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Printer Hardware

What Do You Do When Printers Cost Less Than Ink? 970

Posted by timothy
from the buy-more-printers dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A family member recently asked me to pick up more ink for her Epson Photo RX 595. Unfortunately, replacing the black and color ink cartridges costs $81.92 + tax at the local store! That's so bad that I got a replacement printer that's just as good, and spare ink, for less. But now I have a useless piece of e-waste that I can't even give away. What can you do with a printer like that? I hate to just throw it away."
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What Do You Do When Printers Cost Less Than Ink?

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  • Cheap Printer? (Score:5, Informative)

    by nametaken (610866) * on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:23PM (#30316416)

    Make sure the new printer comes with FULL carts, not the half-or-less carts they often box with the printer.

    • by rolfwind (528248) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @05:44PM (#30317892)

      WTF. People still buying inkjets and bitching about it? Is lexmark STILL in business?

      It's simple. Don't buy inkjets. Buy a laser that has decent sized laser cartridges. B/W if you print lots of text. Color tends to have small cartridges out of space considerations.

      Besides the cost, with inkjets, you have clean the head constantly and if you don't use in a while (say you have a several week vacation or other trip), worry about the printer head drying out. Headaches and a fucking waste of time, imo.

      And for photos, dye-subs. Even if they don't beat inkjets on dpi, my 300dpi dyesub beats any 1200x1200 in actual results. You JUST DON'T see the millions of dots with dyesub, it's all blended together, and because there is a clear coat, no smearing of the images, even if you lick your fingers and go across the picture right after it was printed. It looks as good or better than from professional print shop.

      I don't even know why this argument is still going on after all these years. Inkjet was and always will be a half-assed home solution when the good solutions have matured and become considerably cheap. In the space of 5 years, I threw out just as many inkjets in the early 2000s with lots of printing problems aggravation. In the same space of time, I have had just 2 lasers and 1 dyesub, all still working (1 for b/w, other a color copier) and I probably printed out 10x the material with them because it was just easier.

      • by snowwrestler (896305) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @07:48PM (#30319360)

        A mid-range or high-end recent inkjet will produce very high quality photo prints. Many professional photographers use inkjets to produce their fine art prints for sale. The best inkjets have a color saturation and sharpness that is superior to dye sub, with droplet size small enough that it takes a strong loupe to distinguish. Most people have trouble with inkjets because they buy cheap inkjets.

        That said, the biggest argument against them is the frequency of use. You do have to use an inkjet to keep it in fine printing condition.

    • by Joce640k (829181) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @05:56PM (#30318048) Homepage

      ...and get completely off the inkjet treadmill.

      You will NOT regret it.

      The day I switched was when I needed to replace a color in my inkjet, and the new one needed a head clean. By the time it finished cleaning another color needed replacing...rinse, repeat. It took me half an hour to get all the colors working and when I was done a couple of my 'new' cartridges were 25% gone (you want an option to clean a single color? LOL!). I figure it cost me over $20 to print those two pages (and I arrived late for an appointment...)

      It was junked soon after that and I bought a color laser. With the laser I just switch on and print. No muss, no fuss.

      It cost me about the same as three sets of inkjet cartridges and I figure it's going to print ten times as many pages.

      If your printer usage is "occasional" then don't even *think* of buying an inkjet. No, scratch that... just don't buy inkjets, period. Say no. They look cheap in the store but they're the biggest ripoff in IT.

  • by jimbolauski (882977) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:23PM (#30316418) Journal
    All you need is a bat
  • Prevent. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:23PM (#30316420) Journal
    The best course of action for this sort of thing is prevention. Keep consumables prices in mind when buying hardware in the first place, get a decent laser printer if you can, and give 3rd party consumables a try.

    If you do end up stuck with a printer, or printers, you might want to see if you are, or if you know, any electronics/robotics hobbyists. Even cheap and ghastly printers contain a reasonable supply of motors(some conventional DC, some steppers) and gears and optointerrupters and other fun little gizmos. The larger and more sophisticated printers can contain pretty impressive quantities of such.

    Failing that, you probably just want to find a recycler.
    • Re:Prevent. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:25PM (#30316460)

      Ship it back to the manufacturer if you want to make a statement. Corporate HQ is probably the best since they don't have the on site means/processes for disposal.

