Supplies for inkjet equipment are pricey. A pack of color cartridges may cost nearly as much as the printer! While manufacturers may exploit the “razor and blades” model, consumers are not obliged to purchase their ink. Discover the best ways to print more cheaply in 2022.
1. Explore Compatible Cartridges
If you own an HP Officejet 6950, you cannot be pleased with the price of ink replacement — over $150 for high yield. The Smart Ink store offers similar value for a third of the cost — $54.99. This HP 902 ink cartridge replacement of certified quality will work as well as the original HP ink.
This example shows how efficient compatible brands can be. Their products look and perform like OEM consumables, but they are always cheaper, as price is a key selling point. Products of smaller companies are also perfectly legal thanks to specific differences in design.
Consumer protection legislation allows you to use any cartridges, OEM or non-OEM. Printer brands have sued competitors in the past but failed. Today, they only urge consumers to buy genuine ink and release firmware updates preventing recognition (you can turn them off at any time).
How to Choose a Store
Cartridge stores are not created equal. Finding a reliable supplier requires a bit of due diligence. Check feedback on websites like Trustpilot, find out about applicable warranties and the return policy. Trusted brands like Smart Ink offer the full package of benefits:
• Certified quality in accordance with ISO, CE, Reach and STMC.
• Two-year money-back guarantee on all products, covering defects and transportation damage.
• Testing before shipping.
• 24/7 support via live chat, email, phone and social media.
• Ink level tracking (applicable to specific models).
• The latest version of the cartridge chip (it prevents recognition issues).
• Sustainable policies.
2. Consider Remanufactured Products
Like compatible cartridges, remanufactured items are cheaper than brand-name supplies. They are also eco-friendly. These are refurbished original products — typically, cartridges that have only been used once. Remanufacturing is more complicated than just refilling. It includes:
• Testing to reveal defects and worn elements;
• Injecting new ink;
• Testing again before shipping.
A decade ago, you would have to take your cartridge to a refilling station and rely on the employees’ workmanship. Now, recycled products are sold as ready-made products. You can buy them online with free shipping, extended warranties, and special discounts.
Finally, professional remanufacturing attracts eco-conscious consumers. If you are worried about your carbon footprint and plastic waste, recycled cartridges will give you some peace of mind.
Why Not Refill At Home?
DIY refills are more challenging and risky than they seem. Whether you revamp an ink or toner cartridge, too many things can go wrong. Stains on your hands, clothes, and workspace are innocuous in comparison with permanent damage to your printer, which is just as likely. A wrong technique may result in:
• clogging or other damage to printheads;
• low print quality.
Toner cartridges are just as tricky to refill, as they require careful disassembly and assembly. Considering the time and effort required, at-home refills are too inconvenient.
3. Choose High Yield
XL cartridges contain twice as much ink as standard versions. For example, each compatible item from the Smart Ink hp902 pack prints 825 pages. The standard yield is around 300 pages! What’s more, a third-party XL pack is still cheaper than a standard OEM bundle.
4. Free Shipping
Like the official HP store, some third-party websites deliver cartridges with free shipping without minimum order size. This is another opportunity to save money. You can also get a discount for ordering two or more items at once.
5. Try Draft Mode
Few consumers know that their printers have a draft mode, which uses less ink and works faster. On the flipside, it is only appropriate for tasks where quality is not important. You should find this option in the settings after a bit of digging.
Search in the printer preferences or the print dialog box. Most commonly, you should find the feature in the drop-down menu for print quality. It may be called Toner Save, EconoMode, or Draft Quality.
6. Do Not Print Ads
Some websites can be viewed in a special printer-friendly mode. It removes color ads and images, leaving just plain text. The following method works for Google Chrome:
• Install an extension like Reader View.
• Visit the page you want to print.
• Scroll down to the end of the page.
• Click or tap on the Extensions button near the address bar (its icon resembles a puzzle piece).
• Activate Reader View in the pop-up window to let the tool access the site.
• A clean version of the page will be loaded. This time, you should not see any ads or distracting images.
• Print the page using your preferred method (the printer button or CTRL + P on Windows or Command (⌘) + P on macOS).
7. Change the Font
Did you know that Times New Roman uses less ink than Arial? According to a study by Consumer Reports, the difference can reach 27%. Calibri and Century Gothic are also relatively economical.
Arial is a less obvious hog when it comes to ink consumption. Generally, you should avoid any big, bold, and flashy fonts.
8. Use Grayscale Printing
Use your monochrome cartridge whenever possible. Stick to black and white for general and regular tasks. This mode is called grayscale printing. Make sure it is on — the color may look black to you, but be a dark shade of green or blue. Printing with a color ink cartridge is always less economical.
9. Limit Photo Printing
Inkjet printers are great for high-resolution tasks. However, if you intend to produce numerous photos, outsource the job to a print center. Order prints online, as high-quality shots require a lot of ink. You could have your photos printed on premium paper, calendars, greeting cards, mouse pads, or other items if necessary.
10. Clean Printer Nozzles
Print heads require regular maintenance. The nozzles that dispense the ink work based on a spray function. As a result, they gradually accumulate dried ink. Unclog them at least every few weeks to ensure unhindered flow.
Sometimes, color cartridges stop printing some colors due to nozzle clogging. In this case, try removing the cartridge and wiping its bottom with a cloth (lint-free) or a damp paper towel.
When Is the Best Time to Replace a Cartridge?
Running the printer with an empty cartridge is dangerous. Yet, do not rush to replace your cartridge once you get a low ink warning. If you live in a humid climate, the product may still have some ink inside, so shaking it could remove the clogs. Clean the print head, too. Then, continue printing until the ink is almost completely gone.
Some models of cartridges come with ink level tracking. You get notified in advance, so your printer never runs out of ink unexpectedly. For example, compatible HP564 cartridges for the HP Photosmart series have this feature.
Note that the 2-year shelf life guarantee only applies to the sealed condition. When an ink cartridge is installed and sitting idle, its lifespan is much shorter. Print at least every couple of weeks to keep your cartridge in prime condition and prevent ink from drying out.