If you like the idea of using aftermarket or re-manufactured ink or toner cartridges in your printer and have been doing so for years, there’s nothing more frustrating than buying a new printer and finding out there are no aftermarket supplies for it yet. Why is that? The answer is pretty simple, greed on the part of the major printer manufactures.
Here’s what happens, each year the printer manufactures need to come up with new models to please the masses, this in and of itself is good and it’s how business is done. Consumers want bigger and better, it’s just the way we are. All of the big players in this field like HP, Canon, Epson and Brother make huge profits on selling the ink and toner for their machines, that’s no secret. They want to keep that market all to themselves they will sell some printers at a loss or break even knowing that once you have their printer you are now locked into buying their ink, period. The one place that they can lose market share is through the re-manufacturing industry so they have to try and find way’s to disrupt the flow of aftermarket ink and toner cartridges.
The best way for them to do this is by inventing new cartridges, chips, software and ink that their new printers will use. OK, so you ask how would this disrupt the re-manufacturing industry, simply, we now have to reverse engineer these cartridges before we can re-manufacture them and they know that. This presents a slew of decisions and problems that we the re-manufacturing industry have to solve before you the consumer ever see a re-manufactured cartridge on the shelve.
The first is will the printer be a hit or a bust? Imagine if we spent hundreds of hours on reverse engineering cartridges for a new printer, creating the inks, collected enough empties to start production and then find out the public just did not like the product and decided not to buy. All of that time and money is wasted. So one of the holdups for us is keeping an eye on who the winners will be and who will be the losers, this takes time.
Next, the ink or toner that many of these new models use has just been formulated so they to have to be reverse engineered in such a way that they meet all of the specifications of the original without infringing on any patents held by the parent company. Again before spending thousands and thousands of dollars we need to be certain that there will be enough demand for those particular cartridges. Once we know that, the ink manufactures will figure out the formulation and start mass producing the ink and get it over to the manufacturers.
But even with all of these hurdles, believe it or not the most critical part of this puzzle is getting our hands on enough empties to meet the demand. The OEM (Original Equipment Manufactures) know this and know that this is the weal link in the process. If they can stop or curtail the supply we the re-manufacturing industry would grind to a standstill. So what have the OEM’s done? They have implemented all sorts of programs and or legal barriers to prevent or make it very difficult for us to get the empties we need! They are basically trying to strangle us by preventing us from getting the raw materials we need, and I thought we lived in a free enterprise system.
HP has made a global effort to remove as many empties from the marketplace under the guise of recycling. Since they started this campaign they have been very successful in keeping millions of cartridges from being re-manufactured. Now the difference between recycling and re-manufacturing is huge. What HP has done is built a huge facility that uses tremendous amounts of energy breaking these cartridges down into their different components with some being used in the production of cartridges but most just being melted down to make something else. It has been proven that re-manufacturing uses much less energy than what HP is doing. Also by re-manufacturing the product is being reused for it’s intended purpose which saves time, money and resources. HP should be ashamed of how they are deceiving the public. If they really wanted to help our enviroment, they would collect there own cartridges and re-manufacture them and sell them back to the public at a reduced price. We all know that will never happen.
Lexmark has brought to court and won on a little known law about how and when someone can use a printer cartridge for re-manufacture. In a nutshell any manufacturer can use a toner that has been used once in the United States as raw material for production. But if the same toner was used once offshore he can’t use it and could face huge fines by Lexmark, you can read about it here. Our industry collects empties from around the world that feeds our industry and then in turn pass on the savings to the end user, you the consumer. The only reason Lexmark dragged this law out of the closet is they are desperate and need to find and use any and all means available to them to try and stop us. The sad part about this whole story is that the courts are backing them up. To add insult to injury, Lexmark is asking that the offending parties buying the empty cartridge pay what the cost of the toner would have sold for here in the United States in a retail store! Here’s what that means, let’s say a toner sold for $150 in Staples. The re-manufacturer has been paying $3 for that empty cartridge, then he has to put it though the process of re-manufacturing and then sell it for a profit. The middle man gets it and then sells it to the retail operation to sell to the consumer at a reduced price compared to the original, let’s say for this example it would sell for $99.99.By Lexmark asking that the re-manufacturer pay the OEM price of $150, he just put that person out of business. This is free enterprise? Laws like this should be removed from the books or modified for modern times, this is insane. Our government talks about creating jobs and then we see this type of behavior.
Epson has sued and won using basically the same strategies, US business’s can only use empties that are acquired in the United States. Again the only reason businesses would do something like this is they are very concerned about the inroads we as an industry are making. We are taking market share and they don’t like it, but as the old saying goes, if you can’t stand the heat, get the hell out of the kitchen. Using these tactics will in the end backfire and not work.
The consumer has spoken and they are saying they are sick and tired of paying so much for printer cartridges. We are listening as should the OEM’s. They know our products work and if they had any sense they would jump on the band wagon and re-manufacturer their own cartridges and make some money off of them in stead of just shredding them or spending millions of dollars on legal cost trying to prevent our industry from providing the consumer with an alternative.
We at Ink & Toner Solutions keep a list of ink jets and toners that are in R&D. As our customers ask for these items we explain to them the process and then put them on a list so we can inform them as soon as their cartridge model comes on line. Our customers like the savings but more importantly they understand that they are also doing their part in helping save our planet by using recycled products. Hell if you can spend less money, get the same quality as the original product and help to recycle at the same time, why would’t you do it?