For students, teachers, and office workers alike, nothing is worse than running out of printer ink.
Printer ink is an essential part of every home and business office, with the market valued at around 7.35 billion dollars worldwide!
This shows just how many people need to purchase printer ink, and how vital it is to the American workforce.
Unfortunately, printer ink is not cheap, with black printer ink cartridges costing $60 to $120 per year, and color cartridges costing $75 to $150 a year.
Why is printer ink so expensive?
Why Is Printer Ink So Expensive? (Top 11 Reasons)
1. Inaccurate Low Printer Ink Warnings
If you’ve ever used a printer, you know that it will alert you when the levels of ink reach a critical low point.
The printer ink cartridge works much like a car’s engine oil light, which activates whenever the car senses there is a low level of oil.
However, unlike a car, printer ink cartridges will continue to alert you to the low level of ink, forcing you to buy another one, even if there is still a usable amount of ink inside the cartridge.
In fact, the amount of ink inside a printer cartridge is so substantial that many customers choose to reset the microchip error in order to use their printer again.
Unfortunately, not everyone is skilled in resetting their printer ink cartridge, or they don’t wish to go through the hassle of having to reset it.
This leads to people buying more printer ink throughout the year than is necessary.
This, in turn, leads to higher costs that are, quite frankly, unnecessary, yet difficult to avoid.
For busy offices, time is money.
Wasted time spent in trying to reset every printer ink cartridge can end up costing a business more money than necessary, especially bigger businesses that cannot afford to stop their workflow.
Fortunately, if you’re a student or someone with a home office who doesn’t mind spending a bit of time resetting your printer ink cartridge, you might end up saving more money yearly on these cartridges.
2. Increasing Cost Of Microchips
Microchips are found in virtually every part of technology today.
From cell phones to motor vehicles, computers, tablets, and also printer ink cartridges, you can find microchips just about everywhere.
However, microchips are in incredibly short supply, leading to higher costs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because microchips are developed mostly in Asia, with select businesses providing up to half of the global market’s chips, the COVID-19 shutdown and subsequent production shortage and production halts have led to an increase in prices.
As of 2022, there is another price hike predicted worldwide.
The increase in costs has gotten so bad, and affected major printer companies like Canon, that they are now actually encouraging customers to bypass their chip-enabled cartridges’ low ink warnings.
This is a major change in business strategy for printer company giants, but it shows just how dire the situation is with microchip shortages.
3. Printers Are Sold At A Loss
Did you know that many printers are actually sold at a loss for manufacturers?
This means that producing the printer itself costs much more money than it is sold for.
For instance, if you spend the average cost of a printer, which is between $800 and $1,200, this means that companies spent around this amount of money to produce the printer, and sold it at the same price, therefore making zero profit.
However, printer companies have thought ahead about how to make up for lost income.
What these companies do to make up the money is sell their toner or ink cartridges to customers at higher prices, even using the aforementioned microchips to alert them of low ink warnings.
For printer companies, there’s no better way to make a profit than to constantly sell printer ink cartridges.
As a consumer, think about the way you buy a razor for shaving.
Although the razor handle itself might be relatively inexpensive, you will need to continue to buy razor heads and razor blades to use your handle and shave.
This is similar to how printer companies market their printer ink cartridges.
4. Designing Printers To Not Recognize Third-Party Refills
If you’ve ever visited a Staples office supply store or Office Depot, you might be familiar with the ink cartridge refill service these companies offer.
Many of these office supply chain stores have a program where you can take in your old printer cartridges and refill them at a cheaper price than buying an entirely new cartridge.
Unfortunately, not all printers will recognize these refilled printer cartridges.
Some printer companies have designed their printers to not recognize these third-party ink refills, making it difficult for users to install the new cartridge and forcing them to buy new printer cartridges.
This, in turn, leads to higher costs every year for printer ink.
In addition, there are other dangers of refilling your ink cartridge with third-party ink.
Clogged printer ink cartridges can result from improper refills, leading to extensive damage to your printer.
It’s important to remember that printers use highly advanced technology to work, and even the slightest defect in the refilled printer ink or cartridge can lead to costly damage.
This is one reason printer companies refuse to allow third-party ink and refilled cartridges to be placed inside of their printers.
5. HP Is Somewhat Of A Monopoly
The more businesses there are offering the same product or service, the more competition is present among these businesses to offer the best prices, the lowest costs, and to bring the most value to their customers.
Many businesses exist to provide the same product.
For instance, look at different fast food companies, such as McDonald’s and Burger King.
These two companies are in constant competition with each other, selling food at lower and better prices for their customers.
This is great news for you, the consumer, and leads to more sales among these food companies.
However, printer companies are giants in the industry.
For instance, at one point, HP made up a whopping 48% of all printer companies.
Their stake in providing printer services, ink refills that were “compatible” with their cartridges, and cartridges themselves were so huge that HP was accused of being a monopoly.
A monopoly is a type of business that is so huge that it doesn’t allow competitors to enter the market.
There are only a handful of printer companies, such as HP and Canon, leaving little room for more competition and more businesses to enter this market.
This leads to higher costs for the consumer.
6. Cost Of Research For Ink
HP, or Hewlett-Packard, has claimed that they spend around $1 billion on research every single year.
If this is true, then it’s no wonder the cost of printer ink cartridges continues to rise to fund this research.
Printer ink is essential for office duties, businesses worldwide, educators, you name it.
Because it is so widely used around the world, HP and other printer companies need to spend huge amounts to improve their printer ink and ensure it is of the highest quality.
Let’s say you purchased a printer ink cartridge where the ink wasn’t dark enough to stay on the paper, or it was unable to print high-quality color images.
