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While it would be nice to go completely paperless, as a society, we aren’t quite there yet. Until we get there, things need to be printed. It’s no secret that printer ink can be pretty expensive. Current costs for brand name, or OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer), printer ink can cost upwards of $30 per cartridge. When you consider how much ink is actually in a cartridge, you start to realize how expensive ink really is. Have you ever stopped to wonder why printer ink is so expensive?

printer ink different colors

When priced out in bulk, printer ink runs about $2700 per gallon. At that price, it’s a good thing your car doesn’t run on printer ink or you’d never drive anywhere. At that price, printer ink is one of the most valuable liquids on the planet. It’s beaten out by a few things, according to an informal survey. (If you’re curious, the most expensive liquid is scorpion venom, clocking in at $38.86 million dollars per gallon.)

Of course, you don’t buy ink by the gallon; you buy it in overpriced cartridges. The amount of ink in a cartridge varies, from about 3 mL for photo color cartridges to just over 53 mL for high capacity black ink cartridges. But knowing how much ink is in each of those thirty dollar containers only makes you wonder even more: why is printer ink so expensive?

The first reason is because the price they charge is what the market will bear. Make no mistake, there’s a huge profit margin for large retailers like Best Buy or Target when they sell you ink. That profit margin helps drive HP to have a printing enterprise that is worth an estimated $71 billion.

printer ink

To be fair, Hewlett Packard does invest a lot into their printer ink. It’s estimated that they spend about $1 billion per year on research and development. According to them, printer ink has to be stable up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and then be able to be vaporized. Once vaporized, the ink is shot through a nozzle 1/3rd the size of a human hair at the rate of 36,000 drops per second and speeds of nearly 30 miles per hour. So it sort of stands to reason that a company like HP would want to recoup their investment.

Of course, just because HP, Lexmark, Canon, and other printer manufacturers want to sell you ink at an increased rate doesn’t mean you have to pay those prices. There are several ways to bypass the OEM printer ink pricing merry-go-round.

Refurbished Ink Cartridges

printer ink blue yellow black magento

These types of cartridges come in many names. Sometimes they’re called refurbished; other times, they get called remanufactured. It boils down to the same thing. Someone takes empty or nearly empty old ink cartridges and refills them. They then sell them back to you at a discount. You’ll usually end up paying about half the cost of a new cartridge.

Of course, these cartridges aren’t without their drawbacks. Sometimes the ink inside will settle and clog the print head. While this is easily remedied with a damp paper towel, it can still be slightly annoying.

Refill Kits

printer ink test fix

Refill kits are very cheap. They consist of a syringe and a bottle of ink. Essentially, you find the small holes that the manufacturer uses to fill the cartridges at the factory. Once you find them, you use the syringe and needle to refill the ink yourself. It’s fairly easy to do, but can make quite a mess if you accidentally spill a bottle while refilling. The ink is usually near to the consistency of the manufacturer, and you can get pretty good results.

One of the drawbacks is that the print head will eventually go bad and start leaking ink. That’s a bad thing, and you don’t ever want to put a leaking cartridge into your printer. Cartridge manufacturers have also started to get wise to this practice. Some manufacturers like HP put microchips into their cartridges now. The microchips have an expiration date coded into them. When your printer sees that the cartridges are “expired,” they will refuse to print using those cartridges.

Generic Ink

Probably the best of both worlds, combining relatively inexpensive cartridges with high quality ink. It’s difficult to find newer cartridges, especially if there’s a change in shape or dimensions of the ink cartridge. However, for printers that have been out for a year or longer, finding a generic cartridge can be easier than you’d think. You’re not going to pay anywhere near what you would for an OEM cartridge either. Here at Think Crucial, we offer a wide variety of Canon, Brother, and HP-compatible photo ink cartridges. We also sell generic toner cartridges, which can also save you quite a bit off of OEM toner cartridges.

So, that solves one of the great mysteries of the office world. Why are printer cartridges so expensive? We at Think Crucial would like to offer the wallet-weary printers of the world an alternate choice. Check out our wide range of generic ink cartridges that are formulated to give you vibrant color prints for a lot less than you’d normally pay. With a full 30-day satisfaction guarantee and free shipping on every order, there’s no reason not to try them out.



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