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8 Reasons Why Printer Ink is so Expensive

No one looks forward to shopping for printer ink. It’s expensive, messy, and no fun to use.

Even worse, it seems like no time passes before you have to buy it again.

If you are like some people, you may wonder – what is printer ink so expensive? This is a good question and one we will try to answer here.

Along with explaining some of the pricing reasoning for modern printer ink, you will also find some tips to help cut costs and get more out of your investment.

The Top Reasons Printer Ink is So Expensive

Understanding why printer ink is so expensive can help you see why paying these prices is necessary and why it makes sense.

Complicated Engineering

Ink dated back to the 23rd century BC and was first recorded in China. Today, ink is much more sophisticated than it was back then, and creating it is involved and complicated.

The first printer ink was a mix of water and food dye that faded after just a few months.

Big-name ink companies like Canon, Epson, and HP had to research how to translate dye to pigment composition to achieve the high-quality everyone wanted. All this was necessary while producing prints that would last.

Modern inkjets have a complex job – they must fire thousands of drops of ink a second, create different colors, and have superior accuracy.

Also, once printed, the ink must be quick-drying, smear-, and water-resistant. The ink can’t cause the page to curl up either, and the small jets have to stay clog-free.

Today, ink companies put a lot of time and money into creating the right blend of dye and pigment and the right delivery method for high-resolution printing.

All this research and development costs a lot of money. While the result is PremiumToners, it still demands a high price.

Your Printer Is Often Free

Most printer companies operate under this paradigm.

For example, Canon, HP, Epson, Brother, and other big-name printer manufacturers don’t make much money on retail sales. Some companies even take a loss in this area.

However, printer ink is expensive.

This is how companies make up the cost. Ink is expensive, and as you pay for it over the lifetime of your printer, the high cost makes up for the losses.

Usually, printers will be sold below or at cost. This draws customers in with appealing low prices.

Most manufacturers understand that most consumers will continue using genuine OEM instead of the remanufactured and compatible products offered by third-party suppliers.

Sometimes, this is called the “razor blade” business model.

The razor is inexpensive because the manufacturer makes money selling replacement blades to customers. Hair continues to grow, and razors are always going to be needed.

The same applies to printing supplies.

A Lot of the Ink Is Wasted

Most customers only get about half of what they believe they are paying for.

In fact, about 50% of the ink (or more) that you buy will never make it to a page.

There are two ways that modern printers use ink. The first is to print images and documents. The first is using ink to print images and documents.

However, inkjets also use ink for maintenance and cleaning the printheads. Most people don’t understand the maintenance needs of modern inkjet printers.

It isn’t uncommon for inkjets to waste as much ink on the maintenance cycles as they use to print documents.

While this is true, there are large disparities when it comes to efficiency between printer models. Some printers use more ink than others for maintenance. The differences to your bottom line can start to add up – significantly.

When shopping for a printer, it’s a good idea to look for information about the unit’s “maintenance ink use.” This will let you know how efficient a printer is with the ink.

Keep in mind that turning your printer off and on may trigger a maintenance cycle. This means it is probably more efficient just to leave the system on.

You don’t have to worry about the cost of electricity for this. Modern inkjet printers are designed to consume minimal electricity.

Make sure the printer remains cool and is in a shaded location. Hotter and drier environments can increase the likelihood of a clogged printer head.

Using Ink Is a Complex Process

Ink production and printing are complex processes.

Some modern printer makers use a thermal process.

The chambers found in printer ink cartridges include a thin filament. The filament is heated and causes the ink to bubble.

The pressure starts to build up and sends a droplet out of the cartridge through the printer head, appearing on the paper.

Another method used by some printers is called piezoelectric. With this, an electrical charge changes the shape of the piezoelectric material found inside the ink cartridge.

When it changes, a pulse of pressure is created, sending ink through the printer head to be seen on the paper.

It doesn’t matter what type of machine you have or what process is used; the most important element – the ink cartridges – have to be designed properly to ensure malfunctions don’t occur.

You Are Paying a Premium for the Best

The safest and highest-quality option for printers is genuine OEM ink. However, this high quality comes at a premium.

In some cases, purchasing a set of ink cartridges for your inkjet printer may cost the same or more than the printer itself. That’s pretty expensive.

While you can purchase remanufactured or compatible cartridges instead of the brand name, but there is no guarantee your printer will perform efficiently with them.

