Toner cartridge prices

Toner cartridge prices DEFAULT

Toner vs Ink – What You Need To Know  

Why Do You Need to Understand the Difference Between Toner and Ink?


Knowing the difference between ink and toner can be quite helpful in many different circumstances. If, for instance, your boss asks you to order printer supplies and you order a bunch of toner for the inkjet printer, you’ll probably get fired.

Also, knowing the difference between an ink cartridge and a toner cartridge will save you money. Neither ink or toner are cheap, but nothing is costlier than buying the wrong one. That wastes both time and money.

Here’s what you need to know about inks & toners in the first place:

  • Ink jet printers use ink cartridges
  • Laser printers use toner cartridges

Know what kind of printer you have before shopping for your printer supplies.

Toner and ink are like diesel and gasoline. Both are fuel, but they work in different types of engines. Both ink and toner will help you print, but they’re used in different types of printers.



Why Is Printer Ink So Expensive?

There's no joy in shopping for printer ink. It's expensive to buy, little fun to use, and before you know it—it's time to purchase it again.

And that's a constant cause of frustration among printer owners. In CR's annual printers survey, the expense of ink or toner replacement is the most common pain point for printer owners—affecting the owners of 1 in 5 printers.

The oldest ink drawing in the world was created 73,000 years ago, according to archaeologists. The ink used in early printers occupied the far opposite end of the longevity spectrum. Scott Williams, a chemistry professor at Rochester Institute of Technology, says that early printer inks were essentially a mix of food dye and water that would fade in just a few months.

"Companies like Epson, HP, Canon, they all had to do research in translating a dye to a pigment composition to be able to get the photographic quality everybody wanted," he says, while also producing prints that would last.

Today's inkjets have a tough job: firing thousands of drops of ink per second, representing four different colors, with tremendous accuracy. And it needs to be quick-drying and water- and smear-resistant, and avoid making the page curl up—while also preventing the tiny jets from clogging.

"Ink companies spend a lot of time to get the right blend of pigment, dye, and vehicle to be able to have a very stable small droplet for high-resolution printing," Williams says.

All of that research and development, of course, costs a lot of money—and that's where the price comes in.

"Think of the original price tag of a printer more like a down payment," Sulin says. "You're still expected to make periodic payments over the course of ownership."

According to IHS Markit, a global information provider, the cost to build a printer is higher than the retail price of most—if not all—consumer printers.

Consider the CR Recommended $70 HP Envy 4520 all-in-one printer. IHS estimates the manufacturing cost of the printer to be about $120.

HP declined to comment on the cost calculation.

IHS says it created the estimate by disassembling the printer and tallying the price of every component, including the monochrome display, enclosure, the included cartridge, the scanning window glass, image sensor, and so on.

The $120 figure doesn't include research and development and post-manufacturing costs, such as shipping.

“This is a classic razor-and-blade business model where the manufacturer sells the goods at a low price to help increase the sales of accessories, where the money is made,” says Wing Lam, associate director of cost benchmarking at IHS Markit.

Selling a product at a loss is not a strategy exclusive to printers. IHS estimates that the Amazon's Dash Wand sells at a loss, too, and the PlayStation 4's components add up to more than its retail selling price, according to a few market analysts.

Lam says this is a big reason that printer manufacturers do things like having a printer authenticate an ink cartridge before using it. If a consumer relies on third-party inks, the printer manufacturer may not recoup the cost of the printer.

Most consumers are getting only half of what they think they're paying for.

According to our labs, with many printers, more than half of the ink you buy will never wind up on a page.

Printers use ink in two ways. First, of course, they use ink to print documents and images. But inkjets also use ink just for maintenance, mainly for cleaning the printheads. “Most people aren’t really aware of the maintenance needs of inkjets,” Sulin says.

“It’s typical for an inkjet to waste as much ink on maintenance cycles as it uses to print documents,” he says.

However, there are big disparities in efficiency between models, Sulin says. Some printers use much more ink than others for maintenance—and the differences to the consumer's bottom line can really add up.

Consider the Brother MFC-J775DW XL and Epson Expression Photo XP-8500. Both sell for about $250 and perform well, yet one is far more frugal than the other in using ink for cleaning and maintenance. The MFC-J775DW XL will cost the typical user an estimated $27 per year for ink, according to Consumer Reports' calculations, but the XP-8500 requires 10 times that—about $280.

