Why Are Print Cartridges So Expensive? The Reason Is…

print cartridges

photo credit: i.am.rebecca via photopin cc

Laser printers which burn images onto paper to create the desired pictures, work with a kind of toner that is sprayed into the incredibly shallow burned spots. This gives everything a black or gray look and doesn’t do an image nearly the justice it deserves. Ink printers make for much better reproductions, but ink is expensive, more expensive than toner which is still pretty steep.

When so many people have so many things to print and in a world where cheap reproductions and substitute goods are the norm, why are print cartridges still so expensive? The reasons aren’t going to shock or surprise you, but this is still uncommon knowledge worth learning before you buy your next ink or toner cartridge.

Why is Toner so Expensive?

Like most manufactured goods, toner isn’t expensive just because it is toner. There’s something to be paid for the work which goes into crafting the toner cartridge, the drums, assemblies, tapes and other parts which all make it work.

Electrostatic toner is expensive but it does not represent even half the total cost behind a toner cartridge. You’re still probably overpaying for your toner anyhow. You could try looking for refurbished or remanufactured toner cartridges on eBay or in old print shops.

There you would get them for a fraction of the price new ones cost and they’re still about as good, not quite new but certainly worth the reduced price at most outlets. There’s little to be done for the cost of ink though and fueling inkjet printers is ridiculously expensive.

Why is Printer Ink so Expensive?

Just like toner cartridges, inkjet cartridges don’t cost so much just for the contents, in this case ink. That stuff isn’t especially expensive. The real cost in inkjet carts comes from the reliability in picture quality.

Those cartridges need to consistently spray the right number of dots for the light of their full lifetime or else people will stop buying the product when they realize the last few print jobs are terrible. Businesses are out to make money and keep making money so if they need to make their product more expensive to keep it viable then that’s something they do.

Most consumers gripe but will pay the $35 it averages to replace ink cartridges when the time comes. There are some extra large cartridges available directly from the manufacturer which cut down on the cost of ink but it will still be expensive, kind of like getting 3 for the price of 2.25-2.5.

Any Way to Get Around Printing?

If you can, try sending important images to people in a .pdf format using Adobe Acrobat. That’s one great way to deliver the full color, high definition images you need while paying nothing for ink, toner or either kind of printer.

For people who can’t afford Adobe, there are numerous free readers and other programs which will allow a user to interact with and read .pdf files without Adobe. Creating them will require a purchase though and the program isn’t exactly cheap. You could stick to 100% free emails and those do still work pretty well.

The transfer is instantaneous and you’ll know in seconds if someone has your document or not. There’s no need to wait hours, days or even weeks while you wait for something to be delivered by hand, received and read.

This is a great alternative to printing and if you email your work to yourself, you can keep records of everything just like you had printed it out on paper. Do this with a few different email accounts in case you lose access to one or more and still need those documents.

About the Author: Terry Richardson writes for PrinterCorp, the market leader in managed print services to Australian businesses. Find out more about their services here.


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