Why Is Printer Ink So Expensive?

Printer ink is one of the most expensive liquids in the world. A single drop of printer ink can cost more than an entire bottle of champagne! So why is printer ink so freakin’ expensive?

Printer ink is expensive because it’s made up of a complex blend of dyes, pigments, solvents, and other ingredients. Manufacturers need to charge a premium to cover the overhead costs associated with research, development, and production. The cost of the packaging and shipping associated with printer ink cartridges add to the cost. Also, supply and demand can play a role in the higher cost of this product, as competition between printer manufacturers can drive up the price of ink.

Why is printer ink so expensive? 8 Factors!

Let’s start by taking a look at the factors that contribute to the high cost of printer ink.

1. Material used to make ink

Printer ink is made up of several complex components. It contains pigments or dyes for color, solvents for liquid consistency, and resins or polymers for adhesion to the paper.

Inks also contain several other additives such as surfactants, stabilizers, and lubricants. All of these materials can be costly because they require advanced chemistry and manufacturing techniques to develop.

2. Ink Research and Development

Printer manufacturers spend a lot of money researching and developing new inks that provide better quality, higher resolution, and more vibrant colors. This research and development is expensive and adds to the cost of producing ink. 

According to Forbes, HP spends $900 million a year on the experimentation and production of the ink. Additionally, the cost of developing new inks can be prohibitively expensive for smaller companies.

3. Supply and Demand

The cost of printer ink is kept high through the steady hand of the laws of supply and demand, with the demand for ink far surpassing the availability. Printer manufacturers, in their genius, limit the availability of cartridges to ensure that customers return to them for their ink needs.

4. Losses in the printer’s sales

Reuters reported a dramatic decrease in ExOne’s sales of printers and their parts, dropping from $4.2 million to a meager $2.4 million.

Printer manufacturers often sell printers at a loss to increase market share. Therefore, the cost of the printer is lower than the cost of the ink and other supplies needed to maintain it. Therefore, to make up for the money lost on the printer, the manufacturers need to charge more for the ink.

5. Monopoly of HP

Printer ink is notoriously expensive, and this is large because HP has a monopoly on the market. HP controls the production of ink and has the power to set prices for printer ink, leading to higher prices for consumers.

This is in contrast to other markets, where competition between manufacturers keeps prices low.

Furthermore, an antitrust lawsuit alleging Hewlett-Packard of violating monopoly laws was lodged in the court of law, according to Legal Match: Business Law. The printer mogul stands accused of ignoring the regulations set forth to ensure fair competition.

6. Researchers pay

At HP, engineers can expect a substantial paycheck, with a salary range of $74,000 to $154,000 a year.

Printer companies need to pay their researchers to develop new technology for ink cartridges. This includes research into new ink formulations, as well as other ways to reduce the cost of printing. This cost is then passed on to the consumer in the form of a higher price for the ink. 

7. Shipping Charges

The cost of printer ink can skyrocket due to the expensive shipping charges placed on top of the original price. To get the ink to their customers, printer companies must pay for shipping and this cost gets passed on to the consumer. In other words, you’re paying for more than just the printer ink.

8. Increasing Inflation

As per the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the consumer price index has been rising sharply and, as of March 2022, has soared to an impressive 8.5% increase.

As inflation takes a toll on the cost of producing ink, it’s not long before it is reflected in the prices of printer ink as well. 

With higher costs of raw materials, manufacturing, and living, printer manufacturers must raise their prices accordingly or risk going out of business.

Unfortunate as it is, these extra costs are ultimately shouldered by consumers in the form of higher prices for printer ink.

How to maximize the Life of your Ink and Toner Cartridges?

How to maximize the Life of your Ink and Toner Cartridges

Maximizing the potential of your ink and toner cartridges is essential for drawing as much value from your printer as possible. By executing a few easy tactics, you can prolong the lifespan of your cartridges and save yourself some money in the future.

1. Make sure to store the cartridges correctly – Printer cartridges are sensitive to the environment they are used in. Extreme temperatures and humidity can cause the cartridge to dry out or clog. Make sure the printer is in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight.

2. Print wisely – Many modern printers offer settings such as a draft mode that allows you to use less ink or toner while still producing quality prints. Adjusting these settings can help extend the life of your cartridges.

