Ask LH: Will Non-Genuine Ink Damage My Printer?

Dear Lifehacker, We all know that ink is ridiculously overpriced. The printer companies always say to stay away from non-genuine ink, but is there really any damage that non-genuine ink cartridges can do to your printers? Thanks, Ink Twice

Ink picture from Shutterstock

Dear IT,

Printer manufacturers make most of their money through the selling of ink, so it’s not surprising that they want you to avoid third-party products.

I’ve personally never experienced any issues with no-name ink other than the fact that it sometimes confuses the printer’s ink gauge. This can result in bogus warnings about running out of ink when there’s still plenty left in the ribbon. In other words, you’re forced to ignore the alerts and instead keep an eye out for fading ink; a slight annoyance.

Otherwise, the main issue with cheap ink is a higher potential for colour inaccuracy. Because printers’ colour profiles are based on their own ink, you might notice some minor colour errors if you swap over to a different brand. That said, the issue should only be of concern if you require perfect results. For most users, the abnormalities should be small enough to ignore.

On another note, it might be a good idea to check the warranty information for your printer — the terms and conditions may stipulate that using no-name ink voids the warranty. That said, if you’re using a budget printer in the region of $100, the risks are probably worthwhile.


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