Buy Smarter | Lower Your Printing Costs

November 12, 2014

Buy Smarter | Lower Your Printing Costs

It seems as though printers are programmed to run out of ink or toner at the worst possible time.  You are in a hurry to print handouts for an important presentation, you run over to the printer only to find out the cartridge is empty.  Wouldn’t it be nice if your printer cartridge would last just a little longer?  Then you get online to order your toner and they all look the same but the prices are different.  You may think the best solution is to select the least expensive item.  Think again…

A Common Misinterpretation

A term that is often misinterpreted or even ignored is page yield.  According to Lexmark’s guide to “Understanding Print Cartridge Page Yield,” page yield describes the estimated number of pages that can be printed with a particular print cartridge.

The Standardization of Page Yield

Printer manufacturers often developed their own ways for testing consumable yields of their toner and ink cartridges which often made it difficult for customers to accurately compare products.  In 2004, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), created new standards to determine page yield.  This method was created in order to streamline page yield across all manufacturers.  Although this is a tested method, there are a variety of factors that can impact the actual page yield, including:

  • Page coverage
  • Image type
  • Job size
  • Cartridge handling at the end of life
  • Calibration
  • Power on time without printing
  • Spot color

Page coverage represents the percentage of the page that contains toner or ink when you print and has the highest impact on page yield.  The most common page coverage percentage is 5% which refers to 5% of the page using toner.  This number will change depending upon what you are printing, for example: images, full color, etc. 

Higher Page Yield = Lower Cost per Page

The option of high yield (X) or high-capacity cartridges is available for most printers.  These cartridges contain more toner or ink so they will last longer, print more pages and save you on your per page printing costs compared to a standard yield (A) cartridge.  What seems to be more expensive up front, actually saves 5-15% on average in the long run.

You want to choose the cartridge that will give you the lowest cost per page.  Cost per page is calculated using the cartridge price divided by the page yield of the cartridge.  Remember, this is only a guide due to various factors including the types of documents printed and how often the printer is used.

Another area of savings can be seen in the soft cost of printing purchase orders.  For example: If the average cost to process and pay a P.O. is $25 and your high yield cartridge has 3 times the amount of toner, the soft cost savings are 3:1.  You must also take into account the time spent requesting a new cartridge, delivery of the cartridge and changing the cartridge out.

So the next time you order toner or ink cartridges for your printer, don't make the mistake of ordering the least expensive cartridge because you will end up buying more often and less efficiently.  Just remember: standard yield (A) = higher cost per page, high yield (X) = lower cost per page.  If you remember this, you will spend less time ordering and changing out printer cartridges, processing purchase orders and most importantly, your cartridge will last much longer and you won't find yourself in a crunch for your next important meeting.


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