November 1, 2014

9 Clever Ways to Save Your Printer for the Long Haul

save your printer

Without even knowing it, you could be developing habits that harm your printer. I recently attended Hewlett-Packard’s “Science of Printing” event on behalf of Small Business Trends, where I learned some tips from the experts for keeping your printer going the distance.

Below are clever tricks to get the most out of your printer.

Choose the Right Model

Before even buy a printer, consider your needs. If you print documents daily, find a small business printer designed for heavy use. These printers are almost always labeled for business use. HP, for instance, offers the Officejet line of printers for various business sizes.

On the other hand, if you print photos on a semi-regular basis, find the model most suited for that kind of activity. HP’s Photosmart models are examples of popular photo printers.

To assess your printing needs, try to consider how many pages you normally print each month, along with any special features you require like photo printing, faxing, or scanning.

Selecting the wrong kind of device can lead to a build up of excess ink, which can harm the device and impact quality.

Use the Right Ink

Once you’ve selected the device most suited to your needs, it’s also important to use ink that is made specifically for that device if you want to save your printer.

Ink cartridges release ink for servicing purposes even when they’re not printing. The ones made for a particular printer will know precisely how much ink to release, saving you from extra maintenance or reduced print quality. The video below discusses ink quality:

Avoid Third Party Ink

Some third party ink solutions claim to work with particular devices, but they aren’t made specifically for your device. They won’t necessarily release the correct amounts of ink for maintenance and if you use your printer too much or too little, it could lead to clogging or low print quality.

To avoid this and save your printer, use ink directly from the printer’s manufacturer and avoid using refill ink.  The video below debunks common beliefs about refill ink:

Consider High Capacity Cartridges

For businesses that print a lot, there are high-capacity options available. These extra-large cartridges are a better value overall, and are still primed for high-volume printers. HP Supplies Technology Specialist Thom Brown says that these high-capacity cartridges can offer up to three times more black printed pages and two and a half more printed color pages.

Keep it Running

If you turn off your printer between jobs, you could actually be harming the device. Keeping the device on between jobs allows the printer to go through maintenance cycles. These cycles use trace amounts of ink to keep cartridges primed for printing.

If you turn the printer off, the cartridge could fill up with air or even get clogged with excess ink. This can cause lower print quality or even damage to the device. Consumer Reports also says that leaving the printer on between jobs, for certain models at least, actually leads to less ink being used for maintenance purposes.

Only Replace When Necessary

Instead of replacing your cartridge right after a print job, wait until you’re ready to print again. By plugging in a new cartridge, you could be causing your printer to go through unnecessary maintenance cycles. These maintenance cycles only require trace amounts of ink to prime your printer for upcoming work. Even a near-empty cartridge can work in this instance.

Choose Fonts Carefully

If you want to get the most pages for your dollar, selecting a different font could help. Fonts like Times New Roman use up less ink than bolder ones like Arial. When design isn’t an issue, this simple step can keep your printing costs down, save your printer ink, and help you get the most out of your device. According to BBC News, other economical typefaces include Garamond and Courier. Impact and Cooper Black were among the worst for ink conservation.

Change Your Settings

If your device is one that has a “Draft” setting, changing it could cut down on your ink usage and keep your printer from working as hard. Though the exact amount of ink saved is hard to measure and varies by device and project, any ink saved can be a bonus.

Changing the default setting from “Normal” to “Draft” mode creates characters that are not as bold. This might not work for all projects. But for personal use, it can definitely save you ink and money in the long run. To change settings, HP says to go to the printing options or preferences tab on your computer and select “Draft output.”

Don’t Print Unnecessary Items

When you print something from a website or similar outlet, you can sometimes inadvertently print ads or other items that aren’t necessary. This uses up ink and makes your printer work harder without any benefit to you.

Instead, to save your printer ink, cut these items out using an application like HP’s Smart Print, or just do it manually.

Image: HP Video Still

4 Comments ▼
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Leland McFarland


Leland McFarland Leland McFarland is the Chief Technology Officer at Small Business Trends. He is responsible for all technical aspects of the Small Business Trends network of websites. Leland is responsible for programming, design and maintenance of the sites, as well as server administration. He has performed work for Small Business Trends since 2010.

4 Reactions

  1. Thanks for the tips, Leland.

    I’m an HP guy myself, and learning how to save ink and make the best use of my printer is very important to me.

    I’m about to buy printer #2 for my daughter’s college experience.

    Great timing on this post.

    The Franchise King®

    • Leland McFarland

      It was very interesting to see what all went into making that little ink cartridge and how changing components such as the ink formula or even the foam used in the cartridge can effect how the print job turns out, the maintenance of the printer itself, and the number of pages that can be printed.

  2. Thanks for the tip re: font type. I didn’t know about that, but it makes total sense to do that.

    I tend to use refill ink for green reasons.

  3. Printers are essential tools for small businesses. But then, it is quite hard to maintain it. Not only is it an extra expense, it can also take a lot from the budget especially if you only have a small company. Sometimes, I wish there was an ink that doesn’t cost that much but doesn’t corrode your printer.

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