Using compatibles saves money, safely

For years we’ve heard that alternative, unbranded or compatible inks = instant death for printers. However, people are finally catching on to the fact that compatible doesn’t always sign the execution warrant!

Don’t become part of the captive market!

The problem is that printer manufacturers make their profits on the consumables – the ink or toner cartridges, paper and so on – so it’s easy to get stuck in a loop of buying original supplies as you’re worried about damaging the printer. However, over time (and not too much time, in fact), your spending on ink far outweighs the cost of a new printer!

Even worse, it’s been found that the size of the ink reservoir in original cartridges has – ahem – diminished over the years. These days, an XL cartridge has the same volume of ink as a common-or-garden regular sized one did a few years back. What a shock, eh?

For many people, they face a stark choice of spending money on ever-diminishing returns or reducing the amount they print. This is OK for some, as they share photos with loved ones on social media or Flickr. Others defect over to laser printing and choose a monochrome life.

For others, though, it’s not as simple – their jobs, lifestyle or education means they have to use a colour printer, so here’s what they can do:

Be brave and alternative

Ignore the doomsayers who tell you your printer will die in a shower of sparks, taking half the city with it, if you so much as whisper ‘…compatible…’ to it. Remember, the big manufacturers see their consumables as a licence to print money. This is OK to an extent, as they are the ones developing the ink and whatnot, but when you find out they’re whittling away at the reservoir, well, you can’t feel too much loyalty. The makers of compatibles also put time and effort into making their products and time has proven that there cartridges are very safe. Companies like offer compatibles that contain five or six times the amount of ink that originals carry, and for a fraction of the price, too.

Buy the simplest printer you can get away with

If you don’t have any particular needs – like doing A3 poster prints – then buy a basic printer. You won’t find better quality prints coming out of a £100 than from a £50 model. Also, many makers sell the machines cheaply because they know they’ll make the money back on the consumables.

Choose a printer with four or more cartridges

Many printers nowadays accept just two cartridges – a black one and a tricolour one with the cyan, yellow and magenta inks all in the one housing. The trouble here is that once one of these colours has run out, you have to replace the entire thing, even though there’s still some of the other two colours remaining. Keeping the colours separate means you only have to replace one colour at a time.

Keep software to a minimum

You don’t need to install everything – just the drivers for your computer will do. Don’t bother with all the print centre widgets – they are developed to suck up your ink!

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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