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Your cheating heart, I mean inkjet printer


Confirming what most of us IT professionals already know about the (lack of) economy of inkjet printers, a new study says that on average, more than half of the ink from inkjet cartridges is wasted when user toss them in the garbage.

The part that calls out for attention is that users are throwing them away due to their printer telling them that the cartridges are out of ink - when it might not necessarily be so.

According to the report by Ars Technica

The study by TUV Rheinland looked at inkjet efficiency across multiple brands, including Epson (who commissioned the study), Lexmark, Canon, HP, Kodak and Brother. They studied the efficiency of both single and multi-ink cartridges.

The result shows that many printer routinely report that they are low on ink even when they are not, resulting in wastages of up to 64% in the worst cases.

Multi-ink cartridges are also another common problem in which a single color is depleted first. Single color ink cartridges alleviate the problem somewhat, though this does not stop some cartridge to be reported as empty with an average of 20% of ink left.

You know, this brings to mind a situation in my office recently in which I initiated a “printer consumables survey”. Among other surprises, I found to my horror that one of the cheap black inkjet multifunctional was devouring about a cartridge of ink a day. Total running cost for that one unit alone ran up to more than $200 worth of cartridges every month.

Do you have any similar experiences on your end? Join the discussion.

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

52 comments
petter.hermoza
petter.hermoza

I suspected that long ago, but didn't have any way to check it out. I have a multifunctional that devours ink cartridges, mostly when I turn it on. It seems like it performs an injectors cleaning each time and it wastes a lot of ink. A friend of mine just told me he has the same problem, and what he does is to try to cheat the printer, taking the "empty" cartridge out, closing the printer, opening it again and placing the same cartridge again, just as he was changing it. The printer assumes it's a new one and tries to print from it, and it gives a few printings more. I'm gonna try this nex time.

wittm
wittm

My badged Dell printer seems to want to report as empty any cartridge not bought through Dell (at extortionate prices)! Another Evil Empire at work in the IT world :)

TechExec2
TechExec2

. In my view, the problems with ink jets are: - Outrageously expensive cost per page. - Jets get clogged and often cannot be cleared. The cartridge must be thrown out prematurely. This FURTHER increases the cost per page. - Still much slower than laser. Ink jets are faster. Laser speed has really jumped. - Black laser printers are incredibly cheap now. There's no excuse to avoid them now. - Even color laser printers are very affordable. - Image durability is poor compared with laser. Tip: Brother is the new king of inexpensive desktop laser printers. Best combination of speed, features, reliability, and price. Check it out. Highly recommended. HP is out.

paulmah
paulmah

Do you have any similar experiences on your end?

kendu12
kendu12

Saw a complicated explanation (along with how to refill cartidges), that showed how to place tape on one, insert in printer, print a test sheet, etc, change the tape and repeat, etc. This exercise resets the electronics. Seems that cartridge electronics need to be reset to show ink levels on the printer. I refill my black ink, but it doesn't display on the panel on my HP all in one. Still prints fine, though. Mfgrs don't want you to know how to do this. I can buy a new black for $32, buy a refilled cartridge for $20, or refill it myself for less than $5. Takes all of 5 mins, and well worth my time. Don't be stupid and try it indoors, though. Ink is messy if you slip up.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

but we have several Brother printers that have been or are being replaced with HP. Not sure why though.

sleepin'dawg
sleepin'dawg

is the price of consumables. The printers, regardless of name, tend to ship with only partially filled toner cartridges; eg: HP arrived with the black toner cartridge 1/3 filled. In a lot of instances, the cost for a complete set of cartridges exceeds the cost of the printer. Add to that the fact that lasers only do a marginally acceptable job for photos and it looks like iok jets will be with us for a while yet. We use B&W lasers for most work, colour lasers for some work and ink jets for photographs. We discourage use of ink jets for anything other than photographs. Depending on end use, in most cases laser images are more durable except for photographs and Epson seems to have a slight edge in terms of image durability and lasting colour fidelity and stability. Canon isn't far behind but most others, like Lexmark, aren't up to the mark regarding durability and colour stability. In lasers there is no question about durability of B&W text and graphics but have noticed definite colour shifts or instability on images after six months. I can only say this for HP and Samsung colour lasers. We used a MacBeth meter to check the colour in case anyone cares to argue our results. [b]Dawg[/b] ]:)

unhappyuser
unhappyuser

Brother may be cheap but you get what you pay for. The Brother printers that I have seen and serviced have, at best , half the lifetime of a typical HP printer (not promoting HP just using as an example). The quality is not as good either - after about 50% usage of the toner you get spotty pages from toner being dropped. Brother is out. EMD

