A new Sydney-based business has gained the exclusive distribution rights to an ink-refilling technology that is sure to strike fear into the hearts of printer vendors.
For several years, inkjet printer vendors have seen considerable losses in market share as their prime revenue source, consumables, have been cloned and marketed by third-party companies.
But now a business called Inkredible Inks, run by former Corporate Express employee Ron Bloom, has found a Korean-made technology that can replace the ink in HP and Lexmark cartridges at less than half the price of buying a new cartridge.
With the exception of one reseller, Inkredible Inks' business to date has been direct. Bloom said he has had some trouble convincing resellers that, unlike previous ink-refilling products, the I-Fill product might actually work. "We are only looking for resellers that believe in this product, not those who think they have seen it all before," he said.
"Basically the difference is that most attempts at this type of product in the past involved squirting ink into the cartridge using a syringe-type system," he said. "The problem is that they've been unable to replicate the original pressure in the cartridge, leading to leakage and messy handling."
Bloom claims that the I-Fill system can restore the original pressure in the cartridge. A cartridge can be refilled cleanly in 20-45 seconds and can be refilled between six and eight times before it begins to deteriorate, he said.
"The vendors aren't happy," he said. "For years they have argued that you should not use compatible cartridges. Using I-Fill, you're still using their cartridges, you're just not using their ink."
Bloom cited several cases in the US where printer manufacturers have tried to shy away from warranties whenever customers use third-party cartridges. "They fought it in the courts but they were beaten every time," he said. "They are not allowed to dictate how you refill the consumables in their products. The only way they can squeeze out of the warranty is if they can prove that damage was caused by a refill. So far, that has proven very hard to do."
The fight between printer vendors and manufacturers of third-party consumables is likely to continue for some time, he said. "Epson and those companies that have the big money can spend a fortune on PR to warn people about using clone cartridges in every major newspaper," he said. "They are looking for any way they can to stop the production of these products."
Inkredible also has exclusive distribution rights in Australia for the Inkplanet product, a compatible ink cartridge for Epson and Canon printers. Bloom claims it can cut consumables costs by up to 80 per cent.