Ink was invented by the Chinese over 5000 years ago, and was used to write on paper. Ever since, ink has been used extensively in all cultures to depict ideas, thoughts and in education. Today, everyone from school children to corporate executives use ink. However, the way ink is used differs greatly the past. On modern-day fountain pens, the ink is stored in a small container within the pen, known as a cartridge. Ink cartridges are not restricted to fountain pens. Printers have become common in most offices and institutions. These devices also use of an ink cartridge to get the printing job done.
Ink cartridges use one of two types of inks. The dye-based inks offer a wide variety of colors but take time to dry. Moreover, these inks may fade over a period of time and are not water resistant. Pigmented inks are less susceptible to being washed away and are fade resistant and quick drying. Nowadays, the term ink cartridge is primarily used to signify those used in the printers. These cartridges also come in various varieties, from dot matrix and inkjet cartridges to those used in laser printers.
Ink cartridges can be broadly classified into 3 categories. Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) ink cartridges are made by the manufacturer of the printer and are the most reliable. The downside to these cartridges is the price, as they tend to be very expensive. Compatible ink cartridges are those that are manufactured by a company other than the original manufacturer. They are new, but somewhat cheaper because of the lack of a brand name. Remanufactured ink cartridges are the cheapest option available. These are refilled cartridges and while they can be reliable at times, they also have a tendency to leak after a certain amount of usage.
The prices of ink cartridges vary greatly, depending on the brand and type of printer. Care should be taken to pick the correct cartridge, as a wrong choice may damage the printer.