The Boy Lard
The Boy Lard

an Epson CX6600 with a clogged print head, now it might sound crazy but I took the carts out and put a folded up 'hand cleaner wipe' from the local Builder Centre under the print head. Admittedly it took about half a day to soak out the clog, but it worked! The wipes are designed to clean your hands of paint and grease so I thought it might work on a print head. I now have a 'free' MFD that sits printing merrily and has only cost me ?9 for carts I bought from an E-bay seller. And it smells nice too. I wouldn't recommend trying this on an expensive printer, but as it was given to me the 'nothing ventured- nothing gained' phrase rings true.

AlphA303
AlphA303

I thought everyone was aware of this by now. Look it up. Many new cartridges are programmed to force you to buy new ink before the cartridge is actually depleted. The "low toner" warning is based on time rather than use. Why? To keep you buying cartridges! That's why printers have become so affordable. Before buying a new printer from another company, I had a Cartridge Resetter which resets the cartridge chip which allowed me to continue printing until the cartridge was ACTUALLY empty. I was amazed by how much life was left in my "dead" cartridges! There is a long list of companies who have adopted this trick. The easiest way to find out if you're printer is ripping you off is to see if a cartridge resetter is available for your cartridges. Another way to see if you're getting ripped off is to check weather or not you are able to print with the remaining cartridges after one cartridge is "empty". For example, let's say you have used up all of your color toner but your black toner is full. If your printer does NOT allow you to continue to print in black and white, then you should abandon the company who produces your printer and stop allowing them to rip us off!

fadbel
fadbel

Yes, my Epson Stylus Photo RX700 [All-in-one -one (I don't like fax machines)] reports that the ink is low and then allows me to continue, eventually, it will output a message like "You may continue printing another 100 pages like the last one on this ink cartridge". I have six cartridges in this printer and I RUN 'EM D-R-Y! The continuation is a nice feature.

usr19x@
usr19x@

I seldom print anything any more. A few proofs here and there, an occasional graphic or photograph. So my printing costs are under $200 a year. I generally create pdf's, tiff's or jpegs and email them or burn a disk for clients. When I do print my biggest problem is that it has been so long that the ink has dried out. But some of you might find the following helpful. The inkjet business is built around selling low cost hardware and making profits on the consumables. Inkjet manufacturers sell the printers for nominal profits or even a loss. The printers are made cheaply and are not repairable to any great extent and therefore are considered disposable. Ink cartridges are the revenue source of the industry. To this end the cartridges are proprietary to a small series of printers and the ink is unique to series and manufacturer. The inks are specially formulated by viscosity and color saturation. The ?jets? are specific to the formulation and is the primary reason refilled cartridges seldom perform as expected. Kodak (not a plug) has announced a new line of inkjet printers to be released later this year that do not incorporate the jets into the cartridge. They estimate cartridge pricing in the $10-15 range for black ink and $15 ? 20 for color. Printers will start around the $150 mark. They are bucking the trend in order to displace their losses in the film imaging sector. Color printing is achieved by the overlapping patterns/degrees of the reflective primary colors of cyan, magenta and yellow (cmy). Black (k) is added to increase the image contrast. There are many inkjet printers that print all four colors even though black is the only color on the page. When printing black only documents, be sure to adjust the printers output to black only to save on the cmy inks. Better to replace one cartridge than all of them. If the bulk of your printed output is black you will have greater economy with a laser printer. Inkjet printers are not intended for volume. Many inkjet printers over saturate the ink. To extend cartridge life adjust the color saturation of your printer. Most printers come with their own test page use it to adjust the saturation. Set your printer controls to the lowest saturation then run a test print, increase the saturation until the print is acceptable in appearance. Paper is also a factor in print quality and cartridge longevity. Your paper choice can reduce the image quality and although that might be ?good enough? for drafts it can damage the jet heads. Cheap has a lot of lint, small fibers from the paper will flake off clogging the ink flow. The quality of paper is a factor for inkjets and laser printers. Glossy papers made for commercial printing have a clay coating and will not accept ink from an inkjet printer and will damage the drum during the fusion process of laser printing. Using the right paper for the job will save you money. Also remember that consumer/basic inkjets have a water based ink. To protect prints that you want to keep you can spray them with a varnish available in art supply stores (you can use hairspray, since it is varnish). This only saves the print from wear and droplets not spills.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

