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Cheapest Ways to Save on Printer Ink

written by: N Nayab•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 5/19/2011

What is your favorite cheapest way to save on printer ink? You can: 1. Use the Print Preview option to avoid printing drafts; 2. Print in “Economy” or “Draft” mode; 3. Keep the cartridge alive; 4. Select optimal color and fonts; and 5. Organize the print process.

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    The Price of Ink Cartridges

    Cheapest Way to Save on Printer Ink While printers come relatively cheap, it is printer ink where the manufacturers make up the lost profits! An average black-ink cartridge that contains 8 milliliters of ink costs about $10, translating to $1.25 per milliliter, or $1,250 per liter, making it expedient to find the cheapest way to save on printer ink.

    While recycling or reusing cartridges is the obvious way to save on printing costs, following some smart tips helps to conserve printer ink.

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    Using Print Preview Option

    The cheapest way to save on printer ink is to not print the same thing twice. Very often, a document is printed twice not due to mistakes in the actual documents, but due to formatting gone wrong. The format that appears in the screen needs to always translate accurately to the printed page, and for this reason it is always a good practice to use the Print Preview option.

    The Print Preview option available in almost all applications in the Print Dialog provides the formatting as it will appear in the final print. Using this option to change the formatting and layout to make just one final print help saves printer ink considerably.

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    Print Mode Option

    All printers come with the option of generating outputs of varying quality. The printer preference settings, accessible from the program’s Print Dialog Box, will usually have the option to select “Draft Mode” or “Economy Mode,” among other options such as “Normal," “Best” and others. Some inkjet printers have the “Fast” mode, and laser printers have “Toner Saving" mode, both of which are equivalent to the “Draft” mode.

    The benefit of draft print mode is consumption of less ink. This results in a lighter print, but one which is still readable and presentable. The default “Normal” or “Best” mode is rarely required for normal documents.

    The best option is to access the printer settings through the control panel and make the "Draft mode" the default option. A normal home user could save up to $25 a year by setting “Draft Mode” as the default option.

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    Keeping Your Cartridge Alive

    Most printer cartridges still have some amount of ink unused when they read empty, and the amount varies from 8 percent to as high as 40 percent of the total ink in the cartridge!

    A handy way to squeeze a little bit more from a “dead” cartridge is to blow a hairdryer over the cartridge for a few minutes. This frees up the blocked ink and helps print a few more pages. Repeating this procedure more than once could, however, cause damage to the printer; the Rochester Institute of Technology, which holds 29 inkjet patents, recommends some amount of buffer ink in the cartridge tank as a factor of safety, for a completely dry cartridge can damage other printer parts.

    Squeezing extra life out of a laser printer cartridge is easier. Removing the cartridge from the printer and rocking it end-to-end and then to-and-fro a few times, but not randomly or vigorously, help eke out a few more pages of printouts.

    A related tip to keep the cartridge alive is printing at least one sheet a day. This prevents the ink from drying up inside the cartridge and blocking the cartridge nozzle.

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    Selecting the Optimal Color and Font

    A black ink printer catrtridge is not just cheaper than a color ink printer cartridge; printing in black uses less ink than printing in color. The greyscale option available in MS Word and other utilities allows the user to select from varying levels of greyscales, which extend from zero percent (white) to 100 percent. Setting the greyscale to 90 percent help saves printer ink considerably, while the impact on print quality remains negligible.

    The Netherlands-based SPRANQ has launched "Ecofont," an ink-saving font, which is basically a "sans-serif" font with a twist. This font has open circles inside each letter that help save ink by 20 percent. The small white dots do not become apparent when used in a 9- to 11-point size,

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    Organizing the Print Process Using Helpful Software

    While the best option is not to print at all and instead convert the document into a PDF File using the free PDF converters available, shrinking the output of those documents that do require a print-out saves printer ink considerably.

    Most printer drivers fit two pages' worth of a document onto a single sheet of paper by rotating the page 90 degrees and shrinking the page. While programs such as MS Word and Abode Acrobat allow this option from the Print Settings menu, the alternative is to access the Printer Properties menu through the control panel and select the “Page Layout” or “Page Scaling” option.

    Squeezing legal-size paper into the industry standard A4 paper in a similar way also helps save printer ink by as much as 20 percent.

    Utilities such as ClickBook and FinePrint help create efficient layouts that save ink for brochures, calendars, greeting cards, business cards, and more.

    Other utilities such as Jasc Paint Shop Pro 8, Microsoft Digital Image Pro 9, and Adobe Photoshop Elements 2 aid photo printing. These utilities check and repair stray thumbs, red-eye, and other flaws, thereby saving the user from re-printing the photos and wasting precious ink.

    Following these cheapest ways to save on printer ink brings mutlipurpose benefits such as lower costs, lessened strain on resources, and efficient output.

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    References

    Broida, Rick. Cheap Printing: 5 Ways to Save Bucks on Ink and Paper

    Riofrio, Melissa. The Cheapskate's Guide to Printing

    Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/CanonS520