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Printer Toner

Printer Toner

Why is printer toner so expensive?

It is so inconceivable that the next time you run out of toner; it might actually be cheaper to go out and buy an entire new printer? It may sound slightly far-fetched, but a number of recent reports in the media have outlined just such a scenario.

When toner printers first entered the marketplace, manufacturers derived most of their profits form the sale of hardware. However, this type of marketing has obvious limitations; notably that potential customers must be prepared to spend substantial sums. The domestic market didn't exist and only businesses who really, really wanted a laser printer were prepared to invest.


With initially sluggish sales; the marketing world had a rethink, and decided to borrow a philosophy pioneered by earlier razor manufacturers. A printer without toner is just as useless as a razor without a blade, and it's here where the big bucks are to be made.

Today manufacturers make significantly more from the sale of replacement printer toner, than form the sales of the printers themselves. Toner cartridges are now pound-for-pound more expensive than imported Russian caviar, while ink can cost ten times as much as vintage champagne (per millilitre). It's unlikely that you'll buy a new printer every year, but the average laser printer gobbles up a toner cartridge every four months in the US .

There's no real way in which manufacturers can justify such sky high prices, so instead they concentrate on maintaining a monopoly on the supply of replacement cartridges. On a practical level this means doing everything in their powers to prevent others from remanufacturing their products. While some of the more environmentally aware suppliers have developed their own remanufacturing programs, others prefer to spend their budgets making sure that nobody else can. Recent 'developments' have included microchips which disable the printer when empty and capacitors which actually melt the printer head after use.

Of course there are ways to cut costs (such as investing in a home refill kit or sending your used cartridge for remanufacture), but it's worth pointing out that any such measure is likely to void the warranty of your printer. It's a much better idea to spend ten minutes leafing through your printer's instruction manual, locating the 'Economode' function and thinking twice before you hit the 'Print' button next time.