I am considering printing my own wall-calendars, this would mean volumes of around 700 pages. Understandable I would burn through many ink-cartridges*.

Currently there are 2 types of Ink-Jet printers:

  • Cartridge based
  • Refillable Ink-tank based.

The latter is cheaper by a third or fourth in almost every case. I would like to thus ask the seasoned photogs, printers, why is it that professional printers are not moving away from the cartridge system yet?

*Doing it professionally is not within the scope of this question.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm afraid this has nothing to do with photography => totally offtopic. \$\endgroup\$
    – walther
    Dec 17, 2017 at 9:28
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ If this was a question asking about developer for printing a film negative would it be relevant for a photography site? I think in the digital workflow printing questions are still relevant to the modern photographer who wants to do something more with their imagery than hoard them on their hard drive. \$\endgroup\$
    – dmkonlinux
    Dec 17, 2017 at 9:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ "... why is it that professional printers are not moving away from the cartridge system yet?" Some would say that the truly professional printers (that is, businesses that are paid to print things) have never used cartridges. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Dec 17, 2017 at 10:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @walther i said the same thing about another printer based question the other day but as a printer is considered photographic hardware it can be argued it's on topic. \$\endgroup\$
    – Crazy Dino
    Dec 17, 2017 at 14:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Here's my reasoning for calling this on-topic — as well as the infamous one about what shoes to wear. We want this site to have a community of users interested in photography — the art and process of making images with light. When the question is about a topic related to that process and practice even when it's not about cameras, it helps build up the community of people with that interest. Conversely, when a topic is about using cameras but not for photography, that's better on a site centered around that different interest. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Dec 17, 2017 at 14:37

1 Answer 1


The cynic in me would say it's the Xerox business model.
Sell the printers cheap, make money on the ink.

If it's not a sealed & chip-protected system, you can use any ink you like - therefore, they lose money to whoever can sell the cheapest ink.

Slightly away from topic - laser printers are now sold with half-filled cartridges to alleviate the issue where it was becoming cheaper to buy a new machine than change the ink.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It's not just Xerox, the "sell the printer at a loss to tie the consumer into ink at inflated prices" model is a reality that was confirmed to a relative by an employee at one of the other manufacturers years ago. \$\endgroup\$
    – dmkonlinux
    Dec 17, 2017 at 9:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure. I only meant Xerox was the first accepted model that worked that way. They all seem to do it now, whether admitting openly to it or not. It's a sensible business model. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 17, 2017 at 10:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Long before Xerox there were the safety razor manufacturers that sold, at a loss, handles for holding their razor blades which were incredibly profitable. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Dec 17, 2017 at 10:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ No doubt even that wasn't a first. I imagine at one point there was cheap stabling for horses, with expensive hay - the price painted over the door looks good, the bill when you leave is higher ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 17, 2017 at 11:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sound logic until you consider that cheap inks destroy nozzles and your average semi-pro photog cannot buy a second professional photo-printer. \$\endgroup\$
    – HelloWorld
    Dec 18, 2017 at 18:02

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