Compared to inkjet printers, laser equipment requires fewer cartridges per year. Still, prices of OEM products raise eyebrows, as compatible cartridges cost at least 20% less. To print more economically, switch to cheaper generic toner and use less of it per task.
Here are the top tips for frugal consumers.
1. Use Compatible Cartridges
Laser printers are preferable for frequent use. Still, brand-name cartridges seem overpriced as opposed to compatible counterparts.
If you own a Brother HL, DCP, or MFC series printer, a compatible tn730 ink replacement will let you save 50%. At Smart Ink, a pair of these cartridges costs $42, while the manufacturer charges twice as much for a similar value.
Compatible products are designed with specific printer models in mind. In terms of construction and performance, they are very similar to original consumables. Yet, slight distinctions make them technically unique and therefore legal.
As long as you buy from reputable stores, these non-original products will work just as well as OEM supplies. Make sure you will gather the latest version of the chip.
As printer manufacturers update their firmware, recognition may fail otherwise.
2. Consider Remanufactured Cartridges
Discover the second category of more affordable toner consumables. Remanufactured cartridges are, essentially, recycled genuine products. After use, they are refurbished and filled with new toner, so they work like new.
In terms of savings, you can expect similar value depending on the printer brand and model.
The key advantage of remanufactured items compared to compatible and OEM is sustainability. The plastic and electronic components are reused, which means that less waste ends up in landfills.
If you care about the environment, consider switching to these eco-friendly options.
The “aftermarket” often overlaps with the compatible cartridge industry. Typically, you will find both categories of toner in the same store. Note that quality depends on the supplier, so some scrutiny is required.
Ideally, you should get the following benefits and guarantees:
- Compliance with global quality standards, such as CE, ISO 9001, ISO 14000, Reach, and STMC;
- Testing of every item before shipping;
- An extended comprehensive warranty (2 years is an optimal duration);
- The updated version of the chip (to ensure seamless compatibility);
- Around-the-clock support through different communication methods (e.g., phone, email, live chat, social media);
- Sustainable policies;
- Free shipping;
- Discounts for shopping in bulk.
You can check the reputation of a store on Trustpilot and similar websites. Comments are not always objective, but any recurrent issues should raise alarm bells. For example, several complaints about delayed shipping or low print quality are red flags.
3. Reduce Output Resolution
The lower the resolution, the fewer toner particles are used for the job on hand. By switching resolution from 600 or 1200 DPI to 300 DPI, you will save toner and print faster.
Note that the output will be lighter than usual. For example, here is how to tweak the settings in Brother’s Printer Driver Property:
- Click on the Printer icon.
- Choose “Properties”.
- On the “General” tab, click on the “Printing Preferences” button.
- Open the Advanced tab.
- Choose the lowest resolution and confirm your choice with OK.
4. Select Grayscale or Black & White
Generally, color cartridges are more expensive as their page yield is lower. If you print a page that has no color, you may assume the equipment will use the monochrome cartridge by default.
In reality, this is not necessarily the case.
What looks black may be a dark shade of another color. Your printer will use both types of cartridges for the task. To prevent this, print black and white documents in the grayscale mode.
This will guarantee that only the black pigment is used.
5. Use Toner Save Mode
This feature is found in most contemporary models. Your printer will use less toner while the output will still be reasonably good. Turn on the feature once, and it will be applied to subsequent tasks automatically.
6. Reduce Print Density
Some laser printers and multifunctional equipment (printer + scanner + fax) allow more economical use of toner for reduced density. In this case, your documents may appear slightly lighter, but the difference is not critical.
As the toner level decreases, you will eventually have to raise the density rate again.
7. Fewer Stop/Start Cycles
Have you ever wondered why your printer whirls before and after each print job? These are the sounds of the start-up and slow-down cycles. They engage the components inside your cartridge, although no printing is happening.
A small amount of toner is also wasted.
When printing a few pages, there is no way to prevent either cycle. If the print job is large (for example, when printing voluminous accounting files), you can use a workaround.
Typically, printers experience slight delays as they need to crunch numbers before producing an output.
Go to the advanced section of Printer Properties and program your machine to initiate printing once the last page is spooled. Now, it should start instantly once the entire document has been processed.
Despite the initial delay, you won’t encounter so many stops anymore, so less toner will be used.
8. Change Fonts
Avoid any bold, large fonts. For example, Arial, which is the default choice for websites, requires more toner than Times New Roman, Century Gothic or Garamond.
9. Use Reader Mode
Many websites have a Reader mode, which lets you print only text without ads and distracting images. If this option is unavailable, use a special Chrome extension.
When activated, it will load the page in the bare-bones format.
10. Print Less
Finally, consider printing only when it is absolutely necessary. You can save some documents as PDF files and view them on your iPad or another tablet. This will also reduce your impact on the environment.
The average office employee produces 160 kilos of paper waste, and nearly half of all papers end up in the bin after printing.
Paper accounts for a quarter of all landfill waste, according to Tired Earth. By printing less, you will also reduce energy consumption, limit carbon emissions, air pollution and other negative effects.