3. Use Original Cartridges – Extend the longevity of your cartridges and get the most out of your printer by using original cartridges instead of generic or refilled ones. Designed to work specifically with your printer, original cartridges will ensure maximum performance and help extend their life.

4. Avoid Overfilling – Overfilling your cartridges can cause them to malfunction and can reduce their lifespan. Make sure to only fill them to the manufacturer’s recommended levels.

5. Don’t Shake Cartridges – Treat your cartridges with care when transporting them by keeping them upright and avoiding any shakes or bumps. A little bit of caution can save your printer from any unwanted leaks or damage.

Alternatives to Expensive Ink

Printer ink is one of the most expensive commodities that households and businesses need to buy regularly. Fortunately, there are alternatives to expensive printer ink that can help to reduce costs. 

1. Refill Cartridges – One of the simplest ways to save money on printer ink is to buy a refill kit and do the refilling yourself. Refill kits allow users to re-ink the cartridges with a less expensive, but good-quality, alternative ink. Refilling cartridges can be a bit messy, but it is much more cost-effective than replacing the cartridge with a new one.

2. Remanufactured Cartridges – For those who don’t want to prematurely empty their wallet with a new cartridge, remanufactured cartridges are the ideal choice. Refurbished with top-notch ink and carefully tested to guarantee the best performance, these recycled cartridges will provide the same high-quality printout without breaking the bank.

3. Take Advantage of Loyalty Programs – Many printer ink suppliers offer loyalty programs that offer rewards for repeat customers. Loyalty programs usually offer discounts on new cartridges and other benefits such as free shipping.

4. Utilize Ink Subscription Services – A subscription to a printer ink service can save you money and keep your printer full! You can get discounts on bulk orders, making it a great option if you’re a frequent printer user. So don’t let your device run dry, sign up for a subscription, and make sure you always have ink on hand.

5. Use Online Discounts – Online stores often have discounts and promotions that can make printer ink much cheaper. It is worth shopping around to find the best deal before buying new cartridges.

6. Continuous Ink Supply Systems – Continuous ink supply systems (CISS) are a type of bulk ink system. These systems are storage tanks that are connected directly to the printer, eliminating the need for cartridges. CISS systems require regular maintenance and refilling but can save a lot of money in the long run.

Prices Of Different Brands Of Printer Inks in Tabular Form

BrandPrice ($)
Brother LC103 Genuine High Yield Color Ink34.98
Canon PG-243 Black Ink Cartridge16.99
Original HP L0R46AN 63 Black/Tri-color Ink51.89
Original HP CR259FN 61 Black/Tri-color Ink51.89
OCProducts Remanufactured Ink Cartridge29.99
Valuetoner Ink cartridges 245 and 24655.99
Colorking Compatible Ink Cartridges for HP 910XL52.79
Original HP 65XL Black High-yield Ink Cartridge33.89
Bethone ‎beth-2 Ink Cartridges14.99


Is printer ink more expensive than gold?

Yes, printer ink is more expensive than gold. This is because this ink is a consumable product and is necessary for printers to operate, so the cost of producing and supplying it is generally higher than that of gold. The cost of buying ink also depends on the size of the cartridge, the type of printer, and the manufacturer. Gold, on the other hand, is a precious metal that is commercially traded and has an established market value that does not fluctuate so significantly.

Is canon ink expensive?

Yes, Canon ink can be expensive. Canon’s OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) ink cartridges are usually more expensive than generic or third-party ink cartridges. Due to its extensive research and development, this brand ensures quality and reliability with its ink cartridges. It also offers a wide variety of specialized ink cartridges tailored to specific printer models, which can add to the cost.

Why is Epson printer ink so expensive?

Epson printer ink is expensive because it is designed to be used in high-quality, professional inkjet printers. These printers are designed to produce high-quality prints with vibrant colors. Therefore, the ink used must be of a higher quality, which naturally costs more. Plus, this brand often uses proprietary ink formulations that are only available from them, so you cannot buy cheaper third-party ink for these printers.

Is printer ink more expensive than human blood?

Yes, printer ink is generally more expensive than human blood. This is because printer ink is artificially manufactured and is not readily available in the same way that donated blood is. The cost of production, as well as the cost of distributing the ink, contributes to its overall cost. Human blood, on the other hand, is typically donated by individuals and is more readily available to be collected and distributed.