The High Cost of Inkjet Printing

February 19, 2007 5:42 pm

So, you want a printer? Do I have a deal for you! Here it is:

A full color printer with either 2 or 3 ink jet cartridges that will give you amazing color for your pictures as well as great black and white for your documents. Ink comes in 7 and 14 milliliter sizes that will last you for 500 or so pages for the black and about 300 for the color.

Here is the rub though; the cartridges cost between $15-$30 depending on the actual printer model. Newer ones are cheaper as they have more colors although each ink refill holds only 14ml or so. If you were to look at the actual cost of the ink it will be much clearer why manufacturers are happy to give away printers.

Inkjest burn money

A gallon is the equivalent of 3,785 milliliters. Simple multiplication then tells us that the approximate cost for each milliliter is:

$14/14ml or about $1 per milliliter (for newer inks)

For another real example, let’s use an old favorite, the HP 45 black inkjet cartridge. This has a much larger volume, holding 42 ml and sports a cost of around $30. This would change the overall cost of our ink assumption to about ($30/42ml) $.71/ml.

Therefore, a gallon of inkjet ink will cost somewhere between $2,687 – $3,785.

Sure we need to take into consideration the plastic housing (which we send back out of guilt to the manufacturers to recycle – which they then refurbish and sell as new, therefore making a double profit) as well as the chip that interfaces with the printer.

So, at this point we could say that the cost of a gallon of ink is about $1,074- $1,514 if the manufacturing costs are removed from the equation. This assumes that the items other than ink make up about 60% of the cost of the cartridge. Yet, the fact is that we never actually get the full use out of all of the ink is also an important part of the end equation.

Simply, there needs to be consideration given to evaporation, leakage as well as the fact that it has been proven that the ink companies have been programming their chips to under report the actual ink levels. This has resulted in several lawsuits, which have been lost by several of the ink companies.

Want to feel even worse? The older Tricolor cartridges are known to use ink asymmetrically as most of the time the blues and the yellow are the basis for output of standard users.

Therefore, there is even more ink wasted since some of the color will run out before others and the cartridge won’t run if one of the colors is out. This will assuredly make the price per gallon higher to the end user.

To use one more comparison that will show just how absurd this is, look at the fact that a standard barrel holds about 42 gallons of liquid. The cost of a barrel of ink will be anywhere between $45,108 – $63,588.

The moral of the story is that once again, you are not getting something for nothing.

Tell me: What do you think of your inkjet ink? Do you use the brand name or a generic substitute?

Think about this question: Why are the printer companies not the target of any concern while the oil companies are being threatened with a windfall tax?

The fact is that shareholder value has been growing with these companies (Especially HP) and unless there contrary mediation, there should be no reason to be concerned that these types of profits will not continue to rise as more people adopt the inkjet as their core printer.

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