you simply bought the wrong inkjet printer. You should have bought an inkjet printer with INDIVIDUAL tanks. You may have gotten this free with a computer but it is NO BARGAIN! I have a very lovely Canon IP6000. Prints very good photo quality. Has cover and paper tray that fold closed when not in use, to keep dust out. I use third party inkjet cartridges from quality company that get down in range of $6 each. (Really cheap swapmeet carts can clog your printhead so you have to spend $45 to get another). I don't try to refill them.

CaptBilly1Eye
CaptBilly1Eye

I was amazed to discover the on-going issue with many Epson ink jets... Epson refuses to admit or address the problem with many of their models including the C86. Need evidence? Go here: http://tinyurl.com/frmdh . They will clog (often when replacing the cartridge) making them unusable (except for doorstops). If the printer is out of warranty, you're SOL as far as Epson is concerned. There is no fix other than to take them into a repair facility or dismantle the printer and clear the tubes manually using a kit available on-line from a third party. A VERY messy job! Believe me, I know, I had to do it on all four of the Epson printers we had in our lab. Notice I said 'HAD in our lab.' They be gone now... replaced with HPs. If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself with a clogged Epson, here's what you're in for: http://tinyurl.com/822fu

wszwarc
wszwarc

I have an Epson RX580 Multifunction and have stopped using the Epson Smart software. If I replace the cartridge when the software says it is empty, I am shorted 10-20 pages of print. The printer is smart enough to stop printing when the cartridge is actually empty. Unfortunately you have to look at the LCD display in order to know the printer has ceased to function. Not much help to those who manage these comercially. I find the inkjet to have much superior printing quality, especially for photos, so i don't think they will go away any time soon.

jazzygeek
jazzygeek

In a comparison in my organization, ink jet cartridges and replacement printers were running...ready for this...almost $10,000 a year-with 100 heavy users and 750 occassional users. Replaced them all with networked color laser-one for each 10 heavy users-and recooped cost in less than two years. Toner cartridges last about 8 months and I've had no problems with machines!

brian.mills
brian.mills

Here where I work, we try to keep everyone reminded that when their printer says it's low on ink, that means they need to be ready to change it when it does run out, but that as long as everything looks right, then it's not actually time to change the cartridge yet. They seem to get it with the color laser printer, but sometimes have to be reminded with the inkjets some of them have. Thankfully when they decide to print out full-page copies of PowerPoint slides with full-color backgrounds they always use the laser. I'd hate to think how much that would cost on an inkjet. Personally, I never change a cartridge until something comes out the wrong color (or all the black's missing). My HP DeskJet 842C at home didn't even come with any monitoring software that I can recall, not that it would matter since it's plugged into a print server/switch. I didn't change the cartridges in it until both the color and the black were barely readable, and even then, it was only because I was printing tax forms. I think it's cheaper now to just replace the printers when they run out of ink rather than to replace the cartridges, at least on inkjet.

