HP Video Explaining How Inkjet Cartridges Work: So, you thought that an ink cartridge was basically just a little plastic box that holds ink until it’s magically transferred onto paper by tiny elves? (Well, that’s what I always assumed)
Turns out that those little things are complex mechanical systems with mind-blowing accuracy. Did you know that each of the hundreds of nozzles on a typical cartridge is only about 1/3 the width of a human hair?
In this informative video, a hipster scientist (I think he’s from an 80’s British rock band?) from Hewlett Packard walks you through an inkjet cartridge works: (I’m wondering if a possible theme park is in the works?)
How Ink Cartridges Are Made (Video)
For those of you who have been raised on soda and video games, you may not have the attention span to site through a video that lasts almost two minutes, so here are some highlights:
An inkjet cartridge contains about 500 tiny nozzles, each of which is only 1/3 the width of a human hair
When you hit, “print,” instructions are sent to these tiny nozzles
Pulses of energy create a super-heated vapor bubble that forces ink droplets through the nozzles and onto the page at up to 31 miles per hour!
This process can occur over 35,000 times in one second
The accuracy of this ink delivery is like standing on top of a 30 story building, and dropping a nickel into a bucket on the sidewalk. (Can’t imagine that? An easier analogy would be like trying to use a medieval trebuchet to launch a kilogram of Landjäger sausages 300 cubits into a medium-sized harvest jug)
It can take 1000 prototypes before a new inkjet cartridge is perfected
HP Ink Scientists Are Cooler Than You
As you can see, the ink scientists over at HP are not only cooler than you, but they know a lot of interesting things too. It almost makes you forget how expensive ink is per ounce!
If you are looking to save money on ink, consider buying generic instead of OEM ink; it still exceeds ISO 9001 quality standards for ink and costs a lot less. (Plus, you can use a coupon) Find this magical cheap ink at online stores like 123inkjets.com and 4inkjets.com! (click for coupons)
How is ink manufactured? Maybe it’s not as fun as learning how chocolate bars or beer is made, but there is an incredible science to the art of making 4-color, CMYK, process ink. (This would be such of a nightmare job for me, being colorblind!) Although companies have their own unique manufacturing techniques, they all have a similar process.
I came across this truly fascinating video from the Printing Ink Company that illustrates the process; from the raw ingredients and mixing process, to the final ink that is sold. Seeing the video makes you feel even worse about how much ink is wasted in your printer! (Click below to view, & please share this page!)
How Ink Is Made: (Video)
Highlight of the video: Essentially, four base colors are made, from which all other colors are derived through mixing. These colors are Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black; commonly known as CMYK color.
How Ink is Made:
Printing ink is used for a wide variety of things; everything that you see with color on a paper like substance has been printed, including all of the packaging and print material that you see
Printer ink is composed of 2 primary things; the pigment (giving ink its color) and the vehicle, which is the carrier of the color
The pigment, a colored powder, is incorporated into the vehicle, which is a sticky varnish (like honey) that varies in thickness
First the vehicle is heated in order to thin it, so that the pigment can be incorporated. The pigment is then grinded in a bead mill, and then smeared in a 3-roller mill to reduce each pigment particle to its smallest size in order to maximize the color within
Quality control (QC) now becomes hugely important, ensuring that each batch of ink is the same
The ink is then subjected to a number of rigorous tests, including a grind test, and bleach test, which checks the color strength
Once approved, other ingredients are added, including waxes (for rub resistance) driers (so that the ink can dry quickly on paper)
The tack(stickiness) is tested, as it must be controlled so that the printer transfers it properly to paper
The ink is run again through another 3-roller mill, refining it further and adds more gloss and polishing
Before the ink is poured into a can and packaged, it has been through grinding mills, mixers, and a number of quality control tests.
Yum… Looks good enough to eat!
Ink Manufacturing & Quality Control
Not only is the ink subject to internal quality control and scrutiny, but also must meet rigorous standards like ISO 9001.
Before buying ink or toner of any kind, make sure that it meets these industry standards. Drums of this ink may be sold to printing services like Shutterfly, or companies that sell inkjet cartridges.
The generic and OEM printer ink featured on this site from companies like 4inkjets, Clickinks, and 123inkjets, all meet these high standards. Remember to always look for a coupon before you buy ink anywhere.
Anyway, we can’t do much about how the government wastes our money, so let’s look closer to home. In fact, let’s look at your inkjet printer.
We’ve already mentioned how expensive printer ink is, so at least it’s being used efficiently, right?
Wrong! According to Consumer Reports, about 50% of that printer ink never hits the page. In fact, the worst offenders only output about 30% of their ink to the pages! So, why are inkjet printers so wasteful? It seems that the culprit is the intermittent use of our printers.
