Magazine Article


Revolutionize, Recycle, Refill
Inkjet refilling systems at retail

Every year, approximately 20 million new inkjet printers and more than 500 million replacement inkjet cartridges are sold in the United States, according to Lyra Research, Inc. The research team also predicts that by 2009, the refill market will have grown to $40 million in revenue. Adding refill options is not only a great way to bring clients to your shop, but also an environmentally friendly solution that profits the community as well as your business. In recent years, recycled inkjet cartridges represent only 15% of all the cartridges in the United States, and more than 350 million inkjet cartridges end up in landfills. After studying the facts, it's difficult to find a downside to implementing inkjet-refilling services. Attract new clients, satisfy repeat customers, turn your business into a one-stop shop, and help the environment—where do I sign up? If you're looking to install a refill machine into your operation, technology by InkTec Zone America, Ink World, Academy Corporation, and Southeastern Manufacturing Enterprise are good places to start.

InkTec Zone America

InkTec Zone America has sharpened the refilling process even more through their flagship machine's—the Ink-O-Matic's—unique pre-fill testing module, which assures a success rate of 99.6% by weeding out malfunctioning cartridges prior to filling, saving on materials and labor. The newest Ink-O-Matic boasts increased cartridge compatibility, including 82 of the most popular cartridge brands and formats like HP, Lexmark, Dell, and Samsung. A time-saving, upgrade-by-software capability allows retailer customers to integrate future enhancements via a simple software upload.

Within a single machine, the Ink-O-Matic system includes everything necessary for rapidly and reliably refilling inkjet cartridges, including a cartridge tester, sonicator, centrifuge, specially formulated inks, video-based training, and customer support. The Ink-O-Matic's interactive touchscreen guides retail employees through the refilling process, allowing them to successfully refill inkjet cartridges after just one hour of training.

"The development of advanced inkjet cartridge refilling systems coincides with the growth in affordability and popularity of digital photography," says Bill McKenney, CEO, InkTec Zone America. "As more and more consumers turn to digital and print photos on their home computers, the opportunity arises for photo retailers to further expand their digital photo business by offering inkjet printer cartridge refilling to their customers."

Ink World

Featuring an ultrasonic cleaner, an internal hard drive, built-in pressurization, and factory training, Ink World's new Ink World 1000 streamlines the process of inkjet cartridge refilling.

Accepting the most popular inkjet cartridges that are in use today, it reconditions, fills, and seals the donor cartridge using the highest-quality inks, for a fraction of the cost of a new inkjet cartridge. This touchscreen system is perfect for the one-hour photo lab or retail camera outlet.
"Basically, we offer a turnkey system for under $20,000 that includes on-site installation and training," says John Shackelford, national sales manager, Ink World Refill LLC. "Ink World operates its own retail store in Corpus Christi, TX, inside a H-E-B plus! mega-store. That way we can ensure real-world performance of our equipment and systems. We also create different marketing and sales strategies that work and then offer them and a variety of P.O.P. at no charge to our customers. We also provide compatible toner products at discounted prices for resale. Originally we focused on the concept of collecting empty cartridges from a variety of sources by offering premiums or cash discounts. Because of the significant failure rates of those cartridges (most were junk), we took a page out of the photofinishing business; after all, that's my background. Customers drop off their empties and pick up their own refilled cartridge the next day, just like a roll of film. This results in better utilization of labor and productivity.

"Our typical customer sales range from $8,000 to $15,000 per month at about 85% gross profit," Shackelford adds. "I have a number of photo lab customers that have told me that if it were not for Ink World, they would be out of business."

Academy Corporation

Academy's AccuFILL inkjet refilling machine is simple, compact, and easy to operate. The countertop machine needs only three to four feet of counter space and is designed to be an all-in-one system that includes a built-in tester. Filling 70 to 80 percent of the popular cartridges on the market, it was created to be easily updated.

"Academy's interactive, simple-to-operate AccuFILL Inkjet Refill System takes as little as five to seven minutes of labor to refill a cartridge," says Randy Gray, Academy Corporation, distributors of the AccuFILL system. "The gross profit is approximately 70% or more. For example, if a cartridge O.E.M. price is $35, your sales price could be $17. The direct cost of this sale would be approximately $2. (Most cartridges cost less than $1.50 in consumables.) If you choose to lease the equipment rather than purchase, lease cost for this equipment is as low as $27 per day."

Southeastern Manufacturing Enterprise (SME)

Southeastern Manufacturing Enterprise's user-friendly Inkjetfactory provides comprehensive testing, cleaning, and refilling—all in a single footprint. This turnkey high-capacity solution designed for retail can deliver a 90% profit margin.

The built-in video touchscreen leads the operator through the refilling process step by step. The automated user interface also reduces production time with an automated refilling of only four minutes. Comprehensive product training (including a video tutorial), as well as marketing support and materials, helps the retailer launch his inkjet-refilling business and promote it on an ongoing basis.

"SME is the only inkjet equipment manufacturer that actually sells production equipment to several O.E.M.'s (they fill most new cartridges in a deep vacuum chamber)," says Allen Luthy, director of retail systems, SME. "This process is the only way to achieve optimum cartridge performance and high page yields. This is the way that the Inkjetfactory refills cartridges. It may take an extra 30 seconds to process a cartridge, but the end result is higher page yields, fewer premature cartridge failures, and more satisfied customers.

"The value-proposition for in-store inkjet refilling is much more attractive than selling new cartridges, because retailers sell refilled cartridges at half the price of a new cartridge; margins are at 90% on an item that nearly everyone uses on a regular basis (at home or in the office)," he continues. "It only costs about $1 to refill a cartridge that is sold for $15 (on average). These are just some of the reasons why the Inkjetfactory system is rejuvenating the profitability of many photo labs and other businesses around the world."