JUSTJOEL99
JUSTJOEL99

I have had similar experiences with laser printers and copiers, as well. Some of our helpful but naive employees were changing the toner cartridges when our HPs gave a "Toner Low" message, not realizing that there was a "Toner Out" message that would pop up when it was really time to switch. Unfortunately, this wasted hundreds, sometimes thousands of pages of life remaining in the cartridges.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

get a printer with individual cartridges. All but low end Canons use individual carts instead of combined multi-color cartridges. Canon and Epson are about the same on best quality but it seems Epson takes the cake for nozzles clogging and drying out, and reading above, for bad service options. My canon has covers that close to keep dust out of top and paper output tray. List price for canon brand carts (individual ones) is about $10 and reliable third party carts can be had for $6. Buy your PC WITHOUT a printer and save money. The cheap ones they thro in for 'FREE' will cost you in the long (and short) run. Since I use every individual cart to the end, i get really good costs per page even in hi-res mode for photo quality. You can find photo gloss and hi-res paper cheap at times, stockup when you can. The cheapest per page tho is the starting at $800 xerox color phasers that user the solid inks. You waste none of these crayon like blocks and per page cost is very low. Good if you have a serious home use like preparing displays or newsletters for clubs or such. Don't get their other color lasers tho.

TechExec2
TechExec2

. HP lasers are just fine. I just think that Brother offers better price-performance (features, function, price, and toner cost). However, I cannot comment on the service lifetime problem that electronics_md posted about.

TechExec2
TechExec2

. I recently switched from HP to Brother so I really cannot speak about service lifetime yet (gotta see one die). If this is becomes a problem I will likely go back to HP. No toner problems observed so far.

sgt_shultz
sgt_shultz

lying around the office. thank you very much, usr10x!

Yardbyrd
Yardbyrd

Name the 'third party...quality company', please.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

"Really cheap swapmeet carts can clog your printhead so you have to spend $45 to get another). " More true then I can say. I messed up 2 HP printers befor I realized the no-brand ink cartridges were crap. I have since cleaned up both printers and am very careful about ink, havent had any problems since.

Tech_Monkey
Tech_Monkey

bought a Epson Stylus Photo 820 a couple yrs ago for printing pics. Not very happy with it, if not used for a week or so, it clogs, or prints poorly and need to run the cleaning on it which uses even more ink. If one color runs low, its stops printing altogether. Cartridges dont seem to last very long. two thumbs down.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

have the combined 3 color cartridges in those inkjets?

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

I have a color LJ at home even. We have removed most of the business class inkjets from here and put almost everybody on the networked printers (LJ's). But, I would not say that using color LJ's for B/W documents are best. As to create black, it uses all of the colors (instead of the black cartridge). It is best to put them on B/W LJ's and color LJ's and instruct them to use the B/W for everything that does not need color, no exceptions. For desktop printing, I have them on desktop LJ's now, much less hassles

ozi Eagle
ozi Eagle

Hi, Replacing a cheaper printer with another cheap printer is false economy, because new printers generally come with the "economy" cartridge fitted. This is only a third to a half full. Herb

sleepin'dawg
sleepin'dawg

We haven't got time for it in the office but I imagined for home use that it might make some sense. I haven't tried it myself but was wondering if anyone had any experience with refilled cartridges and/or DIY refill kits. [b]Dawg[/b] ]:)

chas_2
chas_2

I've got a Canon Pixma iP4200 photo printer, which uses five individual ink cartridges. The software monitors ink levels and shows them with each print job. I continue to use the cartridges until the system declares one or more are completely depleted. This so much better than HP printers I've had in the past because I know I'm using all the ink in the cartridge, and with separate cartridges for magenta, cyan and yellow inks I don't waste any ink as opposed to those tri-colored cartridges where, if one color ran out, you had to replace the whole thing (leaving unused ink behind in the other two tanks). But I find you have to buy a good enough model of a printer to get those individual ink cartridges; often those very low-end ones use the tri-colored cartridges, but I imagine those printers are aimed more at users that only print occasionally. Canon, Epson, and even HP now have printers with individual color cartridges.