Consumer Reports members can consult the "Maintenance Ink Use" score in our Ratings to make sure your current or prospective printer is efficient with its ink.

Turning a printer off and back on can trigger a maintenance cycle, so it's more efficient to leave your printer on. And don't worry about racking up a massive electricity bill, Sulin says. Inkjets nowadays consume very little power when not in use.

"It's also important to keep your printers in a cool, shaded location. Drier, hotter environments may also increase the chance of clogged heads," Sulin says.

Laser printers. You may associate laser printers with home offices or small businesses—and high prices—but some black-and-white laser printers are very affordable and can be attractive for everyday use.

Laser printers use dry toner, rather than ink, and don't use any toner for maintenance, making them less expensive to operate.

However, laser printers are not for everyone.

Lasers can't match inkjets in quality when it comes to printing photos. And though black-and-white laser printers, such as the Samsung Xpress M2020W, don't have to be expensive, color lasers tend to have high prices. Additionally, Sulin says, "color lasers are larger and heavier than their inkjet counterparts."

Reservoir printers. Recently, a new type of inkjet printer with much cheaper ink has become available. These new reservoir printers are very expensive up front—$300 and up—but if you look past that price tag, they may save you money in the long run.

These models use reservoirs instead of replacement cartridges to print. The refills may last up to two years.

For instance, the CR Recommended Canon Pixma G4210 sells for $300, and refill bottles cost $13. If you look at the overall cost of ownership, this model becomes one of the cheapest printers in our ratings after 2 1⁄2 years.

Third-party ink. Printer makers want consumers to buy ink from them, but consumers do have other choices. A number of companies sell refurbished or refilled cartridges online and through walk-in stores. You can even get your empty cartridges refilled at Costco or Walgreens.

Consumer Reports doesn't rate third-party inks, but in the lab our testers have tried a number of these products and found the quality to be inconsistent.

"Many third-party inks were a step down in quality from the manufacturer brand, but still usable," Sulin says. "However, we also found a few more challenges to get them working properly."

Some samples, Sulin says, “worked initially, but then clogged printerheads.”

Williams, the RIT chemist, says some third-party inks can leave behind "satellite droplets." These occur when the droplet "sort of falls apart in flight because the flow properties are just not right," he says, creating inaccurate, inconsistent prints.

However, Williams says that third-party inks can be a good choice for some consumers. "If my end use is just copies for the office to be able to use as a memo and I really don't care about high definition quality," he says, "I think a third-party ink would be just fine."

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Explaining the cost of replacement ink and toner cartridges

DCA Dashboard


Toner Cartridges

Laser Cartridge Schematic Showing Major Components

Laser printer cartridge

The material cost in a typical laser cartridge is around $15 to $20. Of course there are variables between cartridges, some have more and some have less toner, some are fully integrated structures (as shown here) and some are not. The two examples selected for these examples show a 24,000 and a 10,000 page yield style. However, cartridges can yield anywhere from as little as 1,500 to as many as 40,000 pages, and typically, the hardware selected is based on the customer usage requirements.

A cartridge used in a high volume business environment may have as much as thirty times the yield of a small personal printer cartridge but would be priced at only around four times that of the lower yield cartridge. For the most part the components of a low yield cartridge compared to a high yield cartridge are similar. The amount of toner and the size of the molded parts will be different but the overall technology and component parts are very similar.

Broadly speaking, most cartridges manufactured by the OEMs have a delivered cost somewhere between $8 and $25 depending on the page yields.

Here are two examples showing the listed prices of OEM brand products as of April 2016 alongside the estimated manufacturing and distribution costs:

Laserjet cartridges

Ink Cartridges

Ink jet printing is enabled through deployment of sophisticated technology that’s evolved over the last 40-50 years. After going mainstream in the mid to late 1990s it’s quite incredible how sophisticated and advanced today’s technology is, both in terms of print quality and speed of output. Millions of dollars have been invested by the OEMs to get the technology to where it is today.

