Can I Use My Old Ink In My New Printer

The answer is...yes and no.

That's not an answer. Well consider this. How many printer models do you think there are out there right now' 1000' 2000' Who knows. But one thing I do know is nobody, including me, is going to spend the time testing the wrong inks in the wrong cartridges all day long to see if it works.

"OK wise guy", you say, "can I at least get a reasonable explanation of why I can't use my old ink in my new printer'"

Sure, that's an easier question to answer. You see, everybody already assumes that they can before they even ask the question, that's why they word it that way. It's because of the people who sell those "one kit fits all" refill kits.

All printer manufacturers do things a little different. Without getting technical, there are basically three different technologies for inkjet printers. Epson uses Piezoelectric, Canon uses Bubblejet and HP and Lexmark use thermal inkjet technology.

An ink designed for Canon, for instance, has a much lower convection rate than an ink made for HP or Lexmark. The reason is HP's cartridge print heads fire at thousands of degrees. The ink must be made to withstand that kind of heat or your resulting output will be unpredictable.

Also there are basically two kinds of ink. Dye based and Pigmented. Pigmented ink particles are much larger than dye based particles so using a pigmented ink in a cartridge designed to use dye based ink will result in a clogged print head every time. Also, pigmented inks are waterfast on any surface. Notice I said waterfast and not waterproof. Pigmented inks can made waterproof if they are used with the proper media. The same goes with dye based inks.

Pay attention to this because it will apply to any ink on the market. Any dye based ink can be used in ANY inkjet printer. The color output may not be what you expected but it will work.

Not so with pigmented inks. Pigmented inks are used in most black inkjet cartridges today. Epson has a version of color pigmented inks they call DuraBrite inks. They are very expensive to make and there is quite a hefty premium on the bulk inks from any manufacturer that I have contacted.

DO NOT use pigmented inks in any cartridge that was designed to use dye based ink.

Generally speaking, HP and Lexmark inks are interchangeable because
their process' are similar. Watch for color variations though.

The newer Canon cartridges, BCI-3e and BCI-6 colors are so close that I
cannot tell them apart. Ironically the cartridges are physically identical except for the BCI-3e black which is slightly larger. The BCI-3e black takes pigmented while the BCI-6 takes dye based. Be careful here. Some of the new Canon printers take both BCI-3e and BCI-6 black cartridges. A lot of people are scratching their heads over this one. Now you know why. You get the best of both worlds. Pigmented for archieval and dye based for photos. Since the color inks are dye based and pigmented inks do not mix well with dye based inks.

To wrap it up I'll say that you can use most inks in most printers with the
exceptions that I already mentioned. Color variations, if they occur, might
be compensated for in the printer driver settings. Be prepared to fiddle with it. Physical damage to the printer is unlikely in any case, unless the cartridge is leaking when you put it into your printer. But you wouldn't do that. Would you'

About the Author

Barry Shultz is the author of Atlascopy News, and President of Atlascopy, Inc. Atlascopy specialized in affordable alternatives to the high cost of printer supplies. Sign up for the Atlascopy Newsletter and get 10% coupons every week in your email. Go to Atlascopy to save a bundle on your printer and refilling supplies.