Readers find alternatives to costly ink cartridges

By Scott Dunn

Any way you slice it, inkjet ink is an expensive commodity that requires frequent replacement.

Fortunately, some readers have good ideas for economizing and getting the most ink for your money.

Monochrome printing may use up color ink

My July 5 story analyzed the controversial topic of inkjet efficiency. Reader Dennis J. Haggerty explains that even monochrome pages may use some color ink:
  • “I use an Epson Stylus Photo R300 printer. I chose this model because it has the capability to print on CDs and DVD. It has individual color cartridges. Even when the Epson is printing only black, it draws ink from the color cartridges. Epson says that this gives a ‘richer’ black.

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    “I print very little in color, as this is my office printer and is rarely used for photos. Yet the color cartridges drain almost as fast as the black one.”
It might be useful to check whether your printer driver or application software has an option to print only in monochrome. In your applications, look for a setting in the Print dialog box. To access the printer driver, click Properties or Preferences next to the printer in an application’s Print dialog box. Or you can right-click a printer in the Printers and Faxes control panel and choose Properties. Since the dialog boxes vary from printer to printer, you may have to explore a little to find this option (if your printer or application supports it at all).

Ink manufacturers may underfill cartridges

Clive Davies accuses manufacturers of not adequately filling ink cartridges:
  • “Nothing was mentioned of the fact that cartridges from the manufacturer usually underfill their products. HP prints the ink volume in tiny letters on the back of the packaging. For example, an HP 21 contains only 5 ml of ink, but the cartridge capacity is over 20 ml. We are paying dearly for our ink in the U.K.”
Thanks for telling us where to look on the packaging, Clive. For other ink solutions, read the following letters.

Save money, refill your own ink cartridges

Fred Spector has the following advice:
  • “If you go to a independent ink supplier such as P.S. Ink and get their empty refillable cartridges, you can transfer the electronic chip from the old to the new cartridges and, using a special tool, reset them. They are transparent, have a simple filling plug, and allow multiple refills with the bulk ink available from the distributor. Reliable, cheap, and very easy to use.

    “You do not lose your warranty by using third party ink in spite of claims. I’ve found this U.S.-based company to be excellent, after using it for a number of years.”
Those wanting to try Fred’s method can go to the P.S. Ink Web site, which also includes mail and phone contact information.

Continuous ink-flow systems may reduce costs

John A. Schakel Jr. has another do-it-yourself solution to high ink prices:
  • “If you want to save money on Epson inks, a continuous ink-flow system from Media Street is the way to go. I have it on my Epson 1280 and 260. The cost of the system is about 2 to 3 complete set of ink cartigates (less than $200), but the ink that comes with it is equal to 10 complete sets.

    “I do a lot of printing in my business, using a lot of ink that would cost a mint using Epson inks. With the continous flow system it is just pennies. You can cut your ink cost by 90% and still get the same great results as if you were using Epson inks. Example: I just bought 32 oz. of black ink for $45.00, which is equal to 80 to 90 Epson black cartridges.”
Thanks, John! The Media Street site sells multiple printing products and services, including the Niagra Continuous Ink Flow System. Note that only Epson printers are currently supported.
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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2007-07-12: