Why is Printer Toner so Expensive?

Nowadays, desktop printer now becomes convenient machines in every office or at home. Their printer is fairly cheap as well. But when you come to buy a replacement toner, you might probably be shocked by the notably sky-high price. I believe that most of you may have raised a question in mind, why is printer toner so expensive?

For example, a popular HP LaserJet Pro 4001dw printer typically has the price of about $440. Such a modern looking machine is good for use in the offices, printing up to 42 ppm and featured with wireless & duplex printing. However, the original HP 4001dw toners, the standard-yield W1480A and high-yield W1480X, sells up to $110 and $220 respectively.

Original printer toners seems fairly expensive by comparison with the printer, averagely at over $100 each. It’s hard to imagine how such a simple black plastic gadget can cost us a big fraction of our budget. Here, we’re excited to reveal the whole story behind to you. Also some expert tips at the end to help you save more!

Why is Printer Toner so Expensive

The “Conspiracy” behind Printer Toner Price

The Razor/Blade Business Model

The high price conspiracy has been an open secret in the printer and toner cartridge industry. Printer makers just take advantage of the classic razor-and-blade business model. The manufacturer initially sets a notably low price for one item to attract more users. Different from other goods, it needs to work with the accessory during its lifespan. As you can guess, the increasing number of goods sold will promote the sales of its consumable supplies , where the money can be made.

Similarly, printer makers offer tantalizing low printer prices to draw you in, even at a loss. This inexpensive machine will require you keep buying toner cartridge for years. Then money comes constantly as hair keeps growing and razor & blade will always be in demand. Therefore, printer toner will always be so expensive.

Buying OEM toner = Paying off the Printer + Toner

That is to say, the money you paid for your printer is more like the down payment. But I know, you may still be frustrated with the printer toner cost. We have spent several hundred dollars on the machine. How can such a small plastic widget can cost us up to $200? Let’s take a further look what makes that price unreasonably high.

– Product Cost

The first cost to recoup comes to the product cost, including raw material cost and manufacturing cost, which is the same to all other products. In most cases, toner manufacturers price their printers every competitively, or even at a loss. The printer price can just recoup part of the cost making a new printer. Then the toner cartridge takes the mission to get the money back.

– Research & Development Cost

Producing the printer toners is not burning money, but developing a new printers is. Making a printer is not just assembling all the components together. It takes years for printer makers to design a new series of printers with updated functions, new features, etc. Besides, to meet various printing demand of different customers, they are expected to come up with new ideas to create assorted types of printers and cartridges. Some printer suppliers even invest over $1 billion a year on Research and development. Extensive human thinking and technology go into printer and toner manufacturing. That is, R&D is one of the main reasons for the high price tag of printer toners.

– Cost of Upgradation

When a toner cartridge does not produce quality prints, it may actually be defective. This happens to all brands, including name brand printer makers. So genuine printer toners as well need constant modification and innovation to improve printing performance and efficiency.

Moreover, each product has its own product life cycle, selling great once introduced and growing rapidly, but declining gradually after mature. So do printer and toner. In addition, the longer a printer is in the market, the larger number of remanufactured or compatible toners compete with OEM toners for the sales. Under this circumstances, printer manufacturers are incentivized to phase out old models and replace it with upgraded printer with new proprietary toners. Only in this way can they keep making money off the toners.

– Cost on Squashing Competition

Actually, name brand printer makers are facing a lot of competition, not just from other printer suppliers but also many 3rd-party toner manufacturers. They has come up with a lot of tricky strategies to squash fierce competition.

One of effective strategies is to set restrictions on the toner structure. They have been putting efforts in designing patented parts on new toner cartridges. That requires the 3rd-party cartridge makers to uniquely redesigned the structure to differentiate the OEM printer cartridges. Otherwise, they’d be accused of infringement and forbidden to to sell.

A new idea is to put on the printer. These days, HP releases printer firmware upgrade from time to time. Once your printer is upgraded to the latest version, the compatible toners you’re using is not able to work any longer. Most customers may think that it’s just a kind of improvement to provide better functionality. Actually OEM plays a cunning game with the compatible toner suppliers.

Another useful method are put to use successfully in recent years. Like HP, they have organized a team that goes to great lengths to upgrade chips. Current new chips used in new generations of toners take compatible toner makers several year to crack. In this way, printer users can only buy original toner cartridges at high price before the compatible ones come to the market.

YB Toner - Shop Now

In addition to the costs mentioned above, there are other costs behind the story actually. Now you may have the answer to why printer toner is so expensive. OEM printer toner is certainly to be expensive due to various factors and never seems to get discounted. Then how to save big on our printer job?

Ideas for Money-Saving

1. Consider Compatible Printer Toner

We don’t doubt that original printer manufacturers make the highest quality toner replacements. But if you’re on a tight budget, the compatible cartridge will be your favorable option. But you’d better take some time to distinguish the reputable third-party makers. YB Toner is one of dependable choices that you can count on. YB Toner has over-years-history history of success in toner manufacturing. We have been experienced in the printing industry for over 10 years. Our printer toners are a reliable alternative to OEM cartridges. As we don’t have to worry about the R&D and other costs that printer makers deal with, we’re able to pass the saving to our customers. If you want to know more about the difference between OEM & compatible cartridge, jump to review our blog Compare OEM & Compatible HP 148X Toner Cartridge.

2. Print More Pay Less

We do recommend you to buy the high-yield options or buy in bulk, like 2-pack, 4-pack, etc., particularly if your printing volume is relatively large. Generally, high yield cartridge can print more pages but costs lower per page. That is, print more pay less. Also bulk purchase always get bigger discount. Even though OEM manufacturers can’t do that, we can! Still, we suggest you choose the best one based on your printing demand and budget.

3. Grayscale Setting

Most printers have Grayscale option available. To some extent, this function may affect the rate of toner consumption. What is Grayscale? Grayscale is simply the density of color printed. The printer allows you to change the grayscale/density of each color. If your black cartridge is really low, by changing the grayscale setting, you can use only color toner to print black. Or for monochrome printers, reducing the grayscale is feasible to decline the use of black toner. But excessive modification may compromise the print quality, especially for image printouts. Moderate change is still good to go. We have a blog Can Color Ink Print Black? tell you more about grayscale setting.

OEM vs. Compatible Printer Toner

OEM vs. Compatible Printer Toner

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