Knowledge share: Third party inks
Printer manufacturers strongly recommend the use of their OEM inks with their particular machines because, they say, it's the only way to get best results. The manufacturer printer warranty too is inexorably tied up with this – use our inks and avoid any damage to your hardware. Use someone else's inks and you could jeopardise the validity of your warranty as well as unwittingly degrading your expensive printer.
As every wide format printer knows, OEM inks are costly and the advice put forward by the printer manufacturers is somewhat loaded. OEM inks are expensive because the ink cost is an integral part of the overall profit margin of a wide format printer, offsetting R&D, manufacturing and sales outlay.
However top dollar consumables are the profit makers for printer manufacturers and it's in the vendors' interest to keep their printer customers coming back for more.
The high price of OEM consumables has meant that there has always been an interest in third party inks that are far cheaper – up to a third of half of the original OEM branded price. For printers, saving money on expensive consumables is a hugely attractive option, as it allows them to maintain their own profit margins in a market that increasingly brays for lower prices.
But while price is a major factor so too is quality. It's no point buying cheap inks if you end up losing customers. Inks from places such as China and South East Asia are selling at seriously low prices, which means their formulations are from very cheap sources. When you use low-grade pigments and UBV stabilisers in your inks for example, they are incapable of producing vibrant, long lasting colour.
As we all know, print quality begins with consistent ink quality. Ink characteristics such as viscosity, PH balance, surface tension and toxicity levels can't be compromised to price. To ensure continuing customer satisfaction inks need to demonstrate scratch resistance, superior adhesion, flexibility and fast drying times.
Poor ink chemistry results in damaged and blocked printheads and inconsistent poor quality output. It shortens the lifespan of your printer and demeans output, all of which have serious implications for business success.
It's been in the printer manufacturers self interest to put a downer on third party inks, labelling them as inferior and damaging. But this label of inferiority no longer rings true. What's important to recognise is that third party inks cover a whole gamut of companies and solutions, and those at the top of the tree are on a par with or exceed the so-called genuine inks at a price point guaranteed to make digital wide format printer owners the world over smile.
Very few printer vendors actually make the inks for their printers. The same ink companies that supply OEM branded inks to the hardware printer manufacturers also sell their inks under third party brands.
The third party ink offering has upped its game, and wide format print businesses are lapping them up. These inks are formulated in Europe, adhere to environmental, health and safety standards, and often exceed quality expectations.
Inks such as the DIGINK series from DIGIPRINT SUPPLIES come packaged in 440ml fully compatible chipped cartridges and are one hundred per cent plug and play. These inks don't require any flushing or additional profiles, and due to the complete chemical and colour compatibility of the ink sets, OEM cartridges can be replaced with DIGINK cartridges as they run out, rather than all colours at the initial install – saving time and money as there is no need to perform wasteful ink fill procedures or dispose of unused ink. DIGINK series also come with a six-month warranty on all parts which is worth even more then the savings you can make on the ink costs.
Third party, European-manufactured inks are gaining increasing traction in the global market. Bona fide disruptors in the digital wide format print market; they are a viable alternative offering quality at a price that can't be ignored.