Printer Running Costs – The Facts
How do you calculate the running costs of printing your photos?
It’s very easy with a Dye Sub Photo printer but almost impossible to calculate the cost of prints produced on an Inkjet Printer. The main reasons are given below.
Dye Sub Printing Costs
Very easy. Media is supplied in a box containing only two items. A print ribbon and a roll of paper. Each box would contain enough media to print a certain number of photos. Just divide the cost of the box of media by the number of prints it does. e.g. The Mitsubishi M15E 6×4 Media is currently £78.35 (Prices correct as at 6th May 2020 and exclude VAT) and will enable you to print 750 6×4 prints. Therefore each print is £78.35 divided by 750 prints which is 10.4p per print.
Inkjet Ink printing costs
Almost impossible! There are many reasons why this is the case and they are shown below.
The cost of printing on an Inkjet is very difficult to calculate.
Inkjet companies make a fortune from Inkjet Ink so that should tell you something.
Why it’s almost impossible to calculate the cost of an INKJET Photo.
Inkjet Ink is used at different rates
If you are printing lots of images with one main colour then this will be used in larger quantities and will run out before other colours. Think how much blue is used in photos where the sea or sky is present. When one colour runs out the printing will stop and the cartridge will need to be replaced.
Dye Sub printers do not have this problem as the ink ribbon is used at the same rate regardless of what you are printing. Each photo printed on a Dye Sub used one part of the ribbon.
You also need to purchase Inkjet Paper
Dye Sublimation Print Media comes with the paper you need. With an Inkjet there is a wide range of type of paper for the different types of printing you would do so you not only need to buy the paper separately but may need to buy different types.
Most Inkjet printers use multiple ink cartridges!
If you have a printer with multiple ink cartridges (sometimes as many as 12!) then you would need to keep 12 spare cartridges to ensure you can continue printing. This would mean that you would have 12 cartridges in the printer and another 12 cartridges ready to be used. If each cartridge was £15 that’s an investment of £360 just in ink cartridges!
Check the print coverage
Cartridge capacity is often given for an Ink Cartridge but what does this mean? Over the years we have seen print cartridges contain 42ml of Ink for £20, todays cartridge are cheaper with some at only £9 but they can contain 4ml of Ink so to buy the same cartridge today would cost over £90 in real terms!
Traditionally, printer manufacturers determined their own page yields – typically based on 5% printed coverage of an A4 page. However if you print a photo then you usually print at 100% which means that any page yield figures will be 1/20th of what the manufacturer claims. e.g. A Page Yield of 500 pages at 5% is in fact only 25 full pages at 100% coverage. A Dye Sub Printer uses the same consumables for a 1% or 100% coverage so this isn’t an issue.
Some Ink Cartridges contain multiple colours.
If you are using a cartridge with multiple colours in one cartridge then the cartridge is unusable when one colour runs out and the cartridge which may contain plenty of the other colours but is unusable. Usually cheaper printers contain single cartridges with multiple colours. These cartridges are not very cost effective as you can often throw away cartridges that are 1/2 full.
Inkjet printers waste Ink!
To ensure good quality an inkjet printer has to clean itself on a regular basis, this is usually done when the printer is turned on and when a cartridge is replaced. Some printers have a waste tank built under the printer which collects this waste ink. Home printers usually have a felt pad under the printer which collects the waste ink. When the ink tank is full you need to replace it or with a home printer you may need to replace the printer itself!
Wasted ink means wasted money! Dye Sub Printers do not have this problem as they don’t need to clean themselves and waste supplies.
Ink Cartridges expire and stop working!
Some Ink cartridges have an expiry date built into them and they wont print after a certain date. Whilst any media may deteriorate over time our experience is that Inkjet Ink will last a long time. Dye Sub Media does not have an expiry date and we have personally used Dye Sub Media that was over ten years old without any quality issues.