Archive for the 'FAQ’s' Category

Are you paying too much to print?

Printer ink and toner has become a booming business over the last ten years and has continued to be a thriving industry despite the digital age of things. Companies, schools, households, sole proprietors, and other organizations that make up our workforce have always heavily relied on creating physical copies to be filed for easy perennial reference. From the initial documents that were filled out when you were hired to the last papers in your exit (retirement) package, and all the everyday record keeping that goes along with it in between, everyone of us uses a lot of printed paper; not only throughout our lifetime, but on a daily basis as well.  We even receive mail six days out of the week consisting of weekly ads and other monthly statements or subscriptions.  We are literally surrounded by printed media; just take a look around when you are inside of any human dwelling.  Chances are you’ll find several items that have been created with a printing machine.

Printed media has inevitably become part of our everyday lives and remains to be an established and common way to communicate. But how much does it cost us to print out a document or photograph? When page yields are displayed, the tests are generally with 5% ink or toner coverage which comes out to a fairly sparse amount of textual information on a page or an even smaller picture spanning slightly more than 4 inches by 4 inches in size.

At 5% ink / toner coverage most cartridges will be pretty affordable usually ranging from just under 1 cent per printout to upwards of 20 cents per printout depending on the printer model and the ink or toner cartridges being used. Additionally, using laser toner is often more cost efficient, especially when creating multiple copies of a single page because the same impression can be used multiple times helping to reuse any missed or extra toner on the drum or belt, kind of like a stamp.

Taking a look at some advertised costs of printing, a Canon PGI225bk black inkjet cartridge used in several Canon PIXMA printers at 5% ink coverage, will cost roughly 5 cents per printout with the OEM or Genuine cartridge. Our Remanufactured Canon PGI225bk black inkjet cartridge, used with the same printers will print the same document for about 2 cents per page. With an Epson Stylus Photo T009201 color inkjet cartridge, printing costs will average around 8.5 cents per printout at 5% ink coverage with a genuine cartridge. Similarly our Remanufactured Epson T009201 color inkjet cartridge will cost around 3 cents per printout, when printing the same image with the same printer. Moreover, the prominent Brother TN450 toner cartridges will cost around 2 cents per printout using genuine cartridges and around 1 cent per printed page with our Compatible Brother TN450 toner cartridges. But how often do we use such a scarce amount of ink or toner.

When printing text documents, most of the time we only use around 5 – 10 % ink coverage, leaving the black ink and toners appropriately marked for printing text documents. Although, printing documents with smaller font and full text pages is generally closer to 10% which would cut the page yield total in half and increase printing costs by double the amount. So the previously mentioned Canon Pixma PGI225BK ink cartridges which cost 5 cents per printout using genuine cartridges and 2 cents using Remanufactured cartridges would actually cost more closely to 10 cents per text document with Genuine cartridges and around 4 cents with Remanufactured cartridges. Moreover, these cartridges are advertised to produce or yield around 340 pages which would lower to somewhere closer to 170 pages. Printing an image or photograph, on the other hand, will generally need about 20 to 50 percent ink coverage which will greatly alter your page yield totals and in turn, will raise the average cost per printout.

PC Magazine released an article entitled The True Cost of Ink, which comes to the conclusion that we print with 35 to 50 percent coverage on an average 8 x 10 inch photograph printout, which is about 7.5 to 10 times greater than the tested average. The 35 to 50 percent coverage is also per cartridge since the CMY colors and black ink work in harmony to layer each color on substrates generating about 150 to 200 percent total ink coverage.

So if you’re printing photographs or detailed images, a better representation of the printing cost would be to multiply the advertised or retail cost per printout by 7.5 to 10. Therefore, the user printing 8 x 10 inch photographs that uses the Epson T009201 cartridges for their Stylus printer will spend around 85 cents per printout using the genuine cartridges and about 30 cents per printout using our Remanufactured cartridges. To print ten photographs, you are looking at an ink cost of $8.50 with OEM or genuine ink cartridges and around $3.00 with Remanufactured cartridges. Also note that paper and power costs have not been added to the cost per printout.

With the prevalence and popularity of printing, the brand name manufacturers have been able to set ridiculously high prices for their replacement cartridges. This is in part because the manufacturers try to monopolize the supplies compatible with each machine and in part because we have created a need to see and handle physical copies to confirm data. Over the past few years, we’ve had a push to make everything “green,” or digital but how many times does a company also send a physical copy or how many times have you printed an email confirmation you received. We like to have information at our fingertips but don’t always want to power up a phone or digital device to access the programs storing our needed information.

