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What's the Deal with Refill-It-Yourself Printers?

 

For the past few years, Epson and Canon have marketed their refill-it-yourself printers to those of us frustrated with constantly running out of ink! Not to mention the high cost of brand name replacement cartridges... These printers have a higher up front cost, but they will cost less to run day-to-day. So, is it worth a purchase? Let's dig deeper!

 
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Upfront Cost

Yes, these printers have a much higher up front cost. They can be up to 10x more than an equivalent printer and the entry level models start at about $350 and go up from there. Since normal printers start at $35 - $45 on sale, it's going to take a bit for you to make back your upfront costs. There are so many great printers out there with refillable cartridges that will save you money is the short and long run too.

 
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Printer Lifespan

Printers are unfortunately an almost disposable purchase these days. Technology advances and companies want to continually sell you new printers... so most are made to last 18 - 24 months. We've seen many printers go 3 - 5 years and beyond, but sadly the industry is heading away from that, not closer. When taking this into consideration, you may not get your money's worth from a refill-it-yourself printer. We haven't heard how robust they're built and we'd hope you'd get a least 2 years, but that's not always the case.

 
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Ink Supply and Support

Your refilling of ink depends on support from the printer manufacturer in continuing to make the products you need, ie. the ink for these printers. You can probably find ink cheaper elsewhere, but you'll want to be careful that it's colour matched to the original (which is something we do with our refilling). As well, the ink replacement is about $80+ per colour, so if you do need to stock up after using up the initial ink load that comes with the printer, you're looking at some hefty costs!!! We're not sure how full these printers come out of the box, so check on that before you purchase as well.

 
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Eco-friendly?

 These printers could definitely be one of the most eco-friendly choices out there! They are filled with a lot of ink, so cartridge waste is minimized. It's also important to remember other printer features like double-sided printing that make a difference too. There are lots of other good printer options with refillable cartridges, so this is a good eco choice, but far from the only one.

 

The Verdict

We've seen these gimmicks and different things manufacturers try go south in the past. This could be a great thing for someone who is printing a LOT, lives in a remote area without easy access to a refilling service, or a small business who relies on printing with colour. For the average home user, it's a higher initial investment not guaranteed to last and you'll possibly never use all the ink (before it's dried up or clogged in the printhead). Alternatively, when you do need ink, it's quite a hit all at once which might be unaffordable for some. Many times the safer investment is to spend less up front and use a refill service to keep costs low for the life of your printer. That way you can easily change or upgrade things when needed and you won't have made an investment that isn't giving returns. There are other eco-friendly printers out there, so we recommend you check out all your options before deciding on what's right for you.

 

Questions or comments about these printers or other options? We'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or send us an email.