Start a Business of Ink and Toner Cartridge Refilling
Replacing your empty printer or copier cartridges every time they run out is not only expensive, but it also takes a toll on the environment. Businesses that provide ink and toner cartridge refilling can save consumers money, and help protect the environment from unnecessary waste.
If you want to help the environment and save your customers money, a small business as an ink and toner cartridge refiller may be the business for you.
Some of the benefits of starting an ink and toner cartridge refilling business include:
· It's good for the environment because it reduces cartridges in landfills.
· Startup costs are relatively low.
· There are startup kits available to help you get started.
· There are franchise opportunities available.
· Your business can be home-based, mobile or have satellite locations.
· There is a growing demand for refillables.
· You have a broad target market and can service individual residences or businesses.
Potential challenges of starting an ink and toner cartridge refilling business include:
· It can be difficult to find the right marketing strategies to hit the right markets.
· You have to purchase the necessary supplies.
· There is a lot of competition.
· You need to be able to learn how to refill cartridges.
· Parts of the industry have somewhat of a disreputable reputation, making it difficult for honest business.
We've decided to put together this tip sheet to help people start up a refill business.
Market EvaluationWhen looking over your market, consider the following rules of thumb:
- About 50 percent of personal computers have attached inkjet printers.
- About 75 percent of home personal computers have inkjet printers.
- About 10 percent of inkjet printer owners are highly concerned about inkjet refill costs.
- About 20 percent of inkjet printer owners are likely to buy generic refills.
- Senior consumers are more concerned about inkjet refill costs -- but are more likely to purchase their own ink in bulk and refill their cartridges themselves.
- Certain types of businesses use more inkjet refills than average. Some of these are:
- graphic design firms
- architecture firms
- engineering firms
- advertising firms
- photographic firms
EquipmentEquipment is available at three different levels:
Beginning EquipmentAt this level, the required equipment is the following:
- Syringe bottles or syringes.
- A hand drill with a #55 or 1/16 inch drill bit (from your local hardware store). A drill press is very helpful and will allow you to do neater work.
- A small, securely mounted vise to hold cartridges with.
- An adjustable wrench (approximately a 12 inch handle).
- A supply of vinyl electrical tape (from your local hardware store).
- A supply of 8-32 x 1/4 inch set screws (check your local hardware store, Home Depot, or a fasteners supply house). Stainless steel is preferred, but ordinary steel will work in most situations.
- A hot glue gun and glue stick supply (check your local craft supply or Wal-mart).
- Labels (available through most quick printers or Mail-boxes Etc).
- Shipping boxes and packing material.
Medium Volume EquipmentAt this level, you will want to purchase some of the more specialized equipment available, such as:
- air-powered syringes
- air-powered vises
- drill press
High Volume EquipmentYou may eventually wish to look at some of the high volume equipment. Two examples:
- Self-contained refill equipment for HP 51625A
- Custom refill equipment for any specific cartridge, 1 cartridge per 30 seconds throughput –
InkInitial ink stock depends largely upon your customer base. However, we have found some rules for guidance. The following are the most popular inks to refill with.
- * WJ 106 -- Older HP cartridges, and some Lexmark
- * WJ 114 -- Many Apple and Canon cartridges
- * WJ 163 -- Most popular newer HP models (600, 800 series)
- WJ 161 -- Canon BJC 600 series
- * WJ 165 -- Canon BJC 4000 series
- * WJ 190 -- Newer Epson Stylus Color models (400, 500, 600, 800 series)
- WJ 171 -- Older Epson Stylus Color II and Stylus Color 200 models
- WJ 242, WJ 635, WJ 716 -- Canon BJC 600 series
- * WJ 245, WJ 639, WJ 720 -- Canon BJC 4000 series
- WJ 219, WJ 615, WJ 706 -- Older HP series (400, 500)
- * WJ 243, WJ 637, WJ 717 -- Newer HP series (600, 800)
- * WJ 264, WJ 659, WJ 737 -- Newer Epson Series (Stylus Color 400, 600, 800)
- WJ 255, WJ 649, WJ 730 -- Older Epson Stylus Color (200, 500)
There are many other inks, but these are limited to printers with low installed base. We suggest that you consider purchasing those inks as the refill opportunities come up. In general, you should be able to pay for a pint of ink with the sale of three or four cartridges.
Do not purchase more than 1 pint (450 ml) of each ink until your volume begins to move. After all, on some of the Canon cartridges, you only put 2 ml of ink into a cartridge. Some of the larger HP cartridges will use up to 60 ml of ink. Eventually, you will want to purchase in larger volumes to reduce your ink cost on your most common refills.
Black ink is more popular than color ink. However, as a refiller, you can make more profit refilling color cartridges.
CartridgesThis has always been the most difficult part of starting a refill business. You must get cartridges. There are several options:
- Become totally a service business. In this case, you collect cartridges, refill them, and return them to the same customer from whom you collected the cartridges in the first place. You charge them for the refilling service and the ink.
- Pay a bounty for old cartridges. This works particularly well as a fund-raising event for a school or church group. In essence, you agree to pay perhaps $1 to the group for every old cartridge which they bring to you. Be careful of the price you pay, since you'll likely get older cartridges.
- Create a conversion kit. This is the method used by the high volume people who have designed an insertable tank. For most small refillers, this is not a practical method.
- Purchase a generic cartridge. Generic cartridges are just becoming available for some of the most popular older models such as the HP 51625A. However, the printer manufacturers have recently served notice that they consider these generic cartridges to be patent infringers, which places this strategy in doubt.