If you're going to stick to the old-school way of printing documents, you're probably going to suffer from the expensive cost of buying ink cartridges for inkjet printers and toner cartridges for laser printers.
For around the same price of a gallon of ink you can get around 2,250 gallons of regular gas, 2.3 bottles of the 2017 Chateau Petrus wine, and around 2,254 gallons of whole milk.
So why is printer ink so expensive?
Because the manufacturer is trying to earn its money back
For instance, inkjet printers can easily be found for cheap prices. This is because they’re sold at around their cost or even at a loss.
The manufacturer, then, makes money from the highly-priced cartridges you buy later on.
In this case, instead of making a one-time lumpsum profit, the manufacturer makes a continuous profit as customers keep buying ink or toner cartridges.
This is extended by the manufacturers' efforts to make it hard for consumers to use unofficial ink cartridges by building microchips into their official ink ones.
If you use an unofficial cartridge, it could be rejected by the printer.
The cost of research and development (in terms of both money and time)
Even though cartridges are small and seemingly simple pieces of equipment, they’re actually pretty complex.
The elements of an in cartridge cooperate to guarantee that the ink gets to the paper and remains there.
To figure out the most effective way of getting the cartridge to work, printer manufacturers spend a lot of time and money. Naturally, this cost is reflected in the price of the cartridges when they’re being sold to consumers.
But better research leads to a higher quality
The continuous efforts of researchers have proved helpful when it comes to improving printer ink technology.
Whether it’s the complicated print heads that release certain amounts of ink during printing and maintenance cycles or the advances in the ink itself.
This left us with faster printers that print in higher quality.
By all means, this costs money, which means that ink cartridges’ prices get higher.
Ink manufacturing costs a lot of money
Apart from the complexity of the cartridge, the ink itself includes various ingredients. Some of these are specialized solvents and other solutions.
They ensure the ink is released in controlled amounts and that your paper doesn’t curl up while it’s drying.
Of course, these ingredients aren't cheap, and the cost is reflected yet again on the price of the printer ink cartridge.
Cartridges are manufactured to fit a specific printer for specialization
Depending on the type of printer you use, you’ll need a different kind of cartridge as there’s no one size fits all. Each cartridge is designed to work with a certain printer or printer series to give you the best results.
Again, this requires a lot of research and development so that the cartridges’ technology can keep up with the demands of the market.
The wasted ink you’re not aware of
You may think that printers only use ink during the printing process, but this is not true.
When you leave your cartridge without use for too long, a mall amount of ink is used during downtime to push air bubbles and dried ink out of the nozzles to keep the cartridge working properly.
Using the wrong type of printer
If you feel like you’re not getting the optimum use out of your ink cartridges, this may be due to the fact that you’re using the wrong type of printer.
If you print large volume on a daily basis, you should opt for a printer that’s designed for heavy use such as printers designed for small offices.
If you print a photo or two per month, you should get a photo printer or an instant photo printer. You can also buy high yield ink cartridges as they contain more ink and last a bit longer than their counterparts.
The economics of supply and demand
Simply put, the supply of cartridges is small as it’s limited to brand names like HP. Of course, that is if you want genuine OEM ink and toner and not the one provided by alternatives.
On the other hand, the demand for ink and toner remain quite high. This gives the brand-name manufacturers to monopolize the product and set its price at a higher level than it should be.
You can try using these tips and tricks to save money on printing
Buy refilled cartridges
Refilled cartridges that you can get from third parties are a lot cheaper. Despite the fact that ink manufacturers warn consumers from these cartridges, they work pretty well.
Refill your cartridges on your own
Buy a DIY kit to refill your own printer ink cartridges. Although it's a messy solution, it can help you save a lot of money. However, note that if your cartridge contains a microchip, your printer may reject a refilled cartridge.
Use laser printing
Inkjet printers use ink cartridges but laser printers use toner. If you’re mostly printing black and white documents, a laser printer can be a lot cheaper in the long run than an inkjet one.
Go for the XL cartridges
It’s usually cheaper to buy in bulk, so make use of the extra ink that an XL cartridge has to offer at a price difference that isn’t all too high.
Steer away from printers with tri-color ink cartridges
If you're going to print color documents, you should get a printer that uses separate ink cartridges for all its colors.
This is to avoid having to throw away half-full cartridges of colors that you don’t use as much as the color cartridge that ran out.
Compare the cost of cartridges before you buy a printer
This is because getting a cheap printer doesn’t always mean you’ve made the best deal. A more expensive printer could have less expensive cartridges or ones that have a higher yield, which ends up saving you more money in the long run.
Finally, the best way to save the most money, of course, is to keep everything digital instead of printing the documents out on paper.