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Hidden Costs Of Printing

Mar 20, 2008
In today's not so paperless society, many consumers are attracted by the low cost of printers. Printer affordability has allowed virtually every office and household regardless of size to own at least one printer. It is not uncommon for companies to have one printer per employee in addition to the company's fax machines and copiers.

While sticker shock normally occurs in reverse when buying a printer, the real surprise occurs when the consumer finds out that the printer cartridge price sometimes exceeds the cost of the printer itself.

This is especially true for color inkjet and color laser printers, which typically require 4 cartridges installed to assure printer operation.

There are some simple steps that consumers can take prior to buying a printer to reduce the cartridge cost surprise. First, ask yourself what your needs are. Do you really need to print in color? Do you mostly print text? What type of print quality and speed do you need?

Once you select a printer based on your needs, find out what type of cartridge(s) it will take, how much they cost, and how many pages they yield. Finding out the cartridge capacity (how many pages it will give you) is probably one of the most important questions to ask to get the true cost per page.

If you are really price conscientious, call around several cartridge remanufacturing companies to find out if the aftermarket (remanufactured or generic) cartridges are available for that particular printer model. This is especially recommended with color laser printers as it is more difficult to release color aftermarket cartridge due to the unique chemical toner composition.

Also, beware that some printers will require two piece cartridge (drum and toner), which will increase your printing cost. Additionally, always find out if high capacity cartridges are available. While standard capacity cartridges are a good bet for a home office or low volume printing, high capacity cartridges are going to give you maximum amount of pages for the least cost.

For example when comparing two printers HP P1006 and HP P2015, we can easily find out the cost per page by looking at the cartridge cost and its yield. If an aftermarket cartridge for hp P1006 costs $49.99 and it's designed to produce approximately 1,500 pages, then the cost per page printed is approximately 3 cents per page printer. If an aftermarket cartridge for the HP P2015 costs $59.99 and it's designed to produce approximately 3,000 pages, then the cost per page printed is going to be 2 cents per page printed. However, while the hp P1006 has no high capacity cartridges available, the hp P2015 offers high yield cartridges. Then if the aftermarket high yield cartridge costs $104.99 and produces approximately 7,000 pages, the consumer would only spend 1.5 cents per page printed. Here is a breakdown of each cartridge cost after 50,000 pages printed based on the above mentioned prices and cartridge capacities:

HP P1006$1666 spent on toner after printing 50,000 pages
HP P2015$999 spent on toner after printing 50,000 pages with standard yield cartridge
HP P2015$749 spent on toner after printing 50,000 pages with high capacity cartridge.

As you can see considering merely the cost of the printer itself can misrepresent the true cost of printing. After all, it is the printer cartridge that will determine what you spend over time. Performing a research prior to making a decision on a purchase of a printer can save you big in the long run.
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