Posts Tagged 'ink composition'

The Quality of Remanufacturing Ink Cartridges in the USA

Manufacturing products in the United States has its advantages and disadvantages. The obvious disadvantage comes with the pricing. In the United States we have high wages and high living standards and thus every manufactured project in America takes a lot of money to create as compared to China or Thailand which has much lower minimum wages and in turn, lower living standards. On the other hand, manufacturers in the United States are the most productive in the world according to the National Association of Manufacturers. The Research and development is far more in depth and comprehensive which leads to greater innovation. We can see this effect in the ink and toner industry, especially when it comes to the viscosity, performance, and preservation of the pigments and overall ink compositions.

Our Remanufacturing Station, located in the San Fernando Valley of California, was kind enough to let me poke around and test some of the ink cartridges out. The results were not what I expected, as the ink compositions they are using tended to be brighter and carry more natural saturation. Upon seeing the first sets of printouts, I was stunned at the sheer quality coming from the basic, dual ink cartridge system printer we were using to test with and the remanufactured cartridges I brought from our warehouse located just down the road in Simi Valley, California. The lead engineer informed me that they have a significant advantage when it comes to the selection of ink they put into their remanufactured cartridges. Being in California, they receive more pigments and ink compositions than anywhere else in the world to select from.

The ink-filling team is able to compare hundreds of samples against the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) cartridges and compatible ink cartridges made in China to get the best looking results, measuring  saturation, consistency, definition / gradation, lightfastness, durability, bleed, and ensuring each color is slightly different from the OEM with convenient color rendition charts.

Each aspect being tested is important for the overall quality and best results. The formulation of the ink composition needs to be smooth and uniform in order to guarantee that the first print will be the same as the fifth print and the same as the hundredth print and so on. Printing out colorful pictures and images with large solid color surfaces can help the team determine how consistent the formulation is. We can see a good measure of consistency with the Microsoft umbrellas picture, each being a solid color.

Looking at the Microsoft Umbrellas picture, we can see that each umbrella needs to be one consistent color with proper shading to denote the natural curvature. During this test, both the OEM and the Remanufactured ink cartridges performed with high markings. The only real noticeable difference comes with the shading. With the Remanufactured ink cartridges we can notice a more abrupt change into darkness due to the three colors being more vibrant. This effect makes the umbrellas look sharper and less rounded than the umbrellas printed with the OEM cartridges. However, the vibrancy really makes the umbrellas printed with the Remanufactured cartridges stand out and pop off of each other.

OEM Umbrellas

The OEM Umbrellas Printout

Remanufactured Umbrellas

The Remanufactured Umbrellas Printout

The next picture containing the boy with painted hands is ideal for seeing the gradation and viscosity of the expelled ink, since we can see pale skin tones and textured colors. The gradation, also known as definition is the sharpness at which one color changes to another and how tightly packed the pixels are jetted onto an area. This is a tricky balancing act since the pixels will get tighter the thicker the ink formulation is. However, the thicker the formula is, the greater chance of clots and horizontal lines forming.

With the OEM printed hands picture we can see nice tight lines and good blending with the gradation (the dots are not noticeable at a normal viewing distance), especially looking around the mouth and nose area of the boy. However when the OEM cartridge gets to the deep red paint on the right index finger and left palm of the boy, we see noticeable horizontal lines forming which can be common with thicker compositions of ink when changing immediately from finite red detail found on the skin tone to a deep saturated red found on the painted hands.

With the Remanufactured cartridges we see much more vibrant color once again and some noticeable pixilation or dots around the nose area of the boy. Although the painted hands are far superior with their consistency and ability to instantly change into another color. Like the umbrellas picture, the different colors really pop out from each other creating more sharply drawn shapes.

OEM Boy's Hands

The OEM Boy’s Hands Printout

Remanufactured Boy's Hands

The Remanufactured Boy’s Hands Printout

All the mentioned elements are noticeable in our next three images as well, although the saturation really flourishes in these next examples. Saturation is the intensity of the colors and how vibrantly they play off of each other. Pictures with little saturation are often referred to as dull or lacking in luster. This is definitely the case when comparing the shine and richness on each fruit. Looking at each fruit individually, such as the pear or the shiny red apple, it becomes evident that the Remanufactured printout provides a richer and deeper saturation of color. This makes the shine on the fruit stand out and helps the shapes pop out of their black borders. Just looking at the images, I would rather eat the fruit from the Remanufactured printout than the OEM printout.

OEM Fruits

The OEM Fruits Printout

Remanufactured Fruits

The Remanufactured Fruits Printout

The picture of the parrots in a jungle scene also highlights the deep saturation found with our remanufactured ink cartridges. From the shine on the water to the deep and dark greens found above and around the waterfall, the Remanufactured ink really displays its vibrancy with rich greens. The parrots have a deeper and richer red, as well as a brighter, more contrasting yellow with our Remanufactured ink cartridges. The overall feel of the Remanufactured parrot printout is like that of a painting where all the true colors are enhanced. In the OEM cartridge printed version, everything feels a little washed out or light in color. This definitely helps with pale skin tones, but does not excel at capturing the deep rich color found in nature.