To determine if you are paying too much for ink, you must first determine the type of printing you most frequently contribute to. Are you printing photographs, text documents, graphical data, blue prints, or small images with text?  If you mostly print small images and small amounts of text, the advertised costs and page yields will be accurate. With blue prints and graphical data, you should increase the cost of printing by 2 to 5 times, circumstantially dividing the page yield by the same amount for a more accurate representation.  Printing photographs can be tricky, since the size and detail of the picture matter. Printing a full page borderless photograph will use up to 400% ink coverage, significantly more than the 5% being tested.

Also, brand name printer manufacturers work hard to ensure their products will only be usable in their machines and can require specific cartridges and papers to be used together for longer lasting results. Compatible and Remanufactured ink and toner cartridges are made to be used with these printers but can produce a different hue or shade of color. Using third party ink and toner will greatly reduce the cost of printing by an average of 50% or half, but they can also lower the tonal quality when printing out photos. The Compatible and Remanufactured ink and toner cartridges are ideal for text or business graphs, helping to save companies, offices, and other printing environments a lot of money.

Ink Sticks: The Evolution of Printing

No longer do workgroups, offices, and households have to deal with leaky cartridges or stains from printer ink. Over the last couple decades, Xerox has been forming a solid ink to be used in printers as a way of applying color to substrates. What they have developed are cartridge-free cubes of solid ink that can be handled just like a crayon. This means less waste, no need to recycle anything as nothing is left over, and no annoying smart chips that prevent users from printing. The ink is simply a solid cube of color that will melt inside the printer and adhere to media passing through the machine.

The ink sticks have similar properties to wax and are a formed from a non-toxic, resin-based polymer, similar to a crayon. This is a unique item that can be handled without fear of smudging on clothes or staining hands or furniture. This breakthrough in ink innovation and color application is also environmentally friendly having a wax-like base that is formed from all natural elements such as plants and food-grade processed vegetable oils.

A huge advantage of the solid ink sticks (also known as color ink stix) is that they do not have any moving, complicated components that the aqueous ink solutions need to be housed in. This eliminates third party manufacturers of cartridge components and keeps everything in house (or made and shipped from one location) for better quality control and care. This will also help to reduce the cost to manufacture the solid ink sticks for lower consumer pricing.

The solid ink sticks are also much easier to transport as their solution will not coagulate in one spot of the cartridge which can cause leaking and uneven ink distribution that lowers the quality and longevity of the applied ink. Moreover, the solid printer ink sticks demand up to 30% less energy to function, lowering the amount of energy needed to print and leaving a smaller carbon footprint.

The Story

In the late 80s and early 90s, scientists started working diligently to bring the next wave of printing advancements to the consumer in the form of an ink replacement that leaves no waste when consumed and will not stain surfaces it comes into contact with. The idea was formed by looking at the design of a stapler, as the staples do not have a need to be housed in a cartridge and are directly loaded into the device with no waste left over after consumption. The replacement staple properties were precisely what they were looking to accomplish with their printer replacement components.

Their ideas culminated on forming a solid ink with no cartridge that users could pick up and load into the printer with their hands. Their main goal for the project was originally to just get color onto the page which turned out to have its own complications. The first concept ink stick required special paper to print onto as the formula would not stick to ordinary surfaces.

Throughout the development process, there were several things to consider in order to bring consumers a product they would actually use and enjoy. For example, when things are complex, they become more expensive for the consumer, so the development team had to find the simplest ways to obtain and create the components that go into the solid ink mixture.

Over the years this solid ink technology has been refined into a crayon like substance that has its own unique properties and molecular makeup. In fact, scientists have created nearly 5000 new molecules and around 700 new dye formulations to create the four standard color ink sticks that provide a wide color gamut and unmatched print quality.

When the ink sticks are printed onto media, they create a thin layer of the resin-like substance on the surface covering anything that was previously on the page. This lets businesses recycle unwanted or used documentation by printing over the unwanted images and texts instead of throwing them out or shredding them. This also gives projects enhanced vibrancy that outclasses inkjet and toner application results.

