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Why is Printer Ink So Expensive

why is printer ink so expensive

Buying printer ink in bulk is a great way to save money. On their own, ink cartridges can be very pricey, and that’s annoying when you don’t know why! In fact, there are many reasons why printer ink is so expensive, and not every reason may be justified. Most reasons, however, will make a lot more sense after reading this article.

1) Ink Manufacturing Costs are High

Ink seems like such a simple technology: A liquid used to stain paper. How much could it possibly cost to manufacture an ink cartridge? A lot, it turns out.

According to Consumer Reports (2013), ink can cost anywhere from $13 to $75 per ounce. That’s approximately $1,664 to $9,600 per gallon, a price which is comparable to that of fine wine or perfume. The high price of ink is typically attributed to it’s complicated development. 

Executives from HP, one the most popular printer ink manufacturers in the world, have defended the controversially-high price of their own ink, stating that research and development (R&D) is responsible for raising retail costs. HP spends roughly a billion dollars every year on R&D for their brand of ink, and even then it takes several years to develop a single new formula. Because of this, HP (and other competing ink manufacturers) have to charge more for ink to make up for the cost of R&D.

2)  Printers are Cheap

Generally speaking, household printers are cheap, especially when compared to other complex technologies you use at home on a daily basis. Sure, you can throw some extra money you’ve saved up at the latest and greatest printer for your home office, but even then it will likely cost you less than $200. That is, again, comparatively cheap. 

Most of the money you spend on printing will go towards ink. Not only will you be buying ink WAY more often than you buy printers, but the cost of ink itself is high (as detailed in Reason #1) to make up for the low cost of printers. That’s right. Manufacturers sell printers at a loss, since the technology inside of each printer costs more than the printer’s retail price. Because of this, printer manufacturers rely on you to spend a lot of money on ink for your cheap printer to recoup their losses and make money. 

3) Your Printer is Inefficient

Okay, it’s easy to blame corporations for printer ink being so expensive, but the reason why you spend so much money on printer ink may lie with you...

While it’s true that printers are generally cheap, there is such a thing as too cheap. Some printers just don’t work very well, and the result can be wasted ink. And the more ink your printer wastes, the more (expensive) ink you’ll need to buy. For example, let’s compare the cost and ink-usage efficiency of two different printers: The Brother MFC-J775DW XL and the Epson Expression Photo XP-8500. Both printers cost about $250 and both have similar print quality, but one of the printers uses far more ink than the other during cleaning and maintenance procedures. As a result, the XP-8500 requires users to purchase about $280 of ink annually, whereas the much more efficient MFC-J775DW XL costs users only $27 worth of ink annually. 

By choosing a better printer, you may reduce your spendings 10-fold. Remember this when you’re browsing printers, as it may save you a lot of money on ink.

4)  Your Printer Cartridges are Inefficient

If you’ve determined that your printer is not the problem, then consider your ink cartridges. Different printer ink cartridges have different page yields, meaning they can be used to print more or less pages than other cartridges with different page yields. Most cartridges are labeled either “standard yield” or “high yield” (sometimes called “XL” size), but there are also “extra-high yield” cartridges that only certain kinds of printers can utilize.

The higher a cartridge’s page yield, the more ink is contained within it, and the more you can print before changing cartridges. So, if you want the best value on ink, it’s best to buy high yield (or XL) cartridges. But beware… It’s possible for two different cartridges with comparable page yields to have very different prices depending on the brand (more on this later).

Printer ink can be expensive, so why not consider every option.

5) You Need a Different Type of Cartridge

For most people, an inkjet printer (which uses ink cartridges) is the best option. However, if you print more often than the average person, you may want to consider buying a laser printer and using toner cartridges. 

Laser printers are usually used for businesses, where employees are frequently printing. They’re large, bulky printers that can cost a lot of money. However, smaller black-and-white laser printers are surprisingly affordable. Plus, they’ll save you money if you print often, since toner isn’t used during printer maintenance, and toner cartridges hold more toner than ink cartridges hold ink.

Buying a laser printer and toner cartridges may be expensive at first, but it could save you money with time, particularly if you print often.

Reason #6: Popular Brands are Expensive 

Like in other industries, name brand products tend to cost more than third-party products that are designed to do the same thing. The same goes for printer ink. Actually, name brand printer ink can be so expensive that it’s probably the reason why you’re seeking cheaper options. 

Thankfully, there are plenty of reliable third-party printer ink manufacturers, such LD Products, who sell quality cartridges at a much lower price than more popular brands. For example, a Canon-brand PGI-280XXL extra-high yield black ink cartridge costs $34.99, whereas an LD-brand version of the same cartridge costs $11.99. In this case, LD offers the same print quality and page yield as Canon at less than half the price.  

Always do your research before committing to an ink brand, because you may find a cheaper, third-party alternative for a fraction of the price. 

Why Printer Ink is So Expensive? 

Ultimately, printer ink is expensive for many reasons. Some of those reasons involve manufacturing, while others involve consumer choices. The fact of the matter is ink, and printing technologies, cost a lot of money to develop, and therefore, most manufacturers have to sell ink at a high price. 

To save money on ink, you can invest in a more efficient printer and cartridges. Or, you can sell your unused ink or toner cartridges online for cash. Then you can invest that money in better printing tools and save yourself even more money on ink. After all, printer ink is quite expensive.