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Little Things Add Up: Printer Ink Amortization

It is always interesting to see the various discussions relating to corporate finance, taxation ,and reporting compliance, however, sometimes the little things in life can become important. One such thing is the cost and life cycle of printer ink and toner. We always seem to run out of ink and I am shocked and saddened to be signing and paying all those expensive invoices. I do my bit to make them last... writing "Not to be replaced before dates" on the new cartridge when it is inserted,  and tapping the old cartridge to shake out the last dregs of the toner when it starts printing faintly. I have even tried those ink refill kits where you drill a hole and inject new ink into the old cartridge, a messy experience, even if you wear latex gloves, or get the IT guy or office junior to do it for you!  I did find a recycle service but they seem only to service certain brands and not the cheaper varieties like Brother! I am sure I am not alone in this matter and would welcome any tips and suggestions anyone can contribute for reducing print costs.  And dont say "Print less"! In spite of the digital age, people still seem to need to keep printing!

Given that printers are sold as "the razor", and toner as "the blades", has anyone done any work on calculating the lifetime cost after amortising the printer savings back intn the ink cost to figure out which brands work out better?


Mark Stokes
Title: CFO
Company: Private
(CFO, Private) |

I don't have that analysis for you, but I can tell you, having been really bothere by this annoying and ridiculous expense, that I look very carefully at the pages per cartridge stats presented by the manufacturers and tested by the printer testers in some printer reviews. And for B&W printing I always make sure we are using really efficient B&W ONLY printers in the office, to which all employees are set as default.

There are a number of printers from each major mfr out there that are B&W only and have larger toner cartridges and give you lower cost/page. Stick with those when possible and avoid the combined color/B&W printers that have tiny cartridges. First off, your folks will forget and print in color all the time - which is most expensive. Second, the cost/refill is highest with those. So avoid if you can.

Thanks for bringing this up. I'd like to hear what others have found works here b/c this cost really adds up on the G&A side of things.

Alexander Haislip
Title: Author
Company: Independent
(Author, Independent) |

Lots of folks print things out as a way of creating a physical record of what they're working on. Fundamentally, they don't trust digital backup or their own ability to find things in a cluttered file system.

I've overcome both of these (and the need to print everything) by establishing a file management system that involves standardized dates and names and creating a regular back-up for all my important files.

Once I became comfortable with those two features, I cut down my printing dramatically!

Mark Stokes
Title: CFO
Company: Private
(CFO, Private) |

Good point, Alex. Something else is that a lot of us (me and our company included) are using online storage systems like Dropbox and to store and share documents. Saves a lot of ink if you can share without printing!

Simon Westbrook
Title: CFO
Company: Aargo Inc.
( CFO, Aargo Inc.) |

I agree that less printing will use less ink, however from an efficiency point of view there will always be advantages in reading the printed document: faster scan times, the ability to check back to prior comments in a document, the speed of mark-ups and comments, and the convenience of reviewing a document anytime, anywhere. The extra ink cost may be offset by the extra review time, bit I an still looking for lower cost ink. Does anyone use the refillers and recyclers?
I adapted my old school motto to a more appropriate version for this modern age problem. "Verbum scriptum in aeturnum manet" Does anyone here do latin?

Topic Expert
Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Based on our own and some client experiences:
1. Do a Google search on resetting the codes on your cartridge (you need to specify printer etc); this often will allow you to print another 500-1000 pages even after the factory setting says you need to change it (I wonder why:))
2. Reduce the number of printers in your office. We had a client where 60 people had 47 printers (incl. 3 good sized multi-function devices). No brainer there
3. Show the way and stop printing, esp interim versions. Why not print/convert to PDF and store on the network? It's change but we no longer work with quill and parchment:)


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