26 February 2013

Fuel for your anger about printer ink prices

Everyone knows that printer ink prices are outrageous.  Now The Guardian reports that it's getting worse:
The sky-high price of printer ink – measure for measure more expensive than vintage champagne – has been well documented. Less well-known is the fact that the amount of ink in the average cartridge has shrunk dramatically. "Newer cartridges contain a fraction of the ink a similar product contained a decade ago," Dyckhoff says. "The amount can be minuscule."

For example, the Epson T032 colour cartridge (released in 2002) is the same size as the Epson colour T089 (released in 2008). But the T032 contains 16ml of ink and the T089 contains just 3.5ml of ink. It's a similar story with Hewlett Packard (HP) cartridges. A decade ago, the best-selling HP cartridge had 42ml of ink and sold for about £20. Today, the standard printer cartridges made by HP may contain as little as 5ml of ink but sell for about £13...

Worst value, say the experts, are the colour cartridges. All three leading players, including Canon, sell single tri-colour cartridges – cyan, magenta and yellow – often with less than 2ml of ink per colour. "They're very bad value because when one of the three colours runs out the entire cartridge stops working," Dyckhoff says. "We always recommend people buy a printer with a separate cartridge for each colour."..

Epson, meanwhile, argues that print heads are more efficient compared with 10 years ago because of advances in technology. "They are able to produce a greater number of pages with an equivalent amount of ink," the company said in a statement.
The article concludes with recommendations on how to save money on printing costs.


  1. Between this and the tendency of ink cartridges to dry up if they're not used on a frequent basis, my new printer is a laser jet. It cost about $100. A black cartridge costs $40 for 2,600 pages. It's not an office-only technology any more.

    There are also printers becoming available that use wax-like ink to print. The down side is that they have to heat up for 10 minutes or so before they can be used, so they're not a good choice for infrequent users. The up side is that it's loaded with blocks of wax - there is no cartridge, therefore no lying about how much you're getting. At this point they're really only useful for offices that do a LOT of color printing, but like most tech it's probably going to become more practical for home use in the next few years.

    1. There's an easy cure for printer heads clogged by ink that's dried up because of infrequent use.

      1. Get some distilled water and warm it up a little (I used a measuring cup in the microwave).
      2. Pour 1/2" or so in a pie plate or similar NON-METAL dish and stand the cartridge contact-side (the little metal tabs) down in the water.
      3. You should start to notice the ink dissolving almost immediately - it'll show up as little puffs of colored water around the print heads. Give it 15-20 mins then pick up the cartridge and swish it around a little in the water.
      4. Put a few layers of paper towel on your counter and put the cartridge - again, contact-side down - on it. The towel will wick a bunch of color and water out of the printer head. Let it sit for a few minutes.
      5. GENTLY (as as not to damage the contacts) wipe it a few times on the paper towel.
      6. Let it try REALLY well before putting it back in the printer. Run your printer's cleaning/ink test to re-charge the printer heads.

      That should do it. If you're still getting a lot of color streaks (or none!) on the paper towel, re-warm the water and repeat steps 1-4.

      I learned this trick from a technician friend of mine. It really works!

  2. I don't buy ink cartriges from the Canon, I don't have my vehicle serviced by the Ford dealer and I buy house brand at the Walmart.
    Hell I'm not proud!

  3. The whole home printer industry is a scam that makes me so mad I could spit. The companies don't make their money selling the printers: Those are merely a delivery vector for the ink cartridges - the REAL money-makers.

    And as if that's not bad enough, try finding a software driver for a printer that's more than a couple of years old. Companies used to have all of their old drivers available on their websites - usually as free downloads - but not any more. They'd rather you throw out your old(!), perfectly good printer and go buy another, crappier-quality one that sucks even more ink than your old one. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you can find a third-party driver on a site like Gutenprint, but it takes some digging. Years ago I vowed I would never ever buy another Epson printer for this very reason, but they're all just as bad, the bastards!

    1. Brother is actually pretty decent. The cost of toner is quite a bit less (still expensive, but dirt cheap compared to ink), their printers last a long time. They also seem to keep drivers around for very old printers.

    2. That's good to know about Brother printers - I'll keep that in mind. It's nice to see that there is at least ONE printer company that isn't only interested in bilking its customers!

    3. Another happy Brother user. My neighbor, who is a computer expert, advised me to get rid of my old laser printer and get a Brother. It does everything it's supposed to do, and does each task very well. The cartridges last for over 5 reams of paper, and are very reasonably priced, especially in comparison to regular print cartridges.

  4. Amazing! We just bought solid ink (think "crayon") for a Xerox scan/print/copy/fax. The black ink pack cost FOUR TIMES the cost of the individual color inks (blue, yellow, red sold separately). Same size cartridges, same quantity per pack! >:-(

  5. at the store i noticed that the ink costs more than the printer. cheaper to just buy a new printer when you run out of ink. darn silly if you ask me.

  6. Brand new inkjet printers are very cheap due to "empty" cartridges. That is why as buyer always must consider the total cost of ownership (TCO). That confirms as well that the printer industry gains more from cartridges than from printers itself.

  7. I own a cartridge company we refill and re-manufacture ink cartridges, I know every body thinks ink is expensive but the truth is ink is cheap. our company pay's around £15 for 1 litre out of the litre we can fill 100 cartridges it works out at 15 pence per cartridge. when you buy a cartridge from one of the OEM companies you are paying for the technology they have invented not the ink inside.


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