This morning I received yet another e-mail from a reader who installed 3rd party inks in his printer, and is now having problems with the printer.
Sometimes with Epson printers performance can be brought back and clogged jets cleaned up just re-installing and running a new set of Epson ink cartridges. The Epson ink contains a cleaning agent that works pretty well, but it take a lot of cleaning cycles and usually a good number of prints to get back to normal.
On the basis of potential problems alone it is questionable it is worth the savings to use 3rd party inks. But few users consider 3rd party inks do not and cannot match the Epson inks, which are patented. If they match the Epson ink too closely, via reverse engineering, they are sure to loose a patent infringement lawsuit. And Epson is aggressive in this regard winning yet another suit recently against an independent ink company that was just in the business news.
And, if the 3rd party inks don't match the Epson inks, then the Epson profiles for the printer will not be accurate and it will not be possible to obtain prints that match your on-screen image. In other words to use different inks with any printer effectively really requires custom calibrating and profiling the printer for the inks with each different paper you use. The only accurate and effective way to do this is with a photospectrometer and profiling software, and the least expensive package available costs almost $1,000.
Of course HP, Canon and Epson make a high profit margin on ink. It is the old Polaroid business model: sell the equipment cheap and make the profit on selling consumables. If that were not the way it is done, how much do you think inkjet printers would cost, 2X or 5X as much?