Published On: Thu, Dec 10th, 2015

Refilled, Recycled, and Remanufactured Ink Cartridges: What’s the Difference?

It is a fact of life that original ink cartridges cost a fortune. While the price for refilling ink cartridges can be reasonable, it is a different case when your cartridge starts turning in damaged pages due to leakage or scratches. Often, it is more affordable to buy an entirely new printer than replace the cartridge that originally came with it. Fortunately, the Internet makes it too easy to find inexpensive ink sources for every brand and model of printer. Faced with so many options, the difficulty now lies in knowing the difference between these alternative ink cartridges and how well they can match the quality of original ones.

Refilled, Recycled, and Remanufactured Ink Cartridges- What’s the Difference

Most budget-friendly ink cartridges are made from original ink cartridges. Depending on how the used original ink cartridge is processed before reselling, the reseller can label the cartridge recycled, refilled, or remanufactured.


In ink cartridges, the term ‘recycled’ simply means that the item being sold is made from parts recovered from an original one. This label is not exclusive to the process or technology used to reassemble the ink cartridge. Recycled may refer to refilled or remanufactured ink cartridges alike.

Just as the label suggests, refilled ink cartridges are used up original ink cartridges that have been refilled with ink before being sold. The refilling process begins by checking if the cartridge still has ink, then removing the old ink by spinning the cartridge for about 3 minutes. To refill, ink may be injected into a new hole in the cartridge, while some resellers take time to disassemble the module before refilling. The cartridge is then tested and packaged for shipping.


Remanufactured ink cartridges, on the other hand, undergo a more rigorous screening, checking, and restoration process. Aside from the initial testing for old ink, the module is completely disassembled, and every component is separated, inspected, and cleaned. The print head is soaked in a special ink dissolving solution and cleaned with a water gun, and the cartridge goes through hours of vacuum boiling, spinning, and atomizing. The cartridge is then filled with ink that matches the ink brand it originally contained. It is sealed to prevent leakage, then packaged and shipped to the customer.

Unlike remanufactured ink companies that check and restore every component of their product, ink refillers do not really focus on the quality of the cartridge itself. It’s a wise move for consumers to check the process and guarantee policy of ink cartridge resellers before making a purchase.

About the Author

- Paul Linus is an eminent online journalist who has been writing news, features and editorials on different websites from across the world for about a decade.