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Before You Replace It, Shake It

Collage of printer toner and ink cartridges.The next time your printer displays a "change toner cartridge" message, you might want to give it a shake instead.

According to a study commissioned by Epson and reported on, messages prompting users to replace toner cartridges might be a bit premature as those "empty" cartridges may contain as much as 60 percent of the original toner amount.

The printer company commissioned research laboratory TUV Rhineland to perform a comparative analysis on eight different printers from such leading manufacturers as HP, Cannon, Brother, Lexmark, Epson and Kodak. Each model printed as many sample pages as possible until one of the colors was exhausted. The remaining amount of unused ink was then recorded and compared to the other manufacturer models.

Findings concluded that vast amounts of ink are wasted regardless of the manufacturer, thereby shortchanging consumers and significantly raising print per page costs. Printers that scored particularly poorly were multi-ink models that supplied colors from a single unit consisting of cyan, magenta and yellow as well as six-color printers that contained five-color ink cartridges.  

Epson commissioned the tests to measure the environmental impact of ink waste and to back up its assertion that it is less wasteful – and cheaper – to use a printer that has individual color tanks. This means that when one color runs out, the consumer can replace a single cartridge, rather than having to replace all the colors when only one has been used up, as is the case with multi-ink cartridges.  

In addition to giving your cartridge a gentle shake, there are several other ways to help cut printing costs and save printer ink/toner.

Photo of office printer/copier.Don't forget the draft – Most inkjet and laser printers have a "draft" mode that typically use much less ink than normal printing modes. While you would not want to use this method for external use documents, it is perfect for print jobs that are meant for your eyes only.

In the black – While your office might have a state-of-the-art printer which offers incredible color reproduction, it doesn't mean that you have to use it for every print job. Color ink is much more costly than black; therefore it's a good idea to only print in color when you truly need to. If you are printing a copy of information from a Web page, print in black and white and save your office the ink and the money.

Bulk up – If your office does a lot of printing, you might want to consider buying your ink/toner cartridges in bulk. As with most office supplies, you can typically lower your cost per unit by purchasing in larger quantities.

Go generic – When the time comes to replace your printer cartridge (don't forget to shake first), consider purchasing a remanufactured cartridge from a local vendor. Ink quality and quantity are comparable to new cartridges from large manufacturers while the price is usually much lower.
With these tips in mind, hopefully you can save the red ink and help keep your company in the black, and remember...  the next time your printer tells you that it's time to replace the toner cartridge, before you replace it, shake it!