Maintaining a printer is costly, and for people who do low-volume printing, it might be hard. As a result, a number of things have to be considered before you purchase a printer. Beyond size, speed, printer price, and image quality, the price of compatible ink cartridges also have to be considered for inkjet printers. This is because even with the best printer maintenance, printer ink cartridges would still need replacement as time goes on. There are different brands of ink cartridges in the market, but for the customer to make the ultimate choice, they have to know some things about ink cartridges.
What Is An Ink Cartridge?
If this is your first time getting a printer, you probably don’t know much about ink cartridges. So, let’s start from the beginning and break it down. There are two types of printers; inkjet printers and laser printers. Inkjet printers use ink, while laser printers use toner. The ink in inkjet printers is housed in containers known as ink cartridges. Basically, your ink cartridge is the housing of the ink.
How Does Ink Cartridge Work?
Wouldn’t it have been great if the cartridge was just any container? Yes, but unfortunately, it is not just any container, which is why people pay through their noses to get the best ink cartridges. The ink cartridge has tiny nozzles that let a small amount of ink fall on the paper when you print. The ink coming through these nozzles must be neither too small nor too much for you to get the best outcome. There are two types of ink housed in cartridges. They function in different ways and are best used in different situations.
Types of ink
- Dye-based ink:
Dye-based ink is the grandmaster of beauty. If you are printing for the aesthetic appeal, then it is what you need. Unfortunately, it takes a long time to dry, and fades slowly after a long time. So if you are printing an important document for future reference, you might not want to use Dye-based ink.
- Pigment-based ink:
Though not as beautiful as the dye-based ink, the pigment-based ink dries quickly, and doesn’t fade until about 200years. So if you need to print for documentation, you need to use pigment-based ink with your inkjet printer.
How Do You Know When Your Ink Cartridge Needs Replacement?
No matter the quality of ink cartridge you buy, your ink cartridge would need replacement at one point. There are numerous signs to prove that the time to replace your ink cartridge is drawing near. These signs are often based on the printing output you derive from your printer. For instance, you may begin to notice ink streaks or smears on what you print. A certain colour may become faint, or it may not even show up on the paper at all. Sometimes, the printer even stops working when the cartridge is faulty. Anyway, before you spend all that money on a new cartridge, you need to confirm if the cartridge is really the problem.
- Is the cartridge compatible with your printer?
Every printer has its own specifications, so cartridge compatibility is a major factor in the effectiveness of your printer. If you notice what you are printing isn’t coming out well, it might be because you are using the wrong cartridge. Go back to your user manual to confirm.
- Has it expired?
Some cartridges come with expiry dates. Check the body of the cartridge to know when it will expire. If it has expired, you definitely need a replacement.
- Is one of the noozles blocked or damaged?
Sometimes, a particular color won’t come out even when there is ink because one of the noozles is blocked or damaged. If your cartridge nozzles are damaged, you might need to invest in a new ink cartridge.
- Is there ink in the cartridge?
Sometimes, the cartridge is not the problem! Your printer might not be printing well, but before you conclude that the cartridge has a problem, check if there is ink in the cartridge. The sides of the ink might be covered in ink, or even opaque, in which case you have to rely on weight. Does the cartridge weigh as much as it should if it had ink?
Which Types Of Ink Cartridges Are Available?
There are numerous brands of ink cartridge available in the market, but they are broadly divided into three categories. If you want to replace your ink cartridge, you might want to examine each one and analyze the pros and cons.
Ink cartridge types for replacement
- Original cartridge:
The original cartridge is by far the best type of cartridge. This is because it was made by the manufacturer of your printer. It was made specially for your printer, with your printer specifications in mind. An example of original cartridge purchase is when you buy a HP ink cartridge for a HP printer. Perfect fit, isn’t it? The original cartridge usually comes with a warranty. It is reliable, long-lasting, and gives a consistent print quality.
- Genuine cartridge:
This type of cartridge wasn’t made by the manufacturers of your printer, but it is endorsed by them. The genuine cartridge is the approved alternative to the original cartridge which your manufacturer provides. These cartridges often come with OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) written on the side. They are long-lasting, and of High quality as well. Unfortunately, they are costly, and often leave printer users complaining of the high cost of quality ink cartridges.
- Third-party cartridges:
These have no specific brand. It is usually just some organization mass producing ink cartridges. They are cheap in the market. Unfortunately, their quality is compromised. Their nozzles easily get clogged, they sometimes leave streaks on paper, and they might even be leaking.
How Do I Store My Ink Cartridge?
For someone who does low-volume printing, continuous purchase of ink cartridges completely defeats the purpose of buying your own printer. To reduce the number of times you have to spend money on cartridges, you must be aware of the best ways of keeping them safe.
