Why printer ink is so expensive and how to spend less


2nd Dec 2021 Technology

Why printer ink is so expensive and how to spend less
Inkjet printers are more affordable than laser equipment, but there’s a catch. If you stick to the original supplies, you will quickly spend more on ink alone.
HP offers high-quality products, but its pricing seems skewed. Why are original cartridges so costly, and what can you do to spend less?
Fortunately for consumers, printer manufacturers have failed to monopolise ink production. The so-called “generic” or “aftermarket” products let you cut costs with every purchase. For example, you can get HP 903 ink cartridges from Smart Ink, which is trusted by customers in the UK, for £25.99. An original black cartridge costs around £17, so the value is undeniable. Here are the basics of saving money on printer ink.

Logic of OEM pricing

Big brands like Canon and HP have long been suspected of using the “razor and blades” pricing model. It includes selling cheap equipment to capitalise on consumables in the long run. The basic models of inkjet printers are apparently sold at a loss or at the break-even point. Manufacturers use such bargains to attract new customers, so more people need their ink.
Officially, the price disparity is explained by the massive R&D expense. It is true that big brands spend billions of dollars collectively to design and enhance their equipment. Still, this hardly justifies their pricing in the eyes of consumers.

How do generic cartridges work?

These products, also known as compatible cartridges, fit particular models. Their manufacturers are not affiliated with the brands, and they do not invest so much in R&D as they do not produce printers. This explains why you can get a high-quality product at a low price. In recent years, this technology has gone a long way. Top-rated products provide excellent quality of printing.
Despite compatibility with name-brand equipment, these supplies are not regarded as counterfeit. They mimic but do not copy the OEM products. The only thing a printer manufacturer can do is hinder recognition via firmware updates. This obstacle is easy to remove — disable the updates and use any third-party products. Compatible cartridges will not null your printer warranty.

Choose a shop wisely

To find a reputable provider of cheaper supplies, pay attention to:
  • quality certificates (compliance with international standards like ISO)
  • a money-back guarantee
  • chips (the latest version guarantees recognition)
  • ratings on feedback aggregator platforms like Trustpilot

Alternative: Refilled cartridges

To reduce your carbon footprint and still make savings, consider buying refilled (remanufactured) items. These are original cartridges that are cleaned, refilled, and tested before shipping. Worn elements are replaced, so you get a fully functional product with an original shell. This is the most sustainable option.
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