    • Re:Prevent. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:27PM (#30316508) Journal

      If you do end up stuck with a printer, or printers, you might want to see if you are, or if you know, any electronics/robotics hobbyists. Even cheap and ghastly printers contain a reasonable supply of motors(some conventional DC, some steppers) and gears and optointerrupters and other fun little gizmos. The larger and more sophisticated printers can contain pretty impressive quantities of such.

      Arrgh for the love of mod points, that's insightful.

      Next - a series of combat robot competitions where the components must come from discarded printers. Who's game?

      • Re:Prevent. (Score:4, Funny)

        by Ceriel Nosforit (682174) on Friday December 04, 2009 @01:17AM (#30321344)

        Let's roll. I just finished disassembling an Epson printer to clean the nozzles after I had its ink refilled by a local businessman specialized in the task. I now have an undying hatred for Epson, and planning on testing the killer machine I'll create from the parts at their HQ.

        I think I'll call my creation the "Blood-Jet".

    • I Second this (Score:5, Informative)

      by DrYak (748999) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:31PM (#30316614) Homepage

      The best course of action for this sort of thing is prevention. Keep consumables prices in mind when buying hardware in the first place, get a decent laser printer

      Indeed. Laser might have higher upfront cost, but tend to cost a lot less per page.
      And also, tend to be much more compatible : they simply accept good-old PostScript. (PostScript over Network is the must in terms of compatibility).
      Thus you don't need to hunt for drivers every time Microsoft decide to change driver model or when attempting to switch to Linux.

      • Re:I Second this (Score:4, Interesting)

        by AdamThor (995520) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:44PM (#30316884)

        Indeed. Laser might have higher upfront cost, but tend to cost a lot less per page.

        Additionally, if you only print occationally Laser is an even better bargain. Ink cartridges will dry out wether you use them or not. Toner lasts much longer. Color lasers are less and less expensive, as well.

        If you only print a few things a year it's easy to think "I'll get a cheap inkjet, I can't justify more." But you'll get very little printing per ink cartridge and this will be a very expensive case.

        That's how I found it before I got my HP Laserjet 2600n anyway. It's been great and only cost me $250.

      • Re:I Second this (Score:5, Informative)

        by guruevi (827432) <evi@smok[ ]cube.be ['ing' in gap]> on Thursday December 03, 2009 @05:11PM (#30317370) Homepage

        Actually, I have done the calculations and the difference between ink/toner is only about 1 or 2c per page (especially once you get to color).

        For a b/w Brother laser printer the cost is 2c/p with remanufactured cartridges, 3c/p with high-capacity cartridges and 4c/p with the standard cartridges
        For a color Brother laser printer the cost is 4c/p black, 4c/p color with new cartridges
        For a Canon Pixma inkjet printer the cost is 3c/p black, 5c/p color with new cartridges

        So if you're a very low volume printer, then lasers are probably not worth the investments. Especially since the very cheap ($99 OkiData color laser for Cyber Monday) have more expensive cartridges ($120/cartridge = $480 to replace all) Off course once you get to HP printers, the costs shoot up (as the cartridges are 3-6x more expensive than the Canon Pixma's). Lasers also print infinitely faster than the inkjets.

        • Re:I Second this (Score:5, Informative)

          by PRMan (959735) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @05:49PM (#30317958)

          1. My Brother lasers cost around 1.2c per page, including paper, using the high capacity cartridge.

          2. Canon Pixma is THE CHEAPEST line of color printers there is. By my calculations, it costs about 7c per page. Also, they don't waste your ink or tell you that you can't print anymore (they do, but you can override it and keep printing until the ink actually runs out).

          3. HP costs about 10-12c per page and Epson is as high as 15c (12c-15c).

  • not a bargain (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Speare (84249) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:24PM (#30316442) Homepage Journal

    The new printer you bought came with "demo" ink cartridges that are nearly empty, compared with full ones. You didn't get a bargain.

    Personally, while I understand the business doctrine of "whatever the market will bear," I think it's time that Congress look into market collusion and racketeering. There's no way that a pigment can cost thousands of dollars per liter.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by clong83 (1468431)
      I always thought the high price wasn't from the inks themselves, but because there are somewhat sophisticated microfluidic devices in each ink cartridge. Do they actually claim it's the ink that's expensive?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by l3prador (700532)

        I always thought the high price wasn't from the inks themselves, but because there are somewhat sophisticated microfluidic devices in each ink cartridge. Do they actually claim it's the ink that's expensive?

