In the case of that new car they just bought, most people know that changing the oil in accordance with the manufacturers recommendation is likely to lead to longer service life and better performance. When it comes time to do the laundry, there is a reason why the detergent maker suggests not mixing the whites with the reds—unless one really prefers pink underwear. If the instructions on the box say to microwave the entrée for five minutes, it is probably not a good idea to slap it on the plate after three minutes and declare that it tastes better that way. Life is full of examples where things work out pretty well if the directions are heeded and less well if they are disregarded.
There is one particular case where society does not seem to have gotten the message, however. It seems like everybody disregards the instructions when it comes time to replace that little bucket of ink lurking inside the printer. It is automatically assumed that the reason why printer manufacturers insist upon only using their own brand of printer cartridges is that they make a lot of money by selling them. While this may well be true, there are other reasons why they are so adamant about only using fresh new ink cartridges.
One issue that springs to mind is that of consistency. Not every cartridge manufacturer gets their ink out of the same vat. As a result, slight variations in the formula can mean that the colors come out differently than they did when using the original brand of ink. Likewise, the printer is configured so that a specific mix of very specific ink colors results in a perfect tone according to the printer’s software. Unlike very high-end industrial printers, it is all but impossible to adjust the settings on a standard desktop printer to compensate for this unexpected variable.
Even the black ink can come out differently. Off-brand cartridges can produce washed-out looking print that requires the exasperated operator to switch to presentation quality printing in order for the copy to look acceptable. This of course ends up using a lot more ink than regular draft printing and totally defeats the whole purpose of buying inexpensive recycled cartridges in the first place. The small amount of money saved by going the recycle route can be more than lost by having to double-strike all the print lines in order to make them come out looking black-black instead of ghostly almost-black.
Very few people would like it if their mechanic cleaned up the old oil filter and screwed it right back onto their new car, so one has to wonder why they are okay with treating their printer that way. If, for example, the Epson Corporation says that they would really appreciate it if their customers would only put genuine Epson ink cartridges in their complex mechanical device, it might be because they want it to run better and last longer than it would if other inferior parts are installed in it.
Lisa is a freelance writer and must have a dependable printer and ink solution for her daily work activities. She often writes about the products she uses and technology topics.