cbt1This is a topic that most people really don’t think about when they purchase any product unless it is an appliance that has one of those large yellow Energyguide stickers on the front of it.  That yellow sticker almost forces you to think about what does it cost to operate this appliance on a annualize basis.  After the purchase is made, you never really think about it again.

The cost of ownership to operate a printing device has only recently become part of the decision making process when it comes to selecting a printer whether it is an ink jet or a laser printer.  The number one rule in office equipment and printers has always been, “the less you pay for a printer, the more you will pay to operate the device”.  This has always been the case and always will be.  Let’s separate the two major types of printing devices, ink jet printer and laser printers.

Inkjet Printers

Although inkjet printers only appeared on the consumer market in the late 1980s, they had been under development for more than twenty years.  Inkjet printers not only print text and graphic data, the more refined inkjet printers have become the device of choice for photographic image reproduction.

Because of the compactness of desktop inkjet printer, the size of the ink cartridge mandates the yield of that cartridge.  The smaller the cartridge size is, the fewer yields you will get out of that cartridge.  In many instances, you will end up spending more for the replacement inkjet cartridges than you actually paid for the inkjet printer itself.  Just recently several inkjet printer manufacturers have addressed this issue by redesigning the inkjet printer so that the ink is now stored in a bag with a much greater yield than the small cartridges.


Laser Printers

Hewlett-Packard introduced the first laser printer for IBM compatible PC’s in 1984.  This device could print at an amazing speed of 8 pages per minute.  Over the last 30 years, laser printers print speeds now begin at 30 pages per minute and go up to over 100 pages per minute on commercial laser printers.

cbt3The laser printing process consists of toner, developer, drum and fuser.  Toner is basically very fine plastic particles that become attached to the paper via a process with the drum and the developer.  The fuser heats up the paper so the toner is melted to the page.

Depending on the model laser printer, you can purchase both standard yield and extended yield toner cartridges.  When purchasing extended yield laser printer toner cartridges, your cost per page is usually significantly less than with the standard cartridge.  There is a price premium in buying the extended yield cartridge but will pay off in the long term.

HP and a number of other manufacturers use a printing technology that allows for the drum, developer cbt4and toner to be contained all in one toner cartridge.  Other manufacturers such as Kyocera and OKI separate the components out and these need to be changed at varying intervals.  Kyocera uses long life drums, developers and fusers and warranty these items for upward of three years or 300,000 pages.  Because of this technology, Kyocera printers only require toner to be purchased for the operation of the laser printer, not a toner/drum/developer cartridge like on HP laser printers.

Kyocera was the first laser printer manufacturer to come up with the long life technology over 20 years ago and was the first company to recognize the ecological effects of toner cartridges ending up in landfills.

.Buyers Beware…

Gone are the days when printer manufacturers included a full yield toner cartridge with a  new laser printer.  New laser printers now come with a “start-up” toner that has about 50% yield of a regular toner cartridge for that specific model.  The other issue is that when a new toner cartridge is installed, a certain amount of toner maybe used to “prime” the printer.  Because of this fact, you may even get 25% less yield on a toner cartridge when purchasing a new toner.

Another consideration in inkjet printers is the fact that periodically, the print heads must be cleaned in order to have that device print good, consistent quality.  This waste ink in this process but is part of the maintenance component of owning an inkjet printer.


Just like when purchasing a new refrigerator or clothes dryer, consideration needs to be made as to not only what does it cost to purchase this appliance, but what does it cost to operate.  Inkjet and laser printers are not an exception.  Choose a product that is right for your needs but then also take into consideration, “What is it going to cost me to operate this device over its lifetime”.