AlphA303
AlphA303

I thought everyone was aware of this by now. Look it up. Many new cartridges are programmed to force you to buy new ink before the cartridge is actually depleted. The "low toner" warning is based on time rather than use. Why? To keep you buying cartridges! That's why printers have become so affordable. Before buying a new printer from another company, I had a Cartridge Resetter which resets the cartridge chip which allowed me to continue printing until the cartridge was ACTUALLY empty. I was amazed by how much life was left in my "dead" cartridges! There is a long list of companies who have adopted this trick. The easiest way to find out if you're printer is ripping you off is to see if a cartridge resetter is available for your cartridges. Another way to see if you're getting ripped off is to check weather or not you are able to print with the remaining cartridges after one cartridge is "empty". For example, let's say you have used up all of your color toner but your black toner is full. If your printer does NOT allow you to continue to print in black and white, then you should abandon the company who produces your printer and stop allowing them to rip us off.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

an 'Order Replacement' message. that said, I wait until the printer stops printing. I have had one printer tell me that yellow had 300 pages left, for 3 months now. still prints fine. However, there is the quirky printer which is a pile of garbage. I had 1 high volume LJ that would stop functioning every morning unless the fuser was pulled out and replaced. Then every week it wanted a new fuser and just would not work until it found a new one.

mknapp231
mknapp231

It was less than $90, a Canon Selphy, it only does up to 4x6 prints but thats all I need anyway. The dye is on a film cassette that kind of looks like a miniature toner cart. A pack of glossy paper that includes the dye sub carts good for 106 prints I can get for $20.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

as a good inkjet cart that is easy to replace and doesn't waste ink in multi-color carts, has all individual carts. Except for variations on technology and print quantity. Do you mind my asking how much the dye-sub was, and how much its carts are, and how many mL they are?

mknapp231
mknapp231

I just use a Samsung laser I bought new at BB for $125 for text jobs and a small dye-sub printer for photos. Meets my needs fine and the dye-sub prints great photos and the dye cartridge couldn't be easier to replace.

csring
csring

Have had many, and they are all junk...will never buy again. You are always replacing the toner/drum well before you should have to, and they tend to leave pages covered inlight grey if the toner/drum isnt brand new. They are totally not worth the hassle. The HP 4000 class just goes and goes and goes....I ran into an HP rep at Best Buy once and he actually told me it was one of the worst business decisions they had made recently, because they never broke, and don't need replacing for a long long time, so they are not selling replacements for them.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

a Brother b/w laser in our warehouse for shipping. It prints maybe 50 pages a day. ^ months latter, its grinding gears when feeding paper, it will be dead soon. It replaced an old hp that had been there for 4 years. Still, I cant say the printer is bad, just that this one seems to have a short life in an admittedly dusty warehouse.

atlantis800
atlantis800

There are some ink cartridges that are in the $6 range. Epson,maybe Canon to name a couple. These are refilled prices. Contact at the email address that I gave earlier for info.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

in san antonio of course these are individual colors for my canon printer not 3 color cartridges. good quick service too. Just printed alot of full color pages, photo quality setting on photo glossy, and except for the cartridges running out of ink under heavy printing, which they do, everything worked fine. The canon carts will till run empty (not suggested). but at least run them till no ink in resevoir. vibrantink.com cartridges worked OK too. they were less but I got worried that an email address used only for them was found spamming me, so I switched. I had got really cheap $3 carts at local computer swapmeet and they clogged printhead. Not that expensive to replace but not want to do that every day. Update; Just did a bunch of hi quality full color photo printing; ran thru several color cartriges of dift colors; Last nite re-ordered and inksell has the individual (non) canon 6 series cartridges for $6.95 still. It was even cheaper since if over $49 they pay postage for ground, and they had a special for $82 including 4 black, 2 each of the other colors: 2yellow, 2magenta, 2photomagenta, 2 cyan, 2 photocyan all for $82, about $5.85 a cartridge. skewed slightly as black ink costs more separately since cartridges are bigger, and it included 4 of these. I also ordered some extra individual colors so I'd have 3 of each color left overall, since I'm setting up some photo displays for a show later in August.

Yardbyrd
Yardbyrd

I tried one. Once. I could see that the empty reservoir was filled but got NONE of the refilled color when I tried to print.

atlantis800
atlantis800

We have a ink cartridge refilling business. We've been doing this for the last 3 1/2 years. And with great succuss! This process does work but only if you have the right people doing it. All of our inks that we use are lab tested to about 99% of the same as OEM inks. We are not allowed by law to say they are as good. We offer a savings from 30% to 60% over what the printer companies offer. We are in the Cincinnat Oh area. For info we can be contacted at the following addresses. eastgateinkjet@geishapc.com or atlantis800@cinci.rr.com marked attention "Rusty"

atlantis800
atlantis800

Refilling ink cartridges do work. There are only a few cartridges that cannot be refilled because of what some call a "Stale Date". Some quit printing after so many pages. There's a lot more to refilling then most people think. But it does work! We have a refilling business. For the past 3 years. We can be contacted at this email addresses for any info that you need. This is in the Cincinnat Oh area. eastgateinkjet@geishapc.com or atlantis800@cinci.rr.com attention "Rusty"

