Printer Consumables are Boring

By: John Pickering

When I first started out with my own business about five years ago now, friends and family said what are you going to do? I came from an accounting background and have always been interested in commerce, counting and generally trying to make money. So they were really surprised when I said I was going to start to recycle printer cartridges and sell them from an Internet-based store.

One friend said to me, 'oh, so you're going to take orders from a mobile phone and ask them to send cheques to you?' Maybe that would have been the method used before ecommerce was invented and brought to the masses by the likes of Amazon etc. but now people are becoming very willing to save their free time and energy, by quickly finding that hard-to-find widget through Google (other search engines are available) and clicking through to a specialist or niche shop.

Anyway, back to the subject of this article.. 'Printer Cartridges are boring' - Yes, I will agree with you that looking at little black plastic boxes that contain ink or toner is very boring. They are a utility product that is sometimes bought on a distress basis because you have to use your printer today, but forgot to buy replacement ink a few weeks ago. This leaves a memory in most people's brain of them being annoying things that are hard to buy.

If you scratch the surface a little bit and look a bit deeper into what they actually are and what they achieve, I think most people would be amazed by them:-

Most Expensive Liquid in the World?
It has been calculated that a gallon of ink made by HP or Epson would cost the end user anywhere between $3,000 to $5,000. I moan when I go to fill up my car with diesel or gas, but this is ridiculous. I remember reading somewhere that HP makes no profit on their personal computer business and that the printer consumables division represents the major profit contribution!

Picture Reproduction that takes your breath away
I have printed off pictures for my family on a photographic inkjet printer that cost under $300 and they have been amazed by the quality. Colour and sharpness that exceeds the local photo printing shop. The subtle changes in colour and lifelike appearance of some printers output can actually deceive art collectors into buying forged copies!

Incredible Technology
The latest range of Hewlett Packard home use tri-color ink cartridges fire tiny miniscule drops of ink at a total rate of 29.95 million drops per second! This is achieved by each of its 1,248 nozzles firing 24,000 drops each second. Couple this amazing speed with the fact that the printer cartridge is travelling horizontally and the paper is moving vertically, simultaneously then I think you'll agree that it's a wonder that anything comes out legible at all.

Book Shops without any books
Printing technology is moving that quickly that kiosks are now available that provide book stores with an increased range of back issue and hard to find copies. You can now use these kiosks to find the book you want - it downloads the books from it's database, prints and binds it for you in a couple of minutes - there and then. This doesn't sound very environmentally friendly, but consider all the books that have been printed over the years that haven't sold and have been dumped in landfill.

So do you still think they are boring?

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