Ink and toner cartridges can run out quickly, especially if you print high-quality color documents and images on a frequent basis. Even buying cheap ink cartridges can take a significant chunk out of your business’ supply budget. Low cost printer ink still amounts to about $13 an ounce in the U.S.
So how can you stretch out the life of those cartridges?
1. Don’t just go with the default printer settings every time you go to print. Switch your printer to draft or economy mode if you’re printing documents that just need to be legible, not high-quality. These settings use up less ink. You should also print documents in black and white or grayscale unless you absolutely need to use color. Even a simple black text printout may use color ink unless you direct it not to, so always check your settings.
2. Don’t print what you don’t have to. If you can save electronic copies of your documents, ask yourself if you really need a printout. Also, avoid using your own printer for large printing jobs. You may save money by outsourcing that print job to another company, especially if a lot of color is involved.
3. If it won’t interfere with operations at your company, change your printing font to Century Gothic, Ecofont, or another font that’s reputed to use less ink. Times New Roman and Arial are ink guzzlers. Avoid them if you can.
4. Use your printer on a regular basis to keep toner from drying up and clogging cartridge nozzles. You should also turn your printer off when you’re not using it. In offline mode, your printer will seal the cartridges to keep them from drying out as quickly.
5. Keep those cartridges maintained. You can run your printer’s cartridge cleaning tool once a week to correct poor alignment or streaking issues. You should also keep unused cartridges stored in a cool place, upright and in their original packaging.
6. Get all the ink out of your toner cartridges, even if you get a low toner warning message. Research from Consumer Reports showed that many cartridges delivered only half or less of their ink to the page, and a few only delivered 20-30%. You can shake your cartridge gently to get a few more printing jobs out of it, and you can also place a small piece of masking tape over the window or drum of a cartridge to keep the printer from realizing you’re running low on ink.
7. Refilling toner cartridges may also save you from buying new cartridges. Refilling toner cartridges still costs money, but it often amounts to less than you’d spend for new cartridges. However, refilling toner cartridges with the wrong toner may actually reduce the lifespan of your printer, so you may want to send them away to a professional unless you’re sure you know what you’re doing