The amount of ink needed to be placed on the paper, the viscosity (meaning flow) of the ink, its density, and concentration are all factors that need to be researched thoroughly before the product is put on the market.
As consumers, we want to spend our money on only the very best products, including printer ink.
Unfortunately, this also means that companies like HP must continue to spend yearly on research and continue to increase printer ink prices to fund this research.
7. Printer Companies Need To Pay Their Researchers
The ink inside of the cartridge is an important part of the cost.
The more expensive the ink used in your printer, the more expensive the cartridge will be.
However, there is another hidden cost when developing and researching this ink that adds to its cost.
That is the cost of labor.
An engineer at HP, for instance, has a salary of around $74,000 to $154,000 a year.
This is the cost for only one microfluid engineer!
Of course, HP has a team of engineers who are dedicated to designing new cartridges, developing new technology, and improving the overall functioning of these cartridges.
Yes, the ink inside of the cartridge is essential.
However, engineers are equally as important to help HP and other printer companies deliver the highest-quality tools for printing.
In addition, it isn’t just the printer cartridge that these companies are focusing on.
They must also take time to develop the printer itself, develop ways these printers and cartridges can be compatible with each other, and develop ways their printers and ink cartridges can support newer higher resolution images.
The staff at these printer companies must be paid competitively to keep them on the payroll.
Another effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the difficulty of companies retaining and hiring employees.
With so many talented individuals now working from home and finding ways to succeed in the gig economy, traditional companies like HP and other printer companies need to shell out more money to keep these employees happy.
This leads to higher printer ink cartridges.
8. Increasing Inflation
Inflation is the measure of the buying power of the dollar.
If you’ve noticed that printer ink cartridges, a carton of milk, eggs, and gas have all increased, this is all due to the increasing inflation within the United States.
Unfortunately, it isn’t only printer companies that are suffering from the effects of suffering prices.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, as of March 2022, the consumer price index is up a staggering 8.5%!
To put it simply, the consumer price index is a measure of how high the cost of buying items is in the United States.
This 8.5% increase means that, on average, it costs 8.5% more to buy an item this year than in previous years, including printer ink cartridges.
In addition, there are no signs that the current inflation rates in the United States will drop any time soon.
As businesses scrambled to stay open amid the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more businesses will continue to increase prices to cope with inflation and keep their doors open.
9. Popularity Of Printer Ink
Even at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were still a whopping 2.8 trillion pages printed in 2020! What is the significance of this number? For starters, this was the year that many offices were shut down and employees were working from home.
How could so many pages be printed when offices were shut down?
Businesses will continue to use printer ink to function and complete their everyday activities.
It isn’t just offices either.
A variety of industries use printer ink in their operations, such as book publishing businesses, newspaper businesses, government offices, postal offices, and other types of industries.
Because printer ink is such an essential component in their daily operations, there’s little chance that businesses will stop purchasing printer ink even if it is expensive.
This is also true for other companies such as car dealerships, schools, and essential businesses that need to stay open such as hospitals and medical clinics.
In short, the high demand for printer ink means that printer companies can continue to increase prices without facing any sort of loss in business.
Fortunately, with the advent of paperless billing, more and more companies offering alternatives to printing, and more printer companies developing, this can lead to a reduction in printer ink cartridges in the near future.
10. High Cost To Produce Ink Cartridges
Did you know that the cost to produce high-quality ink can be as high as the cost to make a new printer?
This is because, as mentioned earlier, printer companies choose to use their own high-quality parts, known as OEM, or original equipment manufacturer.
Think about buying a car from Mercedes.
This car manufacturer is notorious for urging its customers to only use Mercedes-Benz OEM parts.
This, in turn, leads to incredibly high repair costs and costs to produce the car itself.
The same is true of ink, which uses a special process and uses only parts produced by printer companies to make its printer ink cartridges.
It’s important to remember that not all ink is the same.
Printer companies need to spend money developing ink for a variety of different printers, including color printers, printers located in factories, and printers designed to print photographs of higher quality.
Costs for printer cartridges and ink continue to be high due to the high cost of production and the fact that printer companies have to be careful in producing only cartridges with OEM parts.
11. Ink Waste On The Consumer’s Behalf
Finally, sometimes it’s not the fault of the manufacturer at all, but simple errors and ink waste that lead to higher costs in ink cartridges.
We already mentioned how many consumers opt to throw away and replace their printer ink cartridge instead of refilling it.
This is one form of ink waste that can easily be surpassed using a simple, albeit time-consuming, bypass technique.
In addition, much ink is left behind inside of the cartridge.
Improperly stored cartridges or cartridges left in dry conditions tend to lose more ink.
Although consumers might be tempted to buy ink cartridges in bulk, such as for larger offices, this might not be a good idea considering the amount of ink that is lost due to improper storage.
In addition, older printers also tend to use ink less efficiently than newer printers.
Most people will opt to buy more printer ink cartridges rather than spending more money on a newer printer that is more efficient and can use less ink.
As we mentioned earlier, the cost of the printer isn’t necessarily the issue.
It’s the cost of the amount of ink that is wasted when printers are out of date, use more than necessary, and even experience accidents that lead to lost ink.
How To Save On Printer Ink
If you run an office or small business, you will need to continue to buy printer ink indefinitely.
However, there are certain things you can do to help reduce the cost of your ink expenses.
For starters, practice the bypass technique to get past the error message in your cartridge.
You can also try to implement paperless methods in your business, such as sending out e-mails instead of sending out memos printed on hard-copy forms.
In addition, other things you can do to reduce the cost of printer ink is to purchase cartridges that are refillable and opt to refill them instead of buying brand new cartridges.