Even though the remanufactured and compatible cartridges will help you save money, they are known for producing spotty image quality and low page yields.

Supply and Demand

Virtually every office, including a home office, has at least one printer. Many have multiple machines.

With an increase in home office use and homeschooling activities, residential printers are handling many printing jobs.

This makes the demand for quality ink high. Because of this, the cost of OEM ink is going to continue rising, too.

As a printer owner, you have to take steps to find the best prices available for OEM ink. A good tip to remember is that usually, these prices aren’t being offered by big-box retailers.

Printer Cartridges Are Made to Fail

Everything is designed to fail today – smartphones, televisions, printers, and printer cartridges.

All products come with an intended lifespan. While printer companies can build electronics that last for several decades, this would mean minimal profit for them.

The digital era is a time of disposable electronics. Many of the materials used to make these electronics are hazardous. Because of this, you have to ensure your electronic waste is recycled properly.

Specialization Considerations

Today’s ink cartridges are not considered one-size-fits-all. You will find quite a bit of specialization in printer ink design, which increases R&D and manufacturing costs.

When it is time to purchase replacement ink cartridges for your printer, make sure you are informed.

To start, you need to know the make and model of your printer. This will help ensure you purchase the right replacement printing supplies.

Also, you can find most cartridges in a high capacity of the XL version. If you print a lot, then the high-capacity options can help you save money.

Modern printers also use different color ink cartridges – black (K), yellow (Y), red (M), and blue (C). You should try to avoid purchasing a printer that uses an all-in0one tri-color ink cartridge. These tend to waste ink even if only one color has run out.

Effective Ways to Save on Printer Ink

Now that you understand why printer ink is so expensive, you may wonder how to save money on this purchase. There are a few things you can do.

Purchase Non-OEM Printer Ink

Printer technology is always changing and evolving. Similar to OEM companies, aftermarket ink manufacturers are working to advance their ability to improve ink offered.

While some OEM brands offer better products than others, some aftermarket brands provide higher-quality generic cartridges than the others do.

Be sure to check out customer reviews before purchasing ink. This is going to help you find a quality aftermarket in provider.

You can also look for brands that have been around longer and that have more experience.

Conduct Printer Research

Another way to ensure you aren’t overspending on ink cartridges is by knowing the following:

  • If the printer is right for your needs
  • The real cost of running the printer

It can take time to find a printer that uses more affordable ink cartridges. Also, printer companies release new makes and models all the time.

Most modern printers work well to print quality photos or documents. Be sure to research ink prices before choosing a printer.

Consider a Laser Printer

Laser printers are commonly thought of as “small job” printers. They are used for small businesses and in-home offices.

Also, laser printers are often expensive; however, black and white options can be affordable and good for day-to-day use.

Rather than ink, laser printers use dry toner. They don’t require toner for maintenance either, which makes them less expensive to run.

Laser printers can match the quality produced by inkjets for printing photos, too. While black and white laser printers aren’t too costly, the prices are quite high if you want a color one.

Use a Reservoir Printer

Another option is a reservoir printer, which is a new style of inkjet printer. It comes with ink that is much more affordable.

While the upfront cost is higher (usually around $300), if you look past the initial price tag, you will likely be able to save money over time.

Instead of replacement cartridges, the printer uses a reservoir (which is also where it gets its name). The refills often last for up to two years.

Make Your Toner and Ink Last Longer

If you don’t use your printer for a while, the printer heads can dry out. Make sure to use the printer weekly and run maintenance monthly.

Also, be sure to store your toner and ink cartridges properly. Keep the supplies in a dry, cool place until they are ready to be used.

It’s worth learning about printing, too. For example, some fonts will use more ink than others. While Arial font may appear simple and clean, it takes a lot of ink to produce. Try to stick to Garamond, Courier, and Times New Roman typefaces, which will reduce ink consumption.

The goal is to purchase less and get more out of your supplies.

You can also switch to grayscale or draft mode, which helps you save on black ink. Only use the higher quality settings for your final drafts.

Now You Know: What Is Printer Ink So Expensive?

With the information above, you should now understand the answer: What is printer ink so expensive? While it can be costly, it makes sense when you consider all the factors.

Be sure to use the tips above to save on printer ink, too, which will help you reduce your costs over time. While printer ink can be expensive, there are steps you can take to save money.

If you are looking for more information on popular and trending topics, be sure to read some of our other blogs. Our team works hard to produce new content on topics you are interested in regularly to help you stay informed.

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