Print Less Frequently, Waste More Ink
Basically what that means is that most people don’t buy an ink cartridge and use it all up in one week. More likely, people print a few pages here and there, and this is where the waste begins. The printer uses much of the ink in self-maintenance and cleaning, and ends up sitting in a reservoir inside the printer. (What a little diva!)
Printer companies are well aware of this, and on HP’s website states that, “Some ink must be used to maintain the health of the print head; some ink is residual; and some ink evaporates.”
How many pages can you get out of an inkjet cartridge?
What this means is that a manufacturer might imply that you can print 400 pages from one OEM(genuine name brand) inkjet cartridge, but in reality it’s going to be closer to 200 pages because of the intermittent use of our printers.
Consumer Reports also found no correlation between the amount of ink used in maintenance and performance, and no correlation to the price paid for ink and quality. In other words, (unlike a sweet 1970’s muscle car) it isn’t really necessary for them to waste that much fuel, or to pay for the high octane.
What can an honest taxpayer do? Well, as far as the government waste, we’re all stuck, but consider buying generic name brand compatible ink instead. Want to save even more money? Grab a coupon for 4inkjets or 123inkjets and save an extra 10-20%!
Want to save on custom printing online for business cards and more? Check out the latest coupons here.
Inkjet or Laser Printer? There are a plethora of printers on the market for home-use, but which one is right for you? The easy answer is this: If you print mostly black and white text, go with a laser printer for speed and savings on the cost of ink. If you print out graphics, you’ll want an inkjet printer.
Having said that, here are some considerations before you finalize that all-important decision:
Should You Buy an Inkjet or Laser Printer? (Video)
When I think of a printer for home use, I instantly think of inkjet printers. They’ve become kind of the “Renaissance man” of your home office. After all, they can print out emails, address labels, stickers, t-shirt transfers, or even photo-quality prints from your digital photos.
As if that’s not enough, many of the “all in one printers” throw in scanner, printer, and fax machine capability.
Inkjet or Laser Printer?
So inkjet printer must be right for me then? Maybe; consider the following before buying:
If you primarily print text, then a laser printer might be best for you. Laser printers are best for handling black and white text, (like emails, Word docs, and your taxes) and they are faster and less expensive. I know someone who prints out almost every email he gets for his records, and he must save hundreds of dollars a year by having a laser printer for this task. They can also handle address labels, which is nice around the holidays, or for bulk business mailings.
If you print a decent amount of photos, graphics, or color text, then an inkjet printer is best. I recommend not going with a color laser printer, as the costs of ink are significantly higher than black and white laser printers. Color laser printers use four toner cartridges, which can make the cost of ink even more than an inkjet
Don’t try to print photos with a laser printer. The quality will be marginal, and they aren’t meant for printing on glossy, or special photo paper. They also might not be able to print on sizes of paper other than 8.5 x 11
Do You Print Graphics or Photos?
So, if it comes down to whether or not you print photos or graphics, most people are going to choose an inkjet printer for their home. So, you’ll probably want to decide whether you need an all-in-one inkjet printer so that you can copy, scan, or even fax. Consider this:
When one component of these printers breaks, you’ll have to replace the whole thing. In our throw-away society, nobody repairs inkjet printers
The cost of replacement ink is high. If you bought a printer for $99 with a coupon, then that ink manufacturer has you on the hook for future ink purchases, which you’ll have trouble finding a coupon for. Recent tests from Consumer Reports confirm that many inkjet printers use less than half of the ink in the inkjet cartridges! (Canon had one of the worst ones tested!) Initially it looks like you save money by printing your own photos at home, but if you only print sporadically, much of that printer ink is being wasted in the “maintenance” mode of the printer.
Consider an inkjet printer that has 4 separate tanks for each color of ink. (CMYK) Over time this will save you money, as when one color runs out, you aren’t replacing the entire “color” inkjet cartridge.
Don’t buy less than 20-pound (weight) paper with your inkjet printer, or it may lead to paper jams. (Not as fun as strawberry, or other varieties of jam)
Big Print Job? Maybe Outsource It
Tip: Consider a discount online printing company to handle some of your color printing. Regardless of which printer type you go with, consider having your custom printing done by a discount printing company online.
It actually may be more expensive for you to print photos, invitations, and business cards at home, and you may not get the professional quality that you are looking for.
*If you have a Staples nearby, maybe they can print what you need?
Photo services like Shutterfly and Snapfish can bang out beautiful 4×6″ prints for as little as a 10 cents each now, while a sheet of the same photo paper will run about 25 cents. (add cost of ink, too!) They also offer weekly coupons, saving you money and even free shipping on many orders. You can also find coupons for sites like Vistaprint here.
Tip: Consider “name brand compatible ink” instead of what they call, “OEM,” or genuine name brand ink or toner. You can save up to about a third of the cost of printer ink when you go with the generic version. On top of that discount, you can also use a coupon or promo code for sites like 123inkjets, ClickInks.com, and 4inkjets.com (see coupons) for an extra discount.