Investment-in-CartridgesIf something’s printed, it ought to stay. That’s fine for ink and paper. The trouble for many businesses is the running cost of printing which includes the cost of consumables such as cartridges.

Printing is an expensive affair. The more you print, the more you have to spend. David Robinson has an entire feature on The Guardian about Printer Ink Cartridges and why you end up paying more to get a lot less of it.

David Quotes Martin Dyckhoff, Cartridge World storeowner, who says:

Newer cartridges contain a fraction of the ink a similar product contained a decade ago.”

He then points to examples:

“The Epson T032 colour cartridge (released in 2002) is the same size as the Epson colour T089 (released in 2008). But, the T032 contains 16ml of ink and the T089 contains just 3.5ml of ink. It's a similar story with Hewlett Packard (HP) cartridges. A decade ago, the best-selling HP cartridge had 42ml of ink and sold for about £20. Today, the standard printer cartridges made by HP may contain as little as 5ml of ink but sell for about £13.”

David Derbyshire writes in the Daily Mail that printer refills actually cost more, measure for measure, than vintage champagne.

Marketing brilliance with extra large cartridges. More greed. Less ink.

No matter how you take it, you stand to lose.

Printer companies are accused of squeezing customers to buy more. Color cartridges are the worst-value for money, and while all of this accusation-retort cycle is on, customers continue to spend more on printing.

Something has to give. It’s better if we do something about it. You can make the 3.5 ml or whatever it is that’s in your ink cartridge last longer. Here are a few tips to make it happen:

Don’t print

Before you flood the comments with shock, disagreement, or denial, get this: you don’t have to print most documents.

Yes, that comes from us – one of the UK’s meanest online print cartridge and toner stores.

If it weren’t for traditional business practices of having to print and file documents, you really wouldn’t need to print out a single sheet of paper. With everything going to the cloud, your files can stay there too. Use web-based apps for storing invoices, financial document, accounting files, quotes, and other documents. Employ a variety of online storage, web-based apps, and document archiving or backup solutions to obviate the need for printing.

Eventually, you might need to print sometimes. That’s when you tap into that little in in your cartridge.

What color? Do you really need to print color?

Color cartridges are the worst value for money.

That begs the question: what do you need color prints for?

A few pieces of paper – at the right time and occasion – will call for color prints. Marketing collateral will usually require color prints but you don’t have to use the printers in-house; outsource it to printing companies, because they print in volumes and the cost per print comes down (and you can save the ink in your own cartridges).

Internal company documents almost always don’t need color prints. Black and white will do. No company document is ever listed for the Best Printout of the Year award.

Think digital instead of prints

I admit I love color and if I’m not too off the mark, you love color too. We are humans and in fact, colors also affect our moods. So, there’s a possibility that investors could make better decisions when they see your presentation in color. Employees could be motivated better when the memos are in color.

But, why print when you can take screenshots?

Create a document, and send digital versions of the files to concerned recipients. If a document, photo, or a file has to be displayed or shown to someone who isn’t on a computer (an improvised meeting in the cafeteria, a random meeting with a customer on the street), you can still show snapshots of the document or the entire file itself off a smartphone or a tablet.

By the way, it’s way cooler, easier, and much less of a mess when you go digital. Think about it: why would you want to make strange noises with file folders and shuffling papers? Further, can you image how much it’d cost to print out multiple copies of the same document just because you thought that “everything worth talking about has to be tangible,” on paper?

Print and then photocopy

If, for some strange reason, you still need to print out documents, don’t create multiple-copies (God forbid if you do it in color).

Instead, print out a single document in color and get them all photocopied. Photocopies work out to be cheaper than printed ink and you can again get a vendor to have them photocopy for you. In some countries, an entire army of students uses photocopies of actual books to study and prepare for exams. Businesses can take a few lessons and learn to save on printer ink.

Forget printing photos, ever

It’s not likely that businesses have to print photos, but you just might: think of the prints used for collages following team meetings, events, etc. Forget about printing photos.

Even professional photographers now prefer to take their photos completely online so businesses should never have to print out a photo ever. You’d run out of truckloads of cartridges and never be able to make good that expense. Facebook fan pages, Instagram, and many other web-based destinations are best for photos.

Ignore those printer-company ads showing you how easy it is to connect DLSR cameras to printers and take photos out instantly (they also have portable printers now so that photographers can carry it everywhere they go).

There are better options for freezing your memories.

How long do your printer cartridges last? Have you felt the pinch of rising printing costs? What do you do to make your ink cartridges last longer? We’d love to hear your opinions on printing, cartridges, and your ideas on how to make print cartridges last.

Lori Wagoner is a freelance writer and often writes about a variety of things such as DIY, hospitality, fashion, and tech. You can reach her @LoriDWagoner on Twitter.