The Real Cost of Printer Ink

Printer Ink

Surrounding today’s digital age, it is imperative for everyone to actually have a printer. This comes handy not just in offices but also at home and at times, a portable printer can actually turn a job opportunity or a deal around. That is why over the last few years, we’ve seen different types of printer being released into the market, ranging from the very useful to the not so useful type. Such boom of the printer ink industry made it accessible for anyone in any part of the world to have a printer. However, we should always keep in mind that quality comes with a price, even in terms of printer inks.  We will find out why cheap isn’t so valuable.

Here we will talk about the real cost of printer ink and how to calculate it for you to lessen your cost.

You Need to Understand This

First, the true cost of your printer ink depends on how many pages you will print. Usually, the expensive one in the market with seemingly expensive cartridges is the one for your printing needs and it can actually save you a lot of money.

Yield Testing

Back in the day, when you say yield testing, you would actually take the cartridge and see the yield that is the amount of pages a cartridge can print divided by its price. Manufacturers will actually print out their yield and estimated the cost per page of the cartridge. But again, printing needs vary from photos to the regular documents; you can never be too sure of what you’ll use the printer for and therefore you just have to rely on their claims.

But good thing that there is now a standard for yield testing for plain documents at least. Through the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), standards were finally established for yield testing a cartridge for documents only. Theoretically, yield claims based on the ISO/IEC standard should be fully comparable, regardless of the manufacturer. But there will always be the chance that different manufacturers have come up with different interpretations for how to do the tests, particularly with such a newly created standard.

To find out how comparable the different manufacturers’ results are with each other, we picked printers from four manufacturers and tested them ourselves. These are the printers – Canon Pixma MP600 photo all in one, Lexmark X3550, Kodak Easyshare 5300 all in one and the HP officejet J5780 all in one and the HP Officejest pro K54000dth color printer.

Let’s look at them one by one. These were chosen because of the manufacturers claim that it would give the lowest cost per page and has the most cost effective cartridge. All these claims passed the reality check for these printers.

To actually calculate the yield based on ISO/IEC standards, whether black or tricolor cartridge, you start with the individual results from a minimum of three sets of three cartridges on each three printer for you to be able to take into account the variations between the three printers. You have to use basic statistical formulas to get the 90% lower confidence bound. And this is the yield of the cartridge.

And the Cost is…

To simply put it, the cost per page of each cartridge is the cost of the cartridge divided by its yield. The total cost for the monochrome page is basically the same for the standard black cartridge cost per page while the cost for a color page is the total cost for all the cartridges in the printer which also includes the black cartridge. Knowing the cost per page is only half way of telling which printer is much more expensive.

You would also need to make a prediction on how much printing will you do with the printer. To know that you have a printer that is worth a lifetime of use, compute the total cost of printing for the printer’s lifetime. This will reveal to you how much is the ownership cost is and whether or not this is cheaper and wise for you to use. Again, a printer that costs cheap when you buy it can actually be more expensive for a lifetime use compared to expensive printers and expensive cartridges.

Looking at this, it is important for each printer buyer to remember these facts about printers and inks. First, two printers can be compared based on their yields and cost per page if you will use the one set by the ISO/IEC as a standard. Second, the mileage will vary as the standard is based on the number of pages that may or may not be the typical number you print. Third, when you buy a cartridge, what are important are its cost per page and its cost. The price of the cartridge is totally useless unless you know how many page it can produce. Fourth, the current standard of the ISO/IEC covers standard documents only. A standard for photo printing has yet to be created by the ISO/IEC. And lastly, what matters most is the total cost of printing over its lifetime added to the cost of the printer than the sole price of actual the printer itself.

A Piece of Advice

While it is really tempting to go for a much cheaper printer, it is always wise to count the cost for a while. I would like to compare buying a printer into picking a lifetime partner. Dramatic isn’t it? But just like looking for a lifetime partner, you cannot just buy any printer that comes your way that seems available for your use. This is to be thought thoroughly so that unnecessary incompatibilities will be avoided in the future. And as it always is, not all that is cheap is actually worth it in the end.

Take time and maybe you’ll see that something valuable will give you much more than what you’ve bargained for. And you will find out the answers as to why cheap isn’t so valuable even in printing. Being wise in choosing the right ink and printer to use will ensure efficiency on your part.

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