No one likes buying ink cartridges. Individuals and companies go through millions of inkjet cartridges each year, and replacing them isn’t cheap. Many consumers are already choosing to buy cheap cartridges from third-party sources, or sharing images and documents online to save costs.
Ink is expensive, currently priced at $13-$17 an ounce and about $9,600 per gallon, but that’s not why cartridge prices from the original manufacturer are so high. Many companies sell their printers significantly below cost price and rely on expensive, branded ink cartridges to bring in money.
Epson is setting out to flip that dynamic on its head with its newest line of inkjet printers. Profits will come from the sales of the new printers, which cost about three times the standard market price of a home printer. But with so many cheap options out there, why would anyone go for something so expensive?
The answer is ink. Instead of using traditional ink cartridges, Epson is introducing refillable tanks that will last an average user, defined as one who prints about 200 pages a month, up to two years before they need to be refilled.
According to Epson, users will save 60-65% on ink costs by switching to a printer that uses ink tanks instead of ink cartridges. Epson printer owners won’t even be required to refill their tanks with branded ink, since Epson’s profits will be coming mostly from printer sales.
The move is a smart one for Epson, especially after 2012 saw the closure of Lexmark and Kodak’s home printer divisions. Epson sales fell by 25% between 2009 and 2013, according to The Guardian, and though they recovered in 2014, the new business plan might be exactly what Epson needs to stay in the game.
Epson announced that the new tank printers will only complement its existing products, which it will continue to sell.
“Any time a new product is released, it depends on whether or not the consumer will buy it. If the product starts to sell and users buy these new printers, third party manufacturers (like us) will need to come up with a product to meet the demand.” Chris Kovacs, General Manager, Absolute Toner.