        Which are mostly in place to make it more difficult for people to offer 3rd party generic cartridges.

    • Re:not a bargain (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CodeBuster (516420) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:37PM (#30316740)

      There's no way that a pigment can cost thousands of dollars per liter.

      It doesn't, but the cost to the company is not just the cost of the pigments, it is also the loss leader price for just about every printer they sell; especially true with the consumer grade laser and photo printers. The market has demonstrated, whether through ignorance or otherwise, that they prefer the razor and blades [wikipedia.org] model to paying what the individual items actually cost. This could happen even in the absence of any collusion.

      • Re:not a bargain (Score:4, Insightful)

        by plasmacutter (901737) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @05:02PM (#30317222)

        There's no way that a pigment can cost thousands of dollars per liter.

        It doesn't, but the cost to the company is not just the cost of the pigments, it is also the loss leader price for just about every printer they sell; especially true with the consumer grade laser and photo printers. The market has demonstrated, whether through ignorance or otherwise, that they prefer the razor and blades [wikipedia.org] model to paying what the individual items actually cost. This could happen even in the absence of any collusion.

        This is BAD for the public, and should be discouraged by law. The "razor and blades" model is what has bankrupted our economy. It stretches one time expenses into sustained costs, prompting horrendous debt. The irresponsibility loss-leaders encourage is easily as destructive as credit industry practices which were recently barred by regulation because they contributed to our economic collapse.

    • Re:not a bargain (Score:5, Insightful)

      by captaindomon (870655) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:45PM (#30316894)
      Prices aren't based on cost. No prices from major corporations are based on cost. They're based on Willingness to Pay: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willingness_to_pay [wikipedia.org] . This is a very basic economics/business concept.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by audunr (906697)

      There's no way that a pigment can cost thousands of dollars per liter.

      That's simply not true.

      The cyan cartridge is filled with pigments gathered from the beak of the endangered Taiwula bird, only found in altitudes of around 7.000 meters in the Nepalese mountains.

      And that "photo grey" cartridge is made with moon dust. Not that moon, but one of Pluto's.

  • by onion2k (203094) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:24PM (#30316446) Homepage

    The printer that you buy with ink comes with cartridges that are, at most, half full. Usually it's considerably less than half. It might feel cheaper, but in dollars-per-print it's not, and that's the only metric that really measures the value you're getting.

    Next time, don't fall for it.

  • repurpose, refill (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fry-kun (619632) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:24PM (#30316448)

    Well, you could use it for some DIY project. Printers have nice stepper motors and the guiding rod is pretty straight too.
    But it doesn't have to be like that. You could just go buy an ink refill kit and refill existing cartridges

    • Re:repurpose, refill (Score:4, Interesting)

      by e2d2 (115622) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:29PM (#30316568)

      Yeah my thoughts exactly. If you're a hacker make a fabber or CNC machine from it's parts (and some others of course). If not then donate it to someone that may want to do that. Local robotics clubs are usually filled with hackers that love to make such things. After all it's not too far from a typical robot in it's mechanics and electronics.

  • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:25PM (#30316458)

    Take it to a local field with a buddy

    Set up a camera

    Film yourself bashing it to bits

    Upload to internet

    Profit

  • Simple! (Score:5, Funny)

    by daeley (126313) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:26PM (#30316472) Homepage

    Just put the old printer in the new printer's box, tape it up, and return it. Now that's what I call recycling your e-waste! ;)

  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:26PM (#30316474) Journal

    Box it up and send it to the manufacturer. It's their business practices that cause this waste. Make them deal with it.

  • by srussia (884021) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:27PM (#30316520)
    I refill my 4-color printer with Blood, Sweat and Tears (4th bodily fluid "redacted" as this is a family site).
  • by assemblerex (1275164) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:27PM (#30316522)
    You can get a set of continuous ink tanks off ebay for about $50 that will give you enough ink capacity to print until the second coming.
    • by Atario (673917) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @06:03PM (#30318132) Homepage

      Be very very careful on this.

      I tried one of these "systems" (read: hacked-together kludges) a few years ago, and found out the hard way that these are problematic. You end up with hoses that kink or get caught by the fast-moving and surprisingly powerful print head mechanism, spilled ink, printer hatches that no longer close properly, and many other drawbacks.

      I just wish some manufacturer made a printer with this design inherent to it.

