new products, e.g., automotive and HP printer parts, wire spools, etc. HP's reliability avoids reprints, which helps to reduce waste and save trees! For more information, visit www.hp.com/apac/recycle
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13. Are HP inks toxic?

The following information on HP ink products is provided as a service to our customers.
HP inks are safe when used as intended. We encourage our customers to seek professional medical advice in the event of the accidental ingestion of any HP ink containing product.
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  1. Independent testing studies performed by QualityLogic, Inc. in 2003 and 2004 and commissioned by HP. Performance of HP original black and color inkjet print cartridges was compared to cartridges refilled at leading refill shops on a broad spectrum of reliability issues. Samples of 50 black HP inkjet print cartridges, and 60 colour HP inkjet print cartridges were compared with samples of 95 black refilled cartridges and 119 colour refilled inkjet cartridges, respectively, from two leading refill shop brands.
  2. Based on average results of brands tested in the 2005 Inkjet Cartridge Reliability Comparison Study by QualityLogic, Inc. and commissioned by HP. Testing performed on HP 45, HP 78, HP 56 and HP 57 Inkjet Print Cartridges. Individual results may vary.
  3. Translated quotes from De Digitale Consument edition January 2006, a magazine of the Dutch consumer association Consumentenbond.
  4. From 1991 to 2004, based on cost of printer plus 3-year supply of ink. Performance refers to speed.
  5. Between 1997 and 2005.
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