BenOddo53
BenOddo53

I tried refill kits for an HP Inkjet and it was a waste of time and money. I was only successful in refilling the black cartridge only. I had since bought a Canon i950 with six separate ink tanks. Each tank is constructed of clear plastic so I can see for myself when they needed to be refilled. I'm on my second refill kit with this printer. Refilling is a snap and inexpensive. As long as I don't damage the ink tanks, there is no need for me to buy another ink tank for my Canon. This one's a keeper.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

and tried refilling myself. What a pain. I will tell you now, if you try, get gloves. My hands were stained for a week (so was the sink). never again.

gadgetgirl
gadgetgirl

Refilled cartridges - great idea, but only if the firm you're dealing with uses a good quality ink. Most home users I know try these people two or three times; if they haven't noticed a substantial drop in quality, they continue. If they have, the go back to the manufactures own. DIY refill kits. Never again. Nope, notacatinhells chance. "easy fill system" my a....eye. You need the dexterity of a ten fingered monkey combined with the limb numbers of an octopus for some of them (admittedly, some are worse than others) Tried these for Ma, for printing Church newsletters - B&W came out great, but after 24hrs the print started rubbing off (not a good idea for all these church ladies who wear white gloves......) Colour was basically washed out. It actually cost Ma more, as she had to get the printer to self clean before every colour print she did. I did try it at home, but after having "grip trouble" (get your mind out of the gutter, you know I mean the arthritis! ;) ) I found I couldn't use the DIY kit at all. GG with a definite case of DE-itis.... ]:)

ozi Eagle
ozi Eagle

Hi, All new printers I've seen recently have a little pcb attached somewhere (NOT the printhead assy)with a small chip on it. This is the culprit. I supplied an HP laserjet recently and the toner cartridge had one of these suckers on it. There was ( maybe still is ) a company that made replacement chips that worked forever, but Lexmark had an injunction put on them citing DRM. Herb

techrepublic
techrepublic

I can continue to print with the blacks or the remaining colours when a cartridge runs out on my Canon iP5000. Also no chips in the cartridges and they can be refilled but why bother when a 3rd party cartridge with US made ink can be had for about AUD$2.95? Yes 10 cartridges for under AUD$30. However it's replacement the iP5200 is not so forgiving. The new one is much cheaper but they make up for that by not allowing cartridge refills.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

eventually on my inkjet the reclamation tank will fill and I'll have to service it but not yet.

AlphA303
AlphA303

I would love to be able to do that with my old epson c80. You are one of the lucky ones. The point about the "rip off printers" is that they stop you from doing just that. I'll never own another epson again. I believe Eddie Matejowsky was the first to find a way around epson's scam. It's an interesting read. Check it out here: http://eddiem.com/photo/CIS/inkchip/chip.html

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

when you can shake the lazer cart, and put it back in till it starts coming out light? on HPs it simply warns you, doesn't stop printing.

TidBits
TidBits

Sometimes uneven toner distribution can cause 'toner low' sensor to kick in - redistribute the toner with horizontal left-right shake. For ink-jet cartridge, blockade in the print head may be cleared by dabbing the cartridge printer heads into the moist paper towel soaked with warm mineral water . Leave it there soaking for a few minutes. This should result in a capillary reaction sucking warm water through the stubborn printer heads. A fairly good site on cartridge/toner help/guide : http://www.cartridgestore.ca/my-html-pages/help-guide.htm One thing that bugs me is the 'expiration date' of toner cartridge - something about oxidation of toner. Mark your toner cartridge boxes with received date and use FIFO inventory cycle or you end up with low yield on your $$. Read more @ http://www.partsnow.com/service_today/0305.asp Lesson : buyers beware.