Waste II

Though I worked for a company that sold large-format inkjet printers, I really never considered the (somewhat taboo) subject of inkjet cartridge refills. Have you ever wondered why printers are so inexpensive? It’s because the money is not made on the printer itself; it’s all in the subsequent purchase of ink!

I have an oddball Lexmark printer left behind by the previous tenants; as I was unable to find a replacement cartridge in town, I wound up in a shop that refills old ones. Somehow, and I can’t really place why, this sort of thing always seemed rather shady to me. It was like trading in your pillows when you tire of them or filling up nearly empty toothpaste tubes (wouldn’t that be a cottage industry). This is partially because I once spent a great deal of time explaining to clients how they must replace the inks in their large format printers with cartridges from the manufacturer (and this does have some merit when one is printing display art for archival purposes as some inks and papers are specifically matched; off-brand ink could also flummox up the print heads). However, I’m printing drafts of text from a clunky old printer. I’m not going to need any sort of super quality or archival stability.

Consequently, I got the cartridge refilled, popped it back in, and it prints like new. This can be done several times at a significant cost savings (less than half the price of a new cartridge; though, even at that price, the people doing this are making a significant profit. These little canisters only hold one or two-hundred ml. of ink. If I were doing a whole lot of printing, I would probably buy the ink in bulk and inject it myself). Not to mention it’s one less thing in the trash (note that most office supply stores have drop-boxes for recycling ink and toner cartridges, some even offer a credit toward purchase).

The most sensible thing, though people have a hard time thinking through this, is to spend a little more for a well-built printer with large ink capacity at the outset (that is, if you are doing a significant amount of printing). Epson’s mid-priced pro level printers will last for years (they sold the 3000 for something like a decade and it just sat there sipping ink; there are, no doubt, thousands of them sitting around still sipping ink). The $100 ink-jet on special might look tempting at first; but you will eventually end up spending far more in consumables.