Why is Printer Ink So Expensive

Printer ink is admittedly expensive – very expensive. And so the rumor persists that printer ink is one of the most expensive liquids in the world. But is that really the case or is it just a so-called urban legend that persistently makes its rounds through the vastness of the World Wide Web. If you want to sell your unused ink cartridge then visit our site 


So what does printer ink really cost? It is difficult to make a precise statement about this, since the prices differ not only between the manufacturers, but also between black and colored ink, and last but not least between the individual printer models and their respective ink. However, the price range is between 2,000 euros (cheap black ink) and 8,000 euros (expensive colored ink) per liter.


Not a bad price when you consider that printer ink is an everyday commodity that almost everyone needs almost every day. At least indirectly. Although not normally by the liter.


But what are these high costs actually based on? Purely because of the greed for profit of the big printer manufacturers, who first give away their printers, so to speak, in order to then do big business with expensive printer ink and equally expensive toner, as some evil tongues claim? Or is the price of printer ink actually based on hard economic calculations that make it necessary?


The truth will probably lie somewhere in the middle. After all, printer ink is not just any run-of-the-mill liquid that you could simply tap off anywhere by the liter. It’s a “high-tech product” that has to combine a wide variety of properties, some of which are contradictory.


First, it must remain liquid for as long as possible so that it does not dry up in the cartridge and clog the printer nozzles and the print head. Only to dry on the paper in seconds afterwards. After all, printouts should not only be lightfast and therefore durable, but above all smudge-proof. Because nothing is more annoying than when you proudly print out the first pages of your thesis or an important report, only to make the particularly successful introduction illegible with a careless hand movement. That’s why removing printer ink is no easy task.


In addition, the requirements for photo and text printing are very different. If sharp contrasts and clear lines are required for texts, a photo (or image) needs exactly the opposite in order to be particularly presentable. Fine gradations in the transitions and soft tones are a prerequisite for a high-quality photo. For this reason, more than the usual 4 colors cyan, magenta, yellow and black are usually used in photo printers.


As you can see, the requirements for printer ink are not small and are also constantly increasing together with general technical progress. In order to meet these ever-increasing demands, manufacturers must also invest in research and innovation. Of course, these investment costs are passed on to the customers, i.e. all of us.


Nevertheless, this circumstance by no means explains prices in the two to three-digit euro range for a few milliliters of printer ink (a circumstance that occasionally earns it the name liquid gold). These result to a large extent from the surcharge for the mixed calculation of the printer manufacturers, who therefore also guard their respective recipes like the proverbial apple of their eye.


To give you an idea about the price of printer ink and how it ranks, we have created the following infographic with “the most expensive liquids in the world”. Of course, this is only a small part and there are far more liquids in all price ranges between blood and snake venom. Our infographic is therefore only intended to show the classification of printer ink as an everyday commodity in a price range far above that of everyday objects and more in that of luxury goods. But you probably won’t treat yourself to it every day – if at all. Or how often do you change your printer cartridge?


Selling price versus manufacturing price

When he wanted to sell a printer cartridge to a customer and saw the manufacturing price, he was shocked: the black and color cartridges were sold for 59.95 US dollars, the manufacturing price was just 23 cents.


The video has become a hit on YouTube in recent months. You can watch the Ink Cartridges Scam video in full here:


Are the ink manufacturers’ high profits justified? “There are very complex and large printer cartridges that contain many components such as image drums or waste toner containers and there are very simple small plastic tanks that only contain ink,” explains Florian Rigotti, editor-in-chief of the test portal Druckerchannel.de, to TECHBOOK. In most cases, the cartridge is actually just a plastic tank filled with ink that is very cheap to manufacture. The manufacturers are hitting it hard here!


Printer cheap, ink expensive

The printer ink sometimes even costs almost as much as a brand new printer. “The principle is ‘give the lamp away, sell the oil’,” says printer expert Rigotti. The concept is also better known as the “Razor & Blades” model. It states that a product is sold at a low price and the required accessories are then sold at a high price. Similar to razors: the device itself is cheap, but the blades are very expensive.


The principle seems to work for the manufacturers, other sales strategies have so far failed because of the customer. “There have already been attempts to sell the printer at a correspondingly high price and to offer the consumables at a correspondingly low price, for example from Kodak. But that didn’t work – the printers were lying on the shelves like sour beer,” says Florian Rigotti.


What do I have to consider when buying a printer?

People who want to buy a printer should therefore definitely pay attention to the price of the corresponding ink. “The important thing is that you don’t look at the cost of a cartridge, but at the cost per page printed. A tank filling in the car can also cost 120 euros. What is important here, however, is the range that you can drive with it – i.e. the consumption per kilometer,” says Rigotti.


“If you do some research before you buy, you will find printers that are a little more expensive to buy but have lower maintenance costs,” says the printer expert. You can find out more about printer costs, for example, on the website druckerkosten.de.