Ink cartridges

The material cost in a typical ink cartridge is $2 to $3 with most of the cartridges manufactured in highly automated facilities in low labor-cost locations around the world. Because of their compact design and relatively low weight, the cartridges can be transported around the world at very low “per-piece” freight costs.

Of course, some ink cartridges have more ink than others, some cartridges are multi-color and some just one color, so actual costs will vary to some degree depending on the design. However, regardless of these variations, most OEM cartridges cost very little to manufacture and most OEM sell prices are very high in relation to the manufacturing cost.

As can be seen from the two example costed bills of materials below, the cost between a cartridge with an integrated print-head and one without are not significantly different, but it’s not uncommon to see a 30%+ pricing differential between the two as a result of different aftermarket competitive pressures.

Here are two examples showing the listed prices of OEM brand products as of April 2016 alongside the estimated manufacturing and distribution costs:

OEM Ink cartridges

What's the takeaway?

Laser cartridges that cost between $15 and $20 to get from the offshore factory to local distribution centers across the United States for resale between $200 to $300 doesn’t seem right.

Ink cartridges that cost between $3 and $4 to get from their factories to local distribution centers for resale between $25 and $35 also doesn’t seem right.

  1. The underlying reason for the high prices on consumables was the desire of the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to build the largest possible installed base of printing devices that would go on to consume the high priced cartridges. In order to achieve this objective, the printing devices were priced at or below their true cost. By offering businesses and consumers low cost printing devices then mass adoption was enabled. The cartridges subsidize the hardware so ultimately the consumers of the cartridges end up paying the true cost of the printer – it was just put off to some point in the future!
  2. The OEMs are now caught between a rock and hard place. There’s too much competition on the hardware side for them to successfully raise prices and charge consumers a fair market price for printers, so they have no choice but to rely on the profits from cartridges to subsidize the losses on the hardware. Because of this, there’s unlikely to be any change to the OEM cartridge pricing model and the aftermarket competition is here to stay. Consumers can benefit from lower prices on high-quality aftermarket products.
  3. Competition works in many predictable and sometimes unpredictable ways. However, what’s quite normal is for high prices and the potential for profits to attract competition and this is why we have an aftermarket for imaging supplies. Of course, the aftermarket ink and toner manufacturers are not encumbered with having to subsidize printer hardware so, high quality aftermarket alternatives are available at much lower prices than the original brand equivalents.
  4. The high-quality aftermarket options that exist today are a far cry from those that existed 20-30 years ago and the OEMs are now forced to recognize both the threat and legitimacy of the aftermarket. By leveraging their market power with the few remaining Tier-1 resellers such as DepotMax, Staples, Walmart, etc., the OEMs have been able to restrict lower cost options from access to the largest markets and consumers have been deprived of choice. However, the internet has leveled the playing field and the superstores are becoming increasingly irrelevant in terms of providing an outlet for office products.
HP Cartridge Unboxing and cartridge Toner Installation - Where to Buy Cheap cartridge Toner - Hindi

You Can Save Up to 89% with Our Compatible Cartridges

Regardless of the type of printer you have, you can take advantage of massive savings when you buy toner and ink cartridges from Typically, what they call "genuine" cartridges -or OEM (original equipment manufacturer)-cartridges are very expensive. But do you really have to shell out that much for your printing needs? Generic or compatible cartridges from CompAndSave will give you the same great results as OEM cartridges, but at a fraction of the price. The Hewlett Packard HP 564XL Bulk Set of 9 Packs can cost as much as $191.91. Contrast that amount with $52.11 –the amount you would pay for a compatible product from CompAndSave.

As another example, you can get as much as 89% off on the Brother LC61Bk Black Ink cartridge (LC61 Series). At Staples this costs $26.99, but you can get a compatible product from CompAndSave for just $2.99!

The table below shows you what massive savings are possible when you buy compatible cartridges from CompAndSave. You end up saving anywhere from 44% to as much as 89%!

The prices given above are indicative only. They are subject to change at the discretion of the respective vendor, shop or website and CompAndSave has no control over this. The prices may change at any time and without any prior notice. CompAndSave is in no way responsible or accountable for this, which please note. The prices indicated above are only for the purposes of providing information to buyers and site visitors.

Cartridge prices toner

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Don't Sell Your Toner Cartridges Until You Read This

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