OEM Parrots

The OEM Parrots Printout

Remanufactured Parrots

The Remanufactured Parrots Printout

Moreover, the hot air balloons printout helps show the deep richness found with our Remanufactured ink cartridges. The blues and reds found in the Remanufactured cartridge printout are more vibrant and the yellows slightly brighter than the printout created with the OEM cartridges. Looking at the sun in the picture helps to depict the difference in saturation. With the OEM printout, all the colors almost blend into each other like water colors, where each color of the Remanufactured printout stands out more like an oil painting.

OEM Balloons

The OEM Balloons Printout

Remanufactured Balloons

The Remanufactured Balloons Printout

One of the most important tests is to ensure that each color is slightly different from the OEM cartridge which our Remanufacturing Station views as advantageous. The lead engineer sees this as an opportunity to improve on the existing color formulas already released for the OEM cartridges. The most fitting image to see the color differentiation comes with the image of colored pencils. Comparing each pencil color to the OEM color pencils printout clearly shows the reds and blues being darker and the yellows being brighter. The reason for making the reds and blues darker was to improve the overall saturation while the brighter yellow provides a greater contrast and helps to mellow out the dark reds (magenta) and blues (cyan).

Looking at the pencils we can see the reds of the OEM cartridge appear to have more of a brick red hue whereas the Remanufactured printout displays more of a cherry red hue. The blue or cyan printed with the OEM cartridges is slightly lighter and has more noticeable pink and purple shades mixed with the blue. The Remanufactured printout is darker and has dark blue almost black shades within the blue areas. The Remanufactured yellow ink is the most evidentially different from the OEM version being much more of a highlighter yellow compared to the OEM which is more of a mustard yellow.

OEM Pencils

The OEM Pencils Printout

Remanufactured Pencils

The Remanufactured Pencils Printout

Durability and lightfastness are also major components of their testing. The engineers will leave pictures under controlled UV rays to measure lightfastness or the rate at which the colors will fade in light. They blast pictures with different elements such as water to measure bleed effects. And to test the durability, they have state of the art temperature controlled rooms to measure the how intense of heat or cold the cartridges can take. They also have multiple paper types that they will test on to ensure similar results no matter how thick or flimsy the media is.

All this is to find the absolute best color and performance for each remanufactured and refilled ink cartridge. Although this seems like a lot of testing, the company has specific templates which can gauge multiple aspects at once. This can all take a lot of work, but the end results are worth it and are always improving with the discovery of more compositions and pigments.

Check out some more of our printed pictures and templates below.

Remanufactured Parrot

The Remanufactured Parrot Printout

Remanufactured Template 1

The Remanufactured Template 1 Printout

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remanufactured Template 2

The Remanufactured Template 2 Printout

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited (Sources)

The Quality of Remanufacturing Ink in the USA

Microsoft win8download.com. Colorful-Umbrellas. 2013. Windows 8 wallpaper of colorful umbrellas. Accessed 17 June, 2014. http://win8download.com/25-colors-windows-8-background-and-wallpapers.html

Holisms2014.com. Cute-Boy-Colorful-Hand-HD-Wallpaper.jpg. 2014. Holi Wallpaper free download 2014. Accessed 17 June, 2014. http://www.holisms2014.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Cute-Boy-Colorful-Hand-HD-Wallpaper.jpg

Ananya, thephotogallerypages.com. photo-Colorful-Fruits-HD-Desktop-Wallpaper-403.jpg. 2012. Beautiful Fruits Pictures, Ananya. Accessed 17 June, 2014. http://www.wallsave.com/wallpaper/1280×960/ananya-colorful-fruits-hd-desktop-posted-in-album-beautiful-hq-456020.html

Jonkman, desktopwallpapers4me.com. Macaws-on-a-branch-9518.jpg. 2013. Macaws on a branch Wallpaper. Accessed 17 June, 2014. http://www.desktopwallpapers4.me/animals/macaws-on-a-branch-9518/

Stacy, lovethispic.com. Hot-air-balloons-over-lavender-field.jpg. 2014. Hot Air Balloons over Lavender Field. Accessed 17 June, 2014. http://www.lovethispic.com/image/14461/hot-air-balloons-over-lavender-field

Zcool.com.cn, all-free-download.com. color_pencil_closeup_picture_166380.jpg. 2014. Color pencil closeup picture. Accessed 17 June, 2014. http://all-free-download.com/free-photos/color_pencil_closeup_picture_166380.html

What’s in this stuff: Ink Chemical Composition?

Ink cartridges contain some of the most expensive liquid on the planet, but what is ink actually made of?

Impact

The ink itself, after being sold in cartridges at brand name retail prices, can reach upwards of $3 per milliliter which is around $235 per cup or $11,350 per gallon. No doubt, that is expensive any way you look at it and some even compare modern printer ink prices to fine caviars and gold. A lot of printer inks now cost even more to replace then the printer originally cost, begging the consumer to ask, why not just purchase a new printer instead of replacing the ink?

To answer the latter question, printer manufacturers do not advertise the amount of printouts that are possible with the cartridges found inside the box when buying a new printer. This is because they are starter ink cartridges and are intended for consumers to get an idea of what the printer output is like or capable of and not necessarily how much ink will be in a replacement cartridge.  Thus, replacement ink cartridges will always yield more printouts then the included cartridges when purchasing a new printer.

The Mixture

Most ink compositions are a fairly basic mixture of fine pigment particles dispersed in a solvent which is generally a liquid or aqueous solution, although the solvent can be organic. Some formulations will also have colorants when the pigmented materials do not apply to the desired color. And with advanced formulas of inks such as the ChromaLife 100+, DURAbrite, UltraChrome, and other specially named inks, further ingredients are added to improve the overall chemical composition.

The additional ingredients found in these specialty cartridges have a specific purpose from reducing foaming action to controlling surface properties. The addition of pH modifiers will help to control the acidity levels of the mixture so the composition does not corrode the metal printheads inside the machine. Humectants can be added to keep the mixture from prematurely dying a substrate or surface while surfactants act as wetting agents, helping to control surface properties. Defoaming or antifoaming agents can also be added to regulate foam formation, as foam creates air pockets and uneven ink flow. Thickeners or rheology modifiers can also be added to provide needed viscosity to the jetted out liquid ink. Perhaps the most common addition to ink compositions is the polymeric resins or polymers which give pigments or colorants a glass-like coating that protects, reflects light, and keeps particles from binding or clumping together. And to prevent fungal and bacterial growth that can spoil chemical ink compositions, biocides are also added.

Metal Colorants

Black ink cartridges still use carbon to achieve the black tonal output as past attempts at substituting carbon for other metals failed due to toxicity or financial reasons. Most white ink formulations have titanium dioxide, being rutile or anatase crystals in tetragonal form. Both anatase and rutile are just different forms of titanium dioxide known for their rich color and luster. Moreover, specific metallic pigments such as copper-zinc alloy powder and aluminum powder have been used in novelty gold and silver inks which are very rare. Some other miscellaneous inorganic pigmented metals have also been used in various photographic inks to provide luminescent and pearlescent effects.

Colorants

Cyan ink cartridges get their bright blue hue from Direct Blue 199 dye which is made of copper phthalocyanine and sulfur. This substance is a direct dye, being able to directly contact and bond to fibrous substrates like paper and cloth without needing a binding confounder or fixative.

The Magenta vibrancy comes from Reactive Red dye 23 which is a dark red powder that has a high pH level and high lightfastness (resistance to fading in light). Many formulations containing Reactive Red Dye 23, will need both a pH modifiers and a confounder to help hold the mixture to a substrate before the dye reacts and adheres to cellulose like material.

The Yellow coloration comes from Acid Yellow dye 23, which is also known by chefs and food fanatics because it’s a common coloring agent used in foods. And although Acidic Yellow Dye 23 is found in foods, this dye has been known to trigger allergic reactions such as asthma attacks, hives, and contact dermatitis so do not try to ingest this yellow ink as it may be hazardous unlike its more natural cousin, yellow food coloring.

Miscellaneous Materials

Cyclahexanone is an organic solvent or colorless oil that helps ink adhere to polymers, making this chemical ideal for outdoor use and application on smooth surfaces. Cyclahexanone is also a precursor to creating nylon when oxidized with nitric acid. This substance is also commonly found with reactive dyes as it will hold the pigments in place until they naturally react to cellulose like material.

Ethoxylated acetylenic diols is the most common surfactant that is responsible for the viscosity or reduction of surface tension in most ink formulations. This substance is a low foaming wetting agent that also improves freeze-thaw stability of acrylic systems.  Ethoxylated acetylenic diols is also an excellent, oil in water, emulsifier.

Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, more commonly known to be abbreviated as EDTA, is a colorless water-soluble solid used to dissolve limescale and keep the printheads clean and bacteria free. EDTA acts by creating covalent bonds on the printheads, effectively trapping contaminents from ruining or clogging printheads.

Furthermore, Ethylene glycol is also used frequently in ink cartridges to slow evaporation and to help prevent print nozzles from clogging.

Further Reasons for Expenses

Hp claims the reason for the lavish prices is due to the technology put into creating a cartridge that can deliver superior results. Not only does each cartridge contain multiple chemicals, each one is carefully measured out and thoroughly tested to ensure the output results can be replicated naturally. This means, you’re not really paying for the liquid so much as the labor put into designing, creating, and testing the cartridge. Some manufacturers also add other elements to cartridges such as smart chips and piezo crystals which also increase the retail price.


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