Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The cost of ink

Did you know that the cost of inkjet ink to a typical consumer (per ml) is about 400 x the price of Evian water?

Printer manufacturers make their money by selling high priced cartridges (consumables). The printers are sold for cheap, sometimes at or less than cost. It is equivalent to the razor / razor blade theory. Get the razor cheap (or free), and you're stuck buying expensive consumables for it. Same thing with ink.

Some printer manufacturers have tried to buck the trend. Take Kodak for example. Kodak is selling higher priced printers and cheaper cartridges. But even Kodak isn't much different. It is true that the Kodak cartridges are "cheaper" than other printer cartridges, typically costing around $10 for a black cartridge or $15 from a color cartridge from a Kodak authorized reseller like Best Buy. However, take a closer look at how much ink is in those Kodak cartridges. You'll find its around 1/2 the volume of ink than more expensive HP inkjet cartridges for example.

No surprise then that there has been a recent push by regulatory bodies to force printer and cartridge manufacturers into labeling their products more visibly with the amount of ink that they hold. The National Conference on Weights and Measures for example has been pushing for tighter restrictions on the way printer ink cartridge manufacturers must label their products.

This may in the long run put pressure on ink prices, which won't be a bad thing for the consumer. 123 Refills has long been promoting more ink and more toner whenever possible in the same cartridge shape that OEM cartridge manufacturers would put less ink. The 123 Refills compatible cartridges for Brother LC51 for example hold up to 4 x the ink volume as compared to Brother OEM cartridges. The HP Q2612a toner cartridge can also hold about 50% more toner than HP puts in their cartridge. Many brother printer cartridges also hold more toner than is first sold with the cartridge when you buy a new printer. The Brother TN460 is an example.

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