Why Printer ink So Expensive

Posted on 2012-11-06      

Printer ink

Printer ink is one of the most expensive things in the world in terms when you break down how much it costs per milliliter. You may have heard that printer ink from HP, Epson, Canon etc. costs more per milliliter than Dom Perignon champagne. So why does it cost so much? Simply put, because they can.

Ink is, of course, nothing new. The Chinese first started using a form of it about 5000 years ago. The ink we use in pens has been around for about 100 years, and it really hasn’t changed all that much since it first came in to use. HP came out with the first true inkjet printer in 1984, and although the basics of printer ink haven’t changed much since then, it’s also fair to say that there have been some improvements in the formula.

These days inkjet printers use a type of aqueous ink based on a mixture of water, glycol and some dyes or pigments. The two main types of printer ink are dye-based ink and pigment-based ink. Dye-based inks can produce more vivid results and a wider range of results, but there is chance they might not bond with the paper as well as pigmented inks. This means that the ink might bleed through the paper, which used to be somewhat of a problem a few years ago, but with the advances in paper it isn’t as much of an issue anymore. Dye-based inks are usually more common as well. Pigment-based inks are generally preferred by serious printers because they will last longer than dye-based inks. There are specific uses for both these types of ink, so in some cases dye-based printer ink will work better, in other cases pigmented ink will.

Now, on to why printer ink is so expensive. We wish there was some complicated reason like it costs a lot of money to produce or something like that, but the truth is that printer ink is so expensive because manufacturers can make it that expensive. HP is obviously a huge company that has a ton of products and services, but more than 50% of their operating profit comes from printer ink and toner. So for them, the high cost of printer ink subsidizes their business.

Now there is some research and development that goes into it, but the truth is that “ink is ink” and it’s not rocket science. Printer manufacturers run a monopoly where they sell a printer at a loss and then make it up with their ink. They have been able to get away with it because for one, people never really considered how little they were getting for their money. Before home photo printing took off, most people bought a few printer cartridges a year and didn’t think much about it other than the shock they might have experienced when they were actually paying for the cartridge. Secondly, there didn’t use to be any alternatives. If you had an HP printer and you wanted to print, you had to buy HP printer ink. So therefore, the printer manufacturers knew they could charge whatever they wanted. Once they sold you the printer, there was no competition.

Now we know that has changed and people today are much more aware of the cost of printer ink than they were even two or three years ago. But, the price of HP ink, Canon ink, etc. hasn’t gone down as awareness has gone up. In fact, in some cases the price has gone up. In a way, printer manufacturers these days have a failing business model. They know people are used to paying very little for a printer, but they won’t pay the high cost of replacement printer ink anymore. This means less business for them, which in turn could lead to higher costs. But we won’t speculate...

So basically, printer ink costs more than it should. It’s ink, not liquid gold.

Source: pacificink