  • If I ran my country (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:27PM (#30316526)
    If I ran my country (and I really think I should) it would be illegal to sell a device at a loss in order to gouge on the consumables. In addition, they would be required to accept the return of any hardware they sell for environmentally acceptable disposal, meaning it would need to built into the price. I think some countries may already do this on some products.
  • Recycle It! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by esten (1024885) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:31PM (#30316620)
    Best Buy has recycling programs for E-waste. For most items Best Buy's service is free or minimal cost ($10) and you get a $10 Best Buy gift card. I would assume recycling the printer would be free.
  • by Zerth (26112) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:33PM (#30316660)

    Either a paper cutter(replace ink with knife), a plotter(ink with pencil), or just steal the motor/belt system as one half/third of a homemade CNC.

  • Red Ink (Score:4, Insightful)

    by happy_place (632005) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:33PM (#30316662) Homepage
    Paper and Ink have been HP's bread and butter for a long time. They sell the printer at a loss, but keep the price of ink and paper high. Sadly because they give away the printers, the printer companies have also stopped investing in quality printer designs, drivers, software support, etc, and you can more or less kiss the printer goodbye once it starts to behave badly. Most printer related jobs have now been succesfully outsourced to Asia. Ten years ago when HP had its first lay offs, they didn't touch the printer divisions. Now they can't seem to cut employees fast enough. Printers have become a commodity in which innovation and quality are really no longer important.
  • Kodak has had their printer line on the market for over a year now, they place the print head on the printer itself and forgo all the smart chip garbage causes some rather anti-consumer issues on other brands of printers. Their cartridges are really cheap compared to others, under $25 for a full set of color and black ink. The print quality is great, and the prices while not as cheap as the lower end HP's and Epson's are reasonable, I paid $120 for my all in one last year and have changed cartridges once and it hasn't skipped a beat.

    • by omnichad (1198475) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:56PM (#30317104) Homepage

      I'll second this! I bought a Kodak Easyshare 5300 All-in-One on Woot for $35. It came with a bad printhead, but they gladly replaced it. Just last week, I replaced it with a Kodak 5250LE (Wal-Mart Black Friday special). The new one is not as sturdy as the old, but it's working great so far.

      They print the retail price of the cartridges right on the box! No bait and switch there. They use pigment-based inks, and as far as I've seen, all their printers are using the same cartridges. It's practically a revolution in home desktop printing.
       
      Beware, they aren't all that friendly to networking. The original line of printers had drivers that actually looked for a device on the USB line and refused to print if it wasn't there. The new 5250 scans and prints wirelessly from my Mac, but as far as I know, there's still no Linux driver available.

    • by mister_playboy (1474163) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @11:39PM (#30320884)

      Be aware that they don't offer any Linux drivers! You'll need to run XP, Vista, or 7 in a VM in order to be able to use the printer if you are a Linux user.

  • Stop printing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bl8n8r (649187) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:45PM (#30316898)

    seriously, most of the crap i used to print works just fine digitally.
    The camera in my cellphone comes in handy for just about any kind
    of digital reproduction I need. Shift away from the I-need-to-print
    this-just-so-i-can-take-it-with-me to taking a pic of it, or emailing
    it.

    The only thing I use my printer for now is printing out coloring
    book pages for the kid.

  • by okmijnuhb (575581) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @04:50PM (#30316980)
    Sometimes you can find after market refill kits, with which you can inexpensively refill your cartridge.

    It's truly sad and disgusting when we have a society based on swindling one another.

    Another peeve of mine; Tropicana juice and Haagen Dazs ice cream, once sold in pints (16 oz) are now 14 oz.

    Caveat Emptor!
  • 3D printer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dissy (172727) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @05:06PM (#30317288)

    My suggestion would be convert it into a 3D printer (Known as a fabrication machine)

    Granted, I don't know your skill set so this might not be a valid option, but you have to admit the results are nice!

    Video of a 3d printer made from an old ink jet (Boring to watch straight through, best to watch the first few moments and jump ahead to the end imho):
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nbtZOolSIY [youtube.com]

    Here is a better video showing the output from a production 3d printer, to give you an idea of what is possible:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdzooQQDWGg [youtube.com]

    Finally, some more basic info:

    http://hackaday.com/2009/04/19/3d-printing-at-home/ [hackaday.com]
    http://homemade3dprinter.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

    Google will have more detailed info if you are interested

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