Printer ink is among the most expensive liquids in existence.
Unsurprisingly, printer manufacturers are highly defensive when it comes to the issue of insanely overpriced ink. In fact, major manufacturer Lexmark lost a lawsuit in 2004 when it claimed that third-party cartridge manufacturers were violating their copyright. Fear not, here are ways to save money in the longer term.
#1. Buy Compatible Cartridges
There are compatible ink cartridges available from third-party manufacturers for most printer brands and models. Nonetheless, compatible ink cartridges cost a fraction of the price and the vast majority of them work perfectly with no discernible loss in quality. If in doubt, just read a few reviews on Google before you purchase. Printer manufacturers themselves always warn against using anything other than their own original cartridges, be aware that you’ll likely void your warranty by using compatible ones.
#2. Refill Your Old Cartridges
By far the cheapest and most environmentally friendly way to replace your printer ink cartridges is not to replace them at all. Refilling old cartridges costs a tiny fraction of what it does to replace them with original ones. Universal refill kits, as well as ones designed for specific printer brands and models are widely available from a range of manufacturers. They can be messy and complicated to use since the process typically involves piercing a hole in the original cartridge and injecting ink inside by way of a syringe. Unfortunately, many newer printers have microchips in their cartridges, in which case refilling them may not work.
#3. Avoid Cheap Printers
Inkjet printers are often extremely cheap. In fact, you can easily find low-end models for as little as $50. As such, printer manufacturers often don’t make any profit selling cheap printers, but they make it up with extremely expensive printer ink later on. If you buy a very cheap printer, it’s quite possible that it will be cheaper to replace it entirely than to replace the cartridges. Another problem with cheap inkjet printers is that they tend to have tri-colour cartridges, so when one of the three colours (cyan, magenta, yellow) runs out, you still have to replace them all at once. If you almost never print in colour, than this is your best bet.
#4. Upgrade to a Laser Printer
Laser printers remain ubiquitous in the workplace and for good reason too. Rather than using cartridges like inkjets, laser printers use toner, which usually lasts significantly longer and works out to a lower cost per page. Laser printers are ideal for printing large amounts of text content since the majority of affordable models are monochrome only. However, while colour laser printers are also an option, they don’t tend to be as good for printing photos as inkjets.
#5. Use Draft Mode for Everyday Use
While it’s always better to go paperless whenever possible, sometimes there’s really no substitute for having a printed hardcopy. All inkjet printers offer a range of print quality settings. For everyday printing, draft printing quality is perfectly adequate and it uses a lot less ink. You should only use normal or better quality settings if you need a presentation-quality output which, unless you’re printing something like a photo or a brochure, you aren’t likely to need.
Although printer manufacturers might be to blame for the extortionate price of printer ink and cartridges, it’s ultimately down to the consumer to shop around and be vigilant when it comes to saving money and the environment.