Why is Printer Ink so Expensive? : How to Get Cheap Ink or Toner

Printers are cheap, but printer ink is not, which seems a little confusing. A drop of printing ink is more expensive than fine champagne. Perhaps like most people out there, you will only notice the seemingly unreasonable high price of ink when your printer eventually runs out of ink cartridges and need a replacement.

Buying an inkjet printer for the lowest price imaginable only to turn around and pay the most money for replacing official printer ink cartridge is what doesn’t feel right. However, there are tips you can get to help you save money whenever you purchase replacement ink.

Cheap Printers, but Expensive Printer Ink

The price of inkjet printers is very low, which means the manufacturers do not profit from the sales, or perhaps they sell them at a deficit.

So, printer cartridges are expensive for a reason. It is a calculated business strategy to make up for the loss or less profit they get from inkjet printer prices.  Even if there is a bit of profit in printer sales, the high cost of ink remains the main source of profit for printer manufacturers. You purchase the low-cost printer but have to pay for expensive printer ink as many times as it gets finished, while the printer is still there. That’s how the manufacturers make money.

image credit to Epson

To ensure that you do not turn to unofficial ink cartridges, plenty of the printer manufacturers out there, put microchips in their official ink cartridges.  This makes printers to reject unofficial cartridges or official cartridges when you refill them. According to Lexmark’s court argument, third parties who use unofficial microchips to enable unofficial ink cartridges are infringing on their copyright for under the US DMCA,  it is illegal. However, they lost the argument.

The Argument Printer Companies Present

The arguments printer companies have tabled in the past, attempts to justify the expensive price tag they put on official ink cartridges and their microchips to monopolize the industry by eliminating competition.

A story published in the Computer World back in 2010, had HP bringing forth the argument that they invest a billion-dollar annually to research on ink development.  They opined that have been researching and working on using formulated printer ink to resist 300-degree level heating, vaporization, as well as having it being sprayed at 30 miles an hour and at a 36,000 per second drop rate, and many more precisions.  They also included the need for instant drying of ink on a paper and how such research has made printers more efficient and take less ink.

According to companies that build microchips in their cartridges, only the microchips should enforce their expiration date. That restriction prevents the use of old ink cartridges by consumers.

These arguments are worth paying attention to, but they don’t seem to address the reason behind the extremely high printer ink cost or the third-party or refilled cartridge restriction.

Money-saving Printing: Printer ink

The price of any product is driven by how much people are actually willing to pay for it, and ink manufacturers understand that consumers are willing to pay such amounts for cartridge replacements. You better not give in to their sky-high prices. Also, stay away for overly cheap inkjet printers. Researching on printers before buying yours will help if you put your needs first. That’s how to spend less cash on printing.

image credit to Primera Technology

Here are Basic Tips to Help You Spend Less on Printing:


Purchase Refilled Cartridges: The prices of third party refilled cartridges are the cheapest. Though printer companies keep dissuading consumers away from them, they are often effective.

Refill Your Cartridges: There are do it yourself (DIY) kits to help you refill printer ink cartridges to avoid a mess. Also, note that a microchip-built cartridge may refuse your printer.

Go for a Laser Printer: Toner is what laser printers use and not ink cartridges, so if you print so much black and white documents, you’ll save more money when printing on a laser printer.

Purchase XL Cartridges: It’s a money-saving strategy to always buy extra-large cartridges since they contain more ink and sell relatively cheaper than official printer ink cartridges which do not carry that much ink inside. The point is, buying in bulk is cheaper.

Stay away from Tri-Color Ink Cartridge Printers: When it comes to printing color documents, you’ll generally be tempted to go for a printer with separate ink cartridges. But note that once one of the colors of this type of cartridge is finished, you will only buy a full new cartridge for replacement instead of refilling the finished color. This is because the printer will reject any refill of the empty ink chamber. Buy a printer with separate color cartridges to be able to replace or refill the chamber of the finished color.

It’s essential for those who buy official cartridges to compare the prices of cartridges when purchasing a printer. A printer may be cheap but expensive in the long term.

Saving money on printing is good but going paperless is better. Keeping your documents in digital copies, is more comfortable and cheaper.