6 Reasons Why Printer Ink Is So Expensive

09-07-2014 by

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Original printer ink is expensive, at over R50 000 a litre it’s more expensive than champagne, perfume and oil (as we’ve shown in our infographic What Does Ink Really Cost). But why is it so expensive? According to the printer manufacturers, it’s because a lot of work goes in to developing ink cartridges. Here are 6 reasons why printer ink is as expensive as it is:

1. Development takes time

While ink cartridges may seem like small, simple pieces of equipment, they’re actually quite complex. All the elements of an ink cartridge need to work together to make sure the ink gets to the paper and stays there. Printer manufacturers spend a lot of time dedicated to figuring out the most effective way of getting the cartridge to work. This costs money, and that cost is reflected in the price of the ink cartridge.

2. Making ink right costs money

Like we’ve said, an ink cartridge is actually a fairly complex piece of equipment and includes a whole lot more than just some ink and some nozzles. There are other ingredients inside your ink, including specialised solvents and other solutions. Some of these make sure the ink is released in carefully controlled amounts, others make sure your paper doesn’t curl up while it dries. Unfortunately, these ingredients aren’t cheap and the cost, once again, reflects in the price of your printer ink cartridge.

3. They’re designed to fit a specific printer

We all know different printers take different printer cartridges and printer companies design it this way. Each ink cartridge is designed to work with a specific printer or printer series in order to give you the best results for your needs. This requires a large research and development budget as printer manufacturers are always releasing new models and ink cartridge technology has to keep up.

4. Better research means better quality

Ongoing research from printer manufacturers has led to better printer ink technology. From massively complicated print heads that release specific amounts of ink during printing and maintenance cycles, to advances in the ink itself. And this has led to better quality prints and faster printers. But research costs money, which means that ink cartridges become expensive. 

5. You use more ink than you think you do

Printers don’t only use ink when they’re printing. They also use ink to keep the ink cartridges working properly. HP ink cartridges and Canon ink cartridges, for example, use a small amount of ink during down time to push air bubbles and dried ink out of the nozzles if the cartridges sit unused for too long.

6. You might not have the right printer for your needs

If you’re not getting a lot of use out of your ink cartridges, it may be that you’ve got the wrong type of printer for your needs. If you’re printing large volumes on a daily basis, you’ll need to get a printer designed for heavy use, like those designed for small offices. If you only print a photo or two once a month, you’ll need a printer designed for that purpose. You can also look into purchasing high yield ink cartridges, which contain more ink and last a little longer.

There are alternatives to expensive original ink cartridges. Buying high quality remanufatured or compatible ink cartridges from Inksaver will save you money while making sure you get the same high quality prints that you expect from your original cartridges.

Nic Venter

About the author

Nic Venter+

 is the founder and director of He started the business in 2009 with the idea to sell ink and toner cartridges online and to provide you with a quality product, value for money and convenience. He regularly blogs on about printing and technology. Part of his philosophy is having fun and making sure that he and his team think everything ink, so you don't have to.

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