The formula used to create Color ink sticks are much easier to apply onto substrates making the speeds exponentially higher as well. The steady ink consistency and layering effect of the solid ink sticks give them unmatched printing speeds compared to laser toner and inkjet printing. So far the team at Xerox has been able to reach printing speeds up to 2000 pages per minute, only being limited by the size and power of the stepper motors (or print engines).

Currently, the solid ink sticks are only used in some Xerox printer models including the Xerox ColorQube printers and some Xerox Phaser models.

What is a Toner Cartridge?

Toner is a reasonably familiar substance to most people working in offices or for companies that have office photocopy machines and big industrial printers. These machines inevitably use toner to form images and text onto a sheet of media, usually being a plain white piece of paper. In other words the toner acts with the same purpose ink has, although ink is an aqueous solution whereas toner is in the form of powdery, dust-like solids. And due to the fact toner is a powder, cartridges should not be shaken as the material can spread through the air and adhere to unwanted surfaces, permanently dying them. Before handling any toner cartridge, make sure you are aware of the potential dangers and health risks involved with these units by clicking here.

In its early form, toner was a mix of carbon powder, iron oxide, and sugar. Eventually, to improve the quality of the printout, the carbon was melt-mixed with a polymer. The polymer is a thermoplastic that now comprises about 40 to 95 percent of the toner mixture and is crucial to binding and carrying colorant to the drum unit and substrate. The polymer is often referred to as the “binder” being able to hold the toner powder mixture together, carrying the powder to the transfer belt or drum unit, and holding the mixture in place for the heated fuser rollers to bind the powder to the paper with heat and pressure.

To better understand this process, let’s take a look at the different components that make up a toner cartridge and their functions. A basic toner cartridge contains several parts; one common component in each cartridge is the hopper which houses the toner powder until being picked up by a magnetic developer roller. The magnetic developer roller is a cylindrical sleeve used to transfer image forming toner powder particles to an image forming drum unit. This roller protrudes partially into the hopper and has several magnetic beads inside that will attract the toner powder mixture from the hopper to the roller during the printing process. As this piece rolls, the picked up toner is brushed against the drum unit.

The drum unit, having a greater static attraction, will once again pull the toner powder but this time from the magnetic developer roller. Any excess powder on the developer roller will be scrapped off with an MDR Doctor Blade before passing by the drum unit. The MDR Doctor Blade is a precision leveling blade that is designed to keep only one layer of toner powder on the developer roller. This ensures more evenly distributed toner and helps to prevent the drum and toner cartridge from clogging. The magnetic developer roller also has a secondary blade, known as the MDR Sealing Blade, to clean off any powder left on the surface of the roller after passing by the drum and before rotating back into the hopper section.

The drum unit itself is sometimes included with the toner cartridge in 2 in 1 or all inclusive toner cartridges. And whether the drum unit is a separate unit or has been included with the toner cartridge, the drum serves the same purpose. The drum is a photoconductive cylinder that contains a laser neutralized image of the project about to be printed out. A laser will actually neutralize parts of the drum unit, based off the desired image about to be printed. The neutralized parts of the drum will not be able to attract toner, which is how the drum forms an image, only being able to attract toner where desired on the image. Once the drum unit has picked up the toner powder from the developer rollers, the unit will then transfer them immediately to the paper substrate passing through the machine.

To keep the drum unit charged, a primary charge roller inside the toner cartridge rests against the unit, recharging the drum and eliminating neutralized areas of the unit. The drum also has a cleaning blade know as the Organic Photoconductor Wiper Blade. Any extra toner left on the surface of the drum unit after transferring the powder to the paper will be scrapped of by the wiper blade into the waste container. The last part to creating a printout involves the fuser rollers and some assisting transfer rollers that drive the media through the machine and are usually separately sold components that do not need to be exchanged as frequently as toner cartridges or even drum units.

All these components are necessary pieces to having a functional toner cartridge that can produce images onto a piece of paper using pigmented polymers, colorants, and carbons as the ink or image forming material being adhered to media. The current laser toner cartridge powders are comprised of a mixture of colorant pigments, external additives, and wax substances in addition to the binding polymers. The external additives can be iron oxide molecules, chemical release agents, charge control agents, and flow agents all designed to keep the mixture at optimal functioning compositions. Many toners now have protective wax coatings encapsulating each toner powder particle for longer lasting printouts and resistances to smudging and blurring.


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