There has been an ongoing shift on the printer market for 10 years now going from monochrome printing to full color printing.
The trend to print photographs at home made the number of sold color cartridge units to explode and also boosted a number of different cartridge alternatives on the market.
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More about Color Cartridges
To ensure that you get the correct color cartridge when buying a new one, always check what color model your printer uses. This is normally done by lifting the printer lid manually or by pressing a button which opens the lid for you. You should now see three up to ten separate color cartridges depending on the printer model.
Most color inkjet and laser printers on the market use the CMYK color model. This color system uses four colors – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. The black ink or toner is normally always contained in one separate tank. The three other colors are normally also separated into three different color cartridges but can also be combined into one single cartridge.
Some older color printer models on the market can still be using the CMY color model where only three color cartridges are used. In this model there is no black cartridge, the ink or toner from the Cyan, Magenta and Yellow cartridges are instead combined to create the black color. The tone of the black color is seldom true black but more close to grey or brown. The latter is also the reason why the CMY system is becoming more and more uncommon on the market.
Please note that other printer cartridge systems also exist with one, five or up to ten separate cartridges. Systems with only one color cartridge are seldom a good choice. The reason is that running out of one color would mean that the user needs to replace the whole cartridge cassette even if ink or toner is still left for the other colors.
Suggested further reading
- Printer Technology: Laser Printers and Inkjet Printers.
- Cartridge Types: Compatible, OEM and Remanufactured
- Test the colors in your printer by printing a Printer Test Page.