If you are in any way interested in printing quality photos on your inkjet, you should know about Wilhelm Imaging Research.

Henry Wilhelm is the acknowledged world leader in ink permanence research. He tests inks and papers to see how long they last before fading, in all sorts of conditions.

Recently he tested third party inks from several common suppliers – including Island Inkjet, Carrot Ink, Staples, Office Depot, Office Max, Caboodle Cartridge and Cartridge World. These were either third party or refilled cartridges.

Typical was the results for BCI-6 cartridges:
Genuine Canon BCI-6 photo inks printed on “Canon Photo Paper Pro PR-101” – 16 years
Carrot Ink compatible BCI-6 photo inks printed on “Kodak Ultra Premium Photo Paper” – 1.1 years
Carrot Ink compatible BCI-6 photo inks printed on “Canon Photo Paper Pro PR-101” – 1.6 years
Island Ink-Jet compatible BCI-6 photo inks printed on “Island Ink-Jet Professional Quality Photo Paper” – 1.8 years
Island Ink-Jet compatible BCI-6 photo inks printed on “Canon Photo Paper Pro PR-101” – 0.2 years
Staples compatible BCI-6 photo inks printed on “Staples Photo Supreme Paper” – 2.4 years
Staples compatible BCI-6 photo inks printed on “Canon Photo Paper Pro PR-101” – 0.6 years
Cartridge World compatible BCI-6 photo inks printed on “Cartridge World Photo Lab Quality Glossy Photo Paper” – 0.6 years
Cartridge World compatible BCI-6 photo inks printed on “Canon Photo Paper Pro PR-101” – 0.3 years

From the report:
“…not everyone agrees with all the results that come out of the lab in Grinnell. We expect some aftermarket ink manufacturers will dispute its most recent findings. Although Wilhelm acknowledges that there is some debate about WIR’s methodology, he insists it is sound. “There are no ISO or ANSI standards for permanence, so our company’s standard has become the de facto industry standard.””

Also pertinent is:
“Wilhelm contends that the market will ultimately decide the merits of the aftermarket value proposition. “The market will work these things out,” he says confidently. While he is well aware that a segment of the population is willing to sacrifice on quality in order to save on price, Wilhelm is concerned that many consumers are simply unaware of how much they are giving up when they purchase the aftermarket products currently available.”

While there are some aftermarket inks out there that have vastly superior permanence to the inks tested by Wilhelm Research, it’s the volume sellers that people will judge aftermarket inks as a whole on.

The full Wilhelm report can be found here.

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