The problem with an inkjet printer, or inkjet multi-function printers ( aka print/scan/fax ), is the ink. For home/student use, you end up in trouble often. Here’s why, and here’s what to do about it.
1. Printer makers are using DRM to lock their ink cartridges so that you can’t buy cheaper inks. They’re suing ink makers under DCMA to keep ink prices up.
2. Inks dry out. If you don’t print every couple of days, you end up using up ink in cleaning cycles. If you don’t print for a few months — say over summer break — then you won’t be printing in the fall until you buy new ink. It stinks when you have a paper due tomorrow, and dried out, yet relatively full, cartridges.
3. Inks run when wet. Those photos printed from your inkjet will become ruined in water.
4. Inks fade in sunlight. You can’t hang your inkjet photos for very long, as the sun will bleach them out very quickly.
5. The inkjet companies hate you. They purposely contaminate their inks so the print heads embedded into the cartridge will wear out. This prevents you from just refilling the cartridge.
Here’s a good link to an article on Reddit about why the inkjet companies suck. Here’s the text of that article, in blue — his words, not mine:
I work for a major ink and toner remanufacturer.
Guys….guys, really. Just STOP GODDAMN PRINTING STUPID SHIT. You don’t need it. You are getting raked over the coals, even by me selling remans to you at 40% off. A 5000ml bottle of our most common ink costs us $120. HP60’s are our most common cartridge. They will only hold 6ml. SIX. We sell them for $10. Also, those cartridges are garbage. For the love of everything you find holy, stop buying HP’s junk. They are made to fail to make my job harder, and since they fail on the consumer too, they just make their lives harder. Why keep giving money to a company that is actively malicious towards you?
Buying an inkjet printer that is an ink tank style system will save you countless dollars and headaches IF it is a Canon or Brother. Lexmark and Epson are made to self destruct, and are also less cost effective than Brother or Canon. These new HP 950/951 self destruct. The 564/920/940 didn’t, but HP made those all to be miserable to operate when using remans.
For many integrated printhead (Or drums, in the case of toners) carts, you pay a premium to replace the printhead each time when you don’t need to. HP 21/27/56 carts have a page counter on them of somewhere around 2200-2500 pages. I’ve had older 56’s stop working for customers due to the page counter before the printhead wore out. (My test machine doesn’t check the page counter, so it can give me a perfect print, but the actual printer will check the counter) Also, in those 21/27/56 cartridges, HP changed the composition of the ink to where it pretty much destroys the printhead. These make my job miserable at times, but I have worked it out to have about an 80% success rate on them now, so /rude HP.
Lexmark, Epson, and HP (And Kodak, but LOL) all have self destructing cartridges. Epson for a while had self destructing printers. Lexmark also installs a process called LEXBCE that makes your print spooler dependent on it.Good luck.
Lexmark are the highest cost to operate printers by far, the least reliable/lowest quality, and the most scummy company out of the bunch. Brother are generally the least expensive, and have the least issues because they keep things simple. An inexpensive to operate Brother will suit most any home consumers needs. (I am not being paid by Brother, ha! I just like that they are the least crappy to the consumer.) Honestly, the only time I recommend something other than Brother is when my customer wants to print photos, then I recommend a Canon ink tank style system. The current generation are the PGI225/CLI226, and they are good little cartridges, and I have sold hundreds, and can count the chip failures on one hand with fingers to spare, and those even shocked me. Now please Canon, don’t make me look like a fool.
If you can find an old HP printer that took the 45/78 cartridges at Goodwill or wherever for cheap, it’s probably worth the investment to grab it. Yes, the 60’s are “cheaper”, but the 45’s OEM are ~$35 for 42ml of ink, where the 60’s are ~$15 for 6ml. You are getting conned hard on “cheap” ink. I’m looking at you too, Kodak.
Lexmark and HP send out firmware updates without your knowledge that disable your ability to use aftermarket products, that are entirely legal to use. (Remans are. Counterfits are not.) I’m sure it mentions it in that EULA you didn’t read.
My job is far, far more complicated than “Just shoot some ink into it”, no matter what those stupid advertisements from HP claimed. Everything gets electronically tested, cleaned thoroughly, tested again, filled under vacuum, and tested again. “Just shooting ink into it” works about 1% of the time, IF the cartridge JUST ran out of ink.
When I tell you I need your empties back to keep up my stock, I mean it. I’m not trying to screw you out of your little OfficeMax rewards. I NEED YOUR EMPTIES BACK TO DO MY F’ING JOB.
Finally, one of my good friends works at a big box office supply store. Stop grousing to these people about the cost of ink. There is almost no markup on it whatsoever at the retail level. If you’re paying $40 for a stinkin’ 12ml Lexmark 16 at Staples, Staples spent probably $39 on it.
Some of this, while mundane to me now, elicits a response from my customers, so hopefully it fits into the discussion.
TL;DR I know way too f’ing much about inkjet cartridges.
Edit: Wow, I wake up to tons of comment karma! Thanks! Also, sooooooooo many comments and PM’s, and even a request for an AMA! I am trying to get to everyone, but I am at work right now. 🙂
Edit again: Holy crap, you guys have made me feel so much better about a job I was honestly very frustrated with!”
What to do about it:
1. If you’re a student/home user, only buy color laser printers. Even your multifunction unit should be laser. Toner doesn’t dry out, and generic toner is cheap/easy to find. This will do your graphs/charts just fine, but won’t look as good as ink on photos.
2. For photos, use a photo-printing service. You can email/upload your photos and have them delivered in the mail.
3. If you must print photos in perfect photo color, and you want them right now, then buy a dye-sublimation printer. These are professional-grade photo printers that use a solid dye that is heated until it sublimates ( sublimate means to evaporate from a solid state rather than a liquid state ), then cold-deposited onto the paper. These printers are really expensive, but a few are in the sub $500 price range now, and they do color amazingly. The dye is already dry, so it can sit around forever.