Tired Of Paying For Printer Ink? 2 Ways To Make Your Next Cartridge Last Longer

Posted on: 7 April 2015

When most people think of the most expensive liquids in the world, they might imagine lavish bottles of rare champagne, custom-made perfumes, or premium fuel. However, with an average cost of around $9,600 a gallon, or up to $75 per ounce, printer ink is the most expensive fluid out there by far. However, you don't have to let your need for printed materials run your finances into the ground. Here are two ways to make your next cartridge last a little longer:

1: Clean Those Print Heads

As you use your printer, the ink that flows through your print heads can dry and crust. Over time, that leftover residue can actually clog the entire print head, leaving behind unsightly blank spots and lines in your documents and photos. When this happens, you might assume that you are out of ink and toss the entire cartridge.  

Fortunately, you might be able to keep that ink flowing and avoid this misunderstanding by cleaning your print heads regularly. However, before you start searching underneath your kitchen sink for an old toothbrush and a few soft rags, you need to realize that your printer software will do all of the scrubbing for you.

Inside of your printers software settings, you will find a maintenance section where it gives you the option of doing calibrations and print head cleanings. While calibration typically involves resetting the orientation of the print head and checking color patterns, print head cleanings move a small amount of ink through each nozzle and check to make sure each section is delivering the right amount of pigment. Run the print head cleaning program whenever your printed materials start looking less-than-pristine. If the cleaning doesn't resolve the problem the first time around, repeat the process a few times. You might be able to revive your print cartridge without lifting a finger.

2: Change Up Your Font Choice

Could something as small as your font choice really eat through loads of precious ink? You bet. As far as ink usage is concerned, not all fonts are created equally, and that overdramatic bold font you adore might be more expensive than you think. Believe it or not, a sixth grader named Suvir Mirchandani discovered that since some fonts were finer and used less ink, his school district could save $21,000 by switching to Garamond. 

The same concept holds true for you. If you do a lot of printing, your font choice matters. Fortunately, there are actually fonts designed to be completely readable without using boatloads of ink. For example, Ecofont, a font developed in the Netherlands to reduce printing costs, contains outlines of letters containing tiny holes instead of solid lines. In addition to being available in different versions to suit your preferences, one 2011 study showed that Ecofont uses about 28% less ink than Arial.

To put those numbers in perspective, using 28% less ink might extend your print cartridge by the same amount of time. For example, if your cartridge would have originally lasted for a month, changing to an economical font might extend your cartridge life 8.4 days. Although it might seem fun to combine large, bold fonts with ornate scripted texts, the more complex or bold a font is, the more ink you will burn through. If you care about the cost of ink, carefully analyze your font choices and think about going with a more economical option. It might seem like a sacrifice now, but your wallet might appreciate your choice later.

By making the right decisions regarding your ink cartridges, you might be able to avoid emergency trips to the office supply store and focus on other expenses.