August 31, 2021 

Choosing The Best Aftermarket Ink Cartridges for CIJ

Knowing how to select the best aftermarket ink cartridge for a CIJ printer can be cost-effective for your coding and marking operation.

Name-brand CIJ manufacturers like Videojet and Domino Printing Sciences are known worldwide for their high-quality equipment. For over fifty years, both of these companies have been creating industry-leading CIJ printers that deliver long-lasting codes and uptime-extending reliability. CIJ models like those in the VideoJet 1000 series and Domino A series are considered top-of-the-line and are sought after in industries ranging from food manufacturing and beverage bottling to pharmaceutical packaging

Although these high-profile CIJ models work well, they do carry substantial retail price points. Further, OEM ink replacements are often only available at high prices as well. For operations that mark thousands of products a day, paying $120 or more for a single 750 ml ink cartridge inevitably leads to significant operational costs, even when using newer models that are 20-30% more efficient than previous equipment generations. 

Fortunately, the coding and marking industry is filled with several aftermarket ink options that deliver the same great results as OEM formulas but are available at a fraction of the price. Available from long-standing and reputable ink manufacturers like PrintJet, IIMAK, and InkJet, Inc., many companies rely on aftermarket formulas to keep their operational costs low without compromising code quality. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the best aftermarket ink cartridges available today.

Key Qualities to Consider When Looking for Aftermarket Inks

Today’s aftermarket inks often perform just as well as OEM formulas. Many name-brand companies like Domino, Keyence, Leibinger, and Markem-Imaje source their OEM formulas from the same suppliers that create and sell aftermarket inks. However, these ties are almost always hidden from the public, leading many consumers to wonder where to turn for more affordable ink options. 

When searching for the best aftermarket ink cartridges, consumers should use the same criteria they would use if purchasing an OEM formula, paying special attention to:

  • Substrate compatibility.
  • Ink purity.
  • Drying speeds.
  • Temperature resistance.
  • UV-readability (if needed).

Beyond examining the specs of potential formulas, another important consideration to have when evaluating aftermarket options is whether the ink is a “plug-in-play” formula.

Plug-in-play formulas are immediately compatible with specified CIJ models because they share the same chip technology as the OEM bottles and have direct pour-over ink formulas that ensure the facility does not need to flush the system or change out parts before switching cartridges. With a plug-in container, users can simply place the container within the printer and begin operation. 

Similar to plug-in-play, “pour-in” inks were coined from the concept of an aftermarket direct pour-in replacement specific to the Videojet Excel series or Imaje S7 printer. Legacy CIJ printer models were not cartridge-based, and aftermarket companies coined the term “pour-in compatible” to describe how easy it was to switch from the OEM to an aftermarket brand.

If you are skeptical about whether an aftermarket cartridge is a direct plug-in-play or is pour-in compatible, there is a process to see if the aftermarket cartridge is a direct plug-in-play with your OEM ink cartridge. To run this test, we recommend taking a cup and combining 20% of the OEM ink with the new aftermarket ink. If the inks gum up in the cup, the aftermarket formula will likely cause issues when introduced to the CIJ. However, if there is no reaction, the user knows with full certainty that there will be no issues with the ink change. As an added precaution, you can change filters to ensure there will be no compatibility issues.

C&M Digest’s Picks for Best Aftermarket Ink Cartridges

By using the above-stated criteria, consumers can find the best aftermarket ink cartridges to meet their needs. If you’re searching for a replacement for your OEM supplies, we recommend starting with the three companies detailed below. In many cases, these companies don’t list all of their products on their websites, as the catalogs are quite extensive, and they want to keep their product portfolios private from competitors and OEMs.

PrintJet Corporation

Specializing in the sale of replacement inks, refurbished CIJ and DOD printers, and substitute printer parts, the PrintJet Corporation is a reliable source for formulas designed for specific applications like:

  • Food packaging.
  • Beverage bottling.
  • Personal care products.

A large portion of PrintJet’s business is in Mexico and Central American countries. Purporting compatibility with CIJ printers from VideoJet, Domino, Markem-Imaje, Linx, and Citronix, among others, PrintJet’s ink line includes many of the top 10 inks from each OEM. With this formula diversity, PrintJet customers can print on substrates ranging from glass and metal to plastic and beyond. 

InkJet, Inc. 

Formed in 1989 by a team of technical service engineers who invested in an ink development and production facility, InkJet, Inc. has been making high-performing aftermarket inks for decades. With an international reach to more than 55 countries, InkJet, Inc. offers a diverse ink portfolio as well as custom ink creation services. Stocked with plug-in inks specifically built for Videojet’s popular 1000 Series CIJ printers, InkJet, Inc. has built a great reputation in the aftermarket ink world. In more recent years, Inkjet, Inc. seems to be more focused on equipment development than ink development.

IIMAK

Short for “International Imaging Materials, Inc,” IIMAK is another aftermarket ink seller with a vast global network. IIMAK proudly claims that it creates all of its CIJ formulas using the most stringent filtration process possible to comply with even the strictest industry standards. IIMAK only became a player in this market after it acquired Talon Industries in late 2015. Using acquired know-how from Talon and Eagle Ink processing methods, IIMAK can create formulas with filtration levels reaching .45 micron. 

IIMAK’s formulas are compatible with the biggest names in industrial printing, including:

  • Markem-Imaje
  • Citronix
  • Diagraph
  • Domino
  • FoxJet
  • Linx
  • Marsh
  • Matthews
  • Videojet

Want to Hear the Latest News on Aftermarket Inks? Stay Tuned to C&M Digest

Replacing OEM inks with aftermarket formulas is an easy way to lower costs without sacrificing quality. Aftermarket retailers are continually developing new plug-in containers, and aftermarket ink usage is becoming easier than ever before. Stay informed about industry developments by subscribing to our C&M Digest newsletter.

Filled with information on the best aftermarket ink cartridges, hardware advancements, and other important marking topics, our newsletter will keep you updated on the latest industry developments. To get in touch with us about possible collaborations or ideas for coverage, contact us today.

C&M Digest Team

The C&M Digest Team is composed of experts from across the coding and marking world. Comprised of ink developers, hardware veterans, and engineers, our News Team delivers informed coverage that is always free from brand bias.

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