Printing is one of the untold evils of working with a computer. Eventually every one is going to print. For a photographer or a visual artist, printing is an expensive problem especially if you use an inkjet style printer. Now don’t misunderstand, Inkjet printers have some distinct advantages to a large format or a laser printer. They are small, inexpensive to buy, and can print fabulous looking photographs and brochures. I am writing in general terms and am not mentioning specific models of printers because that is for a review page and not a general discussion on the topic.
They are also evil.
I’ve seen printers with multiple black ink cartridges and up to 6 different colors. Now the evil part, my experience is that each cartridge is really only good for 100-150 prints or even much less depending on what you are printing. Your mileage may vary. At $12-$18 a cartridge that adds up fast.
You might be able to get away with the inexpensive replacement inks, however I have tried to clean the mess when those re-manufactured ink cartridges fail and explode on the inside of your printer. 250 cotton balls and an entire bottle of isopropyl alcohol later I had a dead printer and a wonderful new alcohol smelling cologne on my hands.
Technology has planned obsolescence. Inkjet printers fail. Inside each of those inkjet printer is a small electric pump, tubing, and a nozzle. The pump is usually not the problem. The tubing and nozzle can make you want to take a large baseball bat to it. Louisville Sluggers work the best.
The ink you use for inkjets come in a liquid form. If you print a great deal, or you don’t print regularly, the ink will start to congeal and dry at the nozzle tips and then down into the tubes. New printers have a nozzle cleaning function built into the software they load on your computer.
However, the solution the manufacturers, at least the big three, have chosen to follow to clear the inkjet nozzle is to run more ink through it. My last experience with an Epson used almost a full ¼ of the cartridge to do two nozzle cleanings. To the their credit, Epson does warn you that nozzle cleaning uses up ink. They just neglect to give you an estimate. That being said, you can take and have these printers cleaned professionally, but it’s a lot like the light bulb in your microwave oven, it usually is much more convenient and cheaper in the long run to replace the unit.
One quarter of $60 (I’ve rounded it off) of ink with no real printouts makes for a very unhappy person.
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