- Keep ink cartridge upright:
When you want to store your ink cartridges, ensure that they are stored upright. When ink cartridges are stored on their side, print quality reduces with time.
- Keep cartridge in a dark place at room temperature:
Whether they are in use or not, cartridges should be stored at room temperature. If the temperature is too high, the heat will make the ink bubble and begin to leak out of the cartridge. If the temperature is too low, it might make ink separate. Usually, when ink separates and returns to room temperature, it eventually comes together, but of course, you can’t count on it. With your expensive cartridge, it’s better safe than sorry.
- Close your ink cartridge:
What happens after you print? Ink dries on the paper, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, ink can also dry up before it is used to print. If you leave your ink cartridges open while they are not in use, they will dry out, and you’ll have to purchase another one. This is why new ink cartridges come in vacuum-padded bags, with tapes on all important parts. If you are not ready to use the ink cartridge yet, it is advisable that you don’t remove it from its pack.
What Are The Cheapest Ink Cartridges In The Market?
Before you conclude that an ink cartridge is cheap, there are some factors you need to consider beyond the obvious market price. You need to check its durability, consistency, and how many pages the cartridge would print before it stops working. The number of pages an ink cartridge can print is known as its page yield.
Sometimes, the cartridge is cheap, but its page yield is low. If this happens, the cost per page of the ink cartridge would be high and it won’t be cost efficient in the long run. The cost per page of a cartridge is the price of the cartridge divided by its page yield.
The cheapest ink cartridges in the market based on quality and page yield
This ink cartridge arguably has the lowest cost per page. It lasts for two years when it is kept well . It can print up to 3, 400 pictures, 4000 pages in black and white, as well as 6,500 pages in color.
This ink cartridge is available in XXL extra high yield cartridges. This greatly reduces the cost per page price of the cartridge, and makes it great for people who print often. It creates sharp text, and doesn’t smudge.
This ink cartridge also lasts for 2 years. It can print 4,000 pages that are crisp, and very professional.
HP inks are arguably expensive, but the investment is worth it. This is because the quality is high, and the page yield is good enough. This ink cartridge is known for its bright colour and very smooth transition. It is excellent for printing high quality images in colour.
Like other HP cartridges, HP 910XL cartridge is of high quality. The cartridge conveniently prints 825 pages, and it is refillable.
Which Printers Have The Cheapest Ink Cartridges?
Now that we know the cheapest ink cartridges with the lowest page yield, it would be expected that the printers with cheapest cartridges use ink cartridges from the list. This is right, as most of these printers use these cheap ink.
Printers with the cheapest ink cartridge
This printer is known for its budget-friendly nature. It has excellent features, and provides the best quality while within your budget.
Features of Canon PIXMA TR8520 Wireless Inkjet Printer:
I) It has 4800×1200 colour dpi resolution.
II) It uses a modern all-in-one printer-scanner technology.
III) It has very high speed, and can print 15 black and white, and 10 colored pages in one minute.
IV) It has fast USB connectivity.
V) It uses some of the cheapest ink cartridges in the market: Canon PGI- 290 pigment and Canon CLI- 281 dye.
This printer is popular because both its printer price and cartridge price is low. It gives professional print output, and has low cost per page.
Features of Brother MFC-J5845DW InkVestment All-in-One Printer
I) It uses both WiFi and USB connection.
II) It comes with a year warranty.
III) Its cartridges can print 6000 black and white pages and 5000 coloured pages.
IV) It uses the Brother LC 3049 ultra-high yield cartridge.
This printer is a fast mobile printer which can also be used as a scanner, copier, and fax machine. Little wonder it goes by the name All-in-One. The printer is cheap, and prints high quality pieces at low cost per page.
Features of HP OfficeJet Pro 8035 Wireless All-in-One Printer
I) It is very fast. It can print 20pages per minute in black, and 10 pages per minute in colour.
II) It uses the HP 910 ink cartridge, which is one of the cheapest in the market.
III) It is wireless, and accepts both USB connection and WiFi.
This printer is popular for its efficiency. It saves ink, and has 50% lower cost per page when compared to laser printers.
Features of HP OfficeJet Pro 8210 All-in-One Printer
I) It has USB, WiFi, and Ethernet connectivity.
II) It uses the ink-saving, and cheap HP 953 ink cartridge.
III) It can work as a copier, scanner and fax machine.
Though it is cheap, this printer comes at the bottom of the list because it lacks some features which the other printers have, and it is quite slow.
I) It uses the cheap ET-2720 cartridge.
II) It has the speed of 10.5 ppm for black, and 5ppm for color.
There are different printers in the market, but the printer with the cheapest ink cartridge is probably the Canon PIXMA TR8520 Wireless Inkjet Printer. This is because it offers quality at little price.