Why Are There So Many Kinds of Ink Cartridges?

May 14, 2020

Why Are There So Many Kinds of Ink Cartridges

We've all gone to the store before and forgot what ink we needed. Was it  HP 61 or HP 62? Although only a single number away, the differences between the two ink cartridges couldn't be more immense. It seems like there are so many different printer ink products out there for arbitrarily no reason. There are so many variations of standard HP ink cartridges, for example, HP 61, HP 62, HP 63, HP 64, and HP 65. Reminds you of a string of bad movie sequels. But how different are these cartridges from each other?

They all do the same job, so why would you need such a specialized ink cartridge to print something? The simple answer is that different printer models use ink cartridges explicitly designed for them. Also, some printers are more suitable for specific projects than others and may use a different type of ink, so naturally, this is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. There's a lot that goes into ink cartridges that may seem a little strange at first but starts to make sense when you dig a little deeper into the reasoning behind this.

Improving the Formula

As you're probably aware, all products evolve to better themselves over time. There are constant changes, especially with products that have been produced for decades. Manufacturers push to improve their product and performance by any means. Millions of dollars are allotted into research, and the advancement of ink technology every year.

There is a lot of scientific research that goes into producing such high-quality ink. With slews of tests being administered that push the boundaries of ink capabilities, we've seen a rapid evolution of more potent printer ink being produced. Newer ink technology may specialize in drying faster than in its predecessor. 

You may think that the only function of a printer cartridge is to print. Still, there are so many behind the scenes workings such as ink flow, drying speeds, color variations, and other critical features that improve the quality of the product. Every few years, there will be improvements that roll out that better the overall quality of the print. 

choosing the right printer

Printing Purpose

We understand that all ink is not created equal; there are different types of inks for different needs. Some may prioritize how many pages they can print, while others who print photos often sacrifice quantity for higher quality prints.  Canon printer ink, for example, is an excellent option for printing photos. Specialty printing makes up a large portion of the ink market. For example, there are two types of inks that are used for inkjet printers, dye-based ink, and pigment-based ink.

Although these are both the color black, the ink holds very different properties. Pigment-based ink is used for more sharp and precise printing results, possibly for photos or posters. Pigment-based inks do a better job of lasting in harsh conditions; they are less likely to fade in the sunlight and more resistant to the elements such as rain and snow. They yield better quality and are usually more expensive than their dye-based counterparts.

On the other hand, dye-based ink doesn't have the accuracy of pigment-based ink and cannot print pixel-perfect lines. But where it lacks in the quality department, it makes up by producing more brilliant colors. Dye-based ink can emulate more life-like color schemes and has a drastic vibrance to it. It can also print much more and handle a more significant workload per cartridge when compared to pigment-based ink. 

Printer cartridges can also be broken down further when accounting for their page performance. There is a standard yield that prints a decent number of pages before needing to be replaced and can suffice for someone who does not print as much. There are also High-Yield ink cartridges that print anywhere from 50% more to double the number of standard cartridges. With all of these purpose-specific printer ink, it's hard to boil them down to a single formula that will please everyone. 

right ink cartridges for your printer

Harder to Emulate

They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but printer ink manufacturers really don't think so. It's hard to say definitively, but there is some evidence suggesting that the massive amount of cartridge types are produced to dissuade third parties from copying them. 

Understandably, having a single type of ink cartridge makes it easier for third-party manufacturers to emulate the product, so it makes sense for printer brands to keep pushing out new products. On the other hand, this creates a lot of confusion for the consumer having to deal with hundreds of different ink cartridges.

Compatible printer cartridges do not infringe on any intellectual properties of the original brands and bear a slightly different shape. That being said, they do function exactly like the original, just at a substantially lower price point. When a new original cartridge comes out, there is virtually zero competition from other third-party markets at that time. It takes months for third party ink manufacturers to design and replicate the new cartridge. This incentivizes original manufacturers to roll out new models instead of supporting older ones. 

Return Policies

We understand how perplexing ink cartridge names can be, and there could be a lot of confusion when purchasing what you need. Let's say you do buy the wrong ink cartridge; often, there is no warranty or return policy that will allow you to get your money back or even return them. 

While there is no definitive evidence linking return policies to an extra stream of revenue, every wrong cartridge that is purchased and cannot be returned is still a sale. Whether this is an effect of having gobs of cartridge types is unknown, but it does happen quite often. That's why it's always important to check your return policies before purchasing. 

It is frustrating because you never really know if the ink cartridge you bought fits inside of your printer until you open the package. Opened items can be subject to a nonrefundable policy. Some people also like to purchase printer ink in bulk. What makes matters even worse is the inability to return a product after a certain time passes, even if it is factory sealed. 


There's a whole slew of printer ink that cater to specific needs. Some will allow you to print more, while others have an emphasis on photorealistic quality. There is also a great emphasis on improving ink formulas with the latest technology and research that is available at the time. Besides the purpose of printing, most of these other reasons have something to do with monetary aspects. We all know that money talks, and that is enough reasoning for any manufacturer to keep spewing out more and more different types of printer cartridges. 

If you're confused about what ink cartridge you need for your printer, we have a handy Quick Ink Finder tool on our homepage. This will show you the exact ink you need for your printer in seconds. We also have a wide variety of printer ink in our inventory to supply you with whatever you need. Our remanufactured and compatible cartridges function identically to name-brand but can cost up to 80% less than the originals. For example, you can save 50% or more on remanufactured  HP ink sold on our website. Our products all include a 1-Year warranty and lifetime customer support so our customers can try us out risk-free. Visit us today and see how much you can save on your printing costs.