Why Is Printer Ink So Expensive?

If you buy a printer for the first time, the printer itself will be the center of your attention. And you will hardly think about the ink. Even many old buyers do so. But the price of printer ink is comparatively more than that of the printer itself! Remember, if you buy a printer, it will serve you for many years.

So don’t worry much about the printer. Instead, think about how much money you will be spending after buying ink for the rest of your life.

But the question is, why is printer ink so expensive? Let’s have an insight into this topic.

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Why is Printer Ink Expensive?

While researching this topic, I came across some interesting and legitimate reasons behind it. Some of them you might have already known, but surely you don’t know about all of them.

The Razor Blade Business Model

One analogy is that of razors and their low price. Razors are sold at low prices. The manufacturer does make a little profit from selling them. Sometimes bears a bit of loss!

It is unbelievable, right? How come they make losses intentionally?

Actually, it’s not a loss in the long run.

But how?

The secret lies in the sales of razor blades. You buy the razor once but have to change the blades from time to time. The hair grows, and you need to buy a new blade. All manufacturers know that and make all their profit selling the blades of their brand. In this way, they compensate for the profit they sacrificed in selling the razor.

The same age-old strategy is applied in the case of printer ink too. Almost all the branded companies follow this business policy. Can you guess why some companies are literally competing at how much cheaper they can sell their printers?

You’d be able to buy a high-quality printer by spending very little. But the matter of regret comes later. When you go to buy a new ink cartridge, you will find it to be quite expensive. Then what do you do? Would you buy a new printer? Most probably no! You keep buying ink cartridges even if it is comparatively more costly than the other competitors.

That’s how the company entices you and makes their profit!


A single cartridge will not fit all printers. Each of them is highly customized for a specific model. The manufacturer has to do some complex tasks to ensure these characteristics. And think, who pays this cost? The consumers like you and me!

It would help if you kept in mind that, printers that allow only one multicolor cartridge increase your cost of buying ink. So, buy one which can especially use ink cartridges of different colors separately.

Complicated Production Process

Printer ink processing is a pretty complicated procedure that affects its cost.

Let’s have a short glimpse of how it works.

All the manufacturers apply almost the same principles. Some crucial factors determine the manufactured product’s quality. For this reason, special care is a must in every step of processing to avoid getting sub-standard products.


In the case of ink manufacturing, the main purpose is to disperse the pigments in a carrier. The carrier will transport the color agent to a surface. Frequently used primary carriers are soybean oil, petroleum oil, and some water, etc.

Sometimes resins are used for their binding property, which facilitates the adherence of the coloring agent to the targeted surface.

The rule of thumb is, about 30% pigment or coloring agent is dispersed in 70% of the carrier or other substances.

Dispersion is the most crucial part of the whole procedure. If it isn’t achieved to the desired level, problems will arise while printing.

Reduction of the Particle Size

The manufacturer has to pay special attention to reduce the size of the primary particles because the smaller the particle size, the better the surface will get colored.

Normally, the standard primary particle size is 0.5 micron with a specific surface area of about 50 to 100 m2/g to ensure ultimate efficiency.

Addition of Extenders and Opacifiers

Some other pigments known as opacifiers or extenders are also added to the mixture. It’s actually a white pigment that increases the opacity of the coloring agent, making the surface below the paint(here, paint refers to text or image) unseen.

On the other hand, extender pigments are transparent in nature and make the appearance of the other pigments less intense.

To manage the whole procedure mentioned above correctly, the manufacturers have to invest a significant amount of money for many types of machinery, experts, and working staff. As a result, the price of ink inevitably goes up.

Craziness for Brands

Brands matter a lot when it comes to our mental satisfaction. There may really be a good quality product out there, but that will not satisfy you because it’s from the brand you expected. Sometimes the branded companies may exploit this tunnel vision tendency and put higher prices even for the ink of average quality.

I’m not saying that you should not buy from a branded company, but it should not be a specific brand. Why should you spend extra bucks for a product that’s practically much better than a cheaper alternative? Just because it is from a particular brand? Does it make any sense?

Take your decision based on facts, not on the bias of your subconscious mind.

Research and Development Facts

As some companies claim, they spend a huge amount of money on the research and development of ink for their brands. For example, HP, a renowned manufacturing company, cited that they invest over a billion dollars per annum on research projects for the purpose of developing their products, including printer ink.

Companies have to do research for their products to cope up with their competitors in the market. Nowadays, ink research often involves highly expert professionals and advanced technology that pushes the manufacturer to set a high price for their products.

Extensive Market Demand

Here, the simple law of economics also explains the reason behind higher cost –“Price increases when there is more demand for a product or service.”

You would hardly find an office without a printer. Again, with the increasing popularity of homeschooling and home office, printers at the domestic level have significantly increased. For bulky printing tasks in both offices and homes, a massive amount of ink is regularly needed.

That’s why printer ink has high demand in pretty much every sector. So, the manufacturers keep the price as high as they can to get the most profit.

Is the High Price of Printer Ink Justified?

The Giant companies place a lot of reasons behind the high pricing of printer inks. If we look at the overall production cost of this product, the price is somewhat justifiable. However, printer inks of some manufactures are much costlier than they worth.

Tips to Reduce Your Printing Cost

What if I tell you there are ways to reduce the printing cost. Although it won’t save a lot of money, if you still calculate how much it saves over 5-years, the amount will surely surprise you.

Do a Bit of Research

I’d recommend you to do some research on the available marketed printers and find the brand which offers ink replacement at a lower cost.

Consider a Laser Printer

laser printer

It uses toner, which is comparatively cheaper. If you need to print a bulk amount of black and white documents, a laser printer may be an excellent economic alternative.

Buy in Bulk

You might think about buying smaller cartridges as they cost comparatively lower. But if you buy a large one, it will serve you for a longer time; you have to spend a few more dollars. Remember, the money you will pay to buy a larger ink cartridge isn’t so much if you look at the time they provide service for.

Buy Refilled Ones

Do you need to manage huge printing tasks? Do you need to spend money frequently buying new ink cartridges?

If so, you can buy refilled cartridges from trusted third parties that will save your money significantly. Although the manufacturers suggest avoiding these, you can still give it a try if your printer is compatible with refilled ones.

Avoid Tri-color Printers

If the printer allows only a single multicolor cartridge, it’s going to create some trouble for you. Suppose your cartridge has three colors; black, red and, green. In case you need to print a bulk amount of documents using black color, it will result in the finishing of this particular ink, and the whole cartridge will become worthless.

Then, you have to throw away the entire cartridge. So, the red and green inks are going to be wasted. Ultimately you’ve to spend money to buy a new cartridge. To avoid such incidents, buy a printer that can use separate cartridges for different colors. So in case, one color unit is empty, the other does not need to be replaced. Just change the one which has been emptied.

Refill on Your Own

You can refill your old cartridge instead of buying a new one if you want to be more economical. But it might appear to be a bit messy task; your clothes may get spotted. Moreover, if the primer contains a microchip, it may refuse to take your refilled cartridge.


I have tried to clarify the reasons behind the fact regarding why printer ink is so expensive. I hope now you have no more questions left about this topic. Remember, the most expensive one isn’t always the best one. I’d recommend you to buy a printer whose ink cartridge is cheaper than others.

Wish you a more economic life!