Author: Chris Allard
It’s about the most expensive liquid on the planet. Gold, oil, and even human blood cost less by volume than printer ink, so here’s how to squeeze every drop out of each cartridge.
In a 2007 study commissioned by Epson and undertaken by research company TUV Rheinland, it was found that many models of printers could still have as much as 60% ink volume remaining when the printer tells you to replace the cartridge! Epson commissioned the study to back up their claim that multi-ink tank model printers (which mainly only use individual color tanks for each primary color and black, some models taking up to 9 different ink tanks) are more efficient when it comes to wasted ink. In general, they are correct, as a printer with individual tanks typically will usually only prompt to replace the cartridge when it is actually close to empty, and it won’t prompt you that it’s empty if only one of the colors (as in the case of tri-color cartridges) is empty, even if the other 2 colors still have ink remaining.
HOWEVER (I made this big because it’s a HUGE caveat), they did not factor in the automatic cleaning cycles nor the dreaded priming cycle in the case of Epson inks specifically. These 2 automatic and unavoidable processes are done automatically at seemingly random times. There is surely an algorithm for when the printer should perform these things, as in the case of the priming cycle, this is always done immediately after a new ink tank is installed. This is the reason your Epson (or some Canon and HP models) will tell you you’re only empty of one color, and then when you put a new one in, it frustratingly tells you it’s empty of another color.
So what does one do?! We have a few tips that may help you wring out every precious wisp of essential paper-juice from those cartridges.
Tip 1: Spend less money on your ink and toner
“Well Chris, that was stupendously obvious, you think I didn’t already know that?!” Sometimes I wonder… Given how often I hear friends, family, and customers who tell me about their recent hassle-filled trip to Staples or even Wal-Mart where they spent 20%-60% more than they would have paid for equivalent quality ink or toner from us! Then I usually find out they still think the remanufacturing industry is still guys in a dank basement or garage injecting ink into barely usable cartridges.
Nobody selling similar remanufactured inks or toners still does this, the self-refill kit was an early-90’s phenomenon that doesn’t cut it still today. Today, in most cases, inks are re-chipped or reprogrammed in order to work and provide advanced ink level monitoring, and toners are rebuilt entirely with new or refurbished components which renew them back up to OEM standards. This means there is virtually no difference on most of our products how they will function when compared directly to the brand name OEM products, but with the goal of reuse and recycling EVERYTHING rather than building brand new cartridges with new materials.
Tip 2: Buy high-capacity (XL) sized inks and toners
This may be more costly up front, which always hurts, but when you compare page yields, and calculate the actual cost-per-page, you’ll notice instantly that the high-capacity (or high-yield) cartridges are a better deal. As we touched on before, don’t even bother with the “Economy” sized inks, they are cheaper up front, but give you practically nothing for your money compared to high-yield cartridges.
Follow this formula: (Price of Ink cartridge) ÷ (Estimated page yield) = Your cost-per-page
HP #74 Black: Our price – $13.99 ÷ 200 pages = ~.07 per page
HP #74XL Black (High yield): Our price – $29.99 ÷ 750 pages = ~.04 per page
Clearly the high yield has a huge advantage of being almost half price of the standard yield when looking at the cost-per-page.
When we start to compare black ink as compared to a laser printer that takes black toner we see a larger difference (Tip: laser printers usually have much lower cost-per-page, particularly monochrome/B&W)
HP #74XL Black (High yield): Our price – $29.99 ÷ 750 pages = ~.04 per page
Brother TN-450 (High yield toner): Our price – $39.99 ÷ 2,600 pages = ~.01 1/2 per page
Give it a try yourself! Find your ink or toner here and then use this handy calculator to check how many pages you can expect.
Tip 3: Use a different font for documents you print
Surprisingly, this is an amazingly effective ink-saving choice. With the proper font, you could use as much as 40% less ink on the things you print!
In 2014, a student named Suvir Mirchandani began a science project that turned into a consulting gig for the US government and a published paper in a research journal. He essentially studied four different typefaces: Garamond, Times New Roman, Century Gothic and Comic Sans. The clear winner was Garamond, saving as much as 24% ink compared to the others.
Another study of note is the University of Wisconsin program which switched its default font from Arial to Century Gothic (a nice little font if I may say so as a typeset nerd/fontophile myself) and it saved them an estimated 30% in ink and toner coverage.
We’ve also discovered a font that is geared toward only one thing: saving ink. It is very readable and uses a unique way of leaving voids in unneeded areas of each letter while still appearing to be a full letter. This font is called Ecofont, and you can discover how it works here. It’s pretty cool.
Tip 4: Avoid unnecessary cleaning cycles
Sometimes it’s unavoidable when the printer decides to do it on its own, but you don’t always need to run that print head cleaning cycle if your prints are looking funky, streaky, or “gappy” (those are all technical terms, wink, wink).
If your printer takes just 2 cartridges (a black and a tri-color), then you have print head-integrated cartridges, which means, as opposed to ink tanks, the print head is an integrated part of the ink cartridge. This makes the automated print head cleaning just an unnecessary waste of ink. Follow this video to see how to manually clean your print head on this type of cartridge:
If you have a printer with a fixed print head that uses ink tanks (see photo to right for examples), in most cases the automatic print head cleaning cycles built into the printer are the only
option to clear up poor print quality. But as ol’ Bennie Franklin liked to say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To this end, we recommend printing something out on a bi-weekly to monthly basis.
Sounds simple, but why will that help? The #1 cause for poor print quality on an inkjet printer is due to dried ink clogging up the thousands of microscopic print head nozzles that dispense the ink. Keeping them in use before they have a chance to dry up is an easy way to keep this from happening. YES, printing something simple like Google’s home page will use up some ink, but it uses a smaller amount of ink than a full cleaning cycle, which (almost counter-intuitively) saves you ink in the long run.
Tip 5: Use “draft” or “Eco” mode for text printing (or if you don’t need high-quality images)
While every printer has a different configuration, and some do not have “Draft” or and Eco-mode (sometimes called ink-saver or toner-save mode), choosing this as your default print mode will definitely conserve more ink or toner. These steps should work on most printers to enable this mode on your Windows computer:
- In Windows, click on the Start button (Or press the Windows Key on your keyboard) and choose Control Panel.
- Choose Printers and Other Hardware from the menu that opens.
- Choose View Installed Printers or Fax Printers.
- On the window that opens, look for your printer’s name. Right click on the printer’s icon and choose Printing Preferences, sometimes Printer Properties.
- On the Print Quality tab, choose Draft or Fast (varies depending on the printer).
- If you want to conserve your color ink, choose Grayscale Printing on the same tab (just remember you’ll have to uncheck that box if you want to print something in color).
- Press OK. That’s it; now your printer will automatically print in Draft Mode (and in grayscale, if you chose that option) until you change it back. To change it, simply follow the same instructions and choose Standard for print quality.
We are extremely happy you’ve read up on our most coveted, super-secret tips for maximizing the life of your cartridges. Now that you know how to easily get the most out of your inks and toners, I can’t believe you’re not already looking to save even more money on the inks and toners you need! To help you out there, you can start looking for your cartridges below by entering your printer model # or the cartridge # in the search box. It’s simple!
If you have your own tried and true method of saving ink or maximizing the life of this very expensive commodity, we’d love to